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Hiking the Wildlife Connector Trail

Hiking the Wildlife Connector Trail

In keeping with my "how many ways can I get to the top of Rocky Peak?" theme, and having a Saturday afternoon to myself, I decided to check out the "Wildlife Corridor Connector Trail" that cuts under the 118 Freeway from Corriganvill Park in Simi and eventually connects to the Rocky Peak Fire Road about .25 miles below the junction with the Hummingbird trail. It gains 900 feet in something like 2.5 miles, so I thought it'd be a great buttkicker, and that maybe I'd trek on to Rocky Peak itself, if I were feeling good.

I had trouble finding the trail. Every map I saw had the trail extending from the northeast corner of Corriganville park. However, try as I might, I couldn't find anything leading that direction. The only "trail" seeming to lead east from the park just curled back south and ended up at some construction equipment near the opening to a rail tunnel. No good.

After a bit of wandering around (and asking directions from everyone I met, none of whom knew where the Corridor trail was), I finally turned a corner, and spotted a series of switchbacks headed up a hill, right where the Corridor trail should be. The problem was finding the trailhead: it's overgrown, little-used, and at first looks like it's the beginning of the path back to the rail tunnel. Have some faith, trust your sense of direction, and you'll have no trouble.

Here's the thing, though: you really don't want to find the Wildlife Corridor Connector Trail. Seriously. Just putter around the park, maybe head over into the rocks in the northwest corner, or better yet head up Kuehner Dr. and enjoy the Hummingbird trail. As Obi Wan would say: This isn't the trail you're looking for.

The Wildlife Corridor Connector Trail exits Corriganville Park via a series of switchbacks that immediately leave the cover of the local oak trees in favor of a steep, sun-blasted hillside. You will learn to hate dust, hiking, heat, and life itself by the time you get to the top. I know why this trail is evidently so little-used: it is ass. It's a long, boring uphill grind that I'm never doing again as anything other than "just getting my workout."

Anyway, snakes. If you spend any time at all hiking in California, you're going to encounter the snakes. The only way to avoid getting bitten is to pay attention. If you think that you're going to get a warning, you are wrong. If you think that you'll spot a snake just because it's there, you are wrong. They are adapted over millions of years to blend in among the underbrush. They are nearly invisible just sitting on a rock in plain view, and they are invisible once they're in the bushes. Rock and Ice has a great sheet on how to avoid getting snakebit, and what to do if you are. (dmg copy)

Point being: yes, I had a lapse in concentration, and found myself standing with my ankle about three inches from the business end of a coiled baby rattler.

Baby rattle snakes are harder to see (they're smaller), impossible to hear (if they don't have their rattles yet), and have a far more venomous strike than adults. They are Bad News.

I got lucky. The little fella seemed not to be interested in much of anything, and I got clear of him just by hurrying my next step. Then, like the geek I am, I stuck around to get a good look, and take a couple of phonecam pics. In the end, he never moved the whole time I was there, and this ended up as the best part of the whole outing.

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