Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Photo Essay: Griffith Park's Hidden Royce Canyon

Sometimes, once I'm on a kick, I can't let something go. I've inherited my mother's addictive personality. And I allow myself to obsess over certain things at certain times.

Case in point: Griffith Park, and specifically, Griffith Observatory, which I visited three times in one week last week.

For my third visit, I got up at the crack of dawn - despite having to close the store later that day - to hike to the little-known Royce's Canyon in Griffith Park with Los Angeles City Park Ranger Ernie, and a bunch of other intrepid hikers who love Griffith Park has much as I do.



We met Ernie at the Observatory, hours before it opened, and trekked along a paved fire road down into the canyon...



...along Mount Hollywood Drive, peeking at views of the city below...



...past the haunted picnic table...



...reminding me that it's hard to get totally lost in the park if you visit it enough. I'd hiked past there before, only from the other direction.



Although the trail was briefly familiar...



...soon Ernie would take us into completely unfamiliar territory, deep into the interior of Griffith Park...



...past his favorite tree, the pepper tree (as in peppercorns)...



...to Royce's Canyon.



This tranquil, hidden little area of LA's giant urban park was named after Royce Neuschatz, a former city parks and rec commissioner and advocate for urban open space (who also happened to reside on the board of the Los Angeles Conservancy).



Perfect.



The trail past brightly-colored berries is barely visible...



...under new green growth...



...across a broken bridge...



...and under perilous trees.



At the end of our trail, we reached a pocket in the exposed stone...



...though it was only the turnaround point for our hike. One could hike into the cave, and past it, deeper into the park.



We, however, turned out, and climbed back through the bramble...



...scratching legs and ducking heads...





As we climbed out of Royce's Canyon...



...we climbed back through familiar territory to Toyon Canyon...



...the earth-capped LA landfill which famously was planned to expand into the area that was to be called Toyon II...



...until Royce Neuschatz banded with a group of hikers and fellow activists to save and preserve it.



After departing Toyon, on our way back to the Observatory we took a steep shortcut up near Amir's Garden to see one more cave: this one a fossil of a beached whale. You can still spot its eye...



...and the striated lines of its rib cage.

Not a bad place to stop and rest for all of eternity.

We all should be so lucky.

To Like Avoiding Regret on Facebook, click here.