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Topatopa Bluff

3 June 1995 (private trip)

By: Dick Farrar

Topatopa Bluff was the last peak I needed to finish the seven added since I finished the list in 1989. The Ojai Ranger station said that the road up from Rose Valley campground would be closed for at least two months. By that time it would be unbearably hot, so Homer Meek and I went up from Route 150 and Sisar Avenue on June 3. Sisar Ave, which is between the Summit School and the Summit restaurant, is a little over 9 miles from the State Hwy 150 turnoff from State Hwy 126 in Santa Paula. The ranger at Ojai was very emphatic that Sisar Ave was private and that we couldn't drive up it. This added two miles and about 300 feet of gain to the hike. However, there were four vehicles parked at the locked gate about a mile up the road, which is the normal starting point in the climbing guide.

We started at 7:38 am and got to the normal starting point in 20 minutes. There were two stream crossings up the road which necessitated some careful rock hopping. The first crossing had a log railing on the right side to aid in this process. Finally we reached the junction with trail 21W08 marked by a large bullet-pocked brown sign. It said the distance to Road 2N08 (the Nordhoff Ridge Road) was 2.5 miles and the mileage to the White Ledge campsite was 0.5. The latter was wrong and we estimated it at 1.5 miles. White Ledge was shady but very small. From White Ledge to the upper road the trail was more overgrown. We were hiking through the typical May/June cloud cover and the growth was very wet. Since the overhanging growth was unavoidable, we soon became wringing wet. Fortunately it was not that cold. At about 3500 feet we broke through the cloud and plodded our way up to the road. It was bright and sunny and starting to get warm.

Following the climbing guide, we reached the turnoff to Topatopa Bluff in about half a mile where there was a duck on a big rock. The ridge route from here is quite steep and loose. It rises over 900 feet and is marked by a few ducks after a while. At the top, which we reached at about 12:30, there is a large pile of rocks but the new register is in another much smaller pile a little beyond to the left. The register was not in the usual red cans but was in two similar type but plain cans. The notebook said this was the HPS Topatopa Bluff peak and it had been placed there about a month previous to our climb. There were only three names, one of which was Bob Wyka. Also at the top there was a ferocious swarm of insects which made lunch impossible. We explored further to the east and were surprised to see how close a road was. That road meandered northward, then east NE around to the right of rock outcroppings at 6410 and 6420+. According to the topo, which shows all the roads up there as trails, it turns back west NW to connect with the main road which goes on towards Hines.

We debated about exploring it and going on to Hines, which we could clearly see in the distance. Without being able to see the whole road route to verify its turning westward and dropping to the main road, we decided against it. Hines simply looked too far at that point.

We descended down the steep ridge route and had lunch on the rock with the duck at the road. There was a slight breeze and no flies. We retraced our original route, arriving at the car at 5:15 pm. The overgrowth had completely dried up as we descended through the cloud. At White Ledge there were two groups of campers with seven people total and that seemed to fill it up. The total distance was approximately 16 miles with 4800 feet of gain from Hwy 150. I would definitely recommend this climb at this time of year, particularly with an early start since it warms up considerably in the afternoon above the clouds.

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