Section Hiking The Hot Spring Trail: Santa Barbara To Ojai

February 5th to 9th, 2020
The Hot Springs Trail National Scenic Trail Proposal
Santa Barbara to Ojai
5 days, 57 miles, 10,300' gain
[Pics] [CalTopo]

After my last big excursion Section Hiking The Desert Trail: Mexican Border to Borrego Springs I was eager to get out again on my next PCT 2020 prep hike.

I'd already looked at and discarded the California Coastal Trail for not really being a trail down here in Southern California and the big trek through urban Mecca had me a bit less excited for the next Desert Trail Section. Fortunately I had another prospect and turned my eyes to the Hot Springs Trail National Scenic Trail Proposal.

Paddling Black Canyon & Visiting Arizona, Boy Scout, Gold Strike, and Sauna Hot Springs

January 19th to 21st, 2020
[Pics] [Caltopo] [Map]

An overnight paddle trip within driving distance of LA / Orange County with access to multiple hot springs? Sounds awesome doesn't it?

Black Canyon is an area just south of Hoover Dam that is known for the hot springs that flow out of the various side canyons.


It's the northern part of a 30 mile designated National Water Trail stretching from Hoover Dam (mile 64) to Eldorado Canyon (mile 39).

Paddling up river from Willow Beach to the hot springs has been a trip I've been wanting to do for years. There's been at least three times I was all set to go only to have to cancel the trip at the last minute due to weather extremes or other issues.

With big changes on the horizon that may limit our access to our kayaks Jen and I decided we really wanted to make doing this trip a priority. And when weekend plans cancelled in mid January we jumped at the chance and headed off for two nights and three days paddling up from Willow Beach.

Section Hiking The Desert Trail: Mexican Border to Borrego Springs

January 12th to 16th, 2020
Desert Trail Section Hike
Bucktrack's Desert Trail Info
Dirtmonger's Desert Trail Info
[Pics] [CalTopo] [Map]

I've been back from Thailand for a little over a week with only a brief three day excursion to backpack Santa Cruz Island with Jen and I'm having a bit of a hard time adjusting to being back. I've been eyeing contract work options but at least so far the options I've found haven't worked with the timing of the next big outdoor event: attempting the Pacific Crest Trail starting on May 5th!

So, priorities being what they are I started to look around for ways to use the time to better prepare for the PCT since I'd spent the last few months diving instead of hiking. I wanted to get out and backpack, it needed to be fairly local, and I didn't want to repeat any of the sections I'd be hiking on the PCT come May.

That led me first to the California Coastal Trail which I put aside due to the fact the southern section is basically just walking down the streets around San Diego and anyone who had thru hiked it ended up having to stealth camp in urban areas. Not ideal for a guy that dresses in neon green.

I also came across a proposal for something called the Hot Springs Trail but I wasn't able to find any sort of a map online and I didn't feel like laying out $50 for another print guidebook that would end up rotting away in my closet.

Then I came across the Desert Trail. A proposal by Russell Pengelly back in the 60s for a desert route stretching from Mexico to Canada that seems to have largely fallen into obscurity these days particularly in the California section. There are two solid sources for information Buck and Dirtmonger who have both hiked the entire trail. Outside of that information is sparse.


The blue line shows the Pacific Crest Trail while the red is the Desert Trail. (To see the entire Desert Trail route from Mexico to Canada see Dirtmongers page here.) So it was in range, went through areas where I'd done peaks but hadn't done any sort of distance backpacking, and the weather was almost ideal. So I had a plan!

A Return To Cold Water Diving At Crescent Bay

January 8th, 2020

I think I've been starting to go into diving withdrawals.


I spent November and December diving my butt off in warm clear water while working on the SDI Divemaster certification. And then once Christmas hit it was a hard stop as I flew back to the states to visit my family. I did get in a quick freshwater drift dive in San Marcos (the best drift dive in Texas!) but come on!

So once I was back from Santa Cruz I pinged Jack seeing if he was up for another two tank morning dive like we'd been doing before I left. He grumbled that he hadn't had to set an alarm since I'd left town and then cheerfully agreed to meet me at Crescent Wednesday morning.


And so just like that we were back!

Backpacking Santa Cruz Island: Prisoners Harbor to Scorpion Harbor

January 3rd to 5th, 2020
El Montanon Peak (1,808')
High Mount Benchmark (1,581')
Day 1: 3.2 miles, 1,250' (+4.3 miles, 750' oops)
Day 2: 11.5 miles, 2,200'
Day 3: 0 miles, 0'
[Pics] [CalTopo] [Map]

After two months spent out in Thailand diving my butt off I'd spent a week in Texas visiting family and now I was back in Southern California.

While plans have changed a bit from the initial plans Jen and I have been working under the assumption I would spend the next few months doing contract work until we start the Pacific Crest Trail. Initially I was going to be available for work on the 1st of January

We'd been eyeing backpacking across Santa Cruz Island ever since we did the Trans-Catalina Trail in 2018 but the timing and weather hadn't ever been right. And then it turned out they were closing the main anchorage Scorpion Harbor in late 2019 due to the construction of a new pier.

But they reopened the harbor for a brief period and we managed to snag campsites right before it closed again on January 5th.