Day 3 to Mission Pine Basin: Charred Forest, Big Cones and Bear Prints

I woke shivering about an hour after going to bed. The winds were blowing and my bag that was rated to 27F wasn’t working for some reason. The 40F winds must be stripping the heat away. I was using my down jacket as a pillow and moved the hood to my shoulder and the rest of the jacket covered my side to past my hips. I stayed warm after that, but I didn’t sleep well for the rest of the night.

The third day was our only relaxing day where we didn’t have to move camp. Instead of hauling a 30+ pound pack around, we did a good day hike with a possibly 10lb pack. We still hiked for four hours to get back and forth from Mission Pine Basin. On our hike through the forest, we saw some amazing charred pine trees. The trunks of the charred trees looked like modern sculptures that very few people get to see. We didn’t see anyone on day 3 or day 4 of the hike. The Los Padres is so rarely visited that I just don’t see anyone after just a few miles out. It’s a good place to practice extreme social distancing.

This charred tree trunk looked like a modern art sculpture.
Here’s a closer version of charred remains.
One more angle that shows the shiny surface reflecting the blue sky.

We got to see a few bear tracks on the hike. The bears like to use the same trails that we do and the tracks looked pretty fresh.

Chip pointing at a bear track. A raccoon or other critter track can be seen below the bear print.

When we finally got to our destination after hiking in and out and up and down some ridges, the forest was mainly burnt down. The devastating 2007 Zaca Fire had torn through this valley to devastating effect. The Zaca Fire started about 20 miles away from the basin, but it found plenty of fuel here. Thirteen years later, a thick set of trees had grown to about 8′ tall. The Friars who came to harvest the trees about 220 years ago would have had to gone to another grove to get the lumber for the missions.

This Ponderosa Pine is one of the few remaining trees in the area.
This pine has been pecked to death after it was already dead.
Here’s a close-up of some of the holes that have been filled with acorns.
Here’s a massive coulter pine cone – the largest cone of any species that can weigh over 10 pounds.
Tall sandstone formations rose above our campground.
A near full moon was rising above this decaying stump.
Chip surveying the high country of Santa Barbara. The forest had been burnt down around here.

We got back to camp at about 3:00 and I had a cup of coffee and laid around in the meadow near the natural spring. We knew a storm was coming, but there was no wind. We made a nice fire and we stayed up till 9:30 this night. We planned to get up early and head out at about 7:30am to ride the storm out.

Here’s a video from day 3.

One Reply to “Day 3 to Mission Pine Basin: Charred Forest, Big Cones and Bear Prints”

  1. Thanks for putting this together Scott! It’s like we get to go on the hike with you while we shelter-in-place! Much love, K

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