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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

San Pedros National Forest Condor Sanctuary

Be prepared this post is SWAMPED with photos as part of my endeavour to embrace becoming a better photographer this year.

This morning since it dawned nice and clear, after the rain we have been having for the past few days mother and I decided to do something outside. Since my husband and my father had work around the house they wanted to complete my mother and I decided to visit the San Pedros National Forest Condor Sanctuary. My mother is a bird watcher; she is attempting to find all the birds in the National Geographic Bird Books I bought for her for Christmas one year. Since the California condor is one that will be difficult to find we went to the sanctuary to attempt to get a look and hopefully a photo of this endangered hard to find bird.

The drive took an hour and a half to go 53 miles to get to the base of the mountain and then another hour to do the last 14 miles. The last 14 miles took so long because the dirt road was winding through the hills, there were multiple mini rivers to cross, and I could not go faster than 10 miles an hour because I wanted to stay on the road and not down the cliff. The clouds also created sprinkles about half way up the mountain; we were already this far, rain or no rain WE ARE PUSHING ON TO THE END. Thank god dad was not with us because he would be the voice or reason, to not get stuck on these roads when the weather got really bad, hey we are two women with an SUV, we can totally rock this. The drive up was absolutely gorgeous and we stopped so many times to take yet another shot of yet another amazing vista. That also delayed us getting to our final destination but these pictures, although not as good as the real thing, are so worth it.


YOU CAN SEE THE WINDING CURVING ROAD SNUGGLED IN THE MOUNTAINS


I TOOK THIS SHOT WHILE DRIVING – MY MOM WAS SCARED FOR HER LIFE SINCE THE CLIFF WAS RIGHT THERE


THE MOUNTAINS WERE SO BEAUTIFUL


I THINK THE STRIPPED LOOK OF THESE MOUNTAINS MADE THEM VERY VISUALLY INTERESTING


TO GET THIS SHOT I HAD TO STEP OUT OF THE CAR – UNFORTUNATLY I STEPPED INTO SLIPPERY SLIME AND ALMOST FELL FLAT ON MY ASS – GOOD THING THE SHOT WAS WORTH IT


I LOVED THE VIEW OF THE WATERFALL AND THE MOUNTAINS IN THE BACKGROUND

As soon as we got to our destination, a circle drive that was the end of the road, the sprinkling rain that we were experiencing lightened up as we got out of the car and scanned the cliffs for condors. Thank god someone upstairs took mercy on our poor over-traveled hopeful hides and turned off the waterworks because despite all my bravado I did not really want to get drenched for a stupid bird. After 15 minutes of sitting and staring at the sky we decided to hike while looking. The small path that we originally tried to follow took us away from the cliffs in the east where the website for the condor suggested we watch that added with the fact that the path seemed to be more of a stream than an actual path we decided to take another route.

MY MOTHER STRADDLING THE HIKE STREAM

Because there was not a trail in the direction we wanted to go we decided to follow the river to a waterfall in the distance, at least we had a purpose and a destination to move towards. Because there was not a path mother and I had to do a bit of exploring and create our own path which resulted in us crossing the river multiple times essentially a mini bouldering hike.

I AM SURE MOST OF THE YEAR THIS STREAM IS LITTLE MORE THAN A TRICKLE BUT THE RECENT RAINS HAVE CREATED A LOT OF WATER UP IN THE MOUNTAINS

ANTS EYE VIEW OF THE RIVER AND OF THE BEAUTIFUL COLORED ROCKS IN THE AREA

There also was pretty extensive scarring on the vegetation in the area due to a somewhat recent fire. It was great to see everything coming back but sad to see so much damage.


CHARRED WOOD

I rarely ever get an overcast day in LA so it was really interesting to get these muted shots of nature in the area. Generally the colors I see in my photography are so vibrant and rich but I was very intrigued by the muddy smoky look I got with the weather of the day.






As we finished the hike and made our way back to the car, because it was 42 degrees and we were starting to get very cold, 30 feet before we made it the sky opened back up and started to rain again. Someone made the weather coordinate perfectly with our day BUT that same power also did not allow us sadly to see any condors. Then on the ride back down the jeep started to make quite a bit of noise, either from the stress the road put the car into, the amount of mud now glued to the bottom of the undercarriage, or due to the fact that the car is ancient and is on its last legs; we just did what any two women do when they are in the middle of nowhere with a car that is acting funny, we turned up the radio and ignored the issue.


DIRECTIONS: FROM LA
I-5 North to Castaio June (33 miles)
Take Ventura off ramp – Highway 126 West to Filmore town (10 miles)
Turn Right at Stop Light – A Street (yes that is the name of the street)
Yeild where A street becomes Goodenough Rd turn right
At the dead end fork take the right road (Cannot go left because that dead ends) and go three miles to the oil feilds
You will see the oil fields on the right go three more miles you will see a sign
Once you see the sign “ California Observation Site #7” it is 11 miles further to the actual end
at the end there is a circle driveway and a rest room (thank god for the rest room)
You are going to Dough Flat Park
Once you get to the end look to the cliffs in the east where the birds like to nest

P.S. KEEP YOUR EYE OUT FOR THESE TRUSTY SIGNS SPRAY PAINTED INTO THE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN

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