Peak 3,375ft P300
Blue BM P300
White Mountain P300

Wed, Nov 25, 2015
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 3 Profiles: 1 2 3

I was with the family in Santa Barbara, spending the night on our way to LA for Thanksgiving. We'd eaten dinner with my brother who lives in town before checking into the Hotel Milo afterwards. Once the wife and daughter were comfortably ensconced in our room, I asked, "Hey, do you mind if I go on a night hike?" They looked askance before responding, "You don't expect us to go with you, do you?" Of course not, that would be silly. And hiking at night is often a silly proposition, usually reserved for private property summits that I'm too afraid to try in the daytime. But tonight was a full moon and I thought it would be fun to drive up to Camino Cielo above the Santa Barbara skyline to hike a few easy summits that I had planned to do when I was last here a month earlier. All of them are part of the Los Padres NF, no trespassing necessary, and though it was rather cold (about 34F), I was bundled up accordingly and it was great fun.

Peak 3,375ft

This was the easternmost of the three I visited. I started from the end of East Camino Cielo's pavement at Romero Saddle, traveling an easy-to-follow trail along the crest of the Santa Ynez Range. The rough trail appears to be used by motorcycles and mountain bikes. It was only about 1.5mi to the summit, but the trail and various branches continue for many more miles in different direction. Given more time, it would make for an enjoyable all-day hike out and back along the ridge. I could see coastal lights from Oxnard to Santa Barbara while offshore more than a dozen oil rigs are brightly lit. With the bright moon overhead, even the larger of the Channel Islands could be seen far to the south. Inland to the north, stretch the softly lit mountains of the San Rafael and Dick Smith Wildernesses. It was easy to see the light-colored trail by moonlight, making it fairly safe even at jogging speed on the downhills.

Peak 3,662ft

This summit can be reached via a short but interesting scramble from the west, about 1/2mi in length. The summit is a rocky perch with swell views in all directions, particularly of the Santa Barbara city lights. I played around with the red LED on my headlamp to "paint" the nearby rocks for the long exposure photo I took. Perhaps a little less painting would work better...

White Mountain

This was the most interesting peak, but not for the views (which were limited). I had indentified it ahead of time simply as Peak 3,825ft which I gathered from LoJ, and from the satellite view had seen what looked like a thin trail starting up from Gibralter Rd, southeast of the summit. As I drove back down Gibralter from Camino Cielo, I went slowly by where I thought I might find the start. I paused in the road and got out to check as I passed by, quickly noting an unsigned trail starting up. I parked the car off to the side (very little room next to the trail where I stopped, but better spots not far up and down the road) and started up. It was already about 10:30p and figured I'd better hustle if I was going to get back by the expected midnight return. It turns out this is part of an informal trail network that has been constructed in the area, where "constructed" really means clipping brush and adding a few ducks. Later I found that this trail is more locally known with at least one map that I wish I'd seen beforehand. It shows an even easier access trail starting from the junction of Gibralter and Camino Cielo just north of the summit. The trails leads to a place called the Rock Garden on the south side of White Mtn, home to a bunch of interesting sandstone boulders with caves and other features. A spur trail goes to the summit where I found a nice wooden sign designating the summit as White Mountain. I got off the main trail about halfway up and spent some time in the brush on the east side of the summit. After getting tantalizingly close I had given up and started back down when I discovered the correct trail branch and zipped up to the summit. So many interesting things to discover in the hills around Santa Barbara - I'm already looking forward to my next opportunity to return for more fun...

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