Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Hot Springs Canyon

3rd falls
A popular campground, a dry climate, huge springs, and a rarely visited canyon. Hot Springs Canyon is a unique canyon in this part of the Santa Ana mountains. Deep, twisting narrows harboring a nearly year-round stream with a rich riparian habitat that is paralleled only to the north at Harding Canyon, and to the south beyond the Santa Margarita River, but is unique in the Ortega Corridor. I've been here several times, and every time I find it more amazing. There are four waterfalls before a large impassable fall down about 20 feet into a deep pool that would require rock climbing to bypass, each one a demonstration of the beauty of water. Once I was even here when the depths of the summer drowned this idyllic location and followed a muddy trough until the first deep pool and turned back due to the heat. Not even this horrific dryness took away from the amazing island of verdancy this canyon boasts. These pictures are from three trips; one on December 24, one in January, and one in August.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Trabuco Canyon to Los Piños Peak

 I continue to rave about the wonderful jewel of California the Santa Ana Mountains are, and Trabuco canyon continues to remain a center of beauty and exploration for many of the range's visitors. On this visit, I made a long slog from the end of the road all the way up to the crest of the mountains at Los Piños Peak, the fourth highest in the area. It was a drizzly December day, and with a late start, we set out for 10.7 miles with about 2800 feet of elevation gain.

The weather was drizzly and windy, the clouds brushing the tops of the peaks and enveloping us at the top. Small amounts of hail and rain were a stark contrast to the heat we had endured last time on Los Piños peak. Instead of a sweeping view across California, I was treated with a mystic, almost forbidding dome of cloud shrouding the view from me. It was surreal.