[Noozhawk’s note: Click here for Dan McCaslin’s debut column.]
I fell in love with hiking and backpacking behind Santa Barbara when attending UC Santa Barbara en route to earning a Ph.D. in the 1970s.
We are very fortunate to live here surrounded by exotic natural beauty and sweet vistas out to sea, but we also have spectacular near-wilderness areas right behind us, and then we can enjoy those truly wild federal wilderness zones just over San Marcos Pass, too.
North of Santa Barbara, east of Los Angeles, and west of Bakersfield: our five nearby federal wilderness tracts encompass about 500,000 pristine acres of exciting natural splendors. We will encounter condors, horned toads, mule deer, mountain lion, California black bear, and the occasional enticing pictographs.
I’ve led many student groups into Los Padres National Forest as part of my day job teaching at Crane Country Day School in Montecito, and my son and I have relished many a backpack up Manzana Creek or over into the Sisquoc Canyon area (both in the San Rafael Wilderness).
Every column will let you know how child-friendly the hike is and what ages are appropriate: start your children’s appreciation at a young age!
I’m enthusiastic about sharing my love and knowledge of Santa Barbara County’s weird and wild backcountry camps, as well as informing readers about half-day and full-day hikes closer to town.
Living on the Westside since 1986, I think nothing of tossing some gear in my truck, grabbing my son or friends, and hiking hither and yon — both for the workout but especially for the contrast and relief from urban stress.
Relative solitude is desperately important in our hectic times, and we can find it out on the many nearby trails.
I hope to inspire some readers to put down the surfboard or step away from the computer screen, and just start hiking.
In addition to spotlights on local hikes and extended backpacks, I will be writing occasional reviews of natural history books and weaving certain principles into the columns.
I look forward to sharing my knowledge and experiences and photos with all of you.
— Dan McCaslin is the author of Stone Anchors in Antiquity, and has written extensively about the local backcountry. He welcomes reader ideas for future Noozhawk columns, and can be reached at email@example.com. Click here to read additional columns. The opinions expressed are his own.