Thursday, November 10, 2011

Photo Essay: Back and Forth Through Devil Canyon

With the onset of winter in Los Angeles, a winter which admittedly is nothing like the Upstate New York winters I grew up and went to college in, and nothing akin to New York City blizzard / ice storm / windburn winters, I find myself so acclimated to California that I'm so cold all of the time, I go hiking in the Valley just to warm up.

If summers take me on hikes by the ocean and in the mountains, winters will take me on hikes in the desert and dry valley canyons.

Last weekend I decided to explore Devil Canyon in Chatsworth, just north of Los Angeles along the Ronald Reagan Freeway.  It had rained pretty heavily a couple days before, and although it's notoriously muddy anyway and the skies overhead were threatening, I tried it.

All of the guides I read about it were old, and mostly pre-dated the completion of a huge condo complex which was built right around the trailhead. I was prepared to have to do some hunting to find it.

Walking up a seemingly private driveway, I actually didn't have much trouble finding at least part of the trail, marked by a wooden fence.



Only problem was, I didn't know which way to go. So I went towards an official-looking sign for the Los Angeles County trails.



I kept thinking I had to climb up.



But when I got up high enough to overlook the 118 Freeway and the boulders in the distance...



...I hit a dead end - a big dirt lot behind a fence - and had to turn around.



Back past the sign marker...



I returned to where my hike started, and instead of going right up the hill along the wooden fence, I went left down the hill into the canyon, which brought me to the one landmark that told me I was in the right place: a rusted-out car off the side of the trail.



I passed the car on its right and again tried climbing up...


...but hit another dead end: the backyard of part of the condominium complex that had been built.



I once again turned around, this time veering to the left of the rusted out car. By this point I estimated I'd already walked nearly two miles and gotten pretty much nowhere besides the site of an old dam (I think)...



...and the vestiges of an old automobile motorway...



...whose muddy surface made it unrecognizable as both a road and a hiking trail....



...until it finally turned into a creek bed.



At this point, I was so bedraggled and discombobulated that I declared, to myself and any canyon creature who might understand, "OK, I'm done."

And once again, with darkening skies above and the threat of a resurgence of rain, I turned around...



...this time to return to my car on the residential road, and end my hike, which was more of a meander, or a confused stumble.

To become a fan on Facebook, click here.