The Sespe Wilderness

Twin Forks Campground in The Sespe Wilderness

Background

Within the past few years I was told my mom’s side of the family went backpacking into the Sespe Wilderness over Mother’s Day weekend. In fact this was a yearly event that went on for several years. Decades ago fishing season opened on Mother’s Day. The men of the family would disappear into the mountains to go fishing. It was opening weekend and their limit was 15 fish. The season was only open for a few months in the year too.

A couples weeks prior to my trip into the Sespe Wilderness, Cyrus had mentioned the possibility of going backpacking and checking out the family’s camping spot. I had been itching to get out and go backpacking, so when Cyrus mentioned a trip I was fired up and ready to go. Those of us who were able to make the trip were Cyrus, Linda, John, and myself.

March 28th – On Our Way

I packed my gear the night before and was on the road around 830AM. It was perfect weather for backpacking. The weather was sunny, cool, and there was a slight breeze. I made it to my cousin’s place and we went out to get a few last minutes supplies. We also needed to grab a bite to eat, so Cyrus took us to a place for some grub. It was a perfect place to carb up and get some protein too. We had a big bowl of salad and some chicken seasoned pizza. It was all very tasty 🙂 His girlfriend was there with us to. He was trying to convience her to go, but she really needed to stay back for school related things. We will get her out there next time ;). With our appetites satisified, we made our way to the trailhead.

After another hour or so of driving, we arrived at the trail around 4PM. We parked the truck in the parking lot, through the adventure pass in the windshield, put our backpacks on, and started on the trail. It was just Cyrus and I on the trail for the most part. John and Linda were already at camp. They had decided to leave early in order to claim the campsite and clean up around the area. We enoucntered about a hand full of people actually walking on the trail, but they were not going in our direction.

Since we were walking parallel to the Sespe River, we were destined to cross it soon. In fact we both crossed the river three times. The first crossing we were able to use the rocks to get across. Once we actually got to the Sespe River we had to take off our shoes to get across. It was fun and the water was cool as we crossed. I was able to snap a few photos of Cyrus making his way across. It was entertaining at one point. He was a little top heavy, so he started to sway a bit. Fortunately he nor I went for a swim. We initially didn’t know about a third crossing, so we wasted a few minutes drying our feet really good. Our shoes were on and about 150 feet later they were off again.

One of the scenic areas we walked through was along the Peidra Blancas. The weathered sandstone outcrops were cool and added to the landscape. Apparently this is where a lot of Uncle Al’s painting were from. We were now about a quarter of the way to Twin Forks campground.

The remaining parts of the trail navigated near Chief Peak and along Piedra Blanca Creek. The sunset provides some great views and cooler temperatures. The Day Fire in 2005 had burnt this area, but the vegetation was coming back pretty well. Initially we were wondering how much water there was going to be and when we observed Piedra Blanca Creek, water was no longer a concern.

When we arrived in camp, there was a fire going and family to greet our arrival. After Cyrus and I set up our tents, we were ready to start cooking some food. We went looking for sage to cook our steaks with. Yep you read right. We ate like kings for backpacking. I never had steak out on a trip before and it was tasty. We all sat around the fire eating our warm meal and I listened to all the stories from my family’s past. I really enjoyed hearing the family history, what funny and crazy things went on, and imagining what it was like before the fire came through. John and Linda said you couldn’t see the mountains surrounding the camping area before the fire. It will take a few years for the trees to come back, but the shrubs, grasses, and brush are returning quickly. We stayed up awhile talking, enjoying some teas, and other drinks. I was able to try out my new one man tent on the trip. I highly recommened it if you are just needing room for one. There is plenty of room, you don’t feel trapped at all, and it is light weight. It was windy all night long and I did wake up several times in the night. However, I didn’t mind 🙂

March 29th – Going Home

You might be thinking that dinner was pretty fancy. Breakfast was even better! When I usually go backpackingI have instant oatmeal for breakfast. However, this backpacking trip we hand lamb chops, potatoes, bread, tea, and some gravey. It was a hearty meal and you can see how much Cyrus and I were enjoying the food. We all worked together getting the campsite cleaned up when we were done eating. It was getting close to going home.

Before we were going to leave, John talked about how they used to go up the river to some of the fishing and swimming holes. We decided to give it an attempt and head up the river. After about 30 minutes we were not successful. The river hand changed so much that the paths up the river were completely gone. It was still a nice hike though and Cyrus was able to test the strength of one of the fallen trees while being over the river below.

Our journey out was quick. It was all down hill for the most part. It was about 11 when we started back towards the truck. We stopped at a boy scouts camping area to look for any treasure they may have left behind from their last visit. No such luck though, so Cyrus and I took the lead as we all made our way back to the trucks. Once in the vehicles we made our way back home. Along the way home, we stopped at a hamburger stand just outside of Ojai and Santa Paula. It was a nice way to end the trip with a burger in hand and a milk shake in the other. Thanks cousins for a great and memoriable trip!

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