This hike starts and goes east from the same point my previous hike started and went west. Sandberg Trail starts on the Old Ridge Route, 3 or 4 miles northwest and a thousand feet lower in elevation from where I walked this one. It is a hiking trail that has been taken over by bicyclists. People like to drive to the top and then ride down. Very very few climb the hill on a bike – although I could see a motorcycle doing it.
Click on any image to make it bigger. There is an NSFW picture down below, so be careful at work.
I park in my usual spot near Lieber Mountain Ridge Peak No cars at the bottom, 2:30p on a weekday afternoon, no cars at the top. I have the trail all to myself. My clothes are off the instant I exit the car.
It is still hitting 100F back home. The temperature drops by about 4 degrees for every 1000 ft. of elevation gain. I’m 4,500 ft. higher here, so the temps will peak in the low 80s F. Perfect weather for a short hike! Unfortunately the land below is parched and ready to explode into fire if you look at it the wrong way. This greatly magnified image is a wildfire dozens of miles to the northeast in the Tehachapi Mountains. The map is from Cal Topo and shows the location of the fire.
I do stay on alert for wildfire. If there’s even a hint of wildfire near you, leave immediately.
The hike is through identical terrain as my last one, oak savanna on the north slope of a ridge. The fire did not make it this far, so there’s no burn on the south side. The white halo around the tree leaves is a photographic artifact.
I check the trail for tracks. There were the same bicycle tracks I saw a week ago. Nobody new had gone by in that time. I also notice small bear tracks. These were maybe 4 inches wide, indicating a smaller bear, maybe a juvenile. Mamma’s tracks were nowhere to be found so I suspect this one was newly on its own.
This is a wildlife water guzzler. It is designed to let small animals and bird get water through the summer while keeping larger animals out. There’s a gutter along the lower side of the roof that channels rainfall and snowmelt into the container below but you can’t see it from this angle. It hasn’t been accessed in a long time and it was dry. Perhaps the dry winter and spring is to blame.
Patches of ground were covered with these flowers. I don’t know the species.
The trail is downhill of the road for much of the way. A long time ago someone shoved this car over the edge and it rolled downhill for maybe a hundred yards. I don’t know what year the car is but it is very old. A junk car can last for centuries out here in the arid climate.
This time around I decided not to wear my pack but rather to carry it like a suitcase. I feel much more comfortable and free hiking with nothing on and a pack is just another thing to wear. On short hikes you don’t need to carry much making the option easier. Of course, hat and shoes are still necessary for safety. On longer hikes you’d really want a lot of water, so it would be too heavy to easily carry that way.
There were 3 places the trail was briefly close enough to the road (Liebre Mountain road, 7N23) that I could be seen. (You can guess where they are from the map.) Very unlikely, but I dropped downhill to stay out of view anyhow. I may be completely legal but I could still be harried by the morally constipated and I don’t need the aggravation.
One car eventually drove up the road, as I was leaving, around 6pm. Probably someone taking a spin after work. Other than that is was empty all day.
It’s still a perfectly good hike and I’m not married to the trail. Sometimes the best things are off trail, like this old car and that guzzler.
I encountered a pair of young bucks just hanging out together. When they say me they ran in opposite directions. The pictures are greatly magnified and blurry from motion.
The trail weaves in and out of the trees and up and down small hills. Alternating between sun and shade felt exquisite!
Thru breaks in the trees you can see the Antelope Valley, 3000 feet below you and miserably hot, stretching for several dozen miles. I never lost cell reception, ranging from one to 4 bars. Even got a phone call from one of my retirement plans while I was up there.
Near the end of my hike I found some milk weeds. They are poisonous to most critters but a few insects like them, the most famous being the monarch butterfly. In this care we see the flowers being pollinated by a Pepsis wasp, aka the tarantula hawk . The wasp has the most painful sting in America and about the third most painful in the world. First aid consists of falling down, thrashing about and screaming in pain for an hour. After that you’re perfectly fine.
Fortunately it is a very passive critter and the adult feeds entirely on nectar. Unless you are a tarantula, it has zero interest in stinging you. Unlike other bees and wasps, there’s no instinct to attack. If you were stupid enough to grab it and hold it against your skin, you would regret it. Otherwise it just wants to fly away.
I soon came to my turnaround point and had a snack and tanked up on water. Then I headed back, seeing the same terrain thru a new perspective. A little over 4 miles on a warm summer afternoon and I am happy!
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There are so many beautiful hikes out here! Since the COVID shut-down was lifted the trails have become empty again. People are back to work during the week. I’ve got about 50 miles of the PCT all to myself during on weekdays as well as many other local trails.
The bonus is that many are at a higher elevation. Being retired, I can pick and chose when to go and I can afford to drive an hour to get there. While the lowland roasts, it is cool up there.
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I miss hiking in California. I can’t believe I just said that from Colorado, but there it is.
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You’re going out alone, you should be carrying emergency gear.
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I do. That’s why I take a fanny pack. This is a very safe hike. Guaranteed good weather. No rock climbing, easy trail, open terrain, never far from a road. Good cell reception, plus a SPOT communicator. If I had to spend the night, (hard to imagine why I would) I’d wrap up in a space blanket before I’d start a fire. Much too dangerous.
If I’m trekking off to somewhere really wild – and I do a lot of that too – I’ll take a backpack with more gear.