Date: April 2, 2016
Place: Manzana Creek, San Rafael Wilderness, Los Padres National Forest, California
Coordinates: 34.735084, -119.874747
Length: From Manzana Narrows Campground to Alcove Falls and back all the way to Fish Campground: 7.6 miles.
The third day of our family backpacking trip at Manzana Creek started with the younger chika sneaking quietly out of the tent early in the morning. She wanted to have another go at fishing the trout she saw the day before at the water hole below Manzana Narrows campground. Papa Quail and I were well underway with the morning routine of boiling water and cooking breakfast when we heard the excited shouts from below, announcing that she had caught the fish.
Within seconds her older sister shot out of the tent and took possession of the fishing rod, and moments later a second fish bit the hook and the girls were even.
We had big plans for that day: we planned to hike up to Alcove Falls and then come down the creek all the way back to Fish campground where we had stayed on our first night. That would be the longest stretch we planned to hike on the entire trip - 7.4 miles altogether. The first part at least we didn't need to carry our backpacks on. So after breakfast we packed everything except for the tent, inside which we left our backpacks. We took water and snacks and headed up the trail.
|Blue Witch Nightshade (Solanum umbelliferum)|
I saw more of the flowers I've seen earlier on our trip but this time I had much better illumination of some :-)
|Cobwebby Thistle (Cirsium occidentale)|
|Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatum)|
|Chaparral Clematis (Clematis lasiantha)|
|Prickly Phlox (Linanthus californicus)|
|Common Phacelia (Phacelia distans)|
It was high time for a sweaty workout hike.
And the suncup, as tiny as it was, didn't get its name for nothing.
|Intermediate Suncup (Camissonia intermedia)|
This fly below wasn't part of the annoyance team. It just hovered peacefully an inch over the ground.
But as high as we got, there was still no sign of the falls, or of any water flow whatsoever. My family started expressing their doubts aloud. It was hot, they were tired, and Papa Quail mentioned that we still had to walk all the way back to Fish campground after this.
We found a small patch of shade and sat for a break. Then we agreed to walk just a bit further, then turn back.
That 'further bit' brought us to the bottom of the cliffs.
Most of the cliff walls were exposed, but rock ledges had vegetation growing there like an exquisitely designed landscape. In the distance I could see a man climbing on the rocks and I wished we had the time to do more exploration of that area. It is really beautiful there.
A few lizard were sunbathing out on the rocks. Western fence lizards all of them. We stayed there a little to enjoy the view and the water in the pond, but eventually it was time to turn around and go back down.
Going down is faster. I didn't stop as frequently to photograph flowers or other things. We were rushing down between the poppies, hurrying to make it back to Manzana Narrows.
Before we new it - we were back at the Narrows, where our tent was waiting since morning. We sat for lunch and a good, long and refreshing break.
We were no longer alone: it was Saturday, and day hikers were up the trail. Many of them stopped at Manzana Narrows to rest and enjoy the stream. The chikas too went to the creek again to play while Papa Quail and I took the tent down and rearranged the packs.
Now we were truly ready to continue down the stream.
|Our hike from Manzana Narrows to Fish as captured by Papa Quail's GPS|
Once again we were walking on the exposed hillside high above the creek, but this time it seemed effortless. Insects buzzed everywhere and butterflies teased us, flying incessantly between the flowers, never stopping to pose for the camera. Even the usually slow beetles gave me a hard time. Good thing that the plants don't move around much.
We had walked the last lag of that hike so quickly that I barely have any photos from that stretch. Some images, however, were too cute to pass on.
I paused and took a moment to etch the image in my cortex. I suppose taking a photo is more effective. I don't know if and when I'll be there again. I hope I will.