#25 – The Gaviota Hot Springs


So you are in Santa Barbara and you’ve just finished a day of wine tasting, what better way to continue the great day into the night then by taking a small hike to a hidden jacuzzi. Although if you choose to take the longer hike to the spring, this can easily be more like a half day trip, you can also take the .5 mile uphill trail that leads straight to the Hot Spring. The first time i came here i was really disappointed at first  because i failed to walk up to where the actual pool was, stopping at the pit of mud and sulfur that lies just below it. The smell was morbid and it didn’t look as though anyone would dare bath in these waters. After checking around a bit further I saw the pool up above eye level, just a few steps uphill. The water is almost pitch black, and looks like oil at first glance. On one side, the “tub” is engulfed by a HUGE Poison Oak Bush, so if you are alergic, i don’t recommend getting into the water, because even though i wasn’t burnt, i felt a little itchy after getting out of the water. There is bound to be some sort of the chemical that cause the rashes on those of us who are allergic, dissolved into the pool. But i was on a mission to get into the spring so i did. It wasn’t hot, which is rather unappealing when you think about the amount of other people that may have sat in these bathtub like lukewarm waters. I am sure that bacteria were in a frenzy and i can only hope that sulfur is some sort of an antibacterial agent. After being in the water for about 5 minutes i was done. I decided to shoot some photos, the original reason that i came here with some acquaintances. Although it wasn’t my shoot my friend didn’t mind me shooting off a few and seeing what i saw. They turned out pretty cool and he was able to get in the pool a little himself.

Overall i give this 3 out of 5 stars. The reason is that the tub just isn’t hot enough to make the steep uphill walk to it worth doing on a full-moon lit night, the setting which is most romanticized by hot spring fans. If you are going more for the hiking, then its definitely a cool spot to check out. The longer trail take you all the way around the mountain making for a good 5 mile, varied terrain hike. At some part you can’t even see the path, or maybe we lost the main path, but we were able to cut some brush out of the way with the machete we had brought. I recommend you do so too, just in case you want to clear the way for the fellow coming behind you.

Gaviota Hot SpringGaviota Hot Spring sulfur streamGaviota Hot SpringGaviota Hot Spring, aloe


The Gaviota Hot Springs, plural although there is only one pool that is accessible, lies in the mountains just off the intersection of 101 and 1. If you are coming on the 101 north you just get off of the 1, go right and follow it back along the freeway until you see a small parking lot with a collections box that asks for your honesty and $2 bucks for maintaining the path. I’m positive that a lot of people just ignore this, but I usually pay it because i feel like it is the least i can do to give back to the land i am enjoying.


View Larger Map


#23 – Pollutants Polluting Polluted Politics

Huntington Beach Surfer, Stormy, Dirty Water
All surfer are chasing bigger and better waves. The chase for the perfect wave has been a theme of surf films since Bruce Brown first brought surfing to the masses in his film titles ” The Endless Summer”, a title that appealed to young and old alike.

The problem is that if you want big waves you need storms and with storms come rain. Now this wouldn’t and isn’t a problem in the few uninhabited places we have around the world. Around larger cities on the other hand, the rain, often after a lack thereof, slowly dilutes the chemicals that have been caked on the pavement and flushes out storm drains that haven’t been cleaned out since last winter’s rain. The result is a soup of bacteria and chemicals; after passing through a couple of standard-avoiding filtering stations, the nasty slush flows straight into the ocean. Shortly after the first heavy rain, warning signs begin popping up on local beaches as the bacteria levels shoot past safety limits. A good example of this is the recent studies on Catalina Island where a lack of cleaning facilities and trash disposal options taint the clear waters that many spend time in for snorkeling, diving and fishing. As a surfer who used to live in Huntington Beach i was used to the fact that i  couldn’t surf after a heavy rain, but sometimes, i just couldn’t pass up the opportunity for some great waves. Like clockwork that same afternoon my nose would begin to get stuffy and i would usually be out for a day or two after. The waves may have been worth the short delay of life but not everyone is willing to sacrifice a couple days of being sick for a swim.

We need to do something about this, starting with how we behave ourselves at home and in public. Just the basics. Green habits like recycling, using non-chemical cleaners and just plain old picking up behind yourself should be programmed into our minds as automatic responses to those type situations we encounter day in, and day out. Watering your lawn every day to keep it that perfect shade of green you want rather than even thinking about converting part of your garden to include drought resistant landscaping, should be discouraged more firmly by creating stricter laws for individuals and especially larger corporations. If we can’t do a few simple things to save the biggest source of oxygen and food that we have, then maybe we don’t deserve to enjoy it for all it has to offer either.