The Pines and (slightly) beyond in my spare time, December 14, 2012
I needed to make a flash trip to Southern California, the type where you buy a ticket and less than 48 hours later get your butt on a plane with one carry-on and one personal item. Of course, when making flight arrangements on such short notice, the airline defaults to the Practical Joke Retrogressive Itinerary Scheduling Department which routes you through Miami by way of Seattle with eight minute connections between flights. I had no choice if I wanted to get to LAX when I needed to be there. The airline takes seriously its self-assigned mandate to increase the stress of an already stressful travel regime.
I arrived at LAX December 12, 2012 on time, despite the challenges, picked up a rental car and made my way through familiar Los Angeles roads to “destination one” in the San Fernando Valley, then eventually to Ojai. I had a hike arranged Sunday, December 16, with Craig, the proprietor of craigrcarey.net, the inimitable Los Padres Raconteur and author of Hiking and Backpacking Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. Taking time to introduce me to Kennedy Ridge was an act of charity on his part and a distraction that I badly needed and greatly appreciated.
The morning of Friday, December 14 arrived and I unexpectedly found myself free until the early afternoon. A weather front had overtaken Southern California with the promise of an interesting, stormy sky (or perhaps gray soupy overcast, one never knows). I had made my way to California with a camera and three lenses and had enough other gear cached in Ojai to provide the means to answer the photographic muse that was telling me to head up the Horn Canyon trail to take a picture or two. As it happened, the muse spoke to me through the medium of some old black and white negatives I found buried in files that had followed me around the country for years. Among those negatives were shots taken on the Horn Canyon trail in 1978 and 1979.
I have previously written of my history with the Horn Canyon trail by relating the Absolutely True and Completely Accurate Story of the Prodigious Leap. Although that post contains photos from 1984, now I could wind this history back to the mystical 1970s. Adding those old shots to this blog was great affirmation of something but I’m not sure what.
I started from the familiar Thacher School trail head under threating skies and light drizzle with my camera and lenses buried in a waterproof case in my pack.
I reached The Pines in short order with the general plan to get above the camp and shoot back down Horn Canyon. I would need to find a break in the tall brush to get a viable vantage point to exploit the dramatic storm cloud-filtered light. And I would have to beat the oncoming rain.
I hustled above The Pines and noted a promising overlook view of the camp but decided to keep going. The rain was beginning to fall and my time was growing short when I reached a point with a view about a mile beyond The Pines. I set up the tripod, unloaded the camera and shot a wide angle view of the Ojai Valley under dramatic cloud cover. Working quickly (for me) I was soon jogging back down the trail. I considered skipping the view I had seen of The Pines on the way up. When I reached the clearing in the brush overlooking The Pines I realized I had only one viable option. I set up the tripod and went to work, wide angle again, hoping not to get drenched or, more importantly, lose the light before I could release the shutter a few times. Then I jogged the rest of the way back to my car and got everywhere I needed to be with time to spare.
Kennedy Ridge, December 16, 2012 and the kindness of good people and dogs
At 7:00 AM Sunday, December 16, I walked the short distance from my car to Full of Beans on Highway 33 in the Miramonte section of the west Ojai Valley. I would be meeting Craig and Elisabeth, who is a veteran through hiker of the Pacific Crest Trail, a feat I hold in no little awe. The plan for the day was simply to make our way onto Kennedy Ridge to look around a bit, then head to Ojai for lunch at the Ojai Brewing Company. A perfect plan in my estimation. And incredible kindness on the part of Craig and Elisabeth to take the time.
I was pleased to see that Masha, Craig’s outstanding canine trail companion, was along for the trip. I was further pleased to note that Masha now recognizes me and allows me to approach the back of the truck directly without warning me to stand for inspection first. She poked her nose out the window and I scratched her ears and we were clearly old friends. I felt honored to have achevied that status with such an excellent dog.
After the traditional pre-hike priming with lemon bars and coffee at Full of Beans, we set off on the short drive to the trail head for Kennedy Ridge. I was completely unfamiliar with Kennedy ridge when I first read of it in a post on the craigrcarey.net blog. In fact, I had to pull out some maps to get oriented. With Matilija, a place with which I have a history dating back to 1962, as a geographical anchor, I developed an outline in my head of the area.
Given the mental picture I had of the route, I thought there would be great potential for a panoramic photograph. The fog and drizzle that day notwithstanding, I packed up the camera, tripod and panorama head components and, as the poet once wrote, let hope spring eternal. I guess Alexander Pope originated that phrase in Essay on Man, but I have always preferred its use by Ernest L. Thayer in Casey at the Bat. I understand baseball poetry much better than philosophical poetry and, anyway, isn’t baseball pretty much a metaphor for everything profound and vulgar?
We hiked from the trail head onto Kennedy Ridge and along the trail to a place Craig has christened, perfectly, Fin Rock. I decided, drizzle and fog be damned, to set up a panorama on a nearby rock and see what I could make happen.
Photograph © and all rights reserved, Craig R. Carey
I was pleasantly surprised by the resultant stitched panorama but you, dear reader, shall be the final judge.
After some time at Fin Rock we headed for burgers and good beer (life is too short for any other kind) at the Ojai Brewing Company. I had business waiting later in the day but for a time it could be forgotten.