Sunday, May 29, 2011

Crossed Off the LA Bucket List: M*A*S*H at Malibu Creek State Park

"So what places haven't you visited yet in LA?" my hiking partner asked me as we were walking back from the M*A*S*H site in Malibu Creek State Park.

"Oh my God, so many. Everywhere!" I said, thinking there were too many to enumerate.

"Yeah but what's like on your Bucket List?" he persisted.

"Well, this was towards the top of it..."

It's hard to believe I already have a Bucket List for LA, having only been here four months, but given the temporal nature of everything out here, of life - job, lakes, love - it seems like a good idea to get in as much as I can before something happens to change things before I get the chance to do everything.

I'm not used to having a hiking partner, so I agonized over where we should meet, wanting to try somewhere new. The opportunity to see the M*A*S*H site kept nagging at me, because, as I am new in town, I'm still somewhat of a tourist, and still get tickled when I recognize sites from movies, TV and music videos. In a relatively short drive, you can find yourself hanging out in Mayberry, Walnut Grove, Southeast Asia, or on another planet.

It's not the most difficult hike, clocking in at just over four miles and a couple of hours of meandering and gawking, but it sure is pretty, and interesting.



There is actually a creek in Malibu Creek State Park, but most of the year it's dry. We found plenty of water on a windy spring day after a rainy winter.



There's also plenty of shade, with oak-lined paths intermittently scattered on the main trail, Crags Road, along the creek.



There are wide open spaces too, and soon the trail opens up to a landscape that looks familiar: grasslands and bush-dotted mountains, hills, peaks, rocks, none of which look terribly Californian.

But maybe that's because when I'd seen it before, it was during the Korean War.







The trail becomes shady again...



...as you're walking along a rocky path that looks like an old stream bed...







...with all kinds of hidden treasures, like pipes...



...California poppies...



...and horses!



The pi├Ęce de r├ęsistance is the site where they actually shot much of the outdoor scenes of the M*A*S*H TV series, including the opening credits with the helicopters (see below).

The former set has been cleared of decades of brush and overgrowth, and somewhat restored to its functioning set condition, and is well-marked with interpretive signs, historical photographs, maps and drawings. There are even some goodies that were left behind, like old vehicles and an ambulance.













The M*A*S*H site is probably what brings most people to Malibu Creek, but there were plenty of other interesting trails that caught my eye on our way out there: Lost Cabin Trail, Forest Trail, Grasslands Trail, Crystal Lake, Rock Pool... I may be trying to conquer the LA area one park (or canyon, or whatever) at a time, but at some point, I will have pretty much hit them all, and will have to start going back and conquering the other, unhiked trails.

Because for me, the unhiked trails will always appear at the top of my Bucket List, which is, by nature, populated by those things I haven't done yet.

But at what point will I allow myself to designate some favorites, and begin to revisit those?





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