Irvine Ranch Conservancy Photo Hike – Journey to the Middle of Nowhere and Back

Some of my goals to achieve this year was to increase my overall activity–physical, photography, social, among others. It’s easy to let goals fall by the wayside, but I’ve been trying to motivate myself in creative ways–with material rewards (yay new clothes, new toys), with imaginary “stars” on an imaginary report card, and ultimately with the knowledge that each time I get out and do something, I improve myself.

In that spirit, and with the recent weather trending on the side of cool instead of blistering hot, my friend Stephanie and I were idly chatting about getting outdoors when she emailed me one day with a brilliant idea. The Irvine Ranch Conservancy usually hosts free hikes and activities on Irvine Ranch lands. They had advertised a photo hike in the canyons which sounded like just the right thing–ride a car into the canyon, hop out for photo opps and short jaunts along the ridges and hills. Who knew Orange County had wilderness?

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On the way to the staging area for the start of the hike. Not sure if this is the 241 freeway.

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Our vehicle, an F150 with seats in the trunk bed. Seats 10-12.

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Irvine Lake is not in Irvine. It’s actually in Silverado, CA.

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The IRC guides called this “Lamb Rock” but I think it looks like a puppy with a turtle shell on its back.

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Fremont Canyon Weather Station. Not a terribly impressive setup but it serves a significant role in delivering information.

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Flora.

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A type of buckwheat plant, I believe.

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There were a bunch of rocks that were red like this. I thought the green, red, and blue was pleasant to look at.

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Two-legged and four-legged tracks.

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We would drive then stop and walk and look around and pile back into the car. This was our longest hike (about 3 miles round trip)–going up to the top of a hill to enjoy views of Orange County from the Cleveland National Forest.

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View from atop! Irvine Lake in the distance.

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On the other side of the hill, you can see toward Catalina Island. See the small shapes of the oil rigs in the ocean?

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Hello…friend? Maybe we’ll leave him be for now.

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It was a great hike! I hope I can explore more of Orange County’s backdoor country in the future.

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