January 24, 2020 - Starting a new series of blogs, sharing our experiences "In our Backyard". There is so much beauty, history and things to discover here.
We've vowed to spend more time exploring our backyard and the magnificent gems that are here for our enjoyment. This week we took advantage of two including a hike up Hot Springs Canyon and a half day boat trip our on the Santa Barbara Channel.
Since the weather has been so good here and we have a few weeks before our next travel, Mary broke out the Best Hikes in Santa Barbara book and started highlighting a few for us. On Thursday we headed up to the foothills of Montecito to the Hot Springs Canyon trail. Beautiful day for a hike along the small sparkling stream and rocky trail we had spectacular views of the SB Channel below. A steep sweat inducing uphill trek gaining about 1700 ft in elevation over the one mile hike up the canyon, we reached the small pools and source of the hot spring that the canyon is named after. The trail is rocky and lined with old growth oak trees, many bearing the scars from the fires up here a few years ago. At the top we hiked down to the ridge trail through large rock outcroppings and along the Edison access road toward the San Ysidro Creek trail then a right at the towers down the steep, narrow wildlife trail toward the bottom. A perfect mid morning trek and start to our local trail exploration, many more beautiful canyons and vistas to come.
On Friday, with the forecasted warm weather and fair seas we decided to get back out on the water to experience the wildlife and island life within the Santa Barbara Channel. We booked a half day whale watching trip with Channel Islands Sport Fishing out of the Channel Islands Harbor which is about 30 minutes south of us. We usually use Island Packers out of Ventura Harbor since they are closer to us but nothing available that met our needs on short notice. Our first trip with CISF was on the Ranger 85, a small group of us only 12 people on a boat that they say holds 60 so it felt almost like a private tour. The captain and crew were great, some great smells coming from the galley too. We left the harbor about 9:00am, our course would take us across the channel to Anacapa Island this morning. No landing on the island this time, we'll save that for another trip. Just outside the harbor we passed by several pods of sea lions flippers and tails up, everybody wave at the tourist boat we would like to believe but they actually do this to warm up a bit without having to leave the water. Passing platform Gail along the way, not much other wildlife activity until we got closer to Anacapa Island. We started seeing spouts from Humpback whales as we neared the Island and followed one juvenile for a bit until we spotted a pod of three to the north. We motored north toward the end of Anacapa and followed these three as they slowly made their way south. It looked like two adults and one juvenile traveling together, spouting and occasionally showing a tail fluke as they dove. We passed in front of Anacapa Island, it's lighthouse and famous arch on it's south end, Santa Cruz island was just to our north. Throughout the trip we were joined by California Guls and Brown Pelicans floating by the boat checking to see if we had any fish for them. We also came across a huge pod of dolphins who were having a great time darting through the waves, jumping and riding in the boat's wake, They're really fun to watch.