Work It Out: Hiking

Here in LA it has been unseasonably warm, sorry rest of the country, so it’s perfect weather for hiking. For the past two weeks I have been on holiday break from work and so, have tried to get out and hike as much as possible before returning to my desk. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like dodging out of control dogs and their absentee owners, horse manure, and wannabe d-listers so the ever so trendy Runyon and Hollywood Sign hike are not for me. I like to find a little peace and quiet and actually enjoy the scenery. My favorites have to be:

Fryman Canyon: Trail Head at Laurel Canyon and Fryman Canyon. Parking is easy at the Willacre Park parking lot ($3) or a little tougher on the street (free). Follow the Betty B. Dearing trail up as you climb towards Mulholland and Coldwater. From there it’s all down hill, or you can take an educational adventure through the Tree People‘s trails. The Tree People is an environmental organization that plants trees in LA, and is also a field trip staple for anyone who grew up in LA, so I get a little sentimental every time I walk past. Added bonus: there is also free parking located here if you want to start and end at the top. From there, continue on the Betty B. Dearing trail until you hit Iredell Ln and that road will take you right back to Fryman Canyon/The Willacre Park lot. If you want to add a bit more of adventure, instead of continuing down Iredell, take the second half of the Betty B. Dearing Trail up and right. This trails is a bit more “unkept” especially though “the rainforest.” Continue on this trail as it twist and turns and you end up at the Nancy Hoover Pohl Overlook at Mulholland and Allenwood. There is also a parking lot (free) there too!

Nike Missile Station: This hike is one of my favorites because it’s the jumping off point for a whole system of trails. I like to park (free) at the trailhead at Mulholland and Encino Hills Drive. Many people like to drive the mile up to the Nike Missile Station where many other trails connect but the dirt road is riddled with potholes. Also, they miss the first hiking option in this choose your own adventure hike. The Upper and Lower Canyonback trail is a short flat hike that is great if you just have an hour or two. The trail for part of it is actually two trails that are side by side so you can choose to stay on the flat fire road or climb up and down some steep hills to get a better view. The trail leads right into the exclusive Mountaingate community (you can also park here for free too) and then back out south as you continue down towards Brentwood. The second hike option is to hike up to the Nike Missile Station and take the Mandeville Canyon Fire Road to the end and back. This approximately 7 mile hike is a bit harder than the Canyonback trail but the views are well worth it. Can’t decide? Take the Hollyhock Fire Road connector and do both to make a loop. But a caveat, this trail is all hill so it’s not easy. Next on my list are to try some of the other trails in this system: Sullivan Canyon Loop, Farmer Fire Road, Switchback Trail, Caballero Canyon Trail, Maryvale Trail, Temescal Fire Road, Topanga Fire Road etc…. Check out google maps and map your own trail. If you have a bike or extra stamina, there are trails that can even take you to the beach!

Safety tip: Watch out for snakes when it’s getting hot and coyotes when it’s getting dark. I can go for miles without seeing a person so be aware of your surroundings and maybe take a buddy with you—especially if you can run faster than they can… Happy hiking!

Surfs Up

I recently had the day off from work and had nothing to do. It was clear, sunny, and warm–definitely not a day to be wasted spent inside–so I packed up my bag and headed to Santa Monica. My typical beach activities are: sunbathing, walking along the shore, and reading/catching up on tv on my iPad. But this day, I wanted to challenge myself and try something new: ocean paddleboarding. Now, I have been paddleboarding before, once, on a lake, three years ago. Ocean paddleboarding, is a completely different animal because of the waves…duh.

When I got to the beach I rented a “wee” 10′ paddleboard. I was nervous, not only because this was new to me, but also because I was by myself–no one else had the same day off. Boo friends! I am not the most coordinated person so I kept having these flashes of my almost certain watery death with no one to hear me scream. I told the paddleboard guy that if I was not back in an hour that I was probably dead and he should come collect the board before it drifted off to sea. He laughed it off and I turned to him and was like, “No, seriously. I am probably dead. Come find my bloated corpse…” And with that, I was off lugging this beast of a board down to the shore.

When I finally got down to the water, the beach was deserted except for two paddleboarders who were out floating. One caught a tiny wave and expertly surfed it down the coast. I grabbed my board, said a tiny prayer, and ran into the freezing Pacific. Did I mention that I didn’t have a wet suit? Yeah it was c-c-c-c-chilly! I paddled out as fast as I could past the break, drinking in a few sips of salt water as I went. Flapping my arms wildly, I eventually made it out to calm water. Proud of my accomplishment, I promptly laid down on my board and let myself just float there. It was so peaceful and calm. The water was actually so still that I could see schools of fish swimming below me.

I finally got the nerve to stand up on the board but when I looked around, the paddleboarders had vanished. I hadn’t drifted far, they had just decided that they were done and headed in. I was by myself in the ocean with no one around. I immediately saw the watery death flashes and promptly sat down. No death today. I paddled around on my knees for about 10 more minutes before the waters started to get rough. I could no longer see the fishes, and was having a tough time keeping my balance. I positioned myself back in the break to ride a wave in and was immediately knocked off my board. I cut my shin on the fin and hobbled back up to the shore. Wet and now slightly bloody, I dragged my sad little body up back to the equipment stand and deposited the board. Despite the injury and minor panic, I would definitely like to do this again…with a buddy.