Thursday, March 14, 2013

Gaviota's Windswept Caves

As the 101 changes direction from east/west to north/south at Gaviota Pass, the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful.  It is, however, famous for its winds.  I swear it can blow with hurricane force through these canyons, so we  locals call it the Gaviota Wind Tunnel.   Every time we drive through this pass, my travel buddy and I look up at the windswept caves and say, "Some day we have to climb up there."  Well, a week ago, we finally did!
We parked to the right of the Gaviota Campground and started walking along an old paved road, which eventually turned into a narrow trail leading up and up and up.  Chest-high mustard lines the trail this time of year.  As we waded through these gorgeous flowers, hundreds of tiny lizards ran in front of us.  Although the trail is only a three-mile round trip walk, the 600 ft. rise in elevation makes it a bit strenuous.
The trail winds through burnt oaks, reminding us that a wildfire swept through here a few years ago.  Our dirt trail turns rocky and we finally reach the first set of sandstone caves.  We stop for lunch and admire the view of the ocean, the railroad trestle and the 101 as it curves along the South Coast.  It is a view that can only be seen from up here.  And it is truly incredible!
There are other hikers up here.  Some stay put at this first ridge, but we've come this far so we decide to continue all the way to the top.  We are a happy bunch of people.  Almost everyone is local, either from Santa Barbara or Carpinteria.  The rest of the world has no clue this place exists.

 It's a sunny, warm day.  There is only a gentle breeze, enough to cool us off and we all comment on this.  After all, these caves were formed by the fierce winds that blow through here.  "So where's the wind?"  Today, there is only a picture-perfect, stationary view.  I, for one, am not complaining.  Our legs are beginning to feel a bit like jello.  We rest again at the top, before heading back down.  It took us two hours to reach the top.  It takes only a half-hour to get down.

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