Condor Trail Intermediate Backpack - March 28-31, 2019
19 miles in the Sespe Condor Sanctuary (Reyes Creek to Piedra Blanca)
The Condor Trail is a 421-mile hiking trail that connects Southern California (Lake Piru) to Big Sur. Envisioned in the mid-1990’s, this long trail was supposed to be Central California’s answer to the more popular and longer Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. After two decades of work to link existing sections of trail, the Condor Trail is now finished, but it still doesn’t have many visitors, owing to its deep and extremely rugged backcountry. However, those who do venture onto the trail talk about some of the most breathtaking backcountry in California.
For a historical look at the Condor Trail, visit https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/carving-out-the-condor-trail-62579608/
Great Outdoors will help you get a little taste of this crown jewel of the Los Padres, on a short section within reasonable proximity of Ojai, CA and Frazier Park, CA. Our group will start at the Reyes Creek Trailhead and hike 19 miles south to the Piedra Blanca trailhead in Rose Valley, and we will have two nights in the backcountry at about the halfway mark. Our one free Saturday can be spent lounging at camp or exploring side trails. We should have constant stream views and quiet campsites after setting out.
Interestingly, this very section is where one of California's last remaining grizzly bears was captured in 1916 near Bear Trap Camp. Hopefully this trip inspires you to return to the area to explore other nearby trails.
Historical scouting reports show reliable flowing spring water along the trail and at the camps from Winter through Spring. In fact, late-winter/early-spring is the preferred time to hike this due to moderate temperatures and reliable water.
This elevation profile is an approximation based on data I got from the topo map. Don't fault me if there is a little uphill section you might encounter on the mostly downhill part :)
What does "Intermediate" mean? This should not be your first backpack trip ever. Be physically and mentally ready for the hike shown above in the elevation profile (mostly uphill first day, possibly up to 12 miles (depending how the group feels). Know what the 10 Essentials are, and have your backpack and gear pretty well dialed-in for this length of trip. Be familiar with cooking, filtering water, basic first aid, and pooping in the backcountry. If you need help determining if you're ready, please contact me and we'll talk about it.
This will be a vehicle shuttle trip, meaning we will leave vehicles at both ends of the trail. I’ll solicit the cooperation of drivers before the trip starts.
Thursday, March 28: (optional, but recommended) Arrive at Reyes Creek Campground (AKA Camp Scheideck) for a night of pre-backpack comaraderie. This allows people to arrive leisurely and not have to rush the next morning. There is a bar and grill near camp. Bring a gallon of drinking water even though we are next to a creek. We have sites 17 and 18 reserved under my name.
Friday, March 29: 9:30am start on Reyes Creek trailhead. Hike ~8 miles to backcountry Haddock Camp, or ~12 miles to the Pine Mountain Lodge camp (there is not really a lodge here, but a primitive backcountry camp like the others). Depending where we camp is where we will day-hike Saturday, so this is totally up to how the group is feeling.
Saturday, March 30: Free day to do whatever you like. Lounge in camp or take a day hike on side trails, for example if we camp at Haddock, then a 3-mile roundtrip hike to Haddock Peak or a 12-mile roundtrip hike to Reyes Peak for the extra-adventurous. If we camp at Pine Mountain Lodge, then it's ~8-mile rountrip hike to the Fishbowls.
Sunday, March 31: Pack up camp and hike the rest of the way (mostly downhill as you can see on the elevation profile) to the Piedra Blanca parking lot. There will be cold drinks in my cooler :) Retrieve all vehicles and drive home.
Weather: Temperatures should be warm during the day with chilly evenings. Rain does not cancel: be prepared by bringing a poncho or other rain gear just in case. We’ll check the weather before we go. We may have campfires in the backcountry if we collect wood.
Bring: Backpacking food for each meal; compact camp stove; mess kit; water filter and bottle; tent, sleeping bag and pad; sun protection; first-aid kit (each person); boots; layered clothing; jacket; toilet paper & trowel; flashlight; entertainment (book or cards, etc); It is advisable to bring animal-proof food storage (bear can or hang from tree). If you don’t have something, ASK before buying it – we might be able to find it for you to borrow.
Cost: $33 for GO members and $58 for non-members (includes one-year membership in GO chapter of your choice). Camping Fee includes first night camp at Reyes Creek, extra car parking, firewood for the first night, cold drinks at the end, and the daily Adventure Passes required for each vehicle (carpools will be facilitated to the greatest extent possible to minimize impact and cost). Add $11 for your own Tom Harrison topographical map of the Sespe Wilderness.
Directions will be given in a pre-trip email, after determining who is driving, from where, and when.
Register early as the capacity is ten people.
Great Outdoors hikes as a group, either as one big group, or two smaller groups, but nobody will be left alone or behind. Faster hikers are expected to stay with a group to maintain safety and social cohesion.
Pack-it-in/Pack-it-out: All of our trash waste gets brought back to the cars with us. Great Outdoors practices leave-no-trace camping.
Full refunds given before March 10.
For more information or to see if this trip is right for you, please contact Trip Leader Chris Fava.