Just Jeff's Hiking Page

"Going to the woods is going home, for I suppose
we came from the woods originally."

- John Muir

Little Sur Part 3, Los Padres National Forest
26-27 Aug 06

My oldest son's birthday was this week...I was THRILLED that he wanted a hiking trip instead of a birthday party! So we invited one of his friends along and went to Little Sur River Camp again. (I didn't want to put pics of him on the internet without his parents' permission, so most of the good pics of this trip aren't on here.) Pretty easy 2.5 miles down and we made good time to camp. We went farther than we've ever gone when we got to the river, though...and we found the PERFECT hammock site! There are lots of rocks and very little level ground, so a tent wouldn't be very comfortable here...as evidenced by the lack of a fire ring (there are about 5 rings in this camp, barely in sight of each other). But the trees are perfectly spaced for three hammocks right on the shore. And the river opens up into a nice (but cold) swimming hole right here.

So we set up camp and I fiddled around while the kids went rock hopping. I slept in the newly altered DownHammock with the SD Wicked Fastbag, my son was in the HH Backpacker Ultralite Asym with the JRB Nest underneath and a homemade top quilt, inside, and his friend was in the Crazy Creek with a CCF pad and a JRB No Sniveler top quilt. This area averages .11" of rain in August so we didn't bother with the tarps...we used the JRB 8x8, MacCat Standard and stock HH tarp as pillows. We didn't even use skeeter juice and I only got one bite all weekend. Nighttime temps stayed in the 50s overnight with a low 48F at 7am.

On the drive down, we stopped by Subway so we could pack in some sam'iches for dinner...better than backpacking food and much easier to prepare - a few rocks in the river made a great dinner table.

After dinner we crossed the creek to see what we could find, and near the opposite shore a log floated...with about 300 ladybugs on it! There was a big cluster (in the pic below) and a few smaller clusters. I'm not sure why they were on there...it's not like they were stranded since ladybugs can fly, but after we studied them for a while I dragged the log to the shore in case they needed to crawl off. None of them moved, though.

And the bats! As the kids played and the sun set (the river is in a steep valley so it stays light long after the sun has disappeared), I laid on a rock looking at the only sliver of sky I could see...and I saw about a hundred little bugs flitting around. When I looked closer, they were flying just above the treetops, which are mostly redwoods...that threw off my perspective, so they were much bigger. Bats! I'm not sure what kind they were but they were all pretty small and flitted around almost like butterflies...not like the bats I've seen back East. It was pretty cool. But it got cooler...

Back at camp we were getting ready to lay down...light was fading and a haze was obscuring any moonlight we could have seen...visibility was about 100'. All the sudden I saw something circling the swimming hole. Another bat! He was patrolling about 2" above the water, and every so often he'd pluck up a water bug, barely making a splash. It was awesome! Then he'd fly about 20' higher for thirty seconds or so, then make a few more patrols. Then he'd switch directions.

Even cooler, as I stood right next to the DownHammock watching, the bat flew UNDER the hammock, about a foot off the ground an 6" from my legs! We watched for about ten minutes until it was too dark to see them...there were 1-3 bats flying right there in front of us the whole time. These guys were fuzzy and gray, with kind of a blue tinge like battleship gray, and a wingspan barely bigger than my hand...probably 8-10" tops. When it was too dark to see them any longer, the kids got in their hammocks and I stood next to them talking for a few minutes. Every so often a bat whizzed by right over their hammocks, about a foot from us! These bats were surely one of the highlights of this trip!

I had hung the DownHammock without a ridgeline, but when I climbed in I didn't like the shoulder squeeze so I added a ridgeline really quick. Laid there for a while listening to the kids talk, then to the forest sounds...river gurgling, bugs singing, random rustles in the leaves, even a few big snaps and pops that made me hope for a good sighting...and eventually we were all asleep.

Looking upstream was eastward so I hoped to have an excellent view of the sunrise, but it wasn't to be...still a nice place to wake up, though. I piddled around until the kids got up, then made freezer bag oatmeal and started packing up. We wandered around the river for a while before hiking out, and I took some pics of the rocks someone had balanced out in the river...rock balancing and sculptures are kinda the thing to do out here in Cali. Takes some skill for some of them; they're pretty impressive.

We started up at ~9:45am. The trip up was a bit harder than the trip down, but pretty uneventful. We did find some interesting tracks at a bend in the road. First I saw some pretty deep deer tracks in the road. Some of the tracks had little holes right behind each hoof that I hadn't seen before. Since the holes were so deep I thought the deer might have been running away from something, but all I saw were some racoon prints and some older dog tracks. Nothing exciting, but it was pretty interesting that the only animal prints we saw this whole trip were right there together.

So we got to the gate just after 11:30, and the bugs were pretty bad in the parking lot so we threw everything in the Jeep (still had the top off) and got outta there pretty quick. Got home, showered, ate dinner and went to see How to Eat Fried Worms. Pretty good movie if you have kids. Great trip, and I love getting the kids outdoors and away from the video games...even if it's topped off by a movie!

Saturday, 26 Aug 06

Hiking down to Little Sur River Camp

Looking downstream from the campsite

Perfect Hammock Site!

Better than my dinner table at home...

Playing in the river

Ladybug Log

The campsite from across the river

Bedtime for me...

Sunday, 27 Aug 06

Crazy Creek and Hennessy

Balancing Rocks

Getting ready for the hike out

Almost there...resting on the Jeep trail

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