Sunset at Baker Canyon
The sun had set behind the rocks at the point where Baker Canyon meets Santiago Creek. A whitish glow lingered in the west. Against this a bat appeared and pumped its wings. The hike leader pointed at it. Mexican Free taileds were known to roost near here at a place called the “Bat Bridge”. I looked to see if it had a tail. It flew overhead and became lost in the darkness.
Three nights later we saw another one on the Hicks Haul Road. A 12 year old boy spotted this one. The little Chiropteran had sneaked up on us. I saw it for only a few seconds. “Did it have a tail?” I asked.
Oak Tree in Limestone Canyon
“This feels like cheating,” I kept saying. I had hiked to this point from two different directions: along the Limestone Canyon Trail from the Augustine trail head and up the more difficult Agua Chinon route. A four wheel drive truck with ten seats in the back brought us to the brink of Limestone Canyon Wilderness Park’s most famous natural landmark, the “Little Grand Canyon” or “The Sinks”. The differences that made the journey worthwhile were that riding in the truck allowed me to carry two cameras instead of one and we were there in the late afternoon, a pleasure denied those who took advantage of open access days and midweek hikes up Agua Chinon Canyon.
My company consisted of Lynn, a woman we knew from the Journey to the Middle of Nowhere named Liz, a quiet man with a Tamron camera, another man with a background in geology who was not so quiet but interesting nonetheless, two elderly women with blonde hair on their faces, another old woman who we had met on the JTTMON tour, and more docents than you could shake a stick at.
The Sinks — East Side, Limestone Canyon Wilderness Park, June 11, 2014.
Orange County’s “Little Grand Canyon” — it looks more like a Little Capitol Reef to me, but it is still impressive. If you would like to visit, go to the Irvine Ranch Conservancy’s web site.
Our midweek adventure — a scheduled event of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks conservancy — took us four and a half hours to finish, counting the short breaks at The Sinks and Box Spring. The trail began at a notorious local dead end. We followed the water lines up Agua Chinon (“wavy water”) Canyon with no real trouble until we hit a steep loma as hellish as the south slope of Whiting’s Dreaded Hill. The summit brought us face to face with the western section of The Sinks
An inland sea or lake deposited the layers that appear in The Sinks formation about 40 million years ago. A long period of wet weather — sometime in the last million years — super-saturated the hills and caused the looser soil to slide away. The badland that was left exposed layers of harder red and white sediments that draw hikers and bikers to special “open days” at the Limestone Canyon Wilderness Park.
The Sinks from the Observation Deck, June 11, 2014