On Friday Paul Danielson and I made another attempt to get to Launtz Creek and Vado Camps by hiking south from the Pico Blanco Scout Reservation along the now lost Manuel Peak Trail. Where it joins the Little Sur Trail someone has put in relatively recent pink flagging going along the ridge, continuing beyond where the old Manuel Peak Trail left the ridgeline. The flagging was amazingly profligate, both in spacing (25 in one 0.4 mile stretch) and amount used at some places - see one example below. We continued following the flags until they stopped, finding near their end a couple and their tent. They were unfamiliar with the Ventana and had been following the flags, which they thought meant they were on the Manuel Peak Trail shown on their Wilderness Press map. They tried to push on when the flagging ended but ran out of daylight and had to return to the ridge to camp for the night! They were surprised to learn that that section of the Manuel Peak Trail no longer is a "trail", and that in any case they were not on its old path. We suggested they return to the Little Sur Trail and spend the night at Pico Blanco Public Camp - hopefully the enjoyment of those falls will make the overall experience a positive one!
Paul and I did get to Launtz Creek Camp but it took another 2 hours to travel the 3/4 mile stretch after the ridge, so we just went a bit beyond it towards Vado, finding extensive downfall over the old trail, then returning since it was late and we were tired by the bushwhacking. I still want to get to Vado Camp, to find out its current conditions and exactly where it is, but that will seemingly take a backpack trip instead of a dayhike. At least we have established much of the location of the old Manuel Peak Trail out to Launtz Creek Camp by finding old rockwork, cuts, and extant tread. Unfortunately we've also established that there is much ceanothus and downfall and missing tread along that route!
PS: we did not follow the old Mt Manual Trail tread all the way to Launtz Creek Camp - at the place where the tread is abeam the camp location but 200 vertical ft above it, we simply descended the slope to the camp instead of following the 0.4 mile long switchback that the old tread makes - at the rate we were going the switchback would have taken another hour to complete. That bushwhack was one of the easiest parts of the hike, much easier and faster than trying to follow the overgrown old tread!
- Interesting flagging
Big Sur Ventana/SP Trailmap: bigsurtrailmap.net