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O U T DOO R J O U R NAL spring 2016

Spring 2016

NIGHT RIDING Mtb crews do it in the dark

SHIPWRECKS History on the sea ямВoor

CONDOR TRAIL Piru to Big Sur by foot

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PETER HAD BOTH KNEES REPLACED AT SANTA BARBARA COTTAGE HOSPITAL. Now, he’s back playing tennis 3 times a week.

Peter Ojai, California Continuous pain in both knees prevented Peter from staying active. Cottage Center for Orthopedics affiliated physicians help people like Peter every day. In 2015, they performed over 1,200 joint replacements, more than anyone else on California’s Central Coast. Peter chose experience. Today, he is back doing what he loves.



To Make an Appointment with one of our nationally recognized orthopedic specialists, please call 1-855-3-NO-PAIN For information on our next free Meet the Doc Seminar, visit

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running geeks rejoice

Born To Run Ultra Marathon Extravaganza Running Festival This is the run that you have heard about. This event needs no introduction so we will give none. If we had to explain, you wouldn’t understand.

May 11 to 15, 2016

Los Olivos, California

10 Mile • 30 Mile • 60 Mile • 100 Mile • 200 Mile and Four Day Trail Runs Camping • Live Music • Art • Tattoos • Running games and more!

Born To Run 2016 will sell out. Register now! Complete information and registration at Questions? White Ledge_March2016.indd 3 Born to Run.indd 1

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Behold, From this jagged precipice, we can see for miles and miles. It was worth the climb, and chances are when we get back down the mountain, the first thing we’ll start planning is the next trip up, despite the blisters and the sweaty socks that smell of a musty 1973 Italian moscato that was improperly cellared. We’re not sure if it’s the journey or destination that motivates the outdoorspeople of the Tri-Counties and their incessant exploring. There are a lot of us who share the unscratchable itch to find the far-flung places and who fixate on bending time backward and devolving to our more feral and familiar selves. White Ledge Outdoor Journal is thirsty to capture it all. In this issue, our first*, we cover a lot of ground. We bring to light stories of the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary seafloor and the skeletons of shipwrecks that make it an underwater marine cemetery. Plus, we strapped on our night vision goggles to ascend peaks with mountain bikers who prefer doing it in the dark. It’s just more fun that way. Anything goes in this journal of the wilder side of Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. The menu of outdoor pursuits, from camping to rock climbing, scuba diving to hang gliding, scrolls on and on and begs people to squeeze every ounce possible from the robust and generous terrain that keeps tickling our thrill bones. In our minds, the most compelling part of properly journaling the latest and greatest of the Central Coast outdoor lifestyle is that these are stories about your friends and neighbors who push their personal limits right here in your backyard. PETER DUGRÉ AND LEA BOYD, Directors *Full disclosure: White Ledge debuted as Tread in December 2015. Another Tread magazine came out at the same time, so we moved on and love White Ledge, which offers the same badass content minus a doppleganger. 4

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The Tri-Counties' answer to the Pacific Crest Trail is the Condor Trail. It stretches from Lake Piru to Big Sur and includes unexplored and incomplete segments not for the faint of heart.


Strapping on a headlamp and climbing into the blackness of night while saddled up on a mountain bike is all the rage. Read about groups of night riders who find their thrills by throwing a curveball into the routine of riding by the light of day.

Matt Dayka


Get submarine for a look at the skeletons of ships lost in Santa Barbara Channel. Underwater exploration of shipwrecks mixes marine biology and archeology.


Getting kids in nature shouldn't be a chore, but alarmingly, the little ones need a nudge to escape electronics overload. Nurturing kids with nature—and the dirt, rocks and risks that come along with outdoor pursuits—is imperative to avoid Nature Deficit Disorder.

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Beth Cox


Paul Kelly

28 36

M A T T DA YKA Matt Dayka, who shot ultrarunner Luis Escobar this issue, is a freelance photographer with a deep love for nature and adventure. He splits his time among Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and traveling the world on assignment. While trail running is his main activity, he also loves rock climbing, backpacking, camping and cycling and often can be found bumming around in his beloved ’86 Westfalia .

Joseph Dovala


ON THE COVER: Sean Ramirez charges hard at the Ventura River Preserve, Ojai. Photo by Paul Kelly


1 6 OP EN K I T CH EN :



Races, group outings and lectures Trails, sea lions, volunteer rangers and more


A bromance blossoms over wildflowers


Conquer seven SLO peaks #pixonpeaks

Foraging for fungi

Ultrarunner Luis Escobar

2 5 T OP 1 0 :

Waterfalls and swimming holes

3 4 GET T H E GEA R: Rock climbing harnesses

P A U L KE L L Y It al l sta r te d w i th a K od a k 110 c a me r a at 10 ye a r s ol d . S i n c e th e n K e l l y , th i s i ssu e's n i gh t mou n ta i n b i k i n g p h otogr a ph er, h a s h a d a c a me r a i n h i s h a n d s a t al l ti m es . Grow i n g u p i n th e Wh i te M ou n tai n s o f N e w H a mp s h i re c l i mb i n g, h i k i n g, sn o wbo a rd i n g a n d w a n d e r i n g, i t w a s on l y n atu ral to b r i n g a c a me r a on w h a te ve r o u tdo o r a d ve n tu re h e f ou n d h i ms e l f on . A f o r m er U. S . N a vy p h otojou r n a l i s t, K e l l y h as trave l e d a n d s h ot a l l ove r A s i a a n d o th er pa r ts of th e w or l d . La te l y h e c a n b e f o u n d shooti n g l ots of p h otos of p e op l e , u su al l y o n tw o w h e e l s i n th e d i r t. To s e e h i s wo rk , vi s i t w w w . p jk p h oto. s mu gmu g. co m .

Spring 2016

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Moonlight adds a little magic to just about any activity, and the folks at Paddle Sports Center have discovered that it turns a standard stand up paddle into a night of alluring adventure. The shop, located in Santa Barbara at 117 Harbor Way, schedules its night excursions around the full moon, and this spring’s are lined up for March 23 and April 21 at 6:30 p.m. and May 21 at 7 p.m. Paddlers must bring a white headlamp and should bring a watch and be on time. It’s not a good time to learn the sport—paddlers should have some experience under their belts. The cost is $10 for members and $25 for non-members. Find out more by calling (805) 617-3425.

ORCHARD TO OCEAN RACE 10k, 5k and 1-mile fun run, Carpinteria Children’s Project at Main, 5201 8th Street, Carpinteria,


SANTA BARBARA NINE TRAILS 35MILE ENDURANCE RUN 6 a.m., Jesusita Trailhead to Romero Canyon Trailhead and back, This run covers most of the Santa Barbara front country trail system.

BLOODY NOSE/NORTH DUNE HIKE LED BY THE SANTA LUCIA SIERRA CLUB CHAPTER 10 a.m., Montana de Oro State Park, A 3-mile, 450-foot gain loop hike with ocean views.

MOVING BEYOND OIL: SUSTAINABLE ENERGY AND TRANSPORTATION IN SANTA BARBARA COUNTY 6 - 8 p.m., Farrand Hall in the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2559 Puesta Del Sol, free, 6

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METHANE SEEPAGE ALONG FAULTS IN THE SANTA BARBARA COASTAL AREA LECTURE 7 p.m., Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, members free, non-members $10,

GRAN FUNDO 7 a.m., The Mob Shop, 110 West Ojai Ave., Ojai, 75-mile ride to Pine Mountain summit and back.

STRANDED IN ANTARCTICA: SHACKLETON’S CODE FOR SURVIVAL 7 - 8:30 p.m., Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, members free, non-members $10,

BORN TO RUN ULTRA MARATHONS, RACES 200, 100, 60, 30, 10 miles. East Creek Ranch, Los Olivos, www.ultrasignup. com. A weekend of camping and trail running created by runners for runners.

DIRECTORS Lea Boyd Peter DugrĂŠ PRODUCTION MAESTRA Kristyn Whittenton SALES Dan Terry South County Santa Barbara (805) 684-4428 Kathleen Baker Ventura County (202) 412-3105 Carissa Belmont North County Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo (805) 684-4428 CONTRIBUTORS Bryan Conant Beth Cox Claudia Craig Dr. Robert Cummings Matt Dayka Joseph Dovala Glenn Dubock Brandon Fastman Chuck Graham Paul Kelly Jody Pesapane Robin Terry Bernd Zeugswetter SUPPORTING STAFF Andres Nuùo Amy Marie Orozco PRODUCTION SUPPORT Rockwell Printing WHITE LEDGE Spring 2016 Vol. 1, Issue 1 PUBLISHERS Michael VanStry & Gary Dobbins RMG Ventures, LLC Carpinteria, CA White Ledge Outdoor Journal assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. No part of this publication may be reproduced or copied in any form without the express written permission of the publisher. Š2016 RMG Ventures, LLC Distributed Quarterly in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties

KA NAI’A OUTRIGGER CLUB RIG RUN 2016 6 a.m. - 3 p.m., Leadbetter Beach, Santa Barbara, |

WhiteLedgeOutdoor @WhiteLedge

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805-745-1335 • • 5285 Carpinteria Ave.

Celebrating the Outdoors Since 1981

Ventura's Outdoor Store

36 W. Santa Clara St., Ventura (805) 648-3803 Joshua Tree, CA. Photo: Kyle Sparks © 2015 Real Cheap Sports Inc.

Spring 2016

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News Pismo to gain 11 miles of trail

Inspiration has given way to perspiration in the mission to build 11 miles of trails on the 900-acre Pismo Preserve, a recently acquired swath of land under the ownership of The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County. Volunteers numbering 15 to 30 a day started cutting trail through the vast rolling hills of the property in January, and as of the end of February the effort had already reached six miles of the planned 11 over rough and rugged lands. Hikers, bikers and equestrians will be able to use the area, one that climbs 1,000 feet from Highway 101 into the hills and offers unending views of San Luis Bay. Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers and San Luis Obispo Parks, Open Space and Trails organization have been critical in executing the trails project. The mission to convert the once privately owned land into public park space began in 2014. Owners had not been able to develop the property for 20 years and offered it at $12.6 million to the Land Conservancy, provided the deal could be sealed in six months. A feverish and successful fundraising effort followed,

and the transaction was complete in September 2014. “It was an inspiring thing,” comments Kaila Dettman, Land Conservancy of SLO County Executive Director. Everyone from local governments to local business owners got behind the project. “It was a feel good project to support.” The trails, which climb and drop across multiple ridgelines, have won approval of CCCMB test runs. “They had a blast. There are all these rolling hills, and dips and switchbacks,” Dettman says. The next phases of the project, in addition to ongoing trail work, will be permitting and construction of parking lots and bathrooms. Dettman says the project, which might be completed as soon as fall 2016, has tremendous upside in its accessibility to Pismo and Highway 101.

from its Gaviota digs. Last year, the institute rescued 350 animals and fielded 5,000 phone calls due to what’s described as “an unusual mortality event” blamed on increased water temperatures from El Niño and warming trends. Owing to the urgent needs of marine mammals, which are typically spotted on the beach and phoned into the organization (805-5671505) for rescue, CIMWI is pushing to double its capacity. The cost to expand is estimated at $300,000, so fundraising is in full force. The story goes that mothers of young sea lions in particular are having to travel farther and deeper to find herring and anchovies or other food sources, which

CimWi resCues sea lions at reCord PaCe

Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute barely can keep up with the demand for rescuing malnourished sea lion pups. The organization, which expanded to cover both Santa Barbara and Ventura counties last year, has a capacity of about 30 animals, but is spilling out

Rescued sea lion Jody Pesapane

Pismo Preserve

Jon Hall, Restoration Manager of LCSLO


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Santa Cruz Island fox leaves their young stranded for longer periods of time. The mothers themselves are growing malnourished and can’t sustain their young as well on their depleted fat stores. When the young grow old enough to fish independently, “they aren’t having a lot of success on their own,” according to Jenn Levine, stranding operations and animal care operator for CIMWI. The organization ( consists of one part-time paid employee and currently around 100 trained volunteers who do everything from beach rescues to feeding the rescued animals at the facility. If filled to capacity (30 animals), about 350 pounds of fish per week are needed to feed the recuperating pups. Academics who have been studying sea lion pups for decades have told CIMWI that the current situation represents the worst they’ve seen for the young population.

if you find a distressed animal

Do not touch, feed, disturb, harass, cover or pour water on the distressed animal. Stay 50 feet away at a minimum, and be certain to keep dogs away. Call RESCUE HOTLINE: (805) 567-1505.

usfWs proposes delisting three channel island foxes

In February, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it proposes to remove three Channel Island fox subspecies from the endangered species list because they have thriving populations. According to a press release, “The removal of the San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Island fox subspecies from the Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Wildlife would be an historic success for the multiple partners involved in recovery efforts. If the proposal is approved, it will be the fastest successful recovery for any Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed mammal in the United States.” In March 2004, the USFW listed four subspecies of Channel Islands Endangered Species and now proposes to delist three, while

Chuck Graham

downgrading the fourth to threatened. The proposal opened to a 60-day public comment period and academic peer review.

Los Padres Forest Association

Volunteer Wilderness rangers earn recognition

Of the many trailblazers who volunteer their time to keep Los Padres Wilderness trails free and clear, Mike “The Goat Man” Smith earned this year ’s Dave Weaver Wilderness Award. The award is in memory of Weaver, chief organizer of the Los Padres Forest Association Volunteer Wilderness Rangers program, and “goes to the VWR who best exemplifies Weaver ’s spirit of sharing the stoke for the forest and working to keep the trails open and public educated on the proper way to recreate in the forest,” according to Bryan Conant, director of the Los Padres Forest Association. All volunteers are trained in Forest Service protocol, first-aid, visitor contact, safety, trail maintenance techniques and wilderness ethics. The annual VWR Training is hosted each January in the Santa Barbara Ranger District and celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2016. Smith has been involved, maintaining forest between Ventura and Monterey, since year one. Most of his work has focused on the Upper Sisquoc Trail in the San Rafael

Dave Weaver award winners, from left, Rik Christensen, Mickey McTigue and Mike Smith. Wilderness. “If you’ve spent any time along the Sisquoc Trail you’ve certainly reaped the benefits of his hard work, and it’s likely that you’ve crossed paths. Hint: he’s the one with five pack goats in tow,” says Conant. For more information about the Volunteer Wilderness Ranger program or to become a forest volunteer, contact the Los Padres Forest Association: | Spring 2016

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1,000 words Maxwell Frank Isaiah Brothers bombs Gibraltar Road, Santa Barbara.


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Rockfish, Halibut, White Seabass, Ling Cod, Sheephead, Yellowtail and more



805.382.1612 • CISCOS.COM 4151 S. Victoria Ave., Channel Islands Harbor



Purchase a Full Fare on the 6am or 8am trip and receive 1/2 off on the second fare of equal value. With coupon.


*Check website for details Spring 2016

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Wild Things


WHEN DAVID POWDRELL AND HUGH MARGERUM START TALKING ABOUT WILDFLOWERS, IT FEELS MORE LIKE THE TOPIC IS OLD FRIENDS THAN PLANTS. “Remember those wooly blue curls?” Margerum says with slightly raised eyebrows. They exchange a glance and a chuckle, before Powdrell responds, “Oh, yah, we found them off Gibraltar…” and more chuckling follows. The pair dedicated two years to capturing vibrant photographs and collecting information on their petaled muses, a labor of love that became a pocket guide and a stunning coffee table book. The field guide contains basic info needed to identify the plant, including full color photo, leaf description, flower and growing location. The hardback elaborates, providing historical uses of the plants by the Chumash. Though a friendship forged on the squash court hardly foretells of collaboration on a plant identification guide, that’s the abridged version of the story behind “Wildflowers of the Santa Barbara Foothills” and “A Field Guide to Common Plants of the Santa Barbara Foothills and Southern California.” In the early 2000s, after years of on-court competition, Powdrell and Margerum decided to take their friendship outside the athletic club and onto the trails of Santa Barbara. It happened to be one of the last great spring blooms in the area, and the splashes of color along their hikes quickly piqued curiosity. Initially, the accidental botanists decided to create a small guide and print a few dozen copies for friends. They discovered the last field guide to Santa Barbara wildflowers was published in the 1940s and contained only drawings and descriptions. Ultimately, Powdrell and Margerum published thousands of copies of the two versions, which can now be found at Chaucers, Santa Barbara Botanical Garden, the S.B. Airport and the PURPLE SAGE S.B. Natural HisSalvia leucophylla Find this bloomer betory Museum. tween May and July on dry slopes with plenty of sun exposure. The evergreen shrub is popular with homeopaths, who use it as a remedy for digestive disorders and sore throats.


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David Powdrell, left, and Hugh Margerum enjoy a spring morning in the company of Ceanothus.

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Quic k and dirty wildflower id Authors David Powdrell and Hugh Margerum share a selection of their favorite wildflowers with White Ledge readers.


Caterpillar pHaCelia


Phacelia cicutaria The flowers on this two-foot tall annual uncoil from caterpillar-shaped stems. Covered in bristly hairs that stick to socks, the wildflower thrives on the dry slopes of the foothills.

Yucca whipplei When the yucca is ready to bloom, it sends out a tall stalk, up to 11 feet that produces hundreds of flowers. Then it withers and dies. The Chumash used yucca for many purposes, making flour from the seeds and nets and baskets from their fibrous leaves.

Greenbark CeanotHuS


buSH poppy

Ceanothus spinosus When this native shrub blooms in February through May, entire hillsides can look as though they are covered with a light dusting of snow. These 10-foot shrubs are abundant below 3,000 feet and had many uses, including shampoo, for the Chumash.

Lotus scoparius The flowers on this year-round bloomer change color as they mature—from yellow to orange to red. Deerweed is a bushy plant that thrives in chaparral and coastal sage scrub and grows abundantly on trails throughout the Santa Barbara foothills.

Dendromecon rigida Showy, bright yellow flowers bloom between March and June on this native shrub. The plant grows to 10 feet, prefers full sun and commonly is found in burn areas.

buSH monkey flower

CHalk live forever

Humboldt lily

Mimulus aurantiacus This coastal chaparral inhabitant is quick to appear after a fire and grows to about four feet. Found on nearly every trail in the Santa Barbara foothills, the flower closes up if touched in order to protect any pollen deposited inside.

Dudleya pulverulenta This native succulent covers many of the area’s dry, rocky slopes. From its low-growing base, it produces long spikes of pinkish or reddish flowers.

Lilium humboldtii This gem is among the most elusive wildflowers in the Santa Barbara foothills. It grows in shaded habitats near streams and is found primarily in California’s foothills at elevations up to 4,500 feet. |

Canyon Sunflower

Venegasia carpesioides The canyon sunflower is among few local natives with exceptionally long blooming periods. Blooms last from February through September on the perennial shrub that grows up to five feet. Look for it along creekside trails.

Spring 2016

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Weekend Play

City of sLo:

InspIrIng hIkers one hashtag at a tIme Are you like most people? you consider yourself spontaneous and open to change then you find the same coffee drink from the same cafe in your hand every morning, and you buy the same brand of socks that your mom started picking out for you decades ago? Are your choices in outdoor recreation stuck in a rut as well? the good people at White

Ledge also admit to being loyal to a fault to some favorite haunts and habits, and we’re inspired by san luis obispo’s #pixonpeaks challenge, which is getting hikers and trail runners off the beaten path (read: the littered, eroded, congested path) and onto some trails less traveled. #pixonpeaks is slo’s antidote to Bishop peak trail’s overuse. the trail is

worth trekking, yes. it leads to a peak with 360-degree views from a playground of boulders, and it can be accomplished in just over an hour. But the curse of its popularity lies in the water bottles and doggy poop bags collecting trailside and a hiking experience that can feel more like lA’s rush hour than slo’s great outdoors. in response, the city issued a challenge: hike seven of slo’s gorgeous-yetoverlooked trails, take a selfie at the top of each and receive a cool t-shirt that says as much. And it’s really caught on. since it launched last september, #pixonpeaks has celebrated about 60 finishers, and the city estimates another 50 people have started the challenge. “Not only is the reduction of traffic to Bishop peak an accomplishment, it has educated so many people about the diversity of our city’s open spaces that even some of our most avid hikers were unaware of,” says city representative Jamie Bell. Natosha Hoover (@life_with_the_

Natosha Hoover tops out on the Morro View peak. Natosha Hoover


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wolf) was number five to complete the challenge. Her boyfriend, Kevin Wolf, was number four. The pair ran the trails separately, relying on personal competition to motivate their pace. They notched all seven peaks in about two weeks. “I was pretty proud of myself for completing it,” says Hoover. “It was very rewarding.” For Hoover, completing the challenge validated all the effort she’d put into changing her lifestyle. The Running Warehouse employee picked up trail running when she started dating Wolf two and a half years ago. At the time she weighed 300 pounds and smoked a half pack a day. She started exercising, dropped smoking and adopted a vegetarian diet. Two years later she finished SLO’s seven-summit test in the top five. Kris Griffin (1kagey1) was simply hiking one day last January when #PixOnPeaks found her. She got to the top of the Reservoir Canyon trail and hashtagged a photo on Instagram. Not long after, she received a message from @PixOnPeaks inviting her to participate in the challenge. “It was definitely something I wanted to be a part of,” she says. Griffin regularly tries to work a 10mile hike into her weekends and cram in a 4- to 5-miler after work sometimes. Still, the trail regular learned about new routes as she checked hikes off her

Kris Griffin stays fit and collects breathtaking SLO views. #PixOnPeaks list. The Eucs, she says, was new to her and “totally cool,” and Ocean View was another she’ll add to her repertoire. Ocean View trail was Hoover ’s favorite new trail. “I’d never been to Irish Hills. I got to discover that a lot more and kind of fell in love with Irish Hills after that.” The challenge isn’t about testing one’s grit by tackling seven grueling trails. Reservoir Canyon and The Eucs will keep your heart rate up for a couple hours, but The “M” and South Hills are both short and easy to fit into an afterwork leg stretch. Griffin noted that the city really included “something for everyone” in #PixOnPeaks. By the city’s estimates, #PixOnPeaks has diverted nearly a thousand trips from Bishop Peak. City staff considers it a success and has no plans to end the program any time soon. Inadvertently, the challenge has also helped to develop a new community of hikers who get to know one another on Instagram and sometimes upgrade to face-to-face friendships on the trails. Hoover, who started following about

20 new people due to #PixOnPeaks, occasionally crosses paths with one of them and says, “Hey, I’ve seen you on Instagram on the trails!” |

Take The challenge Seven San Luis Obispo peaks have been designated as spots to take an Instagram photo. Find the list and hiking maps at Follow @PixOnPeaks on Instagram to begin. Step 1: Take a selfie or group photo at the designated peak. Step 2: Tag your photo with the hashtag #PixOnPeaks, as well as the hashtag for the particular location where the photo was taken. Step 3: Visit Parks and Recreation, 1341 Nipomo Street, to receive your T-shirt. Be sure to bring your phone or camera with all seven photos, especially if you don’t use Instagram. Spring 2016

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Open Kitchen


Dr. Robert Cummings

The big forage: Prized Chanterelles THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MUSHROOMS. They’re fungi that grow from moist, mulchy earth. Still, according to mycologist Dr. Robert Cummings, “People have this interaction with mushrooms. The first thing everyone wants to know is, ‘Is it edible?’” Foraging is primal. Mushrooms are prime time treats of the earth. Albeit, there are several notes of caution. DISCLAIMER: Don’t read this article and go out and eat a wild mushroom without an expert’s blessing and 100-percent certitude in identification. Even if it’s an edible variety, wild mushrooms must always be cooked. 16

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Where they flush

California’s Central Coast is choice territory for finding chanterelles. They’re easy to cook, but aren’t always easy to find. The hunt is part of the intrigue. They can be found near the base of coast live oak trees in the winter and spring of rainy years. “You may have gone to an oak woodland all your life and have never seen one; then in the right year (whatever that means), you’ll find them,” Cummings says. People have their personal hot spots, but they won’t tell you (or White Ledge).

Timing is everything (sort of)

A week or two after a good soaking is the best time to find chanterelles. Cummings recalls the 1982-1983 mushroom year, after a big El Niño, when there were so many chanterelles, “You literally could not give them away.” They can’t be cultivated, and when they will appear is not down to an exact science. It takes a perfect combination of unknown factors to trigger the mushrooms to fruit. Cumming says, “Rain is a necessity, but how much is unknown. Temperatures matter and possibly the right sequence of temperatures. We don’t know. After it rains a lot, I go looking. That’s all I know. Sometimes I get lucky.”

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Bad pickers

Property boundaries must be minded when hunting. A flourish of chanterelles on private property is a boon for private ranchers. Taking their mushrooms is poaching. The other crime of mushroom hunting is raking nature’s mulch. Don’t bring a rake, and disturb as little as possible while unearthing the mushrooms.

Poison patrol

For every edible mushroom, there’s a toxic look-alike. False chanterelles are called Jack-O’-Lanterns. They’re bioluminescent and have distinguishing features that aren’t always detectable to the untrained eye. Eating Jack-O’-Lanterns causes SLUDGE syndrome, an acronym for Salivation, Lacrimation, Urination, Diaphoresis, Gastrointestinal upset, Emesis, all scientific words for emitting fluids from every orifice.

Diagnostic characteristics

1. Chanterelles have shallow ridges on their underside; Jack-O’-Lanterns have deep distinct gills. 2. Chanterelles smell like fresh pumpkin; Jack-O’-Lanterns smell like mushrooms. 3. Chanterelles grow from the ground; Jack-O’-Lanterns grow from wood— either tree trunks or sometimes buried roots or stumps. 4. “There are always exceptions,” Cummings warned. “They just love to fool you.”

False Chanterelles (Jack-O'-Lanterns) Dr. Robert Cummings

Herb Sauteed Chanterelles RE CI PE PROVI DE D T O WHITE LED GE BY CA L I GI RL COOK I NG.CO M 4 cups fresh chanterelles, sliced 2 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1/3 cup sherry Salt & pepper to taste Heat butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When butter is mostly melted, add fresh sage. Once butter has become aromatic (about 3 minutes), add chantrelles, garlic and thyme. Stir to coat. Add sherry to mixture and allow the alcohol to cook out for a few minutes. Once mushrooms feel fairly cooked, add salt and pepper to taste. Allow to simmer for 5-10 additional minutes before serving. |

Spring 2016

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Escobar By the numbers profile

Matt Dayka photos


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s t ory By Lea Boyd A conversAtion About thetricounties’ ultrArunning scene inevitAbly contAins one element, luis escobAr. the 25-year veteran of a sport that hardly existed 25 years ago has assumed a god-like status among the hundreds of endurance runners in the region, a reverence earned by his longevity in the sport, his launch of the biggest trail race in the area, his role in the ultrarunner ’s bible “born to run” and, perhaps most importantly, the authenticity behind his claims that race wins and status don’t matter. For escobar, genuinely, it’s all about the “pure joy of running.” sure, escobar can rattle off impressive race stats, but these days the los Alamos resident and photographer by trade finds more satisfaction in personal contests, the kind that lack bib numbers and registration lines. For example, he says, in July of 2014, he and a partner ran 147 miles from badlands, Death valley to the summit of mount Whitney. he pushed through 120-degree heat and climbed thousands upon thousands of vertical feet to complete a challenge most people would feel uncomfortable watching from inside an air conditioned car. “i wouldn’t

encourage anyone to do it. it’s not a wise thing to do,” he says. but unwise for most is sought-after for escobar. he collects the kind of experience that requires superhuman grit and stamina. last summer, clif bar hired him to follow and photograph famed ultrarunner scott Jurek as he ran most of the Appalachian trail, through 14 states, from georgia to maine, over 47 days. When escobar took a few days off in the middle of the shoot, it wasn’t to nurse sore muscles in a jacuzzi, no, it was to fly back to california to complete the Western states 100-mile endurance run. escobar says he’s spent his whole life running. he started racing in the 1980s, then got bit by the trail bug in 1990 when he entered the first santa barbara nine trails race. From there, the stretches of soil bearing his footprints grew and grew to 120 miles a week, a distance that outpaces what many of us put on our cars. his dashboard odometer, in fact, would have reached six digits sometime in the last few years. now in his 50s, escobar has scaled back his distances somewhat, though he still gets in 40 to 70 miles a week. the running is more therapeutic now and


the piece of advice escobar gives trail runners in training: “run on dirt with the least amount of clothes and the least amount of electronic equipment.”

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things escobar says he’s qualified to do: take pictures and run.

times escobar successfully completed the Western states 100 Mile endurance race. times escobar successfully completed the Hurt 100 in Hawaii, a race that he won in 2000.

times escobar finished the santa Barbara Nine trails 35 Mile endurance run. He ran the inaugural 1990 race and hasn’t missed a year since.


Mt. Washington Summit, New Hampshire

Courtesy of Luis Escobar

Spring 2016

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less about finish times and competition. “I think it’s important we get out from behind our desks and experience dirt and sky. It keeps us sane,” he says. His influence on the area’s running scene can’t be overstated; though in his modesty, he tends to understate most everything. For decades, he’s directed races, coached high school students and served as role model to trail runners far and wide. Endurance running has gotten so huge in recent years that the 10 100-mile races in the United States that existed when Escobar got into the sport in 1990 have multiplied into about 130 today. He encourages people to sign up for “races by runners for runners” like those in

the Southern California Ultra-Runners Grand Prix Series. The goal of the run, he says, is the running itself. “You don’t need a race or race director to validate what you’re doing.” It’s not about the gear either, Escobar adds. He selects the correct tool for the job, and has a variety of running shoes and sandals (yes, sandals) to choose from. “With that said, when I wear socks they are Drymax, my current trail shoe of choice is the Brooks PureGrit and all of my hydration packs, bottles and belts are from Ultimate Direction.” And he does have an all-time favorite post-run replacement drink: ice cold chocolate milk.



Escobar’s age. After 25 years of constant running, he says, “I feel that longevity is my biggest accomplishment.”



Amount of carbohydrates Escobar aims to consume each hour of an extremely long run. “Experienced endurance runners know that extreme long distance running is really an eating and drinking contest.”

1,200 Number of people who race in Born to Run, an ultrarunner event that Escobar founded in 2009, when 68 people turned out to trail run in Los Olivos. Now it’s the largest trail running event in the Tri-Counties. “It’s evolved into a running festival,” Escobar says. This year’s is scheduled for May 11-15 (


Year that Escobar traveled to Mexico to race with the Tarahumara Indians, an experience depicted in Christopher McDougall’s best-selling book “Born to Run.” Escobar was among the seven Americans invited to participate in the Copper Canyon race that has since changed the world’s perspective on long distance running. | Pauuoa Flats, Oahu, Hawaii

Courtesy of Luis Escobar


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3/10/16 4:21 PM


the call of the wild


BACK IN THE MID-1990S, WHILE BACKPACKING ALONG THE SISQUOC RIVER, I HAD NO IDEA I WAS ACTUALLY ON THE CONDOR TRAIL. My wife Lori dropped off me and a friend, Leo Downey, in Cuyama and we backpacked home, finishing in Montecito. I can remember pile driving through nearly impenetrable chaparral along the Sisquoc River, ticks showering down like rain in this dense section of the 410-mile thru-hike in the heart of the Los Padres National Forest (LPNF). The Condor Trail begins at the backend of Lake Piru in Ventura County, making its way from sea level to 7,000 feet through the Sespe Wilderness

and a portion of the Dick Smith Wilderness, follows the gradual flow of the Sisquoc River in the San Rafael Wilderness, traverses its way up and over the Sierra Madre Mountains, crosses over Highway 166, hugs the coastal route along Highway 1 from Morro Bay, Cayucos, Cambria and San Simeon before finishing at the north end of Big Sur at Botchers Gap within the northern Monterey Ranger District. “This is some of the most difficult portions of the Condor Trail,” says Bryan Conant of the Sisquoc River section. “There’s a lot of work to be done. Our mission is to keep it off of roads and in the wilderness as much as possible.”

What’s in a name?

To say the endangered California condor and the Condor Trail parallel each other would be an understatement. The Condor Trail traverses and winds its way for over 400 hard miles from Lake Piru to Big Sur. It also happens to be one of the last strongholds for North America’s largest flying landbird. The trail and this Pleistocene remnant both need help

The Sespe Wilderness Spring 2016

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Leo Downey leaves the Sisquoc River below

Map by Bryan Conant

to survive. California condors still rely on human intervention for survival. The fight against lead poisoning, consumption of trash, loss of critical habitat and the bird’s perpetual curiosity keep it on the brink of extinction while the species attempts to reclaim historic territory. The Condor Trail is a work in progress, a labor of tough love, and according to Conant, that might always be the case. “Following in the footsteps of other long distance trails, I don’t see it ever being completed, so to speak,” says Conant, who works for the nonprofit Los Padres Forest Association. “The Pacific Crest Trail continues to change and improve. I see annual tweaks along the CT as well." In that sense the Condor Trail is like a child that needs to be nurtured one step at a time as it navigates through life. Funds need to be raised for trail crews to construct new routes and maintain established trails. There are large sections of trail that need to be reclaimed due to overgrown chaparral or sections of trail washed out in a storm. The Condor Trail is actually a popular and vital flyway for populations of condors congregating between Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge northeast of Fillmore and in the Ventana 22

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Wilderness in Big Sur. It’s also bringing hikers and backpackers together as word gets out that this thru-hike connects those to the forest.

Vision quest

The Condor Trail idea was originally hatched by a Los Padres National Forest Service historian and trail worker, Alan Coles. He had the vision of connecting the backend of Lake Piru to the Manzana Schoolhouse. According to Conant, Coles enlisted close friends like Chris Danch. Danch was wooed by the possibilities of creating a route, and eventually he expanded on Cole’s original plan. “(Danch) felt the trail should extend across the entire length of forest up to Monterey,” says Conant. “He took the reins, furthering the route.” Danch ran the trail project for a decade and made huge strides in the development of the CT, Conant said. He introduced the concept to the public while garnering support from the Forest Service; however, as time rolled on and for unspecified reasons Danch ran out of steam in the early 2000s, and with it the CT fell dormant, hibernating away in the dense chaparral.

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A Sespe cool down

Southern Pacific Rattlesnake

Matilija Poppy

California Condors Spring 2016

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Big Sur In the late 1990s, Conant—who was in the throes of mapping the LPNF—attended a lecture on the CT delivered by Danch at the Santa Barbara Central Library. Conant fell in love with the project. “Afterwards I had some time and started poking around to see where the CT was,” continues the Santa Barbara area cartographer. “I found out that nothing was going on with it, and so I decided to resuscitate it and bring it back to life.” He got down to work creating a nonprofit 501c3 called the Condor Trail Association, building a website and creating a following of like-minded hikers and back-

South Fork of the Sisquoc River 24

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packers spanning the length of the LPNF. Since then, Danch has rejoined the effort moving forward to complete the trail.

Challenges ahead

Conant is in this for the long term. As a cartographer who has mapped vast swaths of the LPNF, and with his duties at the LPFA, he sees it as less of a race to the finish line and more of an evolution. He doesn’t spend as much time as he used to on the CT, but with his work with the LPFA there’s not a lack of trail projects to pursue. In 2015 Conant spent about 20 days on the trail. “Most of the route is in place, at least on paper,” explained Conant, who has explored most of the trail in the southern Los Padres. “There are still sections that are so overgrown that we are detouring hikers around them. The plan is to get those sections of trail followable again so we can send hikers along those routes.” There are some private property issues on the route once a hiker/backpacker leaves the Willow Spring Trail from the south and crosses over Highway 166 heading north. After walking approximately 3 miles west on the highway, the trail continues at the Adobe Trailhead. “We have a vision to alter this intersection, but at the moment that is the current route,” he says. “Currently we are sending hikers out of the way around the private property. Ultimately we’d like to work a plan with the private property owners.” One of the CT’s biggest challenges was met head on in 2015. Late last spring the first thru-hiker negotiated the entire

route in 37 days. San Diegan Brittany Nielsen rode the train to Ventura, and Conant dropped her off at the trailhead at Lake Piru. She finished her thru-hike in late June 2015. Through many trials and tribulations, Nielsen stuck it out, absorbing all the peaks and valleys and the many obstacles the forest could throw at her along the way. She endured lengthy bushwhacking sections and stretches without water. She encountered few people along the way, 20 individuals during the entire route, and temps fluctuated from freezing to triple digits. On the flip side of things, she hiked beneath towering redwood forests, experienced incredible wildlife, emerald green pools and the perpetual solitude that makes the forest a true escape. “The biggest challenge for the trail was getting the first person to complete it,” Conant said. “I think from here on out more people will hike it knowing that it was successfully completed.” |

The Condor calls

• For more information on the Condor Trail Association and its current status, visit • For information on the 2-million acre Los Padres National Forest, visit • For information on the Los Padres Forest Association and its volunteer opportunities, group hikes and membership go to

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3/10/16 4:25 PM

Top 10

Waterfalls &

Swimming Holes Ph otoS by Ch uC k Gra h a m

We fell for it, too. the big rain was coming, so White Ledge began dusting off those neglected plans to prance and frolic in the wetted waterfalls and swimming holes throughout spring and into summer. We’re still holding out hope that this top 10 won’t have to be a keepsake for a future year when the area’s most famous and fun watering holes finally get the recharge they’re dying for. We chose mainstays like Nojoqui and Seven falls and red rock, because they’re so hard to resist, and some more remote falls and swimming holes that beg your bare body to take a dip like indian Creek falls. this isn’t a ranking. each is what you make of it.


Nojoqui Falls

Nojoqui Falls scores points for its ease of access, which isn’t always what turns White Ledge on, but this beaut can be had on a whim without a lot of preparation. It helps that the 163-foot fall comes with a Chumash legend describing its miraculous formation. During a drought, a Chumash leader conducted an all-night prayer and in the morning was led by a female apparition to a fern gully. She ascended a rock wall, and her clothes slipped off and descended into what has been Nojoqui ever since. That’s an image to pack on a vision quest to this little gem.

Get there:

Exit Highway 101 near Gaviota at Old Coast Road and travel about a mile and a half to Alisal Road. From Solvang take Alisal all the way down (about 10 minutes).


seveN Falls

Just a hop, skip and a jump above Santa Barbara, in wetter years, Seven Falls is the hot spot to stay cool. It’s also a great little scramble up Mission Creek, made more difficult if it’s a spring when the creek is flowing (cross fingers). Count the Seven Falls and reap the reward of the three pools at the top, which grow in size as you ascend to the highest.

Get there: Exit Highway 101 at

Nojoqui Falls

Mission. Head for the hills. Take a left at the end of Mission, drive past the Santa Barbara Mission and make a right onto Highway 192, followed by an immediate left on Mission Canyon Road. Go left at the fork onto Tunnel Road and take it to the trailhead at the gate near a water tank. Spring 2016

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Top 10



The hike to Little Falls near Lake Lopez (east of Arroyo Grande) highlights oak woodlands and meadows along Little Falls creek, which might just provide an opportunity to observe the abundance of newts in the area. Take the left fork at Little Falls Trails junction and find the first sign of the waterfall and swimming hole ahead at a pool shaded by sycamores. Just a tad farther upstream is the payoff of Little Falls and its splendid pool.

Get there:

From Arroyo Grande, take Huasna Road (2 miles) and keep left onto Lopez Drive for 8 miles to Lopez Lake. Turn right onto Hi Mountain Road and in a mile go left onto Upper Lopez Canyon Road for 7¼ miles. The last 1½ miles is dirt until the trailhead.


This is a veritable water park complete with cascade slides, pools and some of the wildest water play in the Tri-Counties. Give yourself a full day to meet and greet this hike and its many pools and

falls. The trail to the river is hot and dry, so in order to maximize water time, try biking in to where the trail narrows to single track, then ditch the bikes to hike up the creek. The first pools you come across are well worth some splashes, but the best of the best requires quite a bit of upstream hiking and rock hopping. Warning: Currently the Los Padres National Forest easement is in dispute by a landowner near to the trail.

Get there:

Head up Highway 33 through Ojai and beyond. Turn left onto Matilija Canyon Road and continue nearly 5 miles until the road dead-ends in the parking lot.



The Santa Paula Canyon hike off of Highway 150 is replete with falls and pools. Start out at Thomas Aquinas College and the trail roughly follows the creek. There are a number of pools but the big payoff is about 3½ miles in at Punch Bowl, a scenic, narrow gorge with waterfalls and swimming holes. Punch Bowl is situated between Big Cone Camp and Cross Camp.

Get there:

From Ojai, take Highway 150 11 miles east. The parking area is across from Thomas Aquinas College.



On hot summer days, the sirens of Red Rock call. Drive down Paradise Road from Highway 154, just over the pass from Santa Barbara, and the end of the line and deepest point into the backcountry accessible by vehicle from Paradise Road brings you to Red Rock, a 40-foot monolith that extends from a deep pool along the Santa Ynez River. Sandstone and greenery highlight the sub-20 minute walk to Red Rock. Some jump from the rock. Some die. Some kick back in the pools.

Get there:

Take Highway 154 from Santa Barbara. A couple miles down the backside of the pass, take a right on Paradise Road. Drive to the end.



This offshoot from Cold Springs Trail in Montecito can be one of the best rewards of the hikes behind Montecito (provided there’s water to charge the 100-plus foot falls). Pay attention and do your research because it’s easy to miss the unmarked trail junctions. Start by hiking a short distance up East Fork Trail and cross the creek near the bench onto West Fork Trail. Follow the west side of the creek before an opening where the trail drops closer to the creek. West Fork trail will climb to the left, but to get to Tangerine, drop to the right for some scrambling along an unmaintained trail. The round trip is under 6 miles and offers so much in the way of views and varied terrain.

Get there:

Take Olive Mill exit off of Highway 101 in Montecito and drive toward mountains. The road turns into Hot Springs. Continue on Hot Springs before taking a left on East Mountain Drive. The trailhead is one mile ahead, where Cold Springs Creek crosses the road.

SNAP A SHOT at one Matilija Falls Boyd


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of your favorite waterfalls or swimming holes #whiteledgejournal

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Piedra Blanca

Farther up Highway 33 from Matilija and into the Sespe Wilderness is Piedra Blanca, rock formations that just beg scrambling and climbing, and which are only 1½ miles from the parking area in Rose Valley. Continue a couple of miles past the rocks on the trail to the camping area. Beyond that, the trail drops to the creek. Follow the creek another couple of miles from there to find the ample and secluded swimming hole.

land before venturing into the greenery of the farther reaches of the creek. Note the tiny champagne bubbles dancing through this pool.

Get there: At the top of San Mar-

cos Pass on Highway 154, head east on East Camino Cielo. Drive for 20 miles before heading northwest on 5N15 in Los Padres National Forest for 6 miles. Mono campground is the starting point for the long hike up Indian Creek.

Get there:

10. Paradise


Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks is the launching point to this 70-foot waterfall down volcanic rock into a deep, greenish pool. The hike along Moonridge Trail on the East Side of Indian Creek is fairly well marked and only about 1½ miles in. Another feature of the area is Little Falls, which you might guess are smaller than Paradise Falls.

About 15 miles up the 33 from Ojai, turn right at the Rose Valley sign. About 5 miles down the road, park at the lot for Piedra Blanca. Follow the trail past Piedra Blanca (it’s pretty obvious when you reach these white wonders) and past the campground before charging up the creek.

indian creek

In wet years, this is one of those secluded backcountry pools at which clothing isn’t optional; it’s not an option. This will get you deep into the Dick Smith Wilderness and will require some preparation for the 15-mile round trip up the creek. Prepare to wade through poison oak and some barren


Get there:

Exit Highway 101 at Lynn Road in Thousand Oaks and drive a couple of miles north to Avenida De Los Arboles. Make a left and drive a mile to the end of the road at Big Sky Drive where the trailhead is. |

Tangerine Piedra Blanca swimming hole

Indian Creek Spring 2016

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Kelly Pasco drops the hammer on a Mob Shop-led night ride. 28

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Rincon Riders make the turn.



CAN TELL YOU THAT WHEN WE STARTED OUT, WE WERE SURROUNDED BY AN AVOCADO GROVE. I can tell you that the temperature rose as we ascended above the inversion layer and the trees gave way to chaparral. I can tell you that the chill returned when we reached the peak of our ascent, and our sweat began to dry. I can tell you that, when we looked out from the mountain past the lights of the city below, all that pierced the blackness


of the nighttime Pacific were glowing oil platforms slurping energy from the depths below. I can tell you that I was with the Rincon Riders, a group of avid mountain bikers who live in Carpinteria. I can tell you that, contrary to the sense of smallness you may typically feel when playing in the mountains, riding at night can make you feel like you’re at the center of the world. There’s nothing but you and the 10 yards of dirt and rock ahead of you, illuminated by lights affixed to your helmet and handlebars. Spring 2016

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What I can’t tell you is exactly where we were. Although the Rincon Riders are extremely conscious of trail etiquette, they aren’t quite sure if it’s kosher to ride this particular trail at night. So they ask me not to print our location. There are a lot of reasons to do it in the dark, however. In the winter, if you have to work during typical business hours, you might not have a choice but to squeeze in a mountain bike ride at night. Also, with limited light, familiar trails become more challenging. “It’s more exciting but it’s less dangerous,” Ed Brown, the owner of Open Air Bicycles in Santa Barbara told me. Because a narrow beam keeps him “pinpoint focused,” Brown figures he has actually crashed less at night than in broad daylight.” Brown leads a weekly Wednesday night ride that starts from the upper

“There’s no one else out there. We own the mountain.” - Sergio Alvarez

Mike Billgren's rocky road 30

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A star studded night for Sean Ramirez Spring 2016

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Rincon Riders ready to roll

From left, Mike Billgren, Brett Labistour, Ben Anderson, and Pete Thompson imbibe post ride.


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Bright lights over a little city

Mob Shoppers Kelly Pasco, front, and Sean Ramirez

State Street location of his shop. For years, though, he spent his Wednesday nights chasing Sergio Alvarez around the Santa Ynez mountains. Alvarez, eminence grise at Hazard’s Cyclesport—the oldest bike shop in Santa Barbara—also leads a weekly night ride attended by some of the area’s strongest cyclists. Alvarez guesses that the ride, started in 1985 by his former coworker and racing buddy Aaron Cox, is the oldest in California. Back then, mountain bikes went into storage for the winter, save for the occasional full moon ride. As lights have become cheaper and smaller, especially with the advent of LED lights, it’s become easier to give the autumnal equinox the proverbial one-finger salute. What Alvarez loves about night riding is that the trails are empty. “There’s no one else out there,” he says. “We own the mountain.” Along with dressing in layers, packing

a cell phone, planning your ride, and letting others know where you are, he suggests using a light of at least 750 lumens. It’s best to ride with two lights, one on helmet and one on handlebars. As Ben Anderson, one of the Rincon Riders, explains, “It’s good to have one on your helmet because you should be looking where you’re going,” not just where your bike is pointed. If you’re on a budget, Anderson adds, you can find cheap and powerful CREE lights on, although they may not be as reliable or durable as the brand name lights at your local bike shop. Even after doing it for this long, Alvarez says he’s still finding new loops to conquer, such as a recent epic through Blue Canyon that didn’t end until midnight. (Typical rides start at six o’clock and last two or three hours, but this ride was a birthday gift to one of the Hazard’s regulars.) As Alvarez put it, “We’re still able to make history.” | Spring 2016

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Get the Gear

Rock Climbing Harnesses THEY ALL STRAP AROUND THE WAIST AND THIGHS. They are all safety tested and will hold your weight even if you’re dangling from El Capitan. Yes, we’re talking rock climbing harnesses. Where they differ is in weight and padding and materials and gear loops. How long can you be suspended in the harness? How easily can you get in and out of it? And what type of nook or cranny can you pack it into for your 10-mile trek to the rock. Even if you have utmost faith in your harness, White Ledge recommends checking your equipment each time you go out.

Black Diamond

Misty Mountain, Turbo

Black Diamond has the lowest prices and are prevalent and accessible. They are the harnesses that bring climbing to the people. If you’re deciding whether climbing will be a lifelong pursuit or if it's your latest fleeting hobby, then pick up a Black Diamond Momentum for $50.

Momentum $50 Dip your toes into rock climbing with this harness that will get the job done. It’s a little strappier and lacks some in the area of padding but will sufficiently support your wall crawl. It’s not a top choice for sophisticated climbers or for someone who’s in it for the long haul. Misty Mountain, Titan

Bod $45 Ross at Mountain Air Sports in Santa Barbara says, “I really like this guy for a day out.” The Bod has staying power. It has been in production for decades, and while it lacks some bells and whistles, its longevity proves simplicity can take the day. 34

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Get the Gear

Misty Mountain The harnesses and the company score points for quality, smaller production, adaptability and being “Made in the USA.” Santa Barbara Rock Gym carries Misty Mountain products and retails several types. The benefit of Misty Mountain is real people answer the phone and questions about products, which are tailored to climbers.

Intrepid $89 Less is more. It has everything you need—like four seven-inch gear loops—but nothing you don’t. It’s also lightweight and has convenient quick adjustable legs to accommodate multiple users.

Turbo $95 This is the ultimate cragging harness. It’s lightweight and ideal for a short trip of a couple hours on a single pitch.

Titan $150 This cozy harness has extra padding and is specialized for big walls. If you’re going to Yosemite to conquer El Capitan, this is your guy. Or if you’re photographing climbers or root setting, sit in this all day long and feel the support without getting rubbed the wrong way. It’s a beast with a 5-inch padded waist belt. |

Bernd Zeugswetter

Spring 2016

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Trash & treasure

sB Channel wrecks reveal sunken history s t ory By P eter D u gr é Ph ot os B y Jo sePh D o vala Underwater explorers in santa BarBara Channel mix Up a potent CoCktail of thrills when popping in and oUt of the many aCCessiBle ship and plane wreCks that Came to rest on the marine sanCtUary sea floor. they gear up as aqua people and swim into the depths, hunting for sea life and portraits of a nautical past that sometimes ended in tragedy. every dive is a scientific expedition; wrecks transform into ecosystem-supporting reefs. then there’s the archeological element. ships from the gold rush era, warships from world war i, schooners and military aircraft are preserved in what robert schwemmer, the west Coast regional maritime heritage Coordinator for noaa, considers submerged time capsules. “some of the greatest underwater museums are in California,”

Diver on the Peacock Spring 2016

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Schwemmer says. “Near Point Conception, you can literally swim from a four-stack destroyer to a Gold Rush steamer to a Japanese freighter. There’s a graveyard out there.” A favorite anecdote of Schwemmer's, who relishes the human history aspect of shipwreck exploration, is of two ships, the Santa Rosa and the Harvard, which both met their dismal ends near Point Conception. Through a thick fog, a rancher in the area heard the distress whistle of the Santa Rosa one fateful morning in 1911. As if it were an apparition, the same rancher was struck by déjà vu two years later at hearing an identical sounding whistle. This time, the Harvard was sinking. When the Santa Rosa had sunk two years prior, the whistle was salvaged and fitted onto the Harvard. It was the same sound from the same whistle on a different sinking ship. The Harvard, now a sunken relic of turn of the 20th Century grandeur, was a party boat that allowed the wealthy great indulgences on their trips between

San Francisco and Los Angeles. “Those ships traveled at a pretty good clip. They were magnificent,” Schwemmer says. Along with the Yale, the Harvard came through the Panama Canal after its previous life in the Northeastern U.S. and was a fashionable way to make the passage between San Francisco and LA. Schwemmer, who is still discovering and mapping wrecks all along the West Coast with help from volunteer divers, was part of the 2011 discovery of the George E. Billings, a massive, fivemasted lumber schooner that was deliberately scuttled in 1941 off the coast of Santa Barbara Island. The ship had been converted to a fishing charter boat and regulators asked that it be outfitted with safety upgrades. Rather than pay for the upgrades, owners decided to sink the 40-year-old ship. It sat undiscovered for 70 years.

D i v i n g w r ec k s

All of the shipwrecks in the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary are free for the

diving, and some are shallow enough for divers of all levels to feast upon. These artificial reefs also supply rich habitat for marine animals like California sheephead, the wall-eyed, blunt-foreheaded hermaphrodite of the channel, and Spanish shawls, a brilliantly colored purple, orange and scarlet sea slug. Ken Kollowitz, owner of Channel Islands Dive Adventures, says wreck diving never gets old. “Shipwrecks are showing you new secrets all the time,” he says. Case in point is the history of World War II Minesweeper the Peacock, which rests just offshore at Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island. Divers and historians had long thought it was the wreck of The Spirit of America, but further research left the history unsettled and has historians favoring the Peacock. The verdict is still out on the ship’s identity and full military history. Some vessels have accessible inner hulls, allowing for divers to enter the dark and cavernous tombs, but Kollowitz cautions against any unprepared or

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inexperienced divers venturing in. “The door could be jagged metal. There are a lot of risks. A surge going in and out could push you up against something or leave you trapped,” he says. “Hopefully you’re a person with brains enough to not go in too far.” Wrecks reveal a fascinating intersection between the manmade and natural that keeps divers thirsty to uncover more. “There’s just something mesmerizing about a plane on the sea floor,” Kollowitz says. The dark outlines of wings juxtaposed with a sandy bottom 100-feet deep strikes a place in the imagination usually reserved for dreams and delirium.


Cuba stranded at San Miguel in 1923


(AKA S pirit of America)

Wreck date: 1970s Location: Scorpion anchorage, Santa cruz iSLand This vessel can’t be 100 percent positively identified, but it is known to have the hull of a World War II minesweeper. The Peacock served as a minesweeper in the Pacific and was decommissioned in 1955. Stories of its life after being decommissioned include a stint as a floating bordello, which is conjecture based on red cloth and mirrors found in its hull. In the past, divers could enter the hull, but the softwood has not stood up to time and is now impenetrable. The ship had its engines removed and likely sank at anchor in its position at a depth of 65 feet.


Wreck date: Sept. 8, 1923 Location: San MigueL iSLand The Cuba was launched in 1897 from the shipyard of Blohm and Voss, of Hamburg, Germany. During World War I, the U.S. seized the ship as a floating war prize. It was purchased by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company in 1920 and renamed the Cuba. The ship stranded on rocks in heavy fog.

GeorGe e . b illinGs

Wreck date: 1941 Location: Santa BarBara iSLand Divers had searched for the George E. Billings for 20 years before finding it in 2011. Researchers discovered its location by matching the horizon of Santa Barbara Island to a newspaper photo of the fivemasted schooner sinking. The ship, built in 1903, had been a lumber transport

Sheephead near the Cuba's anchor, windlass and capstan


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The Grumman TBF Avenger

until being repurposed as a sport fishing barge. Ordered by regulators to install a bulkhead, the owners decided the expense wasn’t worth it on the aging vessel and sank it instead.

Winfield Scott

Wreck date: 1853 Location: anacapa isLand This Gold Rush-era side-wheeled steamer was stranded and sank in 1853. True to its maritime era, it carried passengers and gold. Robert Schwemmer, says this wreck is truly remarkable for its period in history and technology. The side wheel still holds its shape despite all the inhabitants both plant and animal who call it home.

the Grumman tBf avenGer

Wreck date: 1944 Location: anacapa isLand The Grumman, built in 1942, saw action in Midway during World War II and could carry a one-ton bomb or four 40

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500-pounders. Although it survived its war missions in the Pacific, the Grumman fell during a training exercise in the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary in 1944. It collided with another plane in its formation and crashed in the channel. The other plane plunged on the opposite side of Anacapa Island and has yet to be discovered. Three lives were lost in the crash. |

ResouR ces foR wReck touR s and infoR mation • Channel Islands Dive Adventures www.Channelislandsdive, (805) 469-7288 • Ventura Dive & Sport, Raptor Dive Charters, 1559 Spinnaker Dr. #108, Ventura, (805) 650-7700 • Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way, Ste 190, Santa Barbara, (805) 962-8404

Rockfish on the Peacock

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805-650-7700 •


Serving the needs of local divers for over 27 years

Fast, comfortable and spacious, the Raptor takes less than an hour to reach the spectacular dive sites of Anacapa and Santa Cruz islands. All dive trips aboard the Raptor include soft drinks, snacks, a nice lunch and a great time!


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Ventura Harbor, 1559 Spinnaker Dr., Suite 108, Ventura, CA 93001

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1,000 words Matt Dayka Figueroa Mountain color wheel


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IF YOU’RE A MOM OR A DAD, A GRANDPARENT, OR JUST ABOUT ANY ADULT WITH A STANDARD-SIZED SERVING OF COMMON SENSE, YOU KNOW THAT GETTING KIDS OUTSIDE IN NATURE IS IMPORTANT. You know that behind those screens their gray matter is congealing instead of popping and fizzing with new connections. But when did our “go out and play” culture get strangled by powercords and pixels? Why is it critical we diagnose that problem and prescribe our kids a cure? Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods,” coined the term Nature Deficit Disorder nearly a decade ago in response to a growing body of evidence indicating that children who don’t spend time in nature suffer for it in many ways—cogni-


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tive, physical, emotional. Since then, a movement to “leave no child inside” has gained momentum in the fight to reconnect children and nature. Over the last several thousand years, humans have gradually moved more and more life indoors. In the last 30 years, however, a high speed disconnection to nature has taken place as a multitude of powerful forces pulled and pushed kids inside. Fear is one such force. Fueled by media hype and social pressure, parents are now ever wary of kidnapping and other crimes and draw up play boundaries accordingly. The reality, however, tends to be less scary than perception. Crime is down overall in the United States, and only 115 of the 800,000 children reported “missing” each year are snatched by a stranger, according to the Department of Justice. The vast majority of missing children are teenage runaways who return home within 24 hours. Dan Fontaine, Executive Director of the Wilderness Youth Project, points to parental fear and “stranger danger” as a major factor reducing kids’ connection to nature. His childhood was marked by the autonomy to roam and explore, a freedom few children enjoy today. Without that repeated exposure to nature, kids lack comfort in the wild and develop what researchers are calling “ecophobia,” fear of nature and the outdoors. “I don’t think the world has actually changed as much as our relationship with it has changed,” Fontaine says. Even when parents are willing to give their children longer leashes, there is less nature within reach. Rampant development has left fewer wild places to explore, and there is loads more technology to lure kids inside. A 2010 study by Kaiser Family Foundation found that 8- to 18-yearolds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes to using entertainment media, per day. Navigating one’s neighborhood has become a lot less comfortable for children than navigating an iPad. “Much of society no longer sees time spent in the natural world and independent, imaginary play as ‘enrichment,’” says Louv. “Technology now dominates almost every aspect of our lives. Technology is not, in itself, the enemy; but our lack of balance is lethal.” A nationwide poll conducted in 2015 by The Nature Conservancy found that

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the vast majority of today’s kids use a computer, watch TV or play video games on a daily basis, but only about 10 percent say they are spending time outdoors every day. Neighborhood attitudes have influenced the trend toward indoor childhoods as well. Louv notes that residential communities are often governed by homeowners associations that do not take kindly to children logging outdoor experiences. “One woman told me her community association banned chalk drawing on the sidewalks. Just try to put up a basketball hoop in some of these neighborhoods, let alone let the kids build a fort or treehouse in the field beyond the cul de sac,” he says.

Leave no child inside

A generation ago, kids connected with nature simply because mom shooed them outside the house and told them to come back when the streets lights turned on. Parents didn’t calculate the value of climbing trees, catching tadpoles or trampling a path through the vacant lot. They took for granted the benefits of spending time outside because kids did so much of it. Not so much today. “There is growing evidence that indicates direct exposure to nature is essential for children’s physical and emotional health, improving their cognitive abilities and resistance to negative stresses and depression,” states Martha Driessnack in the Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing. Inactivity is now a national pandemic, and new research links those hours upon hours sitting on the couch with shorter lifespans. As childhood has been shoved between four walls, obesity rates have

Claudia Craig

climbed, along with other health issues associated with sedentary lifestyles. And even kids who are scheduled from dawn to dusk with physical activities like soccer and tae kwon do, are missing out on the benefits of unstructured outdoor play. Recent studies indicate that time in nature improves academic success, particularly for children with challenges like attention deficit disorders. Heather King, director of the nature education program Ventura Wild, says that she sees kids with academic challenges undergo transformations in nature-based programs. “Those are the kids who oftentimes really blossom outdoors. They can really feel powerful outside,” she says. New data suggests that greening our schools may be one of the most cost-effective ways to raise student test scores. King witnesses what science is just starting to quantify: spending time outside

improves children’s capabilities back inside the classroom. Being in nature improves academics by increasing innate curiosity and giving children exposure to hands-on science and problem solving, she says. Putting the child back in the wild may also be critical for the long-term preservation of open spaces. Fighting for public lands and electing leaders who do the same requires a love for wilderness and an understanding of its importance. A 2012 review published in the Oxford Handbook of Environmental and Conservation Psychology synthesized over 100 studies related to nature exploration in youth. The authors found first and foremost that “essentially every type of environmental behavior, from recycling to environmental careers, has been linked by research to a childhood spent playing in nature. Thus, a sustainable world in which people take care Spring 2016

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of the natural environment is predicated on children having regular access to direct experiences in nature.” Justin Canty, Director of Education at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, says that children visiting the museum’s Backyard, a creekside space designed for nature play, often arrive apprehensive and full of questions like, “Is a snake going to jump out and bite me?” Then they begin to explore. They have free rein to splash in the creek, build structures from bamboo poles, dig for insects in a mulch pile and visit the Clubhouse where they’re encouraged to touch animal skins, bones and even live frogs and snakes. “As they are exposed to these things, their ecophobia is reduced,” Canty says. Providing regular experiences in nature takes work on the part of parents. Children accustomed to zombying out in front of a screen may be reluctant to up their outdoor time, but the benefits are worth the parental prodding. “One thing to keep in mind,” Louv says, “people seldom look back on their childhoods and recall the best day they ever spent watching TV.”

tips from the pros

Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods,” Dan Fontaine, Executive Director of the Wilderness Project,

Heather King, Executive Director of Ventura Wild, and Justin Canty of the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum weigh in on how to grow an outdoor kid. Just do it. Rather than worrying too much about providing the perfect nature experience for children, Fontaine says, just get kids outside. Over thinking it can add another hurdle to doing it. Lead by exampLe. “When parents rediscover their sense of wonder, so do most kids,” Louv says. don’t be scared. Helicopter parents can hinder their children’s abilities to connect with nature and build self-confidence. “Do whatever you can to manage your own sense of fear,” Fontaine advises. Keep at it. There’s no prescription for precisely how much time kids should spend exploring outside, but Louv says, “A rule of thumb is that some experience in nature is better than none, and more is better than some.” spin it. If kids are unmotivated to spend time outside, use language that excites. King tells children, “We’re going exploring,” “We’re going on an adventure,” or “Let’s go find treasures.” asK, don’t teLL. Canty emphasizes that asking questions rather than giving information helps to engage children and cultivate natural curiosity and higher level thinking.

Need help?



No matter how much time and energy parents are able to dedicate to outdoor excursions with their children, participating in outdoor education programs can still offer huge benefits. Over the last couple decades, several organizations have popped up in the Tri-Counties to provide nature-based experiences for a wide range of ages. Outside Now, San Luis Obispo, Nature Track, Santa Ynez, Wilderness Youth Project, Santa Barbara, Wild Roots, Santa Barbara, Ventura Wild, Ventura,


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SB Museum of Natural History

Best locations to cultivate outdoor kids Moonstone Beach, Cambria. This rocky shoreline boasts tons of tide pools and is accessible via a boardwalk. It’s one of many great spots along the Central Coast to check out sea anemones, snails and crabs. El Moro Elfin Forest, Los Osos. Next to the Morro Bay estuary, this 90-acre natural area provides habitat for 110 kinds of birds, 22 species of mammals and 13 species of reptiles and amphibians. Kids love the under-a-mile boardwalk loop through the winddwarfed “forest.” Laguna Lake Park, San Luis Obispo. Laguna Lake, a haven for waterfowl, sits in the center of this park. One of the most kid-friendly trails (a flat, 1.8-mile trek) around, Laguna Lake Trail, makes this a great destination. Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara. Beyond the glass cases, this museum offers a rare nature experience in The Backyard. The space contains with a pumped-water creek and plenty of tools for hands-on, curiosity-fueled play. Some parents bring picnics and stay all day. Toro Canyon Park, Carpinteria. Tucked into the foothills, this 74-acre park packs a punch. The diverse landscape includes oak woodlands, open grassland, a boulder field and a short hike leading to a gazebo and great views of the Pacific. Foster Park, Ventura. The Ventura River flows through the park, which offers lots of natural spaces to explore. There are two campgrounds within its borders, and the Ojai Valley Trail runs through it. Ventura River Preserve, Ojai. Access to wildlife and lots of open space are highlights of this 1,600-acre preserve that encompasses three miles of the Ventura River and surrounding canyons. In wet months, frogs and salamanders can be found in the seasonal creeks. |

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over and out Maxwell Frank Lars Hedin at Lizard's Mouth, Santa Barbara


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Step outside in our backyard and you’ll see we are no ordinary museum. We let people climb, jump, hike, run, and touch just about everything. Because at the end of the day, natural history is about nature, so we believe it is essential to get out and immerse yourself in it. We are naturally different.


The Museum Backyard, Patrick Muniz


2559 Puesta del Sol, Santa Barbara, CA 93105 . 805.682.4711 . sbnature .org

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Profile for Coastal View News

Whiteledge march 2016  

White Ledge is a free outdoor journal March 2016 issue

Whiteledge march 2016  

White Ledge is a free outdoor journal March 2016 issue