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Early on Saturday morning March 20, 2010, myself and five others, Syrah, Peter, Katie, Tristan and Vanessa set out to summit the Ventana Double Cone nestled deep in the Ventana Wilderness along the central coast of California. In total the trip would be about 30 miles of varied hiking through somewhat questionable trail conditions with a total elevation gain of about 2600′. After a night camping at Botchers Gap at the end of Palo Colorado Road off the Cabrillo highway (Route 1) we awoke with the sun (well, some of us) packed up, and started hiking Skinner Ridge trail. 13 miles, 9 hours, and 1800′ later we arrived at Lone Pine Camp. Nothing remains. In the wee hours of the next morning, all but Syrah hoofed that last two miles to look out from the top of the Double Cone. The trail was a bit harsh and slow going in a few spots, but nothing we couldn’t handle without shedding a tear. If you want to read a technical trail condition report I wrote without pictures visit the Ventana Wilderness Alliance webiste. The post needs to be moderated, so it might not be there yet. Be patient, it will be there soon.

We didn’t take many photos on the way in, but Syrah managed to get some really incredible shots:

From Ventana Double Cone I

Much of the trail was like what you see above but there was also sections through thick brush, along bubbling brooks, through forested valleys, and up steep slopes. This hike has it all! Syrah took this crazy shot:

From Ventana Double Cone I

She took this one as well. You can see the burned trees. Can you spot the hikers?

From Ventana Double Cone I

This tree is out of a cartoon or something:

From Ventana Double Cone I

Some encroaching brush. It was worse than this in many spots. From Puerto Suello trail junction to Lone Pine much of the trail is just like this. Slow going, but definitely passable:

From Ventana Double Cone I

We wanted to camp at Lone Pine, but apparently it no longer exists. Now its just an patch of land covered in bushes. Not inviting at all. We decided to make camp about 50 yards up trail. There is a flat, clear spot on the left side of the trail with room for two or three tents. The best part is, on the right side of the trail, only about 10 feet away from the camp spot is a terrific overlook. The proximity to this overlook leads me to believe that our campsite didn’t meet all the USFS wilderness campsite guidelines, but besides that it was perfect. We didn’t have very many options anyway. It was going to be dark soon, and it looked as if others had camped there before. This is a shot of our sunset view. The summit in the photo is Pico Blanco. Its on the the other side of the valley.

From Ventana Double Cone I

Here are some photos from the next morning when we arrived on the summit. We watched the sunrise while hiking. Beautiful stuff.

From Ventana Double Cone II

Yes, that is the Pacific Ocean you can see in the distance. We are standing at 4800 feet looking down to sea level. There are not a lot of opportunities in the world to do that.

From Ventana Double Cone II

Take note of the notch seen in this next photo. You’ll see it again on the way out.

From Ventana Double Cone II

The Big Sur River basin:

From Ventana Double Cone II

There are some foundations left over from when there was a lookout tower on the summit. There also looks like there was once an outhouse up there. A small concrete foundation about 3 feet by 2.5 feet with a hole dug in the center. I don’t know why we didn’t get a photo. A view to the southeast:

From Ventana Double Cone II

After the hike back to camp and a good breakfast we packed up and made our way out.

From Ventana Double Cone II

This is Pat Spring. The water in the pool was full of algae. This is good, realiable water directly in the middle of the hike from Botchers to VDC summit. Its the only water you need if you can carry it.

From Ventana Double Cone II

In this next photo you can see the Double Cone on the left. I believe that notch in the ridge to the right of the Double Cone is the “Ventana” but I’m not positive.

From Ventana Double Cone II

A typical junction. Many do not have signs since the fire in 2003. This is the trail to Comings Camp.

From Ventana Double Cone II

Some pretty trail side shots:

From Ventana Double Cone II
From Ventana Double Cone II
From Ventana Double Cone II

Here is the whole group! Congratulations! 30 miles of hiking in two days!

From Ventana Double Cone II

A better look at the Double Cone and the “Ventana”:

From Ventana Double Cone II

This hike is highly recommended. Give yourself more that two days to really savor the views.

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