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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The Condor Trail is a trail in the making that will connect southern California to Monterey/Big Sur. It hasn't been completely mapped out yet so a few spots are more suggestions than anything else. It is my plan to hike it one section at a time. First section will be in the last week of March. I have set aside some vacation time to do it. Last year I packed a section of the Big Sur River as a kind of shakedown cruise, this year I'll start for real.

This time I hope to be going from Lake Piru to Ozena Station, the full breadth of the Sespe Wilderness. Water won't be a problem as I will be following creeks most of the way and they should not be dried up in March. I expect to do some minor route finding and bushwhacking along the way. Fortunately I have dayhiked and overnighted a lot of this terrain.












Open for discussion!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Terrain varies from chaparral, southern California riparian, to oak savannah to mixed conifer and elevation from 1500 ft to over 6000.

Right now my only concern is the possibility of snow at higher elevations. The very last section may well be impassable. Should that be the case I'll be ending the trip a bit shorter than I'd planned. Even if I did, the "route finding section" makes it a challenging trip.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well, I'm back. I hurt insanely. Got off to a real late start Sunday of course. Forgot the camera of course, so all I have are a few lousy photos from my cell before it died. Alder Creek Trail and Sespe River Trail are part of the proposed Condor Trail. No signs of large predators but I did catch a bobcat track. Avery chased lizards, horned toads, squirrel and quail.

First you had to park 5 miles from the trailhead and hike in. The road will probably not be open until May. Alder Creek Trail is initially in good shape and climbs from 2400 to 3700 feet, plateaus for a while then drops like a rock to 2400 ft for a couple miles, This later section is barely visible and crosses the creek numerous times when it isn't actually in the creek.

Then it meets Sespe River Trail. I take that for the next four miles. That trail climbs quickly right up the spine of a mountain until you reach a saddle. It is badly eroded and overgrown but you are rewarded at the top with a view of the Sespe River Valley that is jaw dropping.

The trip down the other side is downright dangerous, a narrow trail etched out of the side of a steep mountain flank. For 2.5 miles you have about 3-4 ft wide flat trail, frequently interrupted by talus slides. Many places you are literally one misstep from catastrophe. One such spot was worse than the rest where a landslide had taken out 30 ft of the trail. The "bypass" for this was to climb up and over the slide on a trail that was just a slightly flattened path on the talus. There was nothing to hang on to, nothing to stop you if you fell and nothing that would hold a rope. One slip and you'd inexorably slide down the steep talus slope and right over a hundred foot cliff.

Managed to make it all the way to Sespe River. Followed the trail upstream for a quarter mile until it disappeared into an area where a talus slope intersected dense wetland shrubbery. After a hundred yards of that I gave up from exhaustion and pitched second camp back where it was clear. Next day was purely recovery, texted my wife by SPoT communicator of my change of plans and then I returned a day early.

I am not going down that last stretch of trail again. Ever. That landslide is just too dangerous. I was determined enough to try it once but my survival instinct has since kicked in. It is the kind of thing one can do easily 99 times out of a hundred and then step on the wrong rock (or have gravity take THAT particular time to start another slide) and die on number 100.

I'm not young and immortal any more. Hopefully I'm not too old to learn.



No shortage of water this time of year.




First day trail camp:




One of the rarely used campsites on Alder Creek



This is what most of the Alder Creek trail looked like.




Avery on one of the better patches of trail.




Sespe River Valley




Second and third day camp at the river.

 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I like it fine. The only caveat is you need a good view of the sky. Dense foliage can cause problems.

For me, it has only failed to get a text message out in a deep slot canyon. Apparently that ity-bitty strip of sky wasn't enough. The communicator uses the Iridium satellite system, 66 satellites in polar orbits, so you aren't chained to needing southern exposure. If you have just a crack of sky, it is best if it is north-south and you may need to try a few times before one passes over. Even if you can't get a GPS fix, the text can still go out.

It is not an ideal device. The newer ones allow text replies to you. Mine doesn't. Newer ones include a keyboard and display. Mine doesn't. If you want to text, you need a bluetooth device to connect. Mine is a Delorme GPS but it could as well be any smartphone. You have to pay for a plan, couple hundred bucks a year IIRC, if you want anything more than to be able to press the SOS button. That part is free.

If you want to see the data on a computer it comes up something like this.
 

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Thanks. I've heard varying reports about the Spot Messenger so I've been in varying degrees of wanting to buy one. For me it's mostly about an SOS signal if I'm alone and get hurt in the backcountry vs needing to contact anyone (no family here). I'm still weighing all the options of DeLorme and Spot against each other.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I want to update to the 2 way text system. It is a bit unnerving to send a message off into the aether and not get confirmation it was received and understood - even though you know there is no reason why it shouldn't be.

Just got this photo taken by my wife when I was first heading out:

 
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