Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Photo Essay: No Scene Twice Seen, Through Rivas Canyon

I've been a bit skittish about hiking in unfamiliar territory since the car accident, for fear I'll get myself lost or confused, or wind up on a hike a lot more challenging than I'd planned.

So if I want to get some exercise and get out of the house without spending money, can't I just go to some interesting neighborhood and walk around? (This, my PTSD therapist asked me today.)

Couldn't I just hike a trail I'd already hiked, so I'd know the way?

Sure, I say. I could.

But in my tourism of Southern California, I have taken on the spirit of the train travelers in the early days of rail, who paid special for excursions that promised "No Scene Twice Seen." Those trains would make a loop around (actually along a kite-shaped track), just so the view out the window wouldn't be repeated on a round trip.


Artifact from the collection of the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society. Photo by Sandi Hemmerlein/AvoidingRegret.com

I don't like to return to places just because they're convenient and known. I don't like to order the same dish every time I go to a restaurant. And I don't particularly like "out and back" hikes, when every scene is twice seen.

So, having been to Temescal Canyon once already, I chose what seemed to me a somewhat obscure trail that would take me east out of Temescal, through Rivas Canyon, into the western boundary of Will Rogers State Park, which I've also visited (and got lost in). I knew I hadn't been in this area before, and even though my directions provided a turnaround point instead of a loop route, I decided to give it a try.



For those of us who are easily bored, Temescal is a good, interesting place to hike:



...its varied habitats provide a lot to look at...



...while you're cooled off by the ocean breezes.



Since it is only 2.1 miles from the trailhead in Temescal to Will Rogers Park, a 4.2 mile roundtrip hike seemed doable for me today, as long as I didn't get myself lost.



Being a state park, the trails are well marked, and there are plenty of weird-looking, slanted, and downright bent-over trees to use as landmarks when you backtrack.



It's a steady climb up some switchbacks...



...and some stairs...



...under plenty of shade...



...through those gnarly groves of leaning trees.



The trail finally opens up...



...as it continues to ascend along a ridge...



...passing a reservoir...



...and revealing views of Pacific Palisades and the ocean below.



The terrain suddenly becomes rocky...



...and the landscape transforms from chaparral shrubland to desert-like conditions...



...with aloe plants, blooming yucca, and beavertail cactus (and their flowers).



The trail then reaches its peak...



...and begins to descend...



...down to the suggested turnaround point: 1.1 miles from Will Rogers Park.



The hike had been so interesting thus far, I figured I'd hike all the way to the other park, and then turn around, just so I could see the whole thing.



If I hadn't kept on, I wouldn't have really experienced Rivas Canyon...



...a desolate sanctuary for fallen sycamores, oaks, and other trees...



...thick brush...



...too much poison oak, and ivy-covered canyon walls.



At times, it was as though I was hacking my way through the rainforest...



...replete with ferns and fan palms, a thick canopy of overgrowth above.



And then suddenly, it changed again, as it had many times – and just as abruptly – before, and it was clear I was in a residential neighborhood, stomping my way just beyond various backyards, separated from them only by a wall.



When I reached the paved Rivas Canyon Road, the dirt trail to Will Rogers continuing across the way, I decided to take a shortcut. I didn't want to climb that ridge again. I didn't want to see again all those things I'd just seen.

So I walked the residential streets of Pacific Palisades, two miles back to my car at Temescal, making my hike a loop and, as suggested, finding a nice neighborhood I can just take an easy walk around. There weren't always sidewalks along that stretch of Sunset Boulevard. My sneaker was drawing blood from the back of my ankle. But I knew where I was, where I was going, and how to get home.

And I hadn't seen that part of LA that way – up close, on foot – ever before.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Temescal Gateway Park
Out and Back