The latest desert trip was drawing to a close. I'd spent the night at
my sister's place in Santa Clarita and then headed to Santa Barbara in
the morning to pick up my daughter for Spring break. Along the way, I
stopped in Ojai for a few easy drive-up
summits, nothing worth writing home about, but I'll write them up nonetheless.
After writing this up, I went and picked up Jackie at UCSB and she wanted to
do a hike on the way home. So I picked out a peak in the Irish Hills north of
Pismo Beach that had been on my todo list for a few years.
This one has more than 300ft of prominence, a ridge formed at the confluense
of the Ventura River and San Antonio Creek. Development has grown over the
hill, leaving little open space. There are two large water tanks at the
top and an old homestead (appears to have burned down?) just below these
on the west side. One can drive up to the concrete pads that served as the
driveways for this home and walk the short distance to the highpoint. The
fence around the tanks is formidable, but there is a gap under the gate that
a skinny person can just squeeze under. It turns out this is unnecessary
since the highest point is outside the fence on the east side. It offers
so-so views of the surrounding communities, the area quite green now with
all the rains this year.
This one is a small hill with little prominence between Mira Monte to the
west and Ojai to the east. It, too, has been completely developed. The
narrow road leading to the summit offers no public parking. The highpoint
features a small, wooden shack on someone's property and no real views. To
be honest, no real reason to visit it, either.
I'd been to the Irish Hills on several previous occasions, notably to tag a P1K
nearby. We used the same trailhead this time, nothing official and quasi-public.
That is, the lands we hiked through appear to be owned by the state, but there
is a locked gate at the start of the dirt road we used. There are no signs
indicating "No Trespassing", no signs of any kind, for that matter. There are a
few landowners with property up this way, but no homes that I've ever seen.
A few minutes after we started up, a gentleman in a pickup drove by going the
other way. He stopped to chat briefly, but gave no indication that we weren't
supposed to be there. The hike was about a mile and a half each way, taking us
a little over an hour. There is a second road that goes directly to Davis BM
and the towers found atop it, but no road connecting our starting point and
this second road (one could probably find the start of this second road for a
more straightforward route). We could see the second road down below us about
100ft for some of the hike as they run parallel with each other for about half
a mile. We considered dropping cross-country down extremely steep slopes to
reach it, but we weren't really prepared for that (no gloves, just tennis
shoes) and there was quite a bit of poison oak that would have been difficult
to avoid. And there was a good chance we could get hurt with an out-of-control
slide on the descent. Luckily, a better option appeared when we were due east
of our summit. The roads diverge at this point, but there is a connecting
ridgeline with an old trail along it that worked nicely. We had to be careful
to watch for poison oak that encroached everywhere, but by going slowly we
were able to avoid contact. At the summit we found a beefy fence surrounding
the towers. There was no need to breech the fence however, since the highest
ground was outside the fence on the backside of where we'd approached from the
road. We found the benchmark in the tall grass and brush and views overlooking
the rugged Irish Hills to the south and west. Pismo Beach and the ocean could
be seen to the southeast and south. A line of transmission towers could be
seen descending into Diablo Canyon to the southwest where California's
only remaining nuclear power plants is hidden away. On our way back we were
entertained by about a dozen turkeys in the midst of courtship rituals, where
a handful of toms were doing their best to impress the ladies with their
plummage. This was a much better outing that the morning one.