14 February 2011

Welcome to Pine Mountain Club

Southern California has a large population which is mostly clustered along the coast. Huge expanses of undeveloped open space exist inland, populated only by those resillent and self-reliant enough to handle the isolation. Maricopa and Pine Mountain Club are two towns which stand alone as distant outposts of the southern California conurbation. I had to go exploring and see what was out there, and I found a lot of empty, calming beauty.

Route Outline: 545 KM total

I started by wandering down hwy 101 from Santa Barbara to HWY 150, which I took over Casitas Pass into the small town of Ojai, CA. Ojai is a quaint community in the mountains above Ventura, and has a great charm to it.

Downtown Ojai on a stormy day

I follow highway 33 north out of Ojai up and over a steep st of mountains. It was a crazy, curvy drive!

Pine Mountain Pass above Ojai, CA on HWY 33
North is to the left

Winding our way up HWY 33

Pine Mountain Summit looking south

After crossing Pine Mountain Pass, I drove across the flat Cuyama Valley, which has some agriculture but is largely isolated. It was breathtaking was scored with dry river beads and beat-up old roads. I followed one such road off the east side of HWY 33, and the scenery was breathtaking. It was a dirt loggin track, and my car was only able to go a little ways before the terrain got too rough.

HWY 33 - Cuyama Valley

Logging road we took

Scenery off logging wood - high arid plains

we climbed to the top of this!

My copilot Ian (left) and I

Distant destinations on the edge of the central valley

We followed hwy 33 North and East and we tempted to turn off on the twisting Cerro Noroeste Rd., which turned into Forest HWY 95 and started to climb up the edge of a sheer valley. The temperature started to drop, and the road got steeper and steeper with rocks and ice everywhere!

Forest HWY 95 led to the tiny community of Pine Mountain Club. This town is tucked away at the foot of a huge mountain, and is located at about 1500 m elevation. It was COLD and there was snow on the ground! Spectacular! PMC is a small, privately owned community. The house were very cute, and the streets were steep and surrounded with evergreen trees.

Forest HWY 95/ Cerro Noroeste Rd to Pine Mountain Club. Looking South

Forest HWY 95 into Pine Mountain Club

Closeup of town nestled on north-facing slope
1500 M elevation
Looking south
The Range above Pine Mountain Club. the peaks reach close to 2500 m above sea level.
Looking South
After leaving Pine Mountain Club, we headed back down the way we came, and turned back onto HWY 33 continuing East toward Maricopa. A steep, sudden grade took us down into the valley, and Maricopa slowly revealed itself on the horizon. It was a small, sleepy town on the edge of the immense central valley of California, and the buildings were sparse and drab. The area has had a weak economy which has veen closely tied to the booms and busts of oil and gas drilling in the area, and now does not look like such a good time in Maricopa. Still, it was a beautiful piece of California which is definitely off the beaten path!

Treacherous grade down into the central valley

Elevation and Speed Profile

Thanks for the read! More info about this trip to come soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.