Sophia and I had a day all to ourselves. She said she wanted to go hiking and I jumped at the chance. I knew she wanted to go to Seein’ Spots Farm in Santa Ynez. She liked to pet the miniature donkeys and, of course, see the friendliest turkey around, named Twiggy. When Twiggy was rescued, she was a very skinny turkey. She is now more plump and loves to be pet. She will follow you around and even lean against your leg. I scanned the map of the area and decided on Figueroa Mountain. We had tried to see the wildflower bloom there once before, but were a little too late in the season.
We drove north out of Los Olivos on Figueroa Mountain Road, and I was reminded how utterly stunning this area is. I passed by a gate that always had a lot of cars in front and, after researching it later, realized that it was Neverland Ranch, the former home of Michael Jackson. People stop and pay their respects and take a picture in front of the gate. I zoomed on by, eyes on the mountains.
The road started to climb out of the valley and the views became better. I would look down into the canyons below, wanted to hike in them, but was keenly aware of the barbed wire and no trespassing and no hunting signs that lined the road. This was private land, owned by lucky people. Sophia, with her eagle eyes, spotted some deer in the trees above the road. They were pretty well camoflauged. I was pretty proud.
We passed the fire station where we had a picnic last time and all sorts of landmarks that sparked my memory. Before long, we came to the fork where we started climbing and entered a dirt road. Sophia enjoyed the bumpiness. I had read some reports on the hike that there was a gate about .5 mile or so from the top and was expecting a very short hike.
Suddenly, we topped a hill and were at a parking lot with views all around. There wasn’t anywhere higher to go. We had accidentally driven up to the top. Sophia was OK with not hiking to the summit, so we got out of the car and stretched our legs. We played with rocks and walked to the lookout tower. We examined the mountains all around it. We walked through the trees and played with more rocks.
For me, this was a good way to reconnoiter the area. I took plenty of pictures, as the view was amazing. Lookout tower sites tend to have the best views around. We had a snack and searched for a geocache with no luck. The flies were a little aggressive. The plants and trees at Figueroa Mountain reminded me of my time on Boucher Hill, on Palomar Mountain, which includes the flies.
On the way back down, we stopped here and there, to take some pictures and enjoy the area. It is truly special and I can’t wait to strap on my trail runners and put three liters of water in my pack and really sink my teeth into the area within sight of Figueroa Mountain.
I didn’t know the names of anything (I know them now). This area is still new to me, even after two years of living in Santa Barbara. The Los Padres National Forest backcountry is so vast, I wonder if I’ll ever know it the way I know San Diego. I am certainly going to try.