The best part about summertime are the blooming flowers, hands down. For a while now, I have been trying to get to as many flower fields in California as possible, but with such a short window (spring-time), it’s not the easiest task. There was the failed attempt at Soda Lake, the semi-failed attempt at Antelope Valley in Lancaster, and the easy giveaway at Carlsbad Flower Field. Of course, I don’t see flower fields in LA, and California in general is quite big, that the only way I would find out about flower fields is online and there’s just not that many information.
So when I was scrolling through instagram late one night, someone had posted a photo of Grass Mountain – a hillside absolutely covered in beautiful vibrant orange poppies. I thought – man, I need to go here! Turns out, this hill was all the way out near Santa Barbara, in Santa Ynez, a three hour drive from where I was. That’s such a long drive just to see some flowers, plus I’m sure no one would go with me. I end up putting the thought away.
A few days go by and I see another post of the same poppy field, but this time, it was late at night, I was definitely itching for something to do, and Joseph is off on his own business trip, leaving me to my own devices. I check the weather forecast and see that a few days of rain is coming to LA, but the next day is only supposed to be cloudy. I then read an article that states a local residence of the poppy field had not seen blooms on that hill for the last 24 years. That made me determined to go the next day.
What is a freelancing schedule good for, if not to do something spontaneous every once in a while?
The next morning, I left the house at about 8am, thankfully didn’t much morning traffic at all, and following the hiking guide by trekreco.com, got to the trailhead at 11:30. The sun shone through the morning clouds and it seemed like a great day for a hike.
I had my backpack ready:
- 1 mid-range dslr
- 2 lenses
- 2 water bottles
- 2 Krispy treats
- 3 granola bars
- 1 selfie-stick
- 1 earphones
- driver’s licence
- .. oh, yeah, a hardcover copy of The Nightingale
Overpack, much? Yeah, don’t do what I just did.
In my defense, I was planning on staying up on the poppy-covered mountain for a few hours, reading my book, glancing up once in a while enjoying the view, while occasionally feeling the cool mountain breeze.
I needed all this. (not really)
The first 1/4 of the hike, I passed through a nice and shaded stream a couple of times. The rest of the time will not be shaded.
The hike all the way to the top of Grass Mountain is a little over 4 miles. Most of it is on incline. Some of it is on steep incline. Like, use-your-hands-and-feet to climb up incline.
With the high-noon sun beating down my back, I was basically huffing and puffing throughout the whole trail. It was brutal. I haven’t been in the best of shape too, so that made things a whole lot worse. My thighs were feeling the burn halfway there when there was hardly any incline. I had to take a lot of quick rest stops just to catch my breath.
The nice thing is that there were many wildflowers blooming and tall grasses swaying all throughout the hike up to the mountain. I had planned on listening to music to pass the time, but it became unnecessary as soon as I entered the trail. Nature just took over my senses.
I was starting to enter the seriously steep part of the hike. You can see the trail and some of the folks heading down from the mountain. The absolute regret of dragging along my camera gear and my book really set in during this portion.
As I got near the top of the mountain, I started seeing large clusters of poppies covering the grass. My depleted energy level made me settle for a spot near the top, because lemme tell you, the very top was very steep.
Do you see how close I was?! So close and yet so far! But the amount of poppies in this part of the hill was enough for me to sit in, rest, read, and reap the rewards of a challenging hike.
This was the first time I used this selfie-stick, by the way, and it served its purpose very well :) It’s definitely an essential tool for solo-travelers.
Not so much as 10 minutes passed by after I was done taking all of the photos, that a raindrop hit my head. And then two. And then three. And then, a whole lot of raindrops that it began lightly raining. Rain clouds had taken over the just-recently blue sky.
By golly, I hadn’t even started reading!
Soon enough, with barely any rest time for my legs, I packed up my stuff and headed straight back down the mountain. The thought of heavy rain creating mudslides in those steep decline made me nervous and I didn’t want to stick around to see the impact of the rain on those dirt trail.
By the time I got back to my car, I looked like a disaster. I had slipped a couple of times on muddy tracks, I had lost my hair tie and my hair was wet and covered in dirt, my shirt was drenched in sweat and rainwater with mud stains, and I’m not even sure if my shoes survived the trip. I was tired, hungry, sore, wet, dirty.
But I had the best time hiking Grass Mountain, and would do it again in a heartbeat with flowers and views that pretty.