Last month, The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy guided a private hike on the Ilvento Preserve in Ojai, providing hikers with a once a year opportunity to experience the 80-acre property. I heard about the hike from Rich Handley, Preserve Manager for the OVLC, the nonprofit which owns and manages the property, and decided it was time to get some fresh dirt on my boots.
We made our way to the trailhead which abuts
Though 80% of the preserve was burned in a wildfire in 1999, its recovery has been steady and strong, yielding tremendous spring color and lush green plant life. Rich pointed out many of the property’s 150 plant species, most of which were in full bloom. Among the wildflower sightings were: Sticky Monkey Flower, Fiesta Flowers, Chinese Houses, Blue Larkspur, Hummingbird Sage, Wild Peony and Wild Hyacinth.
We marched our way single-file up the narrow trail and soon reached the
As we made our ascent, many of us had to stop to flick and swat away dozens of heat-seeking ticks! It seems that recent rains provided a perfect breeding environment for the little buggers. Having forgotten one of the cardinal rules of hiking by not dousing ourselves in DEET, we found it necessary to perform an on the spot de-lousing. Fortunately, no one got bitten, but we all vowed to remember the bug spray next time.
With notebooks filled with flora findings, the wildflower seekers concluded the hike more than satisfied.
The OVLC conducts a series of free guided hikes on their properties, sometimes providing access to areas you normally can’t get to. Hikes focusing on plant and bird life are offered on a regular basis, and self-guided enthusiasts on horseback or bicycle will also find excellent trails. For more information on the OVLC or to find out about their guided hikes, check-out their website at www.ovlc.org for dates, times and reservation information.
Published April 2006 in the Sierra Club's Condor Call.