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Ventana Double Cone Trail

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby RSI SamE on Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:10 pm

Date Hiked: December 8, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

Ventana Double Cone Trail
Twixt Big Pines Trail junction
And Pat Spring Camp
• Trail: Passable (some deadfall)
• People: 3
• Signage: Burnt sign at junction with Ventana Double Cone Trail and Big Pines Trail. Carved into burnt sign post is written “Pat Springs, 2 km” with an arrow pointing down Ventana Double Cone Trail to Pat Spring Camp. No camp sign at Pat Spring Camp.
• Note 1: Lots of camps and water from spring box on ridge at Pat Spring Camp.
Last edited by RSI SamE on Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby Adventure Grrl on Mon Nov 26, 2012 12:03 pm

Date Hiked: November 24, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Two of my buddies and I headed up from Bottchers Gap this past weekend to summit Ventana Double Cone. We are all seasoned hikers, so although we heard it was overgrown, we decided to make the trek anyway with full gear to Pat Springs on the first day and day packs up to the peak the second day. Bottchers Gap to Pat Springs, albeit a challenging ascent, is in good condition and the camping sites provide gorgeous views. There is ample water up there, an important note as you will need plenty of water should you decide to make the trip up to Double Cone.

Unfortunately we were unable to make it all the way the second day. By Puerto Suelo the trail is hidden beneath 6ft+ tall bushes and shrubs (there are tough patches beforehand, but it gets really terrible at that point) and one can very easily find themselves off the path. We made it about halfway up Uncle Sam's Mountain before we decided we would run out of light should we attempt the final few miles.

Per Dr. Jack's recommendation, DO NOT attempt this without a GPS. We ran into him (he did successfully summit, but said it was the most difficult he'd ever seen it and felt it would soon be completely impassible) and even he got turned around on the way up and back and he's not only done this trail many times, but also mapped the area in its entirety. After speaking with him, the best and only way to summit right now is to leave Pat Springs at dawn with a GPS unit, keep a strong pace and make sure you're headed down shortly after as you will be arriving back at sundown. Doing this with headlamps is really not an option.

All that said, the journey to Pat Springs alone is worth the voyage and anything more than that is icing on the cake! Enjoy fellow pack rats :-)
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby jack_glendening on Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:44 am

Date Hiked: November 24, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

REPORT FROM A HIKE WHICH DID REACH THE VDC SUMMIT

No one has reported getting to the VDC since last May, the four Trail Reports since then all turning back at some point because of trail conditions (time and energy being lost to pushing through brush and hunting for the trail). I had been there myself last May so wondered whether things had really gotten much worse after that trip, since this was outside the growing season. Curiosity (which has killed cats) induced me to make my own visit, deciding to do the "classic" route since I had never stayed at Pat Spring (on both previous trips to the VDC I camped overnight at Little Pines Spring).

I did get to the VDC, but it was definitely a struggle and I was exhausted after getting back to Pat Spring. Without any rest stops, it took 4.0 hours to reach the VDC and 4.2 hours to return (obviously tiring, since the return is more downhill). I left Pat Spring 45 mins after sunrise and returned 30 mins after sunset, spending 1.5 hours atop VDC enjoying the view. (How tired was I at that point? I realized afterward that I had gotten distracted by reading other register entries so never finished or signed my own register entry!) Frankly, I had to push myself too hard, to the point where I did not enjoy the last part of the VDC return, the evening/night afterward, or the next day backpack from Pat Springs.

Reading the register there, I found that 5 people have reached VDC since last May. Their observations about trail conditions:

Nov 11: "bushwhacked long and hard from Pat Springs"

Oct 22: (from Hiding Canyon Camp) "badly overgrown"

Aug 18: "I hope an effort can be made to clear the trail. If it is cleared it would truly be a gem."

July 1: "thanks to those who continue to post about trail conditions and mark the way"

July 1: "worried about the trail - no entries since May"

Looking at the same period in previous years, the number of people reaching and enjoying the VDC is clearly diminishing.

So getting to the VDC is getting more difficult. And getting less enjoyable. As all have reported, the tread is eroded and the brush considerable (ceanothus completely overgrowing the trail in some places).

But the view remains incomparable and worth reaching!! It is my favorite place in the Ventana.
[To entice hikers, I've put a 360-degree panorama from the VDC at http://bigsurtrailmap.net/PANORAMAS/VDC ... otated.jpg - when you look at it, remember that it is far better seeing yourself!].

To those making the attempt, I'd advise

() Expect a difficult unmaintained trail, with much brush and eroded tread, which will be tiring and time consuming. In some places the ceanothus is so thick you must use your feet to feel your way along the path. So more time and effort is needed than for a maintained trail of the same length.

() Expect to lose the trail on occasion. Flags do mark the way at some, but not all, confusing places (I added some this trip, was pleased to see some from my last trip). Personally, I don't want to waste time and energy trail hunting, especially without a companion to help trail-hunt, so brought a GPS loaded with the actual VDC Trail (available at my on-line trail map website http://bigsurtrailmap.net). Despite my previous experience, I lost the trail three times going and once returning but using the GPS was quickly able to recover and move on. Also, it was reassuring to know that should the unforeseen delay me so I'd not be able to get back to Pat Spring by dark, the GPS could help keep me on the correct route. ["Bottchers Gap Larry" told me about a fireman who dayhiked to VDC last year and did reach it, but lost the trail on the way back after it got dark, despite having a headlamp, ending up in his using a cell phone to get a helicopter rescue.]

() Allow as much as time as possible, leaving early in the day to have more time to enjoy the view on the VDC. [After the hard work of getting there, you don't want to be forced to quickly leave due to time pressures - or even worse, have to turn around before getting to see the view you've been looking forward to!]

() Bring all your water along. The closest water (0.05 miles off-trail) water is at Ventana Spring but that is unreliable - I found water there last May but none on this trip. Puerto Suelo and Lone Pine Springs are 0.13 and 0.17 miles off-trail, which take time and effort to reach.

() Bring a single pole to help with eroded tread along the side slopes, so one hand will always be free to deal with brush (two poles get in the way in the brush, a single pole is more manageable)

() The heaviest ceanothus growth is around the intersection with the Puerto Suello Trail (marked by a cairn and firering) - at the sharp switchback 0.2 miles beyond (rocks and flags have been placed to prevent you from missing the switchback, which otherwise would be easy to do) you will have left the worst of the brush and eroded trail difficulties behind. Beyond that as the trail ascends the biggest problem is route finding since bare places appear which can be mistaken for the trail.

FOR ANYONE WHO DOES REACH THE VDC: the two summit registers are in a small ammo box but I found nothing inside protecting them, so they are showing some moisture damage. PLEASE BRING ALONG ONE OR TWO GALLON-SIZE FREEZER PLASTIC BAGS AND PLACE THE REGISTERS INSIDE TO BETTER PROTECT THEM. I did have a supermarket plastic bag which I used to wrap the registers, but they deserve better. I'd not remembered that deficiency from my last trip - or perhaps there was a plastic bag then. I did remember that last time there was no working pen so had left my personal pen (since pen writing is a lot easier to read in the register than the pencil which fades with time) and so I'd brought two additional pens to leave. Also, please leave the ammo can in an upright position so the inside is better protected from the rain - I found it on its side with a rock on top and, my brain being tired, left it the way I found it, realizing later that was a mistake.

Jack
Big Sur Trailmap: http://bigsurtrailmap.net
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby lori on Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:35 pm

Date Hiked: November 11, 2011
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I am marking this difficult because the limiting factors for someone who has been to the Double Cone before are time and water sources.

To anyone expecting a nice long strenuous hike who hasn't been here before: the trail to the Double Cone past the turnoff to the Puerto Suello trail is heavily overgrown, and parts of the tread are crumbling. My group ran into another group who came up Puerto Suello and camped at Lone Pine - the spring there is dry or retreated far downhill, so they were eating snow left from the last storm. They described the route as "nasty" up from Hiding Camp (the Carmel River Trail they also described as "nasty" and "not worth it").

My group hit a set turnaround time and did not make it to Lone Pine. Too much ceonothus and brush to make much progress. Several times, the trail vanished and the group had to work to find it again. Once we walked in a complete circle! One of the group fell off the trail in a steep section where the edge is crumbling. This is not really a hike, it's a bushwhack, and definitely a challenge.

Anyone attempting this should have knowledge of the route, leather gloves, good boots, and LOTS of water - and hopefully more daylight than there is currently. This would be dangerous in the dark, to say the least.
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby Jeff2012 on Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:49 pm

Date Hiked: October 15, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I HIKED UP TO PAT'S SPRINGS VIA PALO COLRADO RD. tHE TRAIL TO THE SPRINGS (WATER THERE) IS IN GOOD SHAPE AND I WAS UP THERE ALONE. aS I GOT THERE A FEW PEOPLE WERE LEAVING THOUGH. A DAY AFTER I GOT THERE I DECIDED TO HIKE THE TRAIL TO THE CONFLUENCE TO PUERTO SUELLO TRAIL AND I HAVEN"T BEEN UP THERE FOR YEARS ( ONE BEAUTIFUL VALLEY ON THE TRAIL WHERE A STREAM FLOWS N THE WINTER IS ESPECIALLY) IS CLEAR, BUT ANY FURTHER ON THE VENTANA DOUBLE CONE TRAIL IS OUT OF THE QUESTION; AT LEAST WHEN I WAS THERE. BACK ON THE FROUNT OF THE TRAIL I PUT UP A LOG WHERE THE TRAL MEETS THE BIG PINES TRAIL TO SHOW PEOPLE WHO WILL ASK, HOW TO GET BACK DOWN TO THE DAM. dON'T LOOK FOR THE BIG PINES CAMP UNLESS YOU FIND THE STREAM, THEN GO NORTH IN THAT AREA AND HIKE IT NORTH TILL YOU GET TO THE CAMP I BELIEVE. ENJOY FELLOW HIKERS.
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby Venturing_Doc on Mon Sep 03, 2012 4:56 pm

Date Hiked: September 3, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Whew. Rough one. Pretty much agree with Mepex' previous post. Within 500 ft of Pat Springs we hit heavy scrub which didn't let up. We quit at Lone Pine Camp approx 5.5 miles in, not because the trail wasn't passable but because we'd exhausted two gallons of water and were irritable. The trail is technical enough without the overgrowth, but the multitudes of poison oak and scrub coupled with the hot summer temps made this hike miserable, particularly beyond Porto Suello. Suggestions for future hikers: bring a machete [Ed. note- machetes are an inappropriate tool for chaparral, please use loppers & cut brush at ground level to avoid endangering other hikers], long pants/gaiters, marking tape and at least two gallons of H2O/person. Note: you will get scuffed up.
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Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby mepex on Sun Jun 24, 2012 9:01 pm

Date Hiked: June 23, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Perhaps the foliage has grown quite a bit since the last report; we found the trail to be very difficult, almost impassable in places. Less than a mile out of Pat Spring we were pushing though thick bushes, although the trail was definitely there. It did not get any easier. When the trail was open it was rocky and sloped on the hillside of Uncle Sam Mountain, and the soft dirt would give way- we had a few falls. Close to Porto Suelo the ceanothus was so thick it took considerable effort to get though, and we could follow the trail with our feet- sometimes. There were multiple times where it wasn't clear which way the trail went, and a few times we had to backtrack to find the trail again. We were hoping that it would get easier after that, but it didn't. More guessing about trail directions, many of the trail markers, though well intentioned, were easy to miss. There were lots of dead bushes that encroached on the trail that would scrape you as you went by, and some of the alive ones were even more stubborn. We finally gave up about 5 miles from Pat Springs. I can't say it was very enjoyable, and would only recommend for the seriously hard core. We arrived back in Pat Spring tired, and completely covered in dirt and sap from the overgrowth. No water to be found at all.
mepex
 

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby colyoung on Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:05 pm

Date Hiked: May 27, 2012
General Condition: Passable (some brush and/or deadfalls, tread evident)

We did a day hike from Pat Spring to the top of VDC. We were pleasantly surprised how easy the trail was to follow. There were several areas where the ceanothus was overgrown on to the trail and over our heads, but the trail below, though not visible, was fairly easy to follow by feeling with your feet. All of the overgrown sections where the trail is hard to see are marked with flagging tape now. There is no water along the main trail, so definitely bring plenty with you. A beautiful view from the top made the slight amount of bushwacking well worth it (though the bushwacking was pretty fun too).
colyoung
 

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby DeborahR on Mon May 14, 2012 1:06 pm

Date Hiked: May 1, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

Sorry to be late on my login. We found Jim Ringland's 3/4 description to be very accurate and useful. As with the other two reports, if this trail is not opened up, the ceonothus will soon completely knit together and become impassable. The view from VDC was spectacular as all have said. Large rattler on trail. Lone condor.

We found no water at Lone Pine.
DeborahR
 

Re: Ventana Double Cone Trail

Postby Carl Mounteer on Sun May 13, 2012 9:36 pm

Date Hiked: May 8, 2012
General Condition: Difficult (brushy and/or many deadfalls, faint tread)

I hiked this trail from Pat Springs Camp to Puerto Suelo Camp. I found the same brush conditions that Jack did when he hiked this trail two days before I did. The last 100 yards before reaching Puerto Suelo from Bottcher's Gap were absolutely clogged with ceanothus that required a lot of pushing through. Also, for the half mile before Puerto Suelo, approaching from Bottcher's Gap, the trail was sloped making it difficult to walk on. This bothered me more on my return trip than the trip in towards Puerto Suelo. There is also a lot of this pushing through ceanothus between the beginning of the trail to Little Pines Camp. As to the latter, I certainly saw nothing to indicate water was anywhere near that camp. It was dry, dry, dry all the way to Puerto Suelo. It is very warm on this trail now. So it is important to bring lots of water.

The bugs are out in force on this trail. It seemed there were twice as many insects, mainly flies, including those sulphur-colored biting flies, on this trail than were on the Skinner Ridge Trail the day before and on the 10th when I returned on the Skinner Ridge Trail. These bugs were also much more aggressive on the Ventana Trail than the bugs on the Skinner Ridge Trail.
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