Place: San Rafael Wilderness,Los Padres National Forest, California
Coordinates: 34.759720, -119.901199
Length: 4.6 miles
Level: moderate to strenuous
The chikas were in a very happy mood when we woke up on our second day of our family backpacking trip at Manzana Creek. They kept teasing each other and us in celebration of April Fool's Day. After breakfast they were off to the creek to look for tadpoles.
Then I told Papa Quail that our water sterilizer wasn't working. And that was no April Fool's joke. Wild water, as clean and fresh as it may be, can carry giardia and other pathogens, and needs to be treated to avoid getting sick. I learned to rely on my UV sterilizer, which is small, fast and efficient. This device, however, uses batteries, which do drain out with time and use. In my hurry to get this trip on the way I forgot to check the batteries, and I also forgot to bring a backup filter of pills. To go on with our trip left us with one option: the old-fashioned boiling the water. It is very efficient way to treat water. It is, however, costly on both time and fuel.
Luckily I brought my Biolite, twigs-fueled stove along. As twigs were in abundance and we were in no particular hurry, we decided to go on.
So we boiled enough water to fill our containers and then I went to fetch my chikas from the creek. There I found that they had bonded with one of the girls of the family in the neighboring campsite.
|Tadpoles at Manzana Creek|
|Our hike from Fish Campground to Manzana Narrows Campground as captured by Papa Quail's GPS.|
We walked mostly in the open, enjoying the warm sun (that would soon become too hot) and the blossom fiesta all around us.
|Scarlet Bugler (Penstemon centranthifolius)|
And with the change of banks, the vegetation variety changed as well.
The plants were loving it. The soft rubble that made the eastern slope of the canyon was covered with bright-colored wildflowers, of which the star was the Chia Sage. I don't think I've ever seen chia so prevalent and so big before. It is very pretty.
|Chia Sage (Salvia columbariae)|
We continued on.
Finally we started descending back down toward the creek. Little treasures waiting for us all along the way.
The chikas went right away to the water to freshen up. I sent the pot with them to fill and set up the stove to boil more drinking water. Papa Quail laid down on the grass and within seconds was fast asleep.
A few yards later we crossed the creek again. Now we were walking on the western side, which was much shadier and greener.
All of a sudden fiddle neck flowers became prevalent. There are many species and I could never tell which one is which.
|Fiddleneck (Amsinckia sp.)|
I saw there a shrub I saw before at the Pinnacles National Park: the wooly bluecurls. It adds a nice purple color to the creekside vegetation.
|Morning Glory (Calystegia sp.)|
|Manzana Creek, a look to the north|
|Caterpillar on Phacelia|
But there was still more distance to cover and more wildflowers to see.
|Cobwebby Thistle (Cirsium occidentale)|
|Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatum)|
|Upper Manzana Creek|
|Cladophora algae at Manzana Creek|
The chikas, as it turned out, were happier trying to fish the trout. Papa Quail gave me a slanted look. I shrugged and wend down to the creek to fetch water to boil. When I returned I found that I didn't carry the hammock for nothing after all :-)
We were all alone in the wilderness and it was very, very peaceful. That night I had a very good sleep :-)
Many thanks to members of the California Native Plants Society for their help in identifying plants!