February 16, 2011

Photo Essay: Cheeseboro Canyon

It was about time. I'd been in LA for two weeks and I was dying for some greenery and wide open spaces.

So on our way to the Bottle Village, we stopped at Cheeseboro Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains near Agoura Hills for a quick six-mile hike.

I asked the ranger what he recommended, and he pointed to an even quicker out-and-back trail that didn't look very interesting. When we inquired about a larger loop trail, he warned us, "That cross trail is pretty tough. I'll only take it by horse. It's not that it's that bad, it's just neverending."

But once we set off and felt confident in ourselves, I said, "I'm not scared of that cross trail," and my hiking partner said, "Me neither." So we agreed to try it, promising to turn back if it proved to be too challenging.

It wasn't.

The trail starts off mostly flat, for quite a ways.

We were surrounded by plenty of trees and shade.

And then we rose above the canyon to look down into it.

And then the trail went up and along a ridge, and up and up and up...

But we made it, despite some labored breathing, some uncomfortable (or, in my case, brand new) footwear, and the sun that rendered our cheeks rosy.

They're all multi-use trails, so the flat parts were full of other hikers and mountain bikers, but once we started climbing some real elevation, we had the trail mostly to ourselves, save for the occasional ranch vestiges, equestrians and the droppings left behind.

My whole body was sore by the end, but I was glad I hadn't been deterred by the warnings of the park ranger. I marvel at how ambitious I've become in the outdoors. But despite hangover and heartbreak on Sunday morning, climbing around that canyon made me glad to be alive.

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