Los Angeles. What do you think of when you hear or read those words? I usually experience a bit of fear (I have an irrational fear of all big cities) and get a visual of drive by shootings and high speed car chases that the movies have left indelibly programmed into our minds. I also think of a sprawling metropolis that spreads out over a 100 mile radius. These images, while somewhat based in reality, are light years away from my actual experience in the LA area. My work takes me regularly to Costa Mesa, near the John Wayne Airport in Orange County and I always take time to get out and see some of the incredible scenery that makes you realize why people have been drawn to this spot for centuries.
Each trip reveals a new gem that I had no idea existed. My last trip was no exception. After I arrived I began (not during work hours of course) to research a spot to visit that I had not seen before. I looked south towards San Diego and the Cleveland National Forest. It’s a large area between SD and LA full of wild country. I’ve hiked there many times over the years. I ruled that out. Then I looked east and thought about heading out to the “high” desert. You head east on I-10 over the pass near Banning and you drop down, hook a left and enter Joshua Tree National Park. I’ve never had a bad trip there so that was another option. But I’d just been there back in the fall. Looking north, towards Big Bear, I quickly counted that area out since they were predicting below zero wind chills and lots of snow at the higher elevations. You didn’t think LA got cold weather? My eyes then landed on an area surprisingly close to town. Malibu. Hmmm. There is a wilderness area next to Malibu, California? There is and It’s called Boney Mountain – just off the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway for the uninitiated) to the north-northwest of Malibu in the Santa Monica Mountains. I immediately made the decision, called enterprise and rented the car for the weekend.
LA was breaking cold weather temperature readings this weekend (Jan. 12) which was funny since the temps were around freezing at night and 50’s during the day and sunny. It was perfect weather for hiking. All the LA’ers were huddled, shivering in their homes which made the speed limit achievable on the half empty freeways.
After a short drive from the city (about ½ hour from downtown LA) the hike started near the Satwiwa cultural center, climbed over 2000 feet in about 4 miles and ended after a mad scramble through the less than competent, crumbly rock at the top of Boney Mountain. I relaxed in the sun at the top long enough to down a couple of granola bars and snap a couple of pictures. The views from the top were truly incredible with the Channel islands off the coast all the way back to the peaks near Big Bear and south to beaches from Malibu all the way to Orange county 75 miles away. The highlight of the descent was blooming Manzanita trees whose blooms attracted large numbers of hummingbirds.
The Boney Mountain wilderness area is the former home of the Chumash and Tongva/Gabrielino cultures. An area near the mountain is the former site of a native american village and the current home of the Satwiwa Cultural Center.
These pictures would make you think that I was in a wilderness (which I was) very far from civilization (this I was not). LA is full of wonders in every sense of the word and Boney Mountain is definitely one of those wonders.