Mission Ridge
Tessajera BM 2x P1K

Fri, Feb 23, 2018

With: Jackie Burd

Mission Ridge
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2
Tessajera BM previously climbed Thu, Mar 28, 2013

Mom had the week off, so Dad and her spent a few days in Santa Barbara visiting with Jackie going to school there. I had driven in from Las Vegas after an extended desert road trip while Mom drove down from San Jose. After a few relaxing days, Mom had to leave early Friday morning to get back to San Jose. Jackie and I spent the morning on a hike in the Santa Barbara area before I headed back to San Jose myself. On the way, I stopped in the San Luis Obispo area to visit a few interesting points there, eventually getting back to San Jose in the evening.

Mission Ridge

This is a PB-only summit because it's not officially named and has little prominence. Still, it makes for a nice place to visit and spending a few hours doing so. Lying between Mission and Rattlesnake Canyons, it is most easily accessed from the end of Tunnel Rd in Mission Canyon at the Inspiration Point TH. The Tunnel Trail traverses around the west side of Mission Ridge on its way up to the crest of the range at El Camino Cielo. An unsigned trail junction is found where the Tunnel Trail goes by the west end of Mission Ridge, the narrow side trail leading to the summit. I chose a longer route for Jackie and I to take, a 5mi loop starting from Rattlesnake Canyon that would allow us to go over both sides of Mission Ridge. We had a track to follow that I downloaded from PB to make it easy to find the unsigned trail junctions. Starting a bit after 9a, we spent much of an hour and a half making our way to the summit. The trail initially follows up shady Rattlesnake Canyon, with little more than a trickle of water flowing in the creek. An unsigned fork appears after a mile where we turned left to start up out of the canyon with views beginning to open. Our narrow trail eventually joins the Mission Canyon Catway, a wide dirt access road for a pair of transmission lines that traverse across the slopes here. We got a little off-route, ending up at a dead-end clearing where some rock art has been shaped into a spiral maze. The GPX track was quite helpful here, showing us where the narrow trail continues up to Mission Ridge off one of the access road spurs. Another half mile of climbing up the trail led us along the east end of Mission Ridge to its summit where we found another party enjoying the views. Jackie and I walked out to a rock outcrop to the south which provided a fine overlook of the Santa Barbara area, the Channel Islands clearly visible across the Santa Barbara Channel. A brisk wind caused us to don our jackets after a few minutes aloft. We descended the west side of Mission Ridge, a class 2-3 effort across the rocky ridgeline. At one point where dirt made the descent somewhat tricky, I cautioned Jackie to be careful of the footing. Not ten seconds later I heard a small commotion behind me and turned to see Jackie had slipped six feet off the trail into the brush. She was a bit battered but otherwise not seriously injured, feeling embarassed coming so soon after the warning I'd given her. We dusted her off and continued down the trail to its junction with the Tunnel Trail. From there we headed uphill to a signed trail junction whose east fork would lead us back down to Rattlesnake Canyon. We finished up around 11:40a back at the stone bridge found at the TH.

Hartson BM/Firebreak BM/Tessajera BM

I took Jackie to lunch before dropping her off back at UCSB and starting the long drive north to San Jose. North of San Luis Obispo, I decided to stop off at Cuesta Pass where US101 goes over the summit before dropping into Santa Margarita and the Salinas River drainage. The USFS's TV Tower Rd goes west from the pass, winding along scenic Cuesta Ridge for more than nine miles. I had visted Tessajera BM and Tessajara Peak five years earler, taking five hours to cover the distance on foot. Once completely paved, the road had badly eroded through years of neglect and required high-clearance to negotiate. I had heard that the road had been recently improved and was curious to see. The initial steep grade from the highway has good pavement now, then well-graded dirt road the rest of the way - all the old treacherous pavement has been removed. It was easy to drive the van the entire route, though I only drove as far as the P1K, Tessajera BM. I stopped at two other PB-only summits along the way, Hartson BM and Firebreak BM. The first was an easy 2-minute hike up from the west along a partially cleared firebreak. The benchmark was placed by the California Division of Highways (the precursor to CalTrans) sometime in the last century (the date has been partially obscured). Firebreak BM was a little more of challenge as it lies within the fenced area of some telecom installations. Despite the imposing barbed-wire topping the high fence, there were other, less trying ways to make it inside. The highpoint is located just outside an inner fenced area with a 1932 US Coast & Geodedic Survey benchmark. Tessajera BM is most easily accessed from the SE, starting at a wide clearing found on the south side of TV Tower Rd. I used the same clipped trail from five years earlier, finding it still overgrown and still quite serviceable - ten minutes from van to benchmark. Overall, this was a far easier effort now that the road has been improved. The ridgeline is open to views looking south to SLO and Morro Bay, north into the Santa Margarita area, with many fine camping spots to be found along its length. It would make a lovely place to spend the night stargazing...

Submit online comments or corrections about the story.

More of Bob's Trip Reports

This page last updated: Sat Feb 24 13:23:54 2018
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: snwbord@hotmail.com