The sea in our sights transitioned to a green hilly masterpiece. Up another small road, we ventured into the majestic mountains. The general direction was north, toward the town of Ojai. Ojai, CA is a quaint community nestled perfectly in those mountains. A tiny spot, yet full of cute and cool restaurants and shops for the choosing. Not to mention a pretty great outdoor concrete skatepark… A fresh pour, less than three years old, the seamless grey looks like it could still be fresh cement, right there in the sun. With a striking mountainous background for skaters to stare at in utter awe.
A pit stop yielded a hummus wrap and store-bought firewood, and then we were on our way. The Topatopa Mountains are glorious. Especially after an abnormally wet winter, the landscape was a dashing green yet shockingly sharp. The lines of the mountains were drastic and bold, a solid sight for us adventurers. En route to meet our friend, Jeremy, at a campground, we lost reception and along with it, all of our worries rooted in Los Angeles.
Our first choice campgrounds were full, and we had no connection to the internet. So, we trucked onward the old-fashioned way, asking for people’s advice all along our path. Finding a full campground with an outlet to an open wooded trail, the group made the executive decision to bend rules and make our own camp. One of the best decisions I’d made in weeks...
Grateful for nights just like those, even if there are hangovers in the mornings after.. So the next morning.. Waking up slowly to the rushing waters of that beautiful stream, we stoked the fire back to working capacity, boiled some water for coffee and proceeded with the process for oatmeal. In need of some quality energy for a full day’s sun-kissed exploration. Located near the Middle Lion Campground, we headed further north-ish to a trailhead for Piedra Blanca. An unreal rock feature with water cutting through the trail, the scenery was wonderful.
Our first attempt at reaching La Piedra was via bushwhacking, but that didn’t last long (some of us were rockin' shorts). With a few snack breaks and water stops, we decide to return to an apparent swimming hole on the stream we’d traversed twice already. There was an inviting rock jump spot, although it required a swim across. The water was as cold as you might imagine. In the mountains, still not close enough to summer for the snow melt to feel accommodating, the agua was frigid. But Damn, did it make one feel alive!
Moving on up the trail… With the friendly advice of a local stranger, we made our way toward the “white rock,” Piedra Blanca… Seven miles into our day’s walk, we had to finish it with a victory, and so we did. One foot in front of the other, the heat stayed as a constant pressure on our journey. We continued uphill, and even further uphill. Until finally, we reached the precipice of our day’s hike. Piedra Blanca was what seemed to be 4 or 5 large white rock blocks but was actually a field of rocks and stones, some formed high upon one another, others wide bulbous smooth rock, seeming almost egg-like.
Reaching the top only lent a view up further to a higher peak than we’d traversed. An annoyingly awesome experience, thinking you’d reach THE peak only to see a better one 10 more uphill minutes of climb away… But worth it it was…
Although weary, we were content. We were exhausted, yet fulfilled. It was time for that restaurant feast and then onward to Los Angeles to recharge for the quite "normal” week ahead. Recharging our batteries via mattress and washing machine. Carpet on our feet and running water at our fingertips.
Sometimes, it takes some time away from home to remember our privileges (and I have many). Such a beautiful world we inhabit, most gorgeous when we step away.
Step away, take a drink, stop and think.
- 7Ply Epic