Santa Ynez Peak P2K

Wed, Dec 31, 2008

With: Ryan Burd

Story Photos / Slideshow Map

Santa Ynez Peak is one of the higher peaks in Santa Ynez Mountains, the front range rising above Santa Barbara and stretching for some 50 miles. It separates the inland portions of the county, isolating the coastal cities and US101 between the Pacific Ocean and the range's rugged, chaparral-covered slopes. The peak, just making it onto the 2,000-foot prominence list, has sweeping views of the Channel Islands and the Pacific Ocean as it wraps around the corner of Pt. Conception. Inland can be seen Lake Cachuma and the higher peaks of the San Rafael Mtns to the northeast, and the developed areas around Solvang, Santa Ynez, and Los Olivos to the northwest.

Ryan and I drove up to the peak on our way home from Santa Barbara. We took the windy Refugio Rd off US101 for 7mi, then following the similarly paved and windy Camino Cielo Rd for another 5mi east along the crest of the range towards Santa Ynez Peak. The pavement ends about 1/2 mile before reaching the peak. We started driving the dirt portion, but as it got a bit rougher I decided to park and hoof it the remaining third of a mile. I think this was guilt at play here, because in hindsight I should have easily been able to negotiate the road with the van, but a peak without some sort of hike seems like cheating.

At the summit we ran into a technician working in one of the buildings serving the many transmitters about the summit. I waved, he waved back, not seeming to mind our presence (there were no No Trespassing signs or gates to be found blocking the road). The triangulation benchmark at the summit looks to have been bulldozed away when one of the towers were built, but a nearby reference mark was left in its stead. There was no summit register to be found, but then we didn't really look around that hard.

The views were quite spectacular with nearly 180 degrees of ocean visible from Pismo Beach to the northeast around Pt. Conception and then southeast towards Oxnard and Ventura County. Fog covered most of the ocean south of US101, out to, and beyond the Channel Islands 20 miles off the coast. I had hoped to include the extra mile each way to nearby Broadcast Peak, but our schedule was already tight to get us back to San Jose at the expected time. It would have to wait for some (far distant) future outing.

On our way back I picked up the dead stalk from a yucca flower, shaved off the small branches and gave it to Ryan to play with. It served as a martial arts weapon, an RPG launcher, and several other instruments of destruction, all expertly wielded by its handler in Ryan's World. I envy him his imagination.

In all we spent a bit over 2hrs from US101 - 45 minutes of driving each way, plus 45 minutes for the hiking portion.


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