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BELOW, even during the dry season the views from the front country put the mind at ease.


The other option is a quick rock-hop over the first creek a half-mile up from the road, then left at the gut of Romero Canyon. Shady and cool, this single track trail is rocky but tranquil and dense with ferns and other canyon flora shrouding a year-round gurgling creek. There are three easy creek crossings in the 1.5 mile ascent before reaching the junction connect- ing with old Romero Road. Cross over and continue another mile up the single track to the Santa Ynez crest. The trail gets steeper in the deepest part of the canyon. Ascend above the riparian forest and into the dry, brushy chaparral that reveals a profusion of wildflowers each spring. The intensity of the floral display̶consisting of Indian paintbrush, prickly phlox, yuccas, buckwheat, bush poppies, and morning


glory̶will depend on how generous the winter rains were.


Critters abound in and around Romero, but most fauna remains shy. More than likely, a raucous, bushy- tailed tree squirrel moving through the riparian foliage like a skilled acrobat will surface. A skunk at first light foraging on the fringe of the trail might be surprised by a human visitor. Thick, slippery yellow slugs inch their way across the trail on the dampest mornings. On the warmest and driest days of summer watch out for the southern Pacific rattlesnake seeking shade during the heat of the day. Although odds are against any encounter, keep eyes and ears open for canyon dwellers that are usually keeping a wary eye out for intruders.


92 CARPINTERIAMAGAZINE


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