Santa Barbara Cyn to Manzana Schoolhouse
Mary dropped me off at about 8:30 at the locked gate on Santa Barbara Canyon Road at the Santa Barbara Canyon Ranch. There were a couple of other cars parked there so I thought I may see people that day. After saying good bye to Mary I retraced my steps back up Santa Barbara Canyon that I had just hiked down last week. The three miles along the road to the trail head went quick for a morning walk. This trail head is very near where we parked a few years ago when we took bikes up the road to Big Pine Mountain. There is a fair amount of work to be done to the road before vehicles can pass over it again. Several culverts washed out.
The trail up Santa Barbara Canyon is a good one. Complete with a wayside and register at the trailhead. It's an easy to follow gentle upcreek grade. You can cover the mile fairly quickly. There were only few downed trees and very few brushy sections. I crossed the creek many times but the water was low enough that I never got my feet wet, even in the section that goes up in the creek for about 25 yards. Several miles up canyon the trail quickly steepens and you are soon on what has been named Heartbreak Hill, and for a good reason. It's steep! But not for long, maybe a mile at most and you are soon on top of a ridge with a great view back down Santa Barbara Canyon to the north and Alamar Canyon to the south. I shortly thereafter arrived at Madulce Camp. Plenty of water in what I believe is Mono Creek that runs through the camp.
After filling my water I started up the Madulce trail. This trail as well has a bit of a climb to it as well. After a couple of miles I came to the Madulce Peak Trail but decide not to bag it for now and keep going. I was soon over the saddle looking down on Alamar Canyon and over at Big Pine Mountain. On this side the trail mostly traverses the south side of the ridge until you reach Alamar Saddle.
From Alamar Saddle the beginning of the Upper Sisquoc Trail enters the San Rafael Wilderness and quickly drops down into thickly forested cover. After a quarter mile I quickly passed by Upper bear Camp with it's comfortable looking picnic table and large fairly open flat camping areas. The same as I passed by Middle Bear Camp and finally arrived at Lower Bear, sometimes know as Falls Camp. I think th ename is confused with the falls on the creek that are nearby. I did have to cross one fairly sketchy slide just above bear camp, but with care it was safely passable.
I know why these camps are named bear, there was bear sign everywhere from poop to prints all over the place, but I never did see one. Once at Lower Bear I found a nice flat log that had been made into a bench that served as a nice table and seat at the same time