Out of Manzana, Back to the Beach

Our campsite at Manzana NarrowsSaturday morning I woke up around 8:00 am. There wasn’t a lot of light shining on/through our tent, so I wondered if it was a typical coastal overcast morning. Dave was still sleeping, but I figured we should try to motivate, since it seems to take us a couple of hours to get ready, have breakfast, clean up, and pack everything up.

I woke Dave up, and got dressed and propelled myself out of the tent. I discovered, happily, that it was a clear sunny day with blue skies – the sun just hadn’t made it around the hills and trees surrounding our camp. As I waited for Dave to get up and get dressed, I started getting the breakfast together. We boiled water for tea, and drank that with our Pop Tarts. Then we cleaned everything up, pumped some water from the creek (which was right next to our campsite – very scenic), packed everything into our packs, and hit the trail around 10 am, after taking a few photos of the campsite.

It turns out that my complaint from the day before – that the trail was nothing but uphill – was fairly accurate. This made for a much more pleasant hike back – downhill is almost always (as I have said before) better than uphill.
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Los Padres National Forest – Manzana Narrows Trail

Los Padres National Forest, Manzana Narrows TrailWe left San Diego last night around 7:30 pm (as usual, a bit later than we wanted to leave) and headed for Ventura. Our friend Suzy has been working in Ventura for about a year now, and since she actually lives in San Diego, her company pays for her to stay in a hotel during the week. She generously agreed to let us stay in her hotel room before embarking on our wilderness trek.

On Friday morning we took our time getting out of bed (I actually managed to read a few chapters of the Harry Potter book I’m working on), eating breakfast, and getting ready. After gassing up the car, we finally left Ventura around 9:40 am.

We headed up Hwy 101 along the coast, not a cloud in the sky. We got to Santa Barbara quicker than we expected, and soon exited onto Hwy 154, heading into the coastal mountains east of Santa Barbara. After about 20 minutes on a winding mountain highway, we left the highway and before long we were poking down a country road with horse ranches on either side. For about 20 minutes it felt like we were driving down someone’s driveway. Then the road narrowed and became very curvy, and for a couple of miles wasn’t even paved. The cliffs alongside the road were clearly not the most stable – there were quite a few good-sized rocks in the road. We actually ran over a couple of them – I’m amazed and relieved that we didn’t get a flat tire.

It was nearly an hour after leaving the highway that we finally arrived at Nira Campground (pronounced “n-eye-ra”, not “neera”, for some reason), where we parked our car and prepared for the hike. Just as we were getting out of the car, a huge multigenerational group of started out on the trail. We groaned, knowing that it wouldn’t be long before we passed this noisy group, which would be sure to put a damper on our intent to enjoy nature.

We took our time getting everything together, and I took advantage of the opportunity to use the restroom at the campground, knowing it would be a while before I saw it again. Finally, at approximately ten minutes to 12, we headed for the trailhead. We signed the trail register book (where we found out that the group before us had 10 people, staying 3 nights – ack!), and then started our hike.
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