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I was a bit beaten and bruised from the previous day's romp through the Dolon burn area in the Santa Lucia Range, but had enough fight left in me for another day. I would get similarly smacked around today, but would not make the planned third day. That would wait for later in the week.
It was just barely light enough to see when I started off from campground around 6:30a. I spent 45min hiking the road as the new day gradually dawned. I was surprised how much darker it was down in the canyon - steep canyon walls block much of the sky, and trees shaded most of what was left. I went past two places where the road had been partially washed out. It looks like there has been plenty of work to remove debris from the roadway, but so far, no efforts to shore up or repair the washouts. The sun was just shining on the tops of the ridges when it was time for me to start up on the cross-country shortcut. It would save me about 2.1mi of additional road walking, but probably wasn't much faster. I spent about 40min on the 2/3mi of steep cross-country, working through some poison oak, burned snags and such. Once on the Coast Rd, most of the elevation gain was done and I could relax for a while. I enjoyed the easy hike along the road for about 1.7mi, with some elevation gain and loss, but easy gradients. There were great views of the Pacific Ocean 3,000ft+ below to the west, down through the Mill Creek drainage. I had some difficulty picking out my two summits with the harsh glare of the morning sun hanging over them to the east, but the GPSr would sort things out. When I was nearly due west of Chalk Peak, I looked for a place to start the cross-country to the summit. Not everything had burned in the fire, so I had to pick a line carefully to avoid the brunt of a bad brushthrashing. I found a line through burned sections that kept me from the nasty stuff, finding it took only 15min from the road to cover the 1/4mi distance to the summit. There was a glass jar laying on the ground, no protection from the sun, nothing to save it from the next fire. It was left by Powen Ru a few months earlier. Seems he hiked it from the coast, a much more arduous way to do it, so props for that. After signing my name, I dug a small hole to at least partially bury the jar, enough to (mostly) keep the sun's UV rays from damaging the paper. Nothing will keep it from incineration in the next fire, however. In addition to the Pacific views, the summit offers views northwest to Cone Peak, north to Peak 3,503ft, east and south overlooking vast stretches of the Los Padres NF.
I retreated from the summit via the same route, then walked about half a mile back north along the Coast Rd until I was southwest of Peak 3,503ft, about 1/4mi away. I was about to start on this next cross-country section, but found my gloves missing when I went to put them on. Seems they fell out somewhere along the roadway since I packed them away (poorly) after getting done with Chalk Peak. I ended up retracing 3/4 of the road I'd hiked before I found them, then back to Peak 3,503ft. Most everything on this peak had burned, but stuff was growing back with a vengeance, particularly the manzanita, scotch broom, buckthorn and poison oak. A few tiny pine seedlings could also be found. There was some dancing around the poison oak, but it still took less than 15min to get to the summit. No register on this summit, but there was no safe place to leave one, I didn't bother with one of mine. Good view south to Chalk Peak and north to Peak 3,442ft, one of the peaks I'd done the previous day. I took an alternate route on the decent to the WNW, one I thought might save me some time. It turned out brushier than the ascent route and slower. Once back on the Coast Rd, I retraced my steps north along the road, down the same shortcut to the pavement below, then back to the Nacimiento campground. The outing wasn't quite 11mi, but I was limping badly for the last mile or so - sucks getting old. This leg has been problematic for the last month and seems to be taking its sweet time in healing. Oddly, it only seems problematic when I'm hiking trails or roads, relatively flat. No problem with the steep uphill or downhill. I was of half a mind to call it day at this point (almost noon), but the other half said, "but the next one is all uphill and downhill - no trail or road!". Guess which half won out?
This page last updated: Fri Oct 15 08:18:36 2021
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