San Rafael Wilderness
San Rafael Wilderness Camp. Approximately 13 miles from Nira and 1.6 miles above White Ledge. A beautiful camp located in upper White Ledge Canyon and urrounded by massive white sandstone formations.
Elevation: Google Earth says 3,510'
Distance: 4.6 miles from Manzana Narrows; 1.6 miles to White Ledge; 12.93 miles from Nira.
Facilities: Several fire grates, no table or other facilities. The creek is relatively small in the upper part of White Ledge Canyon and may be dry in the summer and almost for sure in the fall until it rains a bit.
The very first extended backpacking trip I did with my students was in 1975. There were 12 of us, including my student teacher and a firend. Both of them had stayed at Happy Hunting Ground in the past and knew it well. We drove in the afternoon before and hiked to Fish Creek where we spent the night. It was a beautiful evening but we'd heard there was a potential for rainfall so I'd made sure everyone had tents, the plastic tube type at a minimum.
The hike up to the Deck and the descent down to Happy Hunting Ground was absolutely breathtaking. Incredible clouds, green grass and amazing sandstone formations everywhere. We got to our camp in the early afternoon and after several hours of exploration the kids headed back down to set up tents. Mostly they were the tube type and got strung from one scrub oak bush to the next. Whne the rain came it was huge. We got at least an inch that night and by morning the creek was running a foot deep. Everyone had gotten soaked and we shivered for a while until we got a fire started and warmed up. Later we neded up hiking back out that day, fording knee-deep sections of water in the Narrows and getting thoroughly wet by the time we made it back to the cars.
Hunters may have their own stories about the nights they've spent at Happy Hunting Ground, but I'll never forget that first big trip I did with my students from Dos Pueblos High.
Jim Blakley Notes
This camp was used by the Chumash Indians and later by hunters as a temporary hunting camp. The camp is located next to a creek that often drys up during the summer and fall. There used to be a giant oak growing in this area but half of it fell a few years ago.
Bob Burtness Notes
Administration: Los Padres National Forest, Santa Lucia District Access: East of Figueroa Mountain via the Sunset Valley Road (7NO7) and the Manzana Trail (30W 13) for 9 miles above Nira Camp. U.S. Forest Service map coordinates: J- 16 Topographical map: Hurricane Deck Elevation: 3,575 feet (1,090 meters) Terrain: canyon Vegetation: oak woodland Tables: none Stoves: I (grated), I (double ice can) Water: stream (seasonal) Firewood: yes
Special features: There are some remarkable sandstone formations in the area and, in camp, a gargantuan oak tree, part of which fell to the ground around 1975.
Historical Highlights: This camp was probably so named because it was reportedly a favorite among groups of hunters many years ago. The area was also reportedly used by Indians during the gathering season.