Manzana Schoolhouse, Los Padres NF, 2014

One wonderful thing about living where I live is having great access to gorgeous wilderness nearby. Having just moved back to California a friend of mine was looking for a little excursion, so once again, as many times in the past, I brought up the idea of going to see the Manzana Schoolhouse. Amazingly, it had been over 10 years since I&d made it to the schoolhouse. My friend and I had many attempts and aborted tries resulting in some great trips but never reaching the gaol. I think he may never have thought I was ever back there at all. But a bottle of whiskey and some gusto and some &cool& temperatures would finally prove that yes, there is something back there!

We got a fun late start and decided to night hike into Portero which really was a blast. I had forgotten how much fun night hiking is. A good headlamp and cool temperatures are always welcome. When we got in, though, who would have thought that other people would already be at the main capmsite! We found a spot across the river and had a fun night of dinner and drinking. The sun came up early, as is it&s wont, and I got up with it, mustered the coffee, and on the trail we went for a new day of adventure. At one point on the trail I looked ahead and saw my friend standing in the trail looking back at me and something moving behind him...and then a wild turkey started attacking him! Flapping and pecking, mean little thing would not leave us alone! No amount of pole swinging could deter this vengeful bird, but eventually we got around and back on the road. Later on at a water stop I also finally had my first wild encounter with a mountain lion. It had been just up the same stream getting some water when my friend pointed it out and, before it slinked back into the woods, got toee each other. So beautiful. Seeing the Dabney cabin again was wonderful, and finally after so many years of aborted tries, we made it to the schoolhouse. And that gorgeous scenery there by the Sesepe river. I hadn't seen that in 10 years, but it still is phenomenal. It is amazing how quickly the colors just change in teh span of a mile, opening this broad beautiful expanse.

Unfortunately the river was bone dry and, unlike the wise mountain lion, we hadn&t filled up at the last watering hole so had the choice of a long water run or starting to head back. After spending some time with the schoolhouse we sucked it up and headed back. Water in tow, we started hiking. Horseshoe occupied, we hoofed it to Coldwater for a total of 15 miles in a single long day. Exhausted and sick myself, after some recovery finally we could relax and play some gin with some great soup. The next morning at Coldwater had that gorgeous sunrise off of the canyon walls and a nice cool hike out.

But finally, after nearly a decade, finally me and my friend had made it again back to the schoolhouse. And I was able to show him that yes, in fact, it does exist! Such a relaxing and necessary trip was exactly what I had needed. I know it is just another starting point for many great trips yet to come.

The Photographs

Picutres were from the a900 system with the 24-70 lens.

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