Boney Mountain Caves
Last Saturday I did a unique hike up Boney Peak called the Tri Peaks Trail. Departing from Thousand Oaks we hiked 2900 feet up the mountains, then we descended 150 ft into a cave, signed the summit register and hiked back down. The entire hike was just under 10 miles.
It sounds a little dry when put like that, but it really was quite exciting. We met up at 8:30 in parking at the far end of Wendy Dr. We probably got going by just after 9. The filed was completely drenched with dew and the trail was perfect, still moist from the rain a few weeks back but very firm so there was no dust. The hike starts in the rolling farmlands at the base of the mountains and starts rearing up fairly quickly. We went over a ridge and dropped into a valley where we crossed a creek and started to head upward for real. There are a series of waterfalls here, and we promised ourselves we would check them out on the way down, then headed on up. The flowers were blooming in the trees and on the hillsides and the air was very clear so we could see the snow covered San Gabriels in the distance. About half way up, where we could see the bones of the mountains revealed underneath the verdant greenery of the winter mountain sides we diverged from the main trail and headed up a rocky ridgeline. The trail itself has little real climbing, although it is steep, but since we were all rock climbers we decided to head up the steep rock walls wherever it seemed safe. Eventually we reached the “top” although there isn’t really one real peak on this elevated plateau. Locating the peak with the cave we headed over to it. These caves are not caves in the sense of limestone caverns eroded out of a karst landscape. The peaks here are more like a bunch of incredibly huge boulders piled together, and this cave was a weakness in the cracks between boulders which allowed us to go 150 feet deep. We had all brought headlamps for the occasion, and I brought a helmet cam to try taking video. We geared up and crawled on in to the caves. The first crawl through was easy, but the second constriction led to a climb over an open hole about 30 feet deep. It wasn’t actually too bad, but we sent Patricia through tied in to a rope to scout it out first. The real problem here was route finding, since the cave has many side corridors, but people who had come before had kindly marked the route with ribbons and reflectors, so with minimal effort we reached the bottom. There was a (reverse I guess) summit register inside which we signed. We turned off the lights to experience pitch blackness, then crawled back out of the cave. Clouds had started to roll out of the valley, covering the ridge we were on. We took a few minutes to climb around on the peak and experience the clouds before we began our scramble back down. On the way down we took the real trail, which was somewhat flatter, and this made the hike into a loop, which was great. A few trail washouts later and we were back to the waterfalls, which we stopped to climb and then headed back to the cars.
A fun day and a unique hike for sure. Some highlights for me were the mountain dog we had with us, who thought nothing of climbing near vertical cliffs, seeing the Boney mountains from the valley side, when I had always approached from the coastal side before, and trying out the video on my helmet cam. I had included a video in my snowshoeing the blizzard gallery, but that was from my D300s and I’m not sure anyone actually saw it since no one mentioned it. I figured I should not only mention this video but put it toward the top of the gallery. Its not too exciting since its pretty black in the caves, and I didn’t add a soundtrack or intercut video from any other sources, but I think its interesting anyway. I also took more people pictures this time as well, so I hope you all enjoy those as well.