Attempted to summit Hines Peak today with Victor, but we had to stop about 2 miles short of it due to unexpected snow conditions and massive fog. Seriously.
We started out at Sisar Road and Hwy 150 in Ojai. We weren’t sure where to park so we parked on Topa Road. Wasn’t a problem. Began our ascent at around 10am with sunny conditions, no wind, and a temp around 64 or so. Beautiful weather, absolutely beautiful. We went up about .7 miles to the beginning of the trail/dirt road, right at the entry gate (and water tower). We continued down this dirt road, passing two pleasant stream crossings, and reaching a more defined dirt road. We followed this dirt road about 2.5 miles or so, up to the Red Reef Trail junction. We continued down this trail, which is one of massive beauty, showing plenty of Manzanita and other beautiful mountain flora. After about a mile, we came upon White Ledge Campground, which is basically 2 camp sites sandwiched between a stream. Really pretty though. We took a break, where I consumed a bit of Hammer Gel… and then we continued. The second half of this little trail is about a mile and a half of muddier terrain, with lots of little pricklies and tons of bear tracks. The temperature started to drop and clouds started to roll in around us. We also noticed an increase in snow coverage. After about a mile and a half, we came upon a dirt road (the same dirt road we had ascended earlier) and turned right. By now, the temps were in the 40’s, the wind was a bit breezier, and we were in about an inch or two of snow consistently. Also saw some more good tracks, including… someone with a really small crampon? Weird. We trudged on. The snow cover increased… 3 inches… 5 inches… a foot… until about a mile down, we came upon the end of the dirt road (technically a parking lot). Here, the temps were probably around the low 30’s, a stronger wind, and the fog was VERY dense. Suck. We continued for another half mile or so until the snow was just too much and we realized we would not be ascending our goal of Hines Peak today. We were only a couple miles away from Hines Peak. Talk about bummer. But we didn’t have crampons and we couldn’t see more than 75 feet in front of us. It just wouldn’t have been fun. 5650′ or so would be our limit today (Hines Peak is about 6700 and change).
We turned around and headed back down. Instead of taking the Red Reef Trail through White Ledge Camp again, we chose to take the long, gradual way down: the dirt road. This adds about 4 miles or so to the trip. But that’s cool. We wanted to extend this hike into a bit of a longer hike, plus we were moving at a good clip today, neither of us were tired in any way, and the idea of coming close to a 20 miler was exciting to us. So we trudged down the dirt road…. and trudged… and trudged. It was a looooong descent but was very gradual and easy… and very scenic. We witnessed a BEAUTIFUL sunset (see pics). By sundown, we were about 2.5 miles from the car and it was headlamp time! God bless the Black Diamond Spot! (although the new Storm is REALLY REALLY awesome!) We reached Victor’s Honda by a few after 7, capping off a long, fun, and scenic day hike.
I layed a medium Smartwool top and Patagonia Cap 2 bottoms under a North Face windstopper shirt and Arc’teryx Beta AR bottoms. I also added an REI Hood River (cheap) fleece, a hat, and some gloves when we got to the deeper snow. Footwear-wise, I worse Smartwool PhD socks with Salomon XA Ultra’s. My clothing system worked out perfectly.
I used a Z35 pack (Gregory) with Black Diamond Contour Elliptical trekking poles. That worked great. Food-wise, I took in about 9 Hammer Gel shots, about a liter of Perpetuem/Crystal Lite/HEED, and about a liter and a half of water. I brought another 2 liters of liquids but didn’t need them.
This hike was fun, but will be better in the Spring when we can summit!
4500′ elevation gain
took 8:53 minutes
4800 calories burned 🙂
average speed: 2.8 mph