Friday, November 11, 2011

Photo Essay: Ed Davis Park at Towsley Canyon

My weekend heat-seeking hike excursions took me north up the 5 freeway last Saturday to Towsley Canyon in Newhall, not far from the recently-visited Pico Canyon.

Like Pico, Towsley Canyon has a rich history of commercial oil.

Unlike Pico, this time I got to see more than just a historical marker.

Ed Davis Park has a few trails that you can take, and the Towsley Canyon Loop actually has two trailheads (not starting and ending in exactly the same spot). I passed by the first trail head and climbed up the park road past the parking lots to reach the far trailhead...



...where the paved road gave way to dirt.



The hike takes you along earth that's cracked and crumbling, like an old road...



...past old rusted gates...



...the old dam...



...and other relics.





The canyon walls soon close in, the late afternoon sun dipping behind...



...as you climb through the section called "The Narrows"...



...winding back and forth across Towsley Creek...



...through a sandy, overgrown terrain...





...until you are emptied out into the grasslands.





Although the trail out of the Narrows was still sunlit in the late of day, it was still recovering from the heavy rains the day before, leaving my sneakers mud-caked despite the blocks set in to help sturdy the path.





Although there was plenty of shade...



...it was easy to see how this area gets dried out in the summer...






...making it susceptible to wildfires, from which it is still recovering, especially near its peak.



As you descend from the peak, you dip into Wiley Canyon, a tributary of Towsley Canyon.







As you loop your way back to the parking lot, you reunite with Towsley Creek, which - in a major manifestation of its history in oil - is tar-ridden and downright goopy, the smell of sulfur and fuel permeating the air...





...And back to the first trailhead, slightly closer to my car than where I started.



A week in, I was still recovering from a headcold that rocked my health, but when I finished the 5.1 mile hike (plus a bit more to and from my car), I noted that I've come a long way in my hiking endurance. A three mile hike used to challenge me but be doable. Now three miles has turned into six miles, an easy trek for a rundown, worn out sniffly girl.

How far could I walk if I didn't stop? If I wasn't sick? If I didn't have somewhere to be? If the sun wasn't going down? If I didn't get lost?

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