Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Trabuco with Chandler

A few days ago, I made my now-annual pilgrimage to the upper reaches of Trabuco Canyon with my buddy Chandler. I first met him nearly four years ago when we thoroughly chilled ourselves body surfing at Huntington Beach. On this hike, we once again ended up wet and cold! No birder is he, but I slung my bins over my neck and kept ear and eye attuned to avian life.

It was cold, but the strenuous climb kept us warm and sweating. Fog rolled in and shrouded the canyon and peaks.

This rugged landscape is the final frontier of Orange County birding. Bolsa Chica, Newport Bay, San Joaquin Marsh--those places are daily visited by dozens of birders. Seldom, though, do binocular-toting bird nuts venture up into these perilous reaches despite the promise of sexy mountain birds. This particular day was lackluster, probably because of the gloom, but we managed to seen several Townsend's Solitaires, two Hairy Woodpeckers, and a Golden-crowned Kinglet.

We made it to the ridge. Now a couple thousand feet higher and hiking roughly level ground, we were cold. Puddles were glazed with ice. We kept our hands into our pockets and kept moving.

It began to rain! First, a Seattle-grade mist, morphing into a steady drizzle. Then, unbelievably, soggy snowflakes began pelting us in the face. Many miles laid ahead of us. As we descended, rain replaced snowflakes. Each mile brought a new milestone: soaked pants that clung to calves, water penetrating our outer layers, shoes officially saturated. It was cold!

Newts saved the day. We saw four, and hopefully did not trod upon too many more. Unlike us, they were enjoying the drizzle!

When we finally reached the car, we stripped off the majority of our clothes and rode home in the waterproof, heated, and wonderful confines of the car.

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