Monday, November 14, 2011

Black Star Canyon

"That's where they do sacrifices" was the only thing I'd ever heard anyone say about Black Star Canyon in the Santa Ana Mountains.  So when Patrick Moran suggested exploring it, I had my reservations.  Regardless, at 6:15AM yesterday, Patrick, Ty Sutherland, me, and Patrick's two dogs set off in the brisk morning air toward Black Star Canyon.  Perhaps more worrying than the prospect of ritualistic sacrifices was the fact that Jake and Elwood (the dogs) had both eaten leftover chili for breakfast.

After walking for about a mile, we came upon the first of several weird scenes: the Edwards Ranch.  Whatever it is, it is surrounded by a new, electric, barbed-wire fence, with razor wire in key spots and occasional surveillance cameras.  These people definitely do not want any trespassers.  Past the Edwards compound, we observed a school bus overturned in the creek. And then came the habitations.  On either side of the road were several shacks, dilapidated RVs, cars, and assorted junk.  As we were all contemplating the movie Deliverance, we discussed whether anyone could be living there.  Later internet research suggested that some of these dwellings are in fact inhabited by people who occasionally harass hikers and bikers, sometimes with rifles. Beyond the junkyard dwellings, at roughly two miles in, was something even more bizarre and unexpected: a mini-golf course. 

 The mini-golf course.

 The bus.

Past the mini-golf course, things appeared normal again and we walked for several more miles up the dirt road.  The terrain was surprisingly scenic, with lots of appealing sandstone crags (reminiscent of Red Rocks Nevada, but on a much smaller scale) and an idyllic valley called Hidden Ranch.  About one half mile from the Main Divide Truck Road, we turned around, thus making for almost 14 miles round trip. 

 The view once the road climbs out of Black Star Canyon.

 Has anyone climbed those crags?

Ty, Patrick, and the dogs. 

The view back toward Hidden Ranch from our turnaround point.

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