I went on another sunrise hike last week, this time up Rice Canyon Trail on the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy‘s Ventura River Preserve. The trail starts at the Oso Trailhead on the upper (north) end of the Preserve, crosses the Ventura River (now dry at that juncture) and skirts an abandoned orange orchard before slowly climbing up along Rice Creek to views of the Ojai Valley as shown above.
The first vista I reached was looking southeast across the sleepy valley toward Black Mountain.
I soon encountered a patch of shade-loving Mugwort trying to survive the summer heat at some distance from Rice Creek.
Dropping into the canyon that embraces Rice Creek I saw these seasonally dry Hummingbird Sage stalks ready to disperse their seed. Actually, they propagate mainly from creeping rhizomes but I’m growing some in my garden from seed I gathered in the wild.
The trail enters U. S. Forest Service land through a gate marked by this sign. I have one of the Operating Permits described. It enables me to lead educational tours on this and other trails in the Los Padres National Forest.
These young Western Sycamore trees caught my eye silhouetted against the early morning sky.
Ten minutes later, I caught sight of Old Man Mountain and Monte Arido off to the west….
…and turning around, saw the Topatopa Mountains to the east.
As I headed back, the Rice Canyon trail wound through the peaceful Live Oak forest…
….occasionally breaking out into the open on a wide dirt road.
Back on the mesa above the river I checked out the progress of these ripening Southern California Black Walnuts before returning to my car. As always, I have to express my gratitude to the OVLC for saving this land, Preserve Manager Rick Bisaccia for maintaining it, and workers/stewards like Todd Bertola and Lauren Ward whom I met on the trail at 7:30 a.m. where they had already been at work watering native plant seedlings for over an hour.