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Chasing the Hike to Monte Arido & Old Man Mountain!

October 8, 2011

By: Janice Boyd

The mission: to catch Ted and Pat's long distance HPS hike to Monte Arido and Old Man Mountain which began at the Matilija Trailhead at 6:00 AM.

I didn't want to leave my house at 3:30 AM. Instead, (unknown to them) I decided to start later and try to catch up. I parked at the Matilija Trailhead and at 7:29 AM the chase was on!

I had never been to this area and was relying on the HPS Route 2 hiking directions. Due to the road closure after last winter's heavy rainfall, this was the next best route chosen by the leaders to reach these two peaks.

From the parking area (1,540'), I walked 1/3 mile beyond the locked gate on a dirt road with two small stream crossings. At this point there is the option to take the Murietta Canyon Trail (2 miles) or stay on the dirt road (2.4 miles).

I chose the scenic Murietta Canyon Trail (24W07). This is a single track, wooded, lush green route with two major stream crossings. The first stream crossing was a vast, rocky, boulder-strewn, washed out section with three trail markers guiding the way to the other side where the trail continued. The trail was overgrown at times, shaded with the stream flowing nearby. The second stream crossing was a lovely area with enticing pools and rushing water creating mini waterfalls over boulders. There were no markers, but easier to find the trail on the other side.

The Murietta Canyon Trail ended at the dirt road. I walked 3 miles to the Murietta Divide, a sharp right turn, then onward another 7 miles to Monte Arido.

In the morning, the road was shady and cool weaving through brushy green hillsides. As the road became steeper, I could see Ted and Pat's group high above on the road in the distance. As I gained elevation, resplendent Jameson Lake came into view below, deep blue among an emerald oasis. Continuing up the dirt road, the scenery changed to a striking, rocky terrain.

At 11:15 AM and 12 miles later, I caught up with the group just as the last 2 people were ascending Monte Arido. >From this peak at 6,010' elevation we were rewarded with a spectacular ocean view: the islands of Santa Catalina, Anacapa, Santa Barbara, San Clemente, San Miguel, Santa Rosa, San Nicolas and Santa Cruz were visible in the shimmering water.

From Monte Arido, we walked down the dirt road to the turnoff for Old Man Mountain, which was on the return route. The upper section of the ridge to the peak was extremely overgrown with hidden yucca stabbing us from underneath.

From the top of Old Man Mountain (5,538'), looking east we could see Camille's "Vulture Peak." The vivid, bouldered ridge accentuated the ascent to this peak where lies a register. It is impressive - would love to climb that stony incline some day!

Returning to the road from Old Man Mountain, I left the group during the 600' uphill, after which the road returned to its downhill course. I relished the return on the Murietta Canyon Trail even though it was slower due to its rigorous nature. It was enchanting with jungle-like flora in the deep shade, the trail fading in sections due to overgrowth; the melody of water refreshing at the end of the hike on a warm afternoon.

I arrived at the parking area at 4:47 PM. Ted and Pat's group arrived at 5:45 PM, they had taken the dirt road round trip.

I keep thinking about how much I enjoyed this endurance hike. There was plenty of water from the stream and a spring during the first 4 miles. The cool, shady, green route in the morning; gorgeous Jameson Lake; the rugged landscape; overlooking the hazy ocean... a beautiful area. The changing trail conditions and views kept me from being bored.

I'm happy I didn't stay home because it was too early a start time, or I would have missed a FANTASTIC hike on an IDYLLIC day!

Leaders: Ted Lubeshkoff, Pat Arredondo

Participants: Camille La Fredo, Kwee Thio, Robert F. Zueck, Miriam Khamis, Leo Logacho, Gary, Bill Gaskill

Distance: 24.7 miles (25.5 miles via the dirt road)
Gain: 6,250'

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