Thursday, January 8, 2009

Holiday Recap Pt. I

Action Report - Success on Cathedral ...err Arlington Peak
Santa Ynez Mountains, Santa Barbara, CA
December 28, 2008

Michael, Amber, and myself atop Arlington Peak

After spending most of the holiday week either with family or prepping Amber's car to take over the role of Adventuremobile from the Golf *tear*, we needed some release. We had planned to go to Mt. Pinos for some winter action, but that plan fell through due to exhaustion. Sunday was our last day in the Santa Barbara area, and we needed some release before heading back to work.

Hang glider soaring over the Santa Ynez

We met up with Michael, and decided to tackle the Cathedral Peak trail, one of the most beautiful 'hikes' in Santa Barbara, and possibly the toughest. I say 'hikes' because there is a lot of scrambling and bouldering involved, and during an earlier attempt this year we turned back due to time. While the route is occasionally class 1, much of the time is spent on class 2-3 terrain; a maze of boulders and manzanita brush.

The "trail" is the ridge leading to the summit

The Cathedral Peak trail is one of the only trails in the Santa Barbara front country that feels like a real mountain experience. It's rarely exposed in any dangerous way, but once you climb up on the "Dragon's Back" the terrain drops off to the left and right. Essentially you pick your way right up the east ridge of the mountain. It's about 3000 ft. of elevation gain in 2 miles, most of that the latter half of the hike.

Arlington Peak is on the left and the "Dragon's Back" route is the rocky ridge leading up to it from right to left

Amber had a hard time getting warmed up. I think we were a bit drained and also had perhaps too-heavy a breakfast. We estimated the hike would take about 4 hours, but it ended up taking closer to 6. Mike was a powerhouse the whole time, he never has to slow down (except to wait for us). If you're looking for a hiking partner who can keep a blustery pace, get in contact with this guy.

View down to the trailhead (yes, there is a reason it looks straight down!)

As we got closer to the top, Amber got her energy back and was really trucking along. Soon we were on top of Arlington Peak, and although I have been to many vistas in the Santa Ynez, this one is worth the trouble. On top of that the storms earlier in the week and winter air made for one of the clearest days I have seen in Santa Barbara. We could see practically all of the Channel Islands, the Santa Monica Mountains, and the Santa Barbara and Ventura coasts. We also had a good vantage point to see the fire scars from both the Tea Fire and an earlier fire in Goelta.

View to the Channel Islands

Anacapa and Santa Barbara Islands

View through the gap between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands

Land scarred by the Tea Fire

Though the sandstone tooth of Cathedral Peak was just across the way from here, the hike to Arlington is the bulk of the trail and very strenuous. We decided to call it a day there, have a snack, then head downhill to feast on Mexican food. Needless to say, all the scrambling and high-stepping (plus a few holiday pounds) left us all sore for days. Amber and I recovered just in time for the next holiday adventure...

Photo Album:
Cathedral Peak (Santa Barbara)


Katie said...

Wow, the photos are beautiful -- I can only imagine what it looked like in person!

Eric said...

Santa Barbara is where I lived for 4 years after leaving Texas. It's extremely beautiful there, but I much prefer where we live now.

It's more than worth a side-trip if you're ever in LA. But SF Bay & the Sierra is much more worth your money for a big trip (you just have to trade a little of the sunshie away, but you have plenty of that in TX anyway!)