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Ventana Double Cone Trail

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby RSIBryce on Thu May 02, 2013 3:24 pm

Date Hiked: April 30, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Section: Pat Spring to the Ventana Double Cone

We based at Pat Spring, filled our bottles, and trekked forth with daypacks for the summit(s) of Ventana Double Cone, leaving camp at 7 am. The trail was in much better shape then I imagined, and was a very enjoyable hike; many thanks to the trail workers out there who put in so much time! There's still some deadfall, but nothing too inhibiting, the brush is very thick in some sections, especially the last couple of miles, but able to be pushed through without too much fight, or as my friend David kept saying, "swim through". Make sure to wear the right gear, i.e. long sleeves, hat, glasses, pants, maybe even gloves. The tread is evident and aside from a few places, fairly easy to follow. Keep your eyes peeled for the well placed rock cairn at certain sections to help guide the way and some flagging. The only section we did get lost for a minute was after passing Uncle Sam Mountain, climbing the backside of the ridge through thick ceanothus, as the trail heads for a drainage, it switchbacks. It's easy to continue following the trail into the drainage and feel like your still on the trail, only until it becomes clear you are not after a while and gets really steep-- seems like a common mistake because we were following other tracks. Always best to go back to the last place you know you were on trail rather than keep forging ahead. Saw some ticks out there, so remember to check.

Lone Pine camp is off the trail to the east about 30 yards from a non-descript use trail. There was no water in either creek that borders the camp. I didn't venture down too far, perhaps if I kept going I would have found some. We made the VDC Lookout just after noon and spent an hour or so lounging in the sun, eating lunch and enjoying the glorious view. Afterward we made it up to the other cone to get that perspective. As usual the hike back went quick, we were in camp at Pat Spring around 6:30.

I did the whole hike on a measly 2 liters of water (I downed at least 2 liters at the spring before heading out that morning). Good idea to bring a bladder or something to stash water for yourself or carry it the whole way if you don't mind the weight.
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby Sam on Thu May 02, 2013 12:35 pm

Date Hiked: April 12, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

I'm addressing trail conditions from the junction with the Puerto Suello trail to the summit. After this junction parts of the trail are very overgrown but still evident - my girlfriend described it as "swimming through chaparral." For me, this is more annoying than a hindrance - but be sure to check for tics after pushing through an overgrown stretch - I had to brush a few off my jeans and flannel. Another obstacle is downed trees from the last burn. We spent some time clearing what we could. However, I'd say overall the trail is pretty obvious - especially if you've done it before.

There is one area, however, that's difficult, overgrown and tricky; this is what I would describe as the descent to the final ridge from which you make the last climb to the summit and lookout (hope that makes sense). For about a quarter-mile the trail down to this ridge (and on part of the ridge itself) is washed out, very over grown and knotted with a few challenging dead-falls. It's easy to loose the trail here - but a thanks to a few strategically placed red ties, we were able to stay on course - but did have to retrace our steps a few times. The heat also can play tricks on your judgement - the earlier you climb the better on this trail. But I imagine that some kind of restoration is due here soon, if possible - as in 2011 (my last solo climb) it wasn't anywhere near this tricky.

However, once you're out of this the road to the top is easy to follow, spectacular and fun.

I also have to add the caveat that the ranger on duty at Botcher's Gap (same guy's that's been there for years) told us several folks have turned around at the aforementioned junction (@ Puerto Suello) which only goes to show this may not be your cup of tea.

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby stevenson school on Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:34 pm

Date Hiked: February 24, 2013
General Condition: Clear (no obstacles and tread well defined)

The Stevenson School Sophomore Wilderness Expedition Trail Crew returned to the Ventana for the first time since the fires of 2008 to do some trail work! The trail from Bottcher’s Gap to Pat Springs continues to be a wilderness highway, while the trail beyond Pat Springs to Little Pines camp is easily passable, although a little brushy and tricky to follow in a few spots. We spent three nights in Little Pines camp clearing out the campsite and adjacent fire ring (near the huge, dead snag), and clearing ¼ mile of trail both to the north and south of camp. Continuing south, the trail from Little Pines to Puerto Suello is also passable although there is a fair amount of brush as you near Puerto Suello. There are also 2 – 3 slight diversions up and around deadfall and drainages along the way and one needs to do a fair bit of thrashing through the encroaching brush. The trail from Puerto Suello south up to Lone Pine Camp is passable but the brush in the first ½ mile up from Puerto Suello is pretty thick. We spent quite a bit of time clearing brush from this section and also removed a few log jams to make the trail easier to navigate. Beyond here and up to Lone Pine Camp, the trail improves markedly and is easy to follow. The trail from Lone Pine Camp to the summit is also passable.
Junction of VDC and Puerto Suello trail before clearing.
Showing off on the summit
IMG_0115-001.jpg (45.2 KiB) Viewed 4377 times
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby rt1 on Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:53 am

benthehiker wrote:One warning - I was using the Wilderness Press map, which shoes a trail connection to Tin House that ultimately back to Big Sur Station. I spent an hour looking for this trail and almost got lost on the steep mountainside below Doublecone. I later learned from a local that the trail was totally overgrown and no longer in existence.

From what I understand, that trail never existed. It would involve rappelling into The Window.
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby benthehiker on Sun Mar 31, 2013 1:49 pm

Date Hiked: March 28, 2013
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Beautiful partly cloudy day. Slept the night at Lone Pine - couldn't find water anywhere. The hike was pretty overgrown to start and cleared up as I got closer to the peak. One warning - I was using the Wilderness Press map, which shoes a trail connection to Tin House that ultimately back to Big Sur Station. I spent an hour looking for this trail and almost got lost on the steep mountainside below Doublecone. I later learned from a local that the trail was totally overgrown and no longer in existence. I ended up spending 24hrs without water and having to divert to Botcher's Gap (18+ mile day!) and bum a ride back to my car at the Station.. Thankfully, I ran into a kind hiker who gifted me two liters, with Pat Springs was still 7 or so miles away.

I attached a beautiful panorama from the top. What a view!
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby Houston Hiker on Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:17 pm

Date Hiked: March 12, 2013
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Hiked this trail via Bottcher's Gap. Chapparal has overgrown the part of this trail from the Puerto Suelo intersection towards the Double Cone for about 1 mile, then the chapparal recedes and the trail becomes fairly benign, although still steep at times. Some folks have described this trail as impassable, but I strongly disagree. The tread is mostly easy to follow, even though the chapparal is overgrowing the trail and you have to push through it. We did miss a switchback and had to bushwack up the hill about 200 feet to get back to the trail...that was tough. Download a track from someone who has hiked this before. Here's a link I pulled from Jack Glendening's post - this helped us tremendously: It was dry and we last saw water at Pat Springs. Camped at Lost Pines. We had expected to be able to find water at Lost Pines or Lone Pine or Ventana such... and we ran out of water by our climb to Ventana Springs even after trying to conserve. If it had been any hotter than our very nice weather of 75 degrees, it would have been a problem.

Ventana Double Cone hike was well worth the push through the bushes. This is a great hike, and the views are amazing.

[Ed: "Lost Pines" probably means USGS quad map's "Little Pines Camp" location, at top of Rattlesnake Creek Trail]
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby The_Anchorite on Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:30 pm

Date Hiked: February 15, 2013
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Successful Summit! Not for the faint of heart, but still passable.

Having read the trail reports thoroughly and still failed last year to make it beyond the switchback past Porto Suello, I planned this year’s attempt differently. First, I carried a GPS with 24K topos and Dr. Jack’s trail maps loaded. Second, rather than planning a day hike from Pat Springs, I planned to overnight at Lone Pine.

Day 1: As others have said, the trail to Pat Springs from Bottcher’s Gap is a thoroughfare. The spring was running well, as usual. I overnighted on the ridge with howling winds and clear skies.

Day 2: I set out just after daybreak with a full pack (and I’m not a light packer). I encountered roughly the same overgrowth and deadfall before Little Pines as on my trip last year. Conditions got sketchy beyond the Little Pines junction, cleared for most of the Uncle Sam traverse and worsened drastically coming into and through Porto Suello. My subjective opinion is that the Porto Suello section is even worse than it was last year. Numerous times I lost the tread and would have had to turn back if not for the GPS. Much of it would have been tough with a day pack; with a 58-liter pack it was grueling. On a positive note, things clear up considerably approaching Lone Pine.

I dropped my gear at Lone Pine camp, which is in fine shape despite Gordon’s experience. I found it exactly where Jack’s maps said it would be, though there’s no sign of tread left leading to it. The actual location is 100 meters further downhill than Gordon’s location appears to be. It’s quite a distance off-trail just above the convergence of two watersheds. The spring was strong, clear and cold. I summited with a day pack, spent 45 minutes on top and was still back at Lone Pine by 1600. I spent the night at Lone Pine, which is eerily dead silent after a night on the ridge above Pat.

Lone Pine camp.jpg

Day 3: I made the trip all the way out to Bottcher’s Gap. As usual, the return was easier, though I still had to consult the GPS on several occasions.

Five others (in two groups) have summited since the New Year. There were two groups behind me on Sunday eager to follow.

Be forewarned: you WILL belly crawl, you WILL get scratched and bruised, and you WILL lose the tread on occasion. If you have the time, consider overnighting at Lone Pine. I think this trip plan beats the possibility of getting caught on trail after dark returning to Pat Springs.

Dr. Jack: My sincere thanks for the GPS trail map overlays; they saved my hike on many occasions. Also, I remembered to bring a large Ziploc bag for the Summit Registers; they’re safe and dry.

[Editor's note: thanks for taking the initiative to carry out those waterproof bags. Nice to hear the maps helped you. JG]
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Ventana Double Cone Trail to the summit

Postby Gordon on Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:48 pm

Date Hiked: January 19, 2013
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Two of us intended to backpack to Lone Pine camp for the night and to reach VDC the next morning. We each carried moderate sized backpacks. We're strong hikers with extensive peak scrambling experience in the High Sierra, but had no bushwhacking experience in the Ventana Wilderness.

Trail conditions were good as Larry at Bottcher's Gap Camp noted, until after Pat Spring. The western camp sites at Pat Spring (200 yards before the saddle) were clean and in excellent condition. A small stream was flowing a few feet from the camp sites. About 300 yards beyond the saddle at Pat Spring, serious bushwhacking conditions were encountered, this section lasted about 1/4 mile, where we needed to crawl under dense deadfall to get through certain sections, and sometimes needed to recover the trail after going around a few yards of deadfall. From this point to Little Pines camp the conditions were passable for about 75% of the time, the rest being serious bushwhacking. Around Little Pines we lost the trail and had to backtrack about 30 yards to find it. Certain areas were covered by walls of new growth, one must swim through while paying attention to the ground which was barely visible underneath. The way we were able to follow the trail was by looking for absence of shrub roots. Near Little Pines camp there were a few pieces of pink tape on the branches marking the way. The camp site, marked by burnt sign posts, still has a large clearing surrounded by abundant dead madrone branches.
Copy of DSCF6018.JPG

From Little Pines through Puerto Suello to Lone Pine camp was the worst part of the bushwhacking, where trail was difficult to follow about 50% of the time. A few pieces of pink tape marked the route near Puerto Suello junction as well as Lone Pine camp. We lost the trail once again before reaching Lone Pine camp, backtracking was the only viable solution. We had to squeeze in between small oak branches then crawl on the ground for several yards to get through the worst section, as going around was not possible. Lone Pine camp barely had space for one tent, we had to clear some brush to make space for a second tent. We melted snow to get water, hence did not look for water in the gully.
Copy of DSCF5963.JPG
Lone Pine camp

Copy of DSCF5976.JPG
Trail near the summit

The trail from Lone Pine camp to the summit was mostly in good condition, with only 2 short sections of bushwhacking nearer the camp. As the trail climbs the high ridges and rocky slopes the size of plants became much smaller so that they could not cover the trail or obstruct sight lines. We made it to the summit in about 1 hour from Lone Pine camp. From our observation, the worst bushwhacking occurred on north facing slopes or relatively flat areas, such as Puerto Suello/Little Pines; south facing slopes tended to have little brush. Our conclusion is that if no trail work are done in the next season the trail will be impossible to follow by most people if they're not armed with a GPS and an detailed trail map.
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby sugg on Sun Jan 20, 2013 11:31 pm

Date Hiked: January 19, 2013
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Yikes, Ma Nature is taking this baby back!The trail is in great/perfect shape from Skinner Ridge to Pat Spring = no issues at all. 1/4 mile past Pat Spring to Puerto Suello - the trail is becoming overgrown with that gnarly green bush/plant. A hiker can push through this growth, but the going gets slow. When the plant grows really aggressively, and a tree falls on the trail, it can get a little tricky to recover the trail. When snow is added to the mix, it gets even more tricky. There are extended sections of thick brush - 50 to 100 yards long. There is misc. deadfall on the trail as well.

From Puerto Suello to Lone Pine Camp - I didn't quite make it to Lone Pine Camp. The green brush is taking over the old Puerto Suello camp area. The switchbacks leading up and out of Puerto Suello towards the Double Cone are REALLY overgrown. The physical trail is fine, but the brush is thick. If you have a large pack, you might not be able to get through. I had to crawl in a couple of spots. With time and determination, you can make it to the Ventana Double Cone. I wanted to make it to the Double Cone, but I could not - didn't have my Petzl, and my confidence/enthusiasm was waning.
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby RSIBryce on Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:06 pm

Date Hiked: December 10, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Big Pines trail comes to a fork, to the right is the Ventana Double Cone trail, also known as Ventana trail. Burned signed at junction has "Pat Springs" carved into it. Some dead fall on trail but not too bad. More or less open and easy to follow. Lots of camps at Pat Springs. Spring box was in good condition and water was delicious. Really pretty spot. Can see the lights of Salinas through dead pines. Use trail goes up to the ridge from saddle to some really amazing views.
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