Hiking Stats as of 11/11/2019
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet

Jun 21, 2015 - Big Pine Mountain


Partners: Andrew Kirmse / Chris

Distance: 40.14 miles

Elevation Gain: 5,520 feet

Trip Time: 11:29

Maps and Stats:
After warming up on Sawmill/Pinos/Grouse the evening before, today was all set to be an epic hike. Big Pine Mountain, the highpoint of Santa Barbara County is the longest of any of the California county high points, at 30+ miles. So long in fact, that Jobe was biking it, as were Chris, Andrew and I. The 3 of us (minus Jobe) met up at the motel in the early AM, with a goal of setting off around 5 AM for a 6 AM start on Big Pine. Andrew had picked up his bike and one for me and because of this we had to all drive separately since Andrews car was full. We made the easy 1 hour drive, well easy until we hit Santa Barbara Canyon Road. We had thought we would drive about 5 miles to the TH, but the road became impassible in only a mile, even for a 4x4 vehicle. I made it over on set of rocks, barely, and stopped short of another set of rocks, knowing that I was not likely to get by. We all decided to park here, adding an extra 8 miles round trip, giving us a cool 40 mile journey on the day. Let the fun begin.

Once parked, Andrew pulled out the bikes and I got a quick lesson on how to use the gears and brakes. I rode up and down the road, a bit wobbly but good to go. The first 4 miles to the TH were gently uphill, and I tried to keep up with Andrew and Chris but they were clearly faster. I walked the short uphills and tried to make up time on the flat sections. The guys were good about waiting for me, and we arrived at the gate together. A couple of miles past the gate the real uphill section started, and we could see the road winding above us on the hill. The day was getting hot (it would be 90 degrees at the car at the end of the day) I had brought 7+ liters of water which I felt would get me up and down but was a bear to carry. On this long and steady uphill there was no opportunity to ride the bike, so we all pushed the bikes uphill. ON these sections I took the lead, partially because I was just fresher (Andrew had done Mt. Baldy the day before) and partly because I wanted to get a lead so that when the bike riding eventually resumed the guys would catch up. Two hours into the hike we had gained 1600 feet, and we relished the thought of coasting back down.

Once we had gained about 2,000 feet the road leveled off, and we enjoyed the opportunity to move quicker by riding. The next several miles were a mix of uphill and downhill, more up than down, but still after the long slog up it was nice to get a mix. The riding, in addition to allowing us to move much faster, also served to cool us down with the nice breezes. Along the way I was getting updates from Jobe, who had set out a couple of hours earlier than us, informing me of how much this whole escapade sucked. We reached Chokecherry Spring 4 hours into the hike, a little after 10 AM, where we found Jobe's bike. Apparently he wasn't kidding that the biking sucked, as we decided to keep going on bike for a while longer. This was 12.5 miles into the hike, so only another 7.5 miles more to the peak. About a half hour later as we were pushing our pikes up towards the next ridgeline near Malduce Peak we ran into Jobe, who was on descent after summiting. I asked him how it was, and he described a soul crushing experience of difficult cross country to get to the peak after leaving the trail. Oh, and that was still many, many miles ahead. We pushed all the way up to the saddle, about 3 miles past Chokecherry and about 1,000 feet higher. At the saddle we decided to ride downhill for a short stretch. Jobe had told us that the road would become crappy here, and there was little point in coasting downhill if we might take a tumble. We left the bikes a few hundred feet down and about 4 miles from the summit. It felt strange to have biked 16 miles, and we would have to hike 8 more miles before getting back to the bikes again.

We continued downhill where there were junctions with several trails. From here on it would be uphill, through the heat of the day. Maybe it wasn't soul crushing, but it was very tough given the heat and distances involved. We found the side road leading towards the summit, and Chris led the way, trying to follow a use trail wherever possible. The upper slopes had suffered a devastating burn several years ago, and the scars were evident. There were downed logs everywhere, and we frequently had to do some minor bushwhacking to get around everything. Making matters worse, there was this long grass with that has the little burrs that get into everything (except they don't get through long pants, but I was the only one with long pants). The summit itself is capped by a downed tree, and we missed it the first go around as I looked around for something to indicate we were on top. We finally found it and with our last bits of energy went through the summit register and signed in. We were all pretty tired and lay down on the summit rocks, trying to mentally prepare for another 20 miles of ground to cover. I was too lazy to walk to the other side of the summit, so I snapped a distant picture of the ocean right from the summit rocks.

We spent a good 45 minutes on top, before Chris led us back to the trail. Chris and Andrew had to stop to clean their boots and socks, and I just sat and rested. The return follows the same 20 miles of road, with the most difficult part being the hike back up to the bikes, and up to Malduce. Then the fun began. It took us 5 hours to reach the Malduce junction on the way up, but no more than 2 hours on descent. We would go about 2 miles at time, then pause to make sure everyone was together, than do 2 more miles. There were a couple of 100-200 foot climbs thrown in, but otherwise we coasted all the way down to the gate and back to the cars, where we arrived nearly 12 hours after starting out. The only thing left was for me to get back over the rocks that I probably should not have gone over in the morning, but with Andrew navigating for me I made it over. From there were went our separate ways, me back to Tracy for a well-deserved good nights rest.

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