March 12, 2013

Photo Essay: The Found Trail to Cahuenga Peak

Last October, I tried climbing Cahuenga Peak - the newest parcel of land to be added to Griffith Park, thanks to the Trust for Public Land's attempt to save the Hollywood Sign from demolition and development, and a generous donation from celebrities like Hugh Hefner, among others. The Aileen Getty trail along the ridge to the west and behind the Hollywood Sign seemed remote and scenic.

Unfortunately, I failed.

I was unprepared for the trail's roughness and steepness, as was my doggie companion, who climbed quickly and pulled too hard on the leash, and then sat under a bush, panting, refusing to move.

So for the last five months I've had it in my head to return, on a cooler day, unfettered and unleashed, but I've been reticent to hike alone, and exhausted by even just the thought of the task. Fortunately, the trailhead for Cahuenga Peak is not far...

...and, upon my return visit, I was surrounded by some fellow hikers...

...along the first stretch of the trail, which was more familiar to me than it was to them.

As usual, I was racing the sun, but I'd calculated just enough time to get up there and get back with no problems, IF I could keep moving.

At the familiar monument marking the historic dedication of the trail and peak, the trail was as steep and rugged as I remembered from my first attempt.

But not impossible. I let two girls in regular sneakers pass me, and watched them climb...

...and complain...

...and scramble.

It was nice to know I wasn't the only one.

And when I needed to feel alone, I just looked behind me.

Cahuenga Peak is a rocky little patch of Griffith Park whose exposed stone alternates with loose, gravely San Gabriel silt (and sometimes sand), so sure footing - and, in my opinion, no dog - is necessary.

At the high elevation, there's a slight appearance of wildflowers...

...but more apparent was the invasive mustard flower.

Still, the city looks uncharacteristically green this time of year.

After a heart-racing ascent, the trail splits off - in one direction, Cahuenga Peak, and in the other, the Wisdom Tree, a lone tree with low branches ripe for climbing.

There are several cairns marking the spot...

...which also bears a USGS marker.

From the tree, you have views of the cities below on three sides, from Los Angeles proper (and the Lake Hollywood reservoir) to the west and south to Burbank and Glendale to the north.

To the east lies the final ridge to traverse to Cahuenga Peak (and the Hollywood Sign just beyond it).

But it's nice to hang out by the tree for a while...

...for a snack...

...and some scenery.

Since I was quickly losing daylight, I kept walking, following the trail back to the juncture...

...and finishing the hike to Cahuenga Peak.

There's another USGS survey marker there...

...embedded in a stone configuration that looks like a beacon for geocachers.

I'm not the first to find this spot, and fortunately now it's saved, for others to discover.

I've been feeling so depressed and restless lately, it was hard for me to get back to the Aileen Getty Ridge Trail. But after Daylight Saving Time, something about having another hour of sunlight left in the day, or just getting out, getting up, getting high, looking down, made me feel so much better, I wondered what took me so long.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Beachwood Canyon, In Search of the Hollywood Sign
Photo Essay: Lake Hollywood Reservoir
Photo Essay: Climbing Hollywoodland

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