March 27, 2015.
After a long night of being cold in a broken sleeping bag (my fault for not checking my sleeping bag beforehand), getting bugs out our tent and trying to stay on the air mattresses we woke up quite easily. I was fine with waking up early and being sleepy at first, Jason and Mia on the other hand were not. They wanted to sleep longer but with six year old Chase in between them it was a challenge. He thought it was funny to annoy them and not listen when I asked him to come out of the tent and play with me outside, that was frustrating to the rest of us in the tent. On top of all of that, at 5:30 am other campers at the campground would be sleeping and we needed to respect that, that is something that six year olds don’t understand. My greatest apologies to whom we woke up in the process of starting our day.
Due to laziness and forgetfulness, I had forgotten to brush my teeth the first night so the first thing I did after getting out of the tent was brush them. Man it felt so nice!
While the fantastic moms were making breakfast burritos and sandwiches for the day, the kids and I along with the dads got to play around and explore.
Our first spot to hang out was at the stream about forty five feet from our tent and down a small ledge, how cool right? Jason and Chase had found a rock crossing on the stream and we used it to cross the stream and explore the other side. The top right photo is of a wide part of the stream about twenty feet upstream from our campsite. The top left photo is of Jason, Chase and Mia climbing the hillside in search of crystals. Shown in the bottom right is the three kids playing around a “pool” we created in the stream. In the bottom left is a plant that I found growing on the hillside.
About three hours after waking up, we were off! Off to explore the San Rafael Wilderness in the Los Padres Forrest. We started hiking with the intention of having fun, getting exercise and exploring what we haven’t seen before. This adventure fully fits my guidelines for the ideal adventure (in about tab). We had no intentions of hiking far due to dads carrying babies on their backs, how far Mia and Chase would walk, and the heat.
Along the way we found lots and lots of WILDFLOWERS. One of my favorite things! The orange flowers in the photos above are poppies. Fun fact: poppy flowers are the California state flowers. We hiked in about a half mile or so, which felt like more with the heavy food on my back and the many ups and downs of the trail but maybe I was being a baby, before stopping at the first camp. The trail was open, meaning it was on the side of a hill with only one “wall” and a canyon on the other side, and I liked that. We took a couple water breaks on the way in and ended up splitting into a front and back group.
The camp was a fire pit with rocks and logs to sit on around it with a picnic bench near by. Once at the camp, the dads, Mia, Chase and Jason put their bathing suits on walked up stream to swim and explore. They found a water snake about two feet long and picked him up to show us, although I didn’t have the camera handy to take a photo. 😦
We stayed at the camp for around and hour and a half. The whole time we played in the water, did some exploring, laid on the picnic blanket and ate lunch. For lunch we had carrots, hummus and sandwiches. The long break was peaceful and nice.
After our break we hiked back out of the valley on the same trail that we hiked in on. But before we left the camp many of us were concerned that we had drank all of the water in our bottles and had none left for the hike back in the heat. No need to worry, we had a solution!
Our friends had this awesome pump system that was small but mighty. It was a hand held water purifier. It consisted of two hoses and a box with a lever that were the size of half of a water bottle. The way it worked is that the hose with the bobber type thing on it went in the stream, but out of the dirt so it doesn’t get clogged. And the other hose goes into the bottle that you want to fill. The lever is pumped p and down manually and wallah clean water in the bottle!
The walk back felt shorter and less hot. Once back at camp everyone seemed to be wiped out, especially the little ones.
All in all the trip was super fun and I loved almost every minute of it. I completely recommend camping at Nira or even driving there to hike for the day for anyone that lives in the Santa Barbara County Area!
Are you more of a mountains kind of person, a more beachy person or a mix of both?