Monday, June 16, 2014

Photo Essay: A Graffitied Cave Hidden in the Valley Hills

I was looking for an easy hike that would get me out of my apartment, but not take me too far away from home, or too deep into a remote location. My brains are still scrambled. I don't quite trust myself yet. I'm still confused sometimes. I'm still forgetting things.

People don't believe me because I seem fine.

I can probably handle a nice challenging excursion physically, but I don't trust myself to navigate myself in unfamiliar territory. I'm too batty.



So I found myself at the end of a residential street in Tarzana in the Valley...



...where a short trail reportedly would lead to a crazy sandstone cave, its soft walls vandalized with modern-day petroglyphs, and its floor littered with trash.



Perfect.



The hike to get to it is relatively easy, but with a few forks in the trail.



Go left for the cave...



...and pass some unique carvings in the side of a former mud cliff as you enter an oak grove.



At the cave, which is guarded by one of those oaks, you can take the trail up along the top of it...



...which is nerve-wracking since the cave ceiling is only a couple of feet thick...



...and you could easily trip and fall into one of the remarkable holes up on top...



...which illuminate the dark cave below.



Once down there, it feels like you've entered the inside of someone's skull...



...with sunlight pouring in through the empty eye sockets, 20 feet high above you.



When you reemerge, you might find a little girl squealing for her dad to push her "harder! harder!" on a swing.



Or maybe you'll take a swing yourself.



I backtracked to the fork in the trail and went up the other way, continuing up Vanalden Trail...



...across old Dirt Mulholland...



...up an LADWP paved service road, past the Corbin water storage tank...



...heading south, deeper into the Santa Monica Mountains.



With some reassurance by a cairn that I was heading in the right direction...



...I proceeded to the peak of Vanalden Trail...



...getting a good view of the expanse of mountains that surrounded me.



Having delved down into the cave, and ascended to the heights that surround it, I was ready to backtrack, retrace my steps, and head back to my car.

I'll save the more intense hikes for another day, when I'm better, when I'm back to my old self.