The well worn trail is indicative of activities past; an artistic imprint of horses hooves, sneaker soles, and bike tire tracks. Orange, dusty, and dry, yet tufts of green have sprouted in between the cracks of its facade. Though the ground appears to be sapped of moisture, the undulating mountains around us are blanketed in thick shrubbery and grasses; yellow and purple wildflowers, like swooshes of watercolour, are painted along their sides, and plush meadows cover their valleys.
There’s a chill in the air – the sun is intermittent as it shies behind threatening dark clouds, which needn’t look so imposing for they never do precipitate more than a drop or two. A scare tactic, perhaps?
Except for the chirp of crickets and bird song, I can only hear the sound of the wind in my ears. Even my husband, who is walking alongside, is quiet. I recall a quote by Wilfred Thesiger, travel writer, from an article I’d recently read, “It was very still, with the silence with which we have driven from our world.” I am sure his description of the Middle Eastern desert was wildly different to what I am experiencing, but at this moment in time, I feel the sentiment.
We are deep in the Santa Monica Mountains, about a 15 minute car drive from the Pacific, but 1000’s feet higher – the horizontal line where the unending ocean meets the infinitive sky is out of sight. Hiking along a trail that will eventually round out at the 8 mile mark, we are reliant upon a path that doesn’t hint as to what is along the way – a fog topped mountain vista is instantly replaced at its turn with a scene that wows with the sheer size of an eroded and well sculpted rock formation, a product of volcanic and earth buckling activity.
Mountains, hiking, and stillness – atypical word associations with “Los Angeles”. Yet they are so deserving and true.
Where: Topanga State Park. Parking is $10; a map is $2. Street parking is available; the map is a necessary guide.
What: They are plenty of trails to choose from – walk anywhere from 2 miles along the Santa Ynez trail – there’s a waterfall at it’s end, or 10 miles to Will Rogers State Historic Park (both routes are quoted one-way). We walked to Temescal Peak (2,126 ft) via Eagle Rock (1,957 ft) which was an 8 mile loop.
Note: all photos were taken with a Smartphone. Next time, the DSLR will take the trip too.