Tuesday, February 23, 2016

San Mateo Wilderness Backpack

Troop 774 had its first backpack of the season last weekend.  We headed up to Orange County and a new venue for us: San Mateo Canyon Wilderness.
We loaded up at church on Saturday morning then headed up to the Bear Canyon trailhead next to the Ortega Highway Candy Store.  The trail was constantly going up and down the endless canyons.  We walked mainly through very mature chaparral that provided some decent shade but we occasionally dropped into oak and riparian streambeds.  After 3.2 miles, we stopped at Four Corners for lunch.  From there, the scouts decided they wanted to try to bag Sitton Peak.  They headed off while I stayed with the packs.  When they got back, they said the trail up to the peak was very steep and they decided to turn back; a very wise decision.  We then headed the remaining 2.5 miles to our goal.  When we got to Oak Flats, we found a nice little meadow to camp in.  Oak Flats is a beautiful oak forest, the kind that was probably all over Southern California at one time but is now very rare.  We were hoping for water but the springs and streams were all dry even with the recent rains.  It will probably years of decent rain to replenish them.  We all ate dinner and I ended going to bed very early.
In the morning, we ate breakfast, broke camp and headed back the same way we came.  Overall, the hike was more strenuous than I had anticipated and I would rate it as intermediate.  But our younger scouts did great.  I would love to check out Fisherman's Camp and Tenaja Falls in a future hike.
Lunch at Four Corners

Camp at Oak Flats

Canyon View

Ortega Highway Candy Store

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