Fall Equinox Nature Hike on Pine Mountain “Sky Island” on Sunday, September 22, 2019

On Sunday, September 22, Ojai native plant educator Lanny Kaufer will lead his 7th annual Fall Equinox Nature Hike in the peaceful Mixed Conifer Forest on the “sky island” known as Pine Mountain (elevation: 7000 feet) at the time of year when the pine nuts are dropping. He promises that first-time visitors to this area will be surprised and delighted to find a thick forest of pines, fir and cedar so close to the Ventura coast.

According to Craig Carey, author of Hiking and Backpacking Santa Barbara and Ventura, the Reyes Peak Trail along the northern slope of the peak is “quite simply one of the most beautiful stretches in the southern Los Padres.” Biogeographers include Pine Mountain in a select group of “sky islands,” defined as isolated mountains surrounded by radically different lowland environments. Kaufer’s group can expect to see several high altitude plants and trees like White Fir and Sugar Pine more commonly found in the Southern Sierra Nevada mountains. Weather and marine layer permitting, they will have panoramic views of the Cuyama Valley to the north and the Channel Islands to the south. 

The outing will start at 9:00 a.m. with a carpool caravan of about 35 miles up Highway 33 from the Maricopa Plaza, (1207 Maricopa Highway, Ojai, CA 93023) to the Reyes Peak trailhead. The final 5.5 miles are on a narrow, winding paved road and the very last half-mile is dirt. Trucks or SUV’s are preferred for the last stretch but most passenger cars with high clearance can also make the drive.

Kaufer will start walking into the Sespe Wilderness from the trailhead (where there is a restroom) at about 10:30 a.m., stop for lunch (not provided) in the forest, and return to the trailhead at 3:00 p.m., arriving back at the Maricopa Plaza by 4:00 p.m. The group will hike on a well-used trail through Mixed Conifer Forest habitat, stopping often to identify and discuss native plants, birds and wildlife. Midway, they will take 30-45 minutes to relax and enjoy sack lunches and snacks in the peace and quiet of the forest.

This intermediate level hike is suitable for moderately experienced hikers or physically fit beginners. There will be some elevation gain and loss skirting the north side of Reyes Peak, sometimes traversing hillsides on a narrow trail. The total hiking distance will be about 3 miles.

This hike is another in a series of backcountry walks and hikes under an Operating Permit from the Ojai Ranger District Office of the U.S. Forest Service designed for guides who provide recreational and interpretive services to the public.

There is no prepayment required, just a promise to notify Kaufer in a timely fashion if plans change. Registrants will receive a confirmation email several days before with all necessary info. After the hike they will receive an email with a complete list of all the plants and wildlife identified, including common and scientific names.

The cost is $25 for adults, $20 for seniors 62 and older, and $15 for full-time students 13-17. Kids 5-12 can go free, one per adult, pending request and approval. Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. No dogs or smoking, please. For registration and information visit HerbWalks.com or call 805-646-6281.

Photo by John Griffith

ABOUT LANNY KAUFER:

Lanny Kaufer has been leading interpretive native plant walks and hikes in the Ojai-Ventura-Santa Barbara area since 1976 for groups of all ages. He is regarded as a local expert on the edible and medicinal uses of indigenous and naturalized plants. Lanny acquired much of his knowledge in field study with well-known herbalists and ethnobotanists. He studied with the late William LeSassier and has co-led workshops and expeditions with noted herbalists such as the late Chumash plant expert Juanita Centeno, the late Michael Moore, Michael Tierra, Amanda McQuade Crawford, Dr. Fred Siciliano, Professor James Adams, and Chumash educator Julie Tumamait-Stenslie.

Lanny graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1974 with a degree in Biology. While there, under the supervision of his Biology professor, he did extensive independent studies in the field of naturopathic medicine and worked in the university’s arboretum. With a California Teaching Credential, he has taught science, health and natural history for many schools and environmental education programs.


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