Friday, July 17th, 2015: Temescal Canyon

We did not die. It has indeed been a few weeks since we’ve posted, but we’re blaming Allison. Yes, we know we always blame her, but this time it’s actually her fault since she bailed on Shannon for dumb stuff like Disneyland and Comic-Con, ugh, who wants to go to THOSE places. 11750782_909529887946_1016562554_o

Grunting and sweating is way better than Disneyland duh

It was another hot one this week, though not the absolute hottest, so we ventured just a little further inland while sticking close enough to the coast to hopefully get some breeze. Parking at Temescal Canyon costs seven dollars for some ridiculous and probably vaguely fascist reason, so we parked on Sunset and walked into the park where the trailhead was. We ended up behind a group of bros that Alejandra thought might have been Greek tourists or something but when we listened they were definitely American and definitely bros. 11725374_909529982756_565114930_o

Bros of a feather bro together

Besides not wanting to gamble on sharing the trail all the way up with some dudes that could have been perfectly nice but could also have been obnoxious dudebros or even fuckboys, we were pretty sure they were going a different way than we wanted to according to the hikespeak page. Said page was its usual combination of vaguely helpful but incredibly confusing, and eventually we were off. 11745666_909529967786_1593464814_o

To the races

We quickly made a new friend, a very nice lady who is in town for the summer and is trying to take advantage of LA’s myriad hiking opportunities during the day while her children are in one of those places they keep children over the summer. We told her about this blog, so if she managed to find it, hi, very nice lady! Sorry there’s so much swearing, we maybe should have warned you about that. We were all having such a nice time talking that it took us a tiny but of time to realize that this hike…was really hard. 11747428_909529937846_1561135415_o

One might even call it prickly becAUSE IT’S A CACTUS GEDDIT

It was a hot day, as we mentioned, so maybe that was part of it, and maybe it was also partially because it had been a few weeks since we’d been out. But it was pretty steep and man, we were grunting and sweating our way up. Only bits and pieces of the trail were shaded, too, so that didn’t exactly help. Anyway, we came to an overlook with a nice ocean view and even a little breeze. There our new friend had to say farewell because of time constraints, and we had to poke our heads into a little hobbit path we found heading down the hill. It was sort of like crawling into Wonderland, and when Shannon made the horrible mistake of pointing that out, Allison started doing an Alice monologue. Once Allison starts a monologue there’s no off switch, so we just waited her out in the closest thing to a clearing we could find. 11749930_909529843036_2039482067_o

She looks so proud too

Anyway then we Igor-walked our way out of there and kept going on the trail, thinking it couldn’t be that much further to the actual top. It was. We were climbing for what we’re pretty sure was actually forever. Every time we thought we had to be done because the trail dipped down a bit, then it would swing back up. We kept looking back over the trail and seeing the peaks we’d already reached, and they looked so far away. 11750954_909529907906_907923921_o

We don’t even really have any pictures of that part because we were so. tired.

FINALLY we caught sight of some people stopped ahead of and slightly above us. We had reached what finally seemed to be the highest peak, and we were greeted by the sight of the bros from the trailhead! We confirmed that they had taken the loop the other way, and that we could expect something of a steep climb down as well. Also when we got there, they were sitting on a bench, but after we took a few pictures, they offered the bench to us, and that is when we discovered they were actually soft bros, with consideration and manners. Excellent examples of well-known soft bros include Chris Pratt, Channing Tatum, Joey Tribbiani, and the softest of all soft bros, Chris Evans. 11770687_909529813096_356852977_o

Also it probably would have been polite to let them keep the bench but we were fucking tired

Fun fact: the bench was dedicated to “Lulu” and the other victims of the Columbine school shooting! What a relaxing place to enjoy a lovely view of the ocean after a taxing hike! 11770298_909529713296_1024259569_o

This one’s for the victims of the Great Emu War

Finally it was time to start heading down. Sometimes when a decline is really incredibly steep [read: Runyon] it’s almost harder on your legs during the decline. Luckily this wasn’t quite so bad. There were a couple of points where the trail started climbing again and we were ready to burn Utica to the ground but they passed quickly. At one point it looked like the trail was going to head right the fuck up another fucking mountain and we were ready to surrender, but then we came to a clusterfuck of crossroads and it turns out we were taking a different path that started heading downhill in earnest. Then we passed a sign that directed us to a waterfall. We thought it might be a different direction than we were supposed to be taking, but we decided to check it out, even knowing that in July, in year eight hundred of the drought, there probably wouldn’t be much to see. So we went down…and down…and down. And at this point we were under the impression that we might have to climb back up again to finish the loop, but even though we were convinced we’d die if that were true, we just kept going??? Don’t ask us to explain ourselves. Our brains were cooking. 11246824_909529743236_353495035_o


Finally we came to what was probably once a waterfall, yes. Now it’s some rocks. And a bridge. The bridge was kind of cute. IMG_3181

Probably cuter when it’s next to a waterfall but whatevs


Cute girls on it help too

By the bridge there was one more sign, this one telling us we actually WERE going the right way to finish the loop, and at this point we were so relieved we had to sit down for like five minutes. 11768619_909529753216_1460204504_o

If you will please observe the zen-like peace on Alejandra’s face at knowing there’s no more climbing

The rest of the trail was pretty easy, and even really beautiful. It was flat and green and shaded, and there was a breeze rolling through. We encountered some groups of older folks here, who we assume were just cruising this section of the trail and not trying to give themselves strokes by attempting the monster we’d barely survived. In any case, we were glad we’d done the loop in the direction we did instead of the opposite way like the soft bros, because it gave us a nice peaceful finish. We also walked past a nice grassy area where a girl was doing tai chi or some shit, and that along with some structures we passed looked like they’re probably really nice event venues. Then talk turned to weddings again of course, because we’re girrrrrrrlllllls. Afterwards we went to Noah’s Bagels and then to get frozen yogurt with donut holes in it because we fucking earned it, even though that meant we left the Palisades at literally the worst time of day so Shannon did not have time to shower before she had to go babysit. At least she has the comfort of knowing there’s little she can do to smell worse than a seven-year-old boy. Wildlife? The usual lizards, and then on our way out of the park Allison had a full-scale flail panic when she saw a snake right next to her foot. It was brightly colored which means it was either poisonous or wanted us to think it was, but mostly we just talked about how cool snakes are and how they make badass pets. Musical moments? Idk man, there’s always some but they’re starting to blend together. Conclusion? A fun hike with a lot of variety. A tough workout that we will definitely not be attempting again until the temperature drops like at least ten degrees, probably more. Also, don’t judge a bro by his cover. BONUS PICTURES! So it wasn’t really a hike, but Allison and Shannon did take a trip out to Lake Hollywood a couple of weeks ago. It’s more of a walk than anything; the path is wide, paved, and flat all the way around the lake. Most of the coastline is blocked by a giant chainlink fence, but when you walk across the dam there are amazing views of the lake and the Hollywood sign. It’s a good walk for when we don’t have a ton of time and/or it’s too hot to climb a mountain or some shit. It’s also good for conversation since it’s spacious enough to walk side by side and easy enough that you don’t get out of breath. The first time we did the 3.5 mile loop twice, but this time with the heat we were totally wiped after one so instead we went to go get smoothies. Here are some pics! IMG_3047

Literally the view for most of the trail


Some deer that were super-close and didn’t care that a bunch of people were right on the other side of the fence taking pictures of them!


Don’t ask us we don’t know


Crossing the dam, damn


It really is a killer view


We made it better though






The promised land

Thanks for coming back after our long break! Today we went to Santa Ynez Canyon, so keep an eye out for that post in the next couple of days [they said optimistically]. As always, we’d love to hear recommendations for hikes we should try. Until next time, Skip&Bird[&Sooky]


Friday June 19th, 2015: Los Liones Trail

Hi friends! We’re back with another catch-up post. This one’s only like a week late which is almost like being on time which is practically early. [ETA: this was true when this blog post was first begun. It is now no longer true because we are trash.]

We’ve apparently shaken off that whole June Gloom thing we were telling you about because it has gotten hella hot in Los Angeles lately. Such are the trials and tribulations of living here. Of course there are also some advantages, and one of those advantages is microclimates. For example, even if it’s one trillion degrees inland, where we live [and we’re pretty sure that’s an accurate estimate of the weather lately], all you have to do is travel a few miles towards the coast and you’ll get not only a significant drop in temperature but an ocean breeze as well.

That being the case, we went westward ho this week to the Los Liones trail in the Pacific Palisades, which was only about a mile from the coast. And we brought Alejandra with us!


SOmeone was not given the memo that we were doing cute hair today

We went a bit later in the day due to scheduling, so getting out west wasn’t the most fun [if you’re unaware, there really aren’t any convenient routes through that part of town, like, ever, but especially during afternoon rush hour]. It’s better than trying to get OUT of West LA at that time of day, though.

Los Liones is easy to find; the trailhead is at the end of a street by a church, and there’s plenty of street parking. The trail itself has a gate with a sign and everything.

This may be anticlimactic after making you all wait so long for this post, but we don’t actually have all that much to say about this trail? Except that it was good. In addition to being in the path of that nice cooling ocean breeze, much of the trail was shaded by trees. There were also lots of little clearings and alcoves off to the side of the trail, some of which we stopped to explore.


Look we never claimed to be great explorers

The trail is also on the skinny side, so there’s no option but to walk single file the whole way. Often when we came across someone coming in the opposite direction, or we wanted to let a group behind us pass so we could take our time a little, we would have to duck off to the side. It worked pretty well with three people but any more and a) you wouldn’t be able to carry on a group conversation and b) you would probably start to look like the seven dwarfs heading off to work in the mines, which isn’t inherently a bad thing but is a choice you shouldn’t make lightly.


Unless you’re this one

Being able to carry on a group conversation was especially important for us on this hike because we needed to talk about Alejandra’s Big Week. First she got engaged, then right before our hike she got a new commercial agent! We’re so happy for her! In an only-a-little-bitter kind of way! But mostly happiness!


This is always okay regardless


Envy doesn’t look good on anyone Alli

Also the meeting with the new agent is why Alejandra’s hair looked all cute. Allison’s looked all cute because we stopped in one of those little shaded clearings we mentioned so she could put an audition on tape. Alejandra was the cameraman and Shannon was Allison’s dad and it was no The Unburned but we are artists no matter what.

At one point we did find an even thinner but still pretty defined trail that led off to the side. We followed it for a bit out of curiosity, but the flora was too thick to be able to see how far it went, and at that point we had already spotted a snake that Allison was 95% sure was a baby rattlesnake, so tramping off into the more heavily wooded areas seemed unwise.


Shannon’s not upset about it aT ALL

Anyway, this whole time the trail had been climbing in elevation, but very steadily. At one point we could see the trail head and our cars and realized how high we had climbed, basically without even noticing. That was a pretty nice change from when Allison and Shannon turned their legs into jelly climbing Runyon the previous week.

Finally we emerged at an overlook with a steady breeze and a great view of the coast. There was a bench too, but there was another group or two that had reached the summit around the same time as us, and the bench was occupied by them and their selfie stick. We suppose if you can’t bring those to Disney anymore, you’ll have to start utilizing them in other places to make sure you get your money’s worth.


We don’t need benches anyway because we’re so strong [actually this was supposed to be a sexy pose but this is the best Shannon can do so]

It was mostly clear that day, which was nice for the view, obviously. We think visibility cut out right before the Santa Monica Pier; on a clearer day we should have been able to spot it from there.


This is the only view that matters anyway

The trail continues from there if you want to take a longer hike, but by longer we mean like seven miles, and we weren’t up to that, especially since it was already getting late in the afternoon. One slightly disappointing aspect of this hike is that it’s an up-and-back hike rather than a loop. We’ve done some up-and-back hikes [or even down-and-back hikes, in the case of The Grotto] that were great, of course, but in general loops are more fun because you get to see more new stuff along the way.

Anyway, it was a really easy hike back down since there were no particularly steep sections. Then after some really confusing driving [read: pulling over every fifty feet like four times] that caused us to decide Allison is not allowed to lead the caravan anymore, we found a little Mediterranean/Mexican joint for either a very late lunch or a somewhat early dinner down on Sunset.

Wildlife? We saw a few lizards, and of course the snake which may have been a baby rattlesnake, which is a deceivingly adorable notion. Also there was this one tree that looked like a brontosaurus and absorbed our attention for probably a lot more time than we should have allowed, as grown women.

Musical moments? Um, we’re sure there were some, but this is where we run into the real trouble of putting off hiking posts until a week and a half after they happen. Whoops. [ETA: Allison kindly reminded us by posting the video of it on her Instagram that Shannon may have sung “It’s Oh So Quiet” and made Alejandra bellow in fear when she imitated the horns.]

Conclusion? The fifteen-degree temperature difference out by the coast was worth the long and convoluted drive it took to get there. There weren’t too many other people, though the narrowness of the trail made every time we encountered someone else kind of an ordeal. The view at the top was v nice; maybe someday when the weather is cooler and we have the time/energy we’ll commit to the longer version of the hike.

Thanks for reading and for waiting patiently for the new post again. We have one more catch-up post to go, which will be two if we hike tomorrow like we’d planned, but the high for tomorrow is in the mid-90s so we’ll see. And if you have any suggestions for us about hikes to try, please leave them in the comments! But don’t just make up random names to comment with and expect us to know who you are. Despite Shannon’s dad’s beliefs, that is not how the internet works.

Until next time,


Friday, June 12th, 2015: Runyon Canyon

No, we didn’t take an extended hiatus from hiking. No, we didn’t get the dates wrong. We’re just…way behind. We could give you reasons but let’s just call it Allison’s fault. It’s not true but let’s say it anyway.

Well! After our frankly terrifying trip to the Old Youth Camp, during which you may remember we were trapped in an ethereal and probably evil fog for long enough that we started planning which of us we would eat [Allison], we decided to go the opposite route this week. As far opposite as we could go. Yes, we braved the ever-popular and ever-crowded Runyon Canyon.


Trying to contain our excitement

Runyon is one of the most well-known and popular hikes in Los Angeles, and there are good reasons for that. It’s easily accessible — pretty much right in the middle of the city, really. It has nice views of the city, allows dogs, and is endlessly customizable w/r/t difficulty and distances of hikes.

Of course, the popularity of the park can also make it a total pain in the ass. Take parking, for example. Assuming you enter at the bottom of the park like we did, as opposed to the entrance up in the hills, there’s only street parking available. And since it’s in West Hollywood, even at 10am on a weekday, that parking was fucking scarce. This was the second week in a row Allison ended up driving right behind Shannon [stalker] but we got separated while trying to find any open parking within a reasonable distance. We ended up several blocks away and Allison saved Shannon a parking space with some stranger’s trash cans.

The entrance to the park is situated in a pretty nice neighborhood with some big ol’ houses, one of which had a tree crashed through the fancy fence they’d erected to keep the riff-raff like us out.



Further cementing Runyon’s status as the ultimate LA city hike, the entrance has a little cart with water and snacks which operates on the honor system. That just feels so very LA to us? Like, we can’t imagine that working in NYC? But whatever.

From the walk up to the park and into the entrance, there are people just everywhere. We had the hikespeak page pulled up on a smartphone like we always do, in case we get confused about the trail somewhere without reception, but it became clear pretty quickly that a) the description of the trail was even less coherent than usual and b) it was 100% not necessary. There were people everywhere so we pretty much just followed the crowd.


We are, after all, followers at heart

The initial climb was steep but not unbearably so, and not the worst we’ve done. We came to a lookout point where we could continue following the trail up and to the left, or could kind of veer off to the right where there were lots of people coming in and out. From there we could see some weird feature down in a valley that looked like Heimdall had opened up the Bifrost there or something.


How dare you trespass upon the mighty Thor

We decided to check out the detour over to the right, which took us to another outlook with some benches and some people chilling and stuff. We found some rocks to sit on for a quick break and practiced taking selfies so we could try out the whole normcore thing as long as we were here. We considered the idea of committing to being fully normcore for the duration of the hike, but we’re not sure we’d have had stuff to talk about, and more importantly Shannon wanted to talk about Sense8 because she had just finished it on Netflix and had no one to talk to about it since no one else she knows had watched it. Including Allison. Shannon talked about it for two hours anyway.


Also, as evidenced by this picture, we’re terrible at being normal. This was the best attempt of three. THE BEST

We headed back the way we’d come and this time took the continuing trail. There were a ton of dogs around this whole time, by the way, and many of them were off-leash. Parts of Runyon do allow off-leash dogs while some parts are on-leash only but basically no one gave a shit. All the dogs seemed pretty smart and well-trained, though, as opposed to Shannon’s dogs, who would immediately die if taken off-leash someplace like this. Immediately.

Speaking of dogs, we passed through a gate that had one on it.


This is normal right?

This part of the trail actually went right by some of the houses in the hills. And some weird trailers? IDK Los Angeles is weird. Then there was a section where there were a bunch of wooden boardwalks and staircases, which we don’t often come across in our hikes and tbh felt a little condescending. They gave Shannon some nice flashbacks of those old all-wood playgrounds in the ’90s that seem to have unfortunately all been torn down though.


This one was at least sort of useful but some of them had steps that were literally like an inch high like bITCH DON’T PATRONIZE ME

We passed by a radio tower next [is that what they’re ever called anymore?] as we approached what looked like a big rock we could climb, which, yes, we will always go towards one of those.


So we needed stairs to go an inch but then it’s like “here’s a radio tower just idk try not to climb it”

Just as we got to the base of the rock — which we could easily see people climbing, by the way — there was a sign telling us not to go any further. We laugh in the face of such signs. Also there was a group of girls coming back down that rock with their Cavalier King Charles and those things have pretty stumpy legs, so if he could do it we figured even Allison could.

First we explored the lower platform of the rock and sat for a minute again before trying the steeper climb.


Clearly we gave up on that normality thing

The steeper climb was a little precarious and we did have to use our hands a bit for balance and to get purchase but it wasn’t even the hardest climb we’ve done [that’s still reserved for our trip to The Grotto, where Shannon had to hoist Allison up by her ass].


Another sign trying to stop us [we assume] but no one tells us what to do WE ARE REBELS


A pretty pretty princess

From here we could see that rather than climbing back down the way we came, we could keep going. We weren’t sure how much further the trail would be passable before we might have to turn back but hey, one of the advantages of a crowded trail is that if there’s people ahead of you, you know you can keep going.


On and on you will hike, and I know you’ll hike far…

Another advantage of all the company is that you can find out if people have come from the opposite direction as you and find out what’s ahead. Also you can ask them to take pictures of you trying to both fit on a weird little cement stump.


It says Burbank but it’s not in Burbank so aliens are the only explanation?




We like to think of this progression of pictures as the guy slowly figuring out what we’re about

So we discovered we could keep going and our trail would loop around, but that it would be pretty steep. We’re not afraid of a challenge and going back is boring if there’s another option so we pressed onward.

We’re not going to say it was a mistake, but…

Well, let’s just say this is where the pictures stop, because the next half hour or so of our lives was spent descending about 600 feet [according to the hikespeak page, when we checked afterwards] very quickly and we were preoccupied with not dying. The dirt was loose and there were only sometimes enough rocks embedded in the trail for us to get good traction. And we’re in decent shape but by the end of that descent, our quads were shaking with every step we took. We did get to commiserate with some people who were climbing up in the opposite direction and told them what they had to look forward to.

After the trail evened out it was only a short time before we found ourselves back on the trail where we’d started and then back at the entrance of the park. Then we only had to walk like a billion miles back to our cars. ::shakes fist:: WEEEEEEEHOOOOOOOO!

Then we went to Chipotle because WE EARNED IT.

Wildlife? Pretty much zip. We saw hundreds of people and dozens of dogs, but the trail is too high-traffic for anything else to hang about.

Musical moments? Well there was the moment when Shannon said “feet, don’t fail me now” when she was trying not to pitch headfirst down the super-steep decline, which naturally led to a brief rendition of “Journey to the Past” from Anastasia. There could have been more but it’s been like a week and a half since then…?

Conclusion? Well, it’s certainly a good workout, and a fun one. And even with the pain-in-the-ass parking situation, the trail is more easily accessible than most. It was cloudy again that day but we still got some pretty good city views, thanks to the central location. Altogether it wasn’t as bad as we were expecting, since the trail’s popularity tends to make it an easy target for jokes about typical Angelenos. We still like our trails a little more deserted though.

Thanks for reading and for waiting patiently for the new post [except Shannon’s dad, who can now finally get off her dick about writing this]. We’ll be back in the next few days with another catch-up post about our trip to the Los Liones Trail in the Palisades last Friday, with the return of guest hiker Alejandra. Hopefully not too long after that we’ll finish catching up with our hike from this week, which isn’t scheduled yet but is happening, hot weather be damned. And if you have any suggestions for us about hikes to try, please leave them in the comments!

Until next time,


Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015: Old Youth Camp

First things first: we have an update for fans of our trip to Murphy Ranch, the old Nazi compound. Last week there was an article on Curbed about the mysterious history of the ranch. It’s worth a read but the most important part is that the married couple who started the construction of the ranch did so after meeting “a persuasive man identified only as ‘Herr Schmidt,’ who [they] came to believe possessed ‘supernatural powers.'”


Messed up, y’all.

Anyway, on to this week’s hike!

It seems to be the case that when you live in a place, you learn odd little secrets about its weather that no one who didn’t live there would have guessed. Par example: Chicago springs only last about two weeks, San Francisco is bitterly windy and cold in August, and Los Angeles has June Gloom.

Yes, after a whole winter full of sunshine, L.A. is defeated by the month of fucking June. It’s cloudy and foggy and cold. Now, we know you don’t think that the Two Princesses and our brave companions would be put off by a little weather. And we weren’t. But it made for…what we will call a very interesting hike this week. With recurring guest hiker Alejandra!


Who complained about not wearing any make-up for pics and then looked the sexiest of all of us

This week we had some conflicts to work around, namely that Shannon had a v important appointment at her hair salon that afternoon, so we did a slightly earlier hike near Burbank. We found the Old Youth Camp Loop on hikespeak and decided to give it a try, even in the face of terrifyingly gloomy weather.

The trail was easy to find and had a parking lot with plenty of spaces at the time we got there. It was a different story when we left but that comes later. Don’t you know how stories work?


Literally how dare Los Angeles have anything but blue skies

We brought sweatshirts and Allison brought an umbrella and we bravely set off. The trail starts ascending right away but not too steeply. And honestly at points we were glad for the gloomy weather, since the trail would clearly have had little to no protection from the sun. We’re sure the views are lovely [we got an idea from the photos on the hikespeak page, as well] but it wouldn’t be a terribly fun hike on a hot day, especially since it gets even hotter in Burbank than in many other areas of L.A. And now you’ve learned something about microclimates!


Fog building up already

We soon passed a large crowd of small children. We had a totally reasonable discussion about how to choose which one to pick off from the herd if we were so inclined to do so. That was probably a hint that this hike was going to take a very dark turn.


We didn’t take one. To be clear

After a while the trail forked, making the two ends of what we knew was a loop. We took the advice of the hikespeak page [since we could actually understand its instructions for once] and went clockwise. Allison and Alejandra were v happy that Shannon knows what a clock looks like.

There was another fork before long, and the left-hand trail led to an overlook. Again, we’re sure the views are lovely on a normal day, but at this point we had climbed high enough to be pretty firmly in the fog, and, well…



…the ground had pretty much disappeared.

Let us assure you: we are all intelligent, competent young women. We’re college graduates in our mid-twenties with jobs and pets and everything. Buuuuuuuut when it suddenly appeared that the world outside of the mountain we were climbing had disappeared…we may have gotten a bit irrational.



There were two other people at this summit with a dog. They took a picture for us, so we’re pretty sure they were real, but the fact remains that these were the only other two people we saw for quite a while.


Holding it together for the kids

We headed back down to where the trail had split last and took the right-hand trail, which narrowed and then led to the titular Old Youth Camp. It must be called a youth camp for a reason, but it seems like there was only ever one building there. All that remains is a concrete foundation outlining two largish rooms and a still-standing, if crumbling, fireplace and chimney.


See it’s not creepy at all


See how very brave and not creeped out we are


See how we behaved totally normally and were not at all possessed by spirits again

Now, we’ve hiked to some ruins before. A burned-down mansion, a Nazi compound, an old zoo…and from what we can tell this was a perfectly normal lodge that burned down in a perfectly normal fire. They happen all the time out here. But some combination of the ruins, the weather, and the lack of any other people around even though we had seen plenty further down on the trail pretty much convinced us beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were now alone in the world.

So we did what anyone would do. We did some monologues.


I was like you once. Lost. Confused. A piece of shit

We formed a tentative hierarchy for this brave new world based mostly on who had long enough legs to climb up onto the fireplace.


Anyone can be anything though really

We sang some songs, and we also agreed that we would eat Allison first.

The trail continued from there. We had reached the one real destination of the hike, but it wasn’t the highest point. As we kept climbing, we traveled further into the fog. At this point we were already scripting the horror movie we had decided we were living, so we figured we might as well start shooting it. More on that later.


Genuinely terrifying


How will we go on

A recurring theme on our Los Angeles hikes is the number of fucks the park service seems to give about hiker safety. Spoiler alert: it’s zero. There are never any fences to prevent you from hurtling down the mountainside to your doom [except, inexplicably, at Bee Rock] or signs that tell you where to go, with very rare exceptions. We had already noticed that this trail was particularly precarious at points, only emphasized by the fact that you would basically be falling into the Twilight Zone.


This was taken looking almost straight down

And now there were signs that basically told us to jump off the side of a cliff to get where we were going.


Notice where that arrow is pointing? Oh yeah it’s into the enDLESS ABYSS

At least at this point we had started to spot some other human beings again, and none of them were turned inside out or anything so we were pretty sure we would find our cars eventually. We had started to get a little punchy, though, which you will witness…in a moment…

So the trail took us back down the the beginning of the loop where we had learned that Allison and Alejandra can’t tell time analogically, and it was a short trip back to the parking lot. It was misting pretty significantly now; the weather had been damp the whole way but now it was what native Angelenos might call “rain” but none of us would call it that because we all come from real places. Anyway, that may have sort of contributed to the fact that the parking lot was now a nightmare, but it was probably that there seemed to be some sort of day camp or program being run out of the nature center that also uses that parking lot. Which probably explains the large group of children from earlier. They probably weren’t manifestations of evil spirits.

In any case, we grabbed a quick lunch at Islands before Shannon had to jet off to her v important haircut so she could look nice for the special surprise her boyfriend had planned that night which was not a proposal. [She didn’t think it would be. She’s seen way too many movies not to know that if you think it’s coming, something disastrous is actually about to happen. They saw Matilda instead.]

Now, throughout all of this, Allison had been taking some video on her phone for the totally improvised and ridiculous horror movie we were devising/living. And she took this video home and edited it together into possibly the greatest horror movie ever made, under three minutes. You should all count yourselves v lucky to witness such genius. We present: THE UNBURNED.

Wildlife? Pretty much zero. Except some beetles. Very apropos for our horror film.

Musical moments? Ohhhhhh watch the movie.

Conclusion? Actually quite a good hike. It might possibly get crowded when the weather is better, especially with the trailhead’s proximity to a residential area. We mentioned that it wouldn’t be great on a hot day but really it’s short enough that you could make it through as long as you brought some water and maybe a hat. We’re planning on heading back to the area for another trail on a clearer day so we can take advantage of the views.

By the way this is the movie’s poster:


There’s a love triangle

Thanks for reading! We’ll be back next week with a new hike. And if you have any suggestions for us about hikes to try, please leave them in the comments!

Until next time,


Wednesday, May 27th, 2015: Fryman Canyon

Oh my god anOTHER POST ALREADY????!!!




This is a hike we’ve had planned for a while, not because the hike itself is particularly noteworthy, but because of who we were planning on bringing. Meet Caramel and Moses! They currently live at Lucky Puppy Rescue and Retail in Studio City, where Shannon and her boyfriend adopted their dogs from. Lucky Puppy is pretty much the shiz.

IMG_2874_2 IMG_2876_2

Now, these two particular dogs have a home lined up soon, but there are SO MANY MORE awesome puppies there that need homes. Volunteers are also always welcome if you want to go in and give doggies some love and/or exercise! And if nothing else they ALWAYS need donations; they are a 100% non-profit, so all donations [including adoption fees] are tax-deductible!


Moses is a leader

So for convenience’s sake, after we stopped at Lucky Puppy to pick up Caramel and Moses, we just swung around the corner to Fryman Canyon. Shannon has done this loop before with her own dogs because she lives nearby, but one of her dogs is arthritic and the other had spinal surgery to correct paralysis and her back legs are still not 100%. Plus they’re both fat, lazy, and spoiled. Anyway there are two options for a trailhead — one at the bottom of the loop, just off Laurel Canyon, and one at the top, off Coldwater Canyon. Because it was closer and involved less twisting and turning on the drive there [for the dogs’ sake] we went to the bottom.

There was a nice big parking lot there, and while there were a lot of cars there on a Wednesday morning, there were still plenty of spots open. It may be tougher to find parking on weekends. There apparently used to be a $3 fee to park in the lot but that’s gone now because justice prevailed.


These boys did not pace their peeing

Fryman Canyon is basically just a big loop that goes up and down. There are some nice views at points, but it’s very much a city hike. There’s really no point at which you feel like you could be out in the wilderness [especially because the trail is very populated], which is something we enjoy on other hikes, but you trade off for the easy access.


We could see Shannon’s apartment building from here


Dogs were less interested in views

The doggies had a great time! They were super-excited and pulled us pretty hard at first, haha, but they eased off once we’d been climbing for a while. When we got to an overlook, we took a little break and had some water. We didn’t have a dish to pour any water into for Caramel and Moses but they seemed like they were getting thirsty, plus it was getting warmer and the sun was coming out. So Allison helped them out.


It was too bright out for Shannon to see her thumb covering the lens so geT OFF HER BACK

Not long after we stopped for water we came to the upper trailhead, which is right at the park headquarters for Tree People. There actually is a little water fountain there for dogs, but either the spray freaked out Caramel and Moses, or they didn’t want to drink water that admittedly had some woodchips floating in it, or they got enough from Allison, because they were 100% Not Having It.

Also for some reason there was a largish group of children on a ridge above the trail howling into the abyss. They were actually howling. Allison howled back and the dogs did not.


They have better things to do

The trail then turned back downwards and the dogs picked up their pace again. They might have run all the way downhill if we had let them, but honestly we’re pretty sure we’d have tripped and died. The trail was still pretty full of hikers and runners too, so the risk seemed extra-not-worth-it. Besides, we were v busy having a conversation in which Shannon taught Allison all about butt plugs. You know, academically.

The trail actually ends before the loop finishes and lets out in a super-nice neighborhood. And we’re talking super-nice for Los Angeles; apparently a lot of celebs live in the area. Shannon’s heard a rumor that Clooney is one of them but don’t quote her, especially since she heard that before he settled down and became a boring old married so who even knows anymore.


That house, while certainly nice, was probably not Clooney’s

The street kept heading downhill so the dogs kept pulling for a while. The hikespeak page gave us the directions to get back to the parking lot [since Shannon had only done the whole loop once, several months back] but there were enough people around that all we had to do was follow the foot traffic. When the incline flattened out we did have to walk on the side of a street with no sidewalk and frequent cars, though, which wasn’t all that fun. Again, there were plenty of other people around, and it’s a well-known pedestrian walkway, but it’s never fun to be like three feet from a car zooming by.

So before long we were back at the parking lot! The dogs…still had a lot of energy. We honestly don’t understand how they weren’t worn out. But they returned to Lucky Puppy the conquering heroes, strutting back into their pen all “WE BRING YOU NEWS FROM THE OUTSIDE.”

Wildlife? SO VERY MANY DOGS. The foot traffic is too heavy for anything else, really. Though again, there were those howling children.

Musical moments? “Dust in my face,” sung to the tune of “dust in the wind.”

Conclusion? We mean, Fryman is Fryman. You have to expect a lot of people. But it’s predictable, simple, and not a bad way to get in three miles worth of exercise. If we decide to take some more Lucky Puppies for a hike, we’ll certainly do Fryman again. There’s really no reason for us to do it otherwise.

Thanks for reading! Allison is heading out of town to a wedding this weekend but we’ll be back next week with a new hike. Be sure to check out Lucky Puppy if you’re interested in helping some dogs in needs. And if you have any suggestions for us about hikes to try, please leave them in the comments!

Until next time,


Wednesday, May 20th, 2015: Bee Rock

Hi friends! Sorry this post is so delayed. Last week after we did the hike, Shannon was working on a post about Mad Max: Fury Road for her good friends over at Head Over Feels, and tbh she only has so much writing in her per week. Anyone who tries to read her fanfiction can tell you about that. No we will not link to her fanfiction. So, without further ado, our trip to Bee Rock with guest hiker Alejandra and new guest hiker Lauren!

Things you should know about Lauren: she is also a party princess like Allison and Shannon! She specializes in face painting and balloon twisting. She was in acting class with Allison, Shannon, and Alejandra! She’s a kickass headshot photographer and she likes to dress up her cat.


We’re either going to need a selfie stick or fewer friends

So, Griffith Park is pretty fucking massive. Like, we all know this, but it starts to sink in when you’ve done a certain number of hikes there and realize you’ve still only ever seen a fraction of the park. This particular hike was on the east side of the park, which makes it pretty easy access. The trailhead we used is actually at the merry-go-round, which you’d probably recognize from all those times Meredith Grey remembered her mom and Weber fighting while she was riding it. Also from Buffy.

Anyway, the nice big parking lot with signs directing us there made it easy to find each other, and this was also possibly the first trailhead we’ve ever been to that actually received cell service, so we would’ve been okay either way. We don’t generally mind trailheads that are tougher to get to/find but that might be important to some people, we guess.


We, however, are adventurers of the highest fucking caliber

As you can see in the picture above, the trail is pretty wide and fairly smooth. It’s really easy to follow if you have even the slightest idea where you’re going. Instead of the slightest idea, however, we had the hikespeak page, which manages to be very helpful and also incredibly confusing all at once. For example, it said we were supposed to “drop across Spring Canyon after 2/3 of a mile over a small stream shaded by oaks and sycamores,” which makes it sound like a thing we’re supposed to DO, right? Like we’re supposed to find a stream and follow the path that way? But no, we were just supposed to stay on the same wide trail [not to mention it’s not really a stream anymore thanks to the drought which we are contractually obligated to mention in every post], which we only discovered after we doubled back twice thinking we had missed something.


This is the closest thing we had to a pic of us being lost we guess

In any case, most of the trail up had pretty good views, mostly of Glendale over to the east. And yes, maybe Glendale is not the most picturesque vista in the Los Angeles area, but it could really really be worse.


THIS is the most picturesque vista in Los Angeles AMIRITE

We know you’re all dying to hear about the topics of conversation, so here they were in a nutshell: Mad Max: Fury Road and the awesomeness therein, Game of Thrones and the lack of awesomeness in the most recent episode. Also literally everyone’s respective love lives, which are all in very different stages, including Shannon’s amazing story of totally behaving like a grown-up with her boyfriend after she got advice from Alejandra last week.

On the way up, there’s a view of Bee Rock from below.


Is it because it looks like a beehive? Did someone get killed by bees there? NO ONE KNOWS

And the trail lived up to its name in that we saw so many fucking bees. We stick steadfastly to our theory that this whole “the bees are dying” thing is a PR campaign perpetrated by Big Bee. For real, did you hear that Morgan Freeman turned his property in Mississippi into a bee farm? That is a TRUE FACT. We’re all falling for it. #beetruth

At one point we had to make a choice. We could take a trail that was shorter but much steeper up to Bee Rock, or we could take the Bill Eckert Trail and climb more slowly. Guess whether we were lazy. You get three and the first two don’t count. [Confession: we don’t understand that phrase.]


Spoiler alert: lazy

The trail led back up to a paved road. We saw an overlook to our left that looked like it was…y’know, a thing. And it turned out it led to actual Bee Rock, which sort of descended from that overlook. And then we saw something unusual.

See, we’ve mentioned before [we think? we’re too lazy to check for sure lol what] that one of the earmarks of hiking in Los Angeles is that it’s pretty much on you not to die. There are very few, if any, signs to indicate where you are or where you should be going, and there are not a lot of fences or boundaries either. But apparently Bee Rock is different, and we don’t know if it’s because someone like tumbled to their death or what [if that’s true omg we’re so sorry we didn’t mean to be insensitive lol what] but there was…a fence.


Is the barbed wire not a bit overkill?

Anyway, this insanely secure little path led out to the rock, which had a view of Glendale and the San Gabriel Mountains that was not all that different from what we’d been seeing on our way up the trail, but this time it was obstructed by chain link, so that was…not ideal.


This was BETWEEN the links, because we will not be bested by a fence

There were some rock formations up there but there wasn’t all that much room to climb in any kind of fun way. The corridor left by the fence was pretty narrow. There was plenty of graffiti, though, and that is how we found Lauren’s hiking nickname, because everyone needs one now: Muppet.


Actually we’re pretty sure this had something to do with drug dealers

And because it was Bee Rock, Allison and Alejandra decided to be bees.


Nobody tell them

And because we were…up high? Shannon and Lauren decided to be Jack and Rose…? It seemed like a good idea at the time anyway.


Nobody tell them

As you may be able to see from the pictures, there was a gap in the fence big enough to get through so we could sit on the rocks beyond and have an unobstructed view. We refrained from doing so because there were already people out there and because we are not insane and do not have a death wish. It was a REALLY steep drop, you guys.


The retreat of the wise

So instead we just plodded back down the trail the way we came. We had another stop to make, though, because on the way back we knew we could go through the Old Zoo. The current Los Angeles Zoo is only a few miles away, and when it opened in the ’60s they didn’t do anything with the old one. They just left it up and turned it into a picnic area.


In case you like your picnics with a side of remnants of animal cruelty

Mostly there’s just a few walls and a couple structures left, and one row of cages, at least from what we saw. There was some filming going on nearby and it was toward the end of the hike and we were getting hungry, so we didn’t explore as thoroughly as we maybe could have. We did go inside one of the cages though, and they are fucking small. They date back to the 1930s when people apparently didn’t give a shit about zoo animals.





Thank you for coming to our photographic reenactment of The Oppression of Zoo Animals. The zoo animals were played by Allison and Lauren. Mankind was played by Shannon. Direction and photography by Alejandra

We knew there was a trail back to where we started because we had seen where it split off from the Bee Rock Trail at the beginning of the hike. We got kind of thrown off by whatever was filming, though — for real, there was like a weird photo backdrop? And someone was in a bear costume? And there was an empty moose costume just like sitting nearby. It seemed like a pretty significant production in terms of how much personnel and equipment was involved but they still let us just walk on through, and we didn’t really want to linger [except maybe a couple of us were considering trying to raid craft services lol what]. So Allison asked how to get back to the merry-go-round, and to be fair he probably gave us the best answer he knew, which took us through some more traditional park areas and past a playground, rather than through the trail we had kind of meant to take. We had to walk through a parking lot or two but we did get to pass the merry-go-round. It was closed though. Bummer.


Just because it’s early on a weekday and we’re all in our twenties doesn’t mEAN THOSE HORSIES SHOULD BE LOCKED UP


Mmm, you can almost hear Ellis and Richard fighting over their adulterous baby

From there we cruised right on back up to the parking lot! Slowly. It was a long hike and we were tired. Also hungry, so we went to Fred 62 in Los Feliz for lunch.

Wildlife? Thin on the ground. A couple of lizards, more bees than we would have liked #beetruth

Conclusion? The hike is easy to find and easy to get to. It’s a good length and a nice slow incline, with decent views. Really there’s nothing staggering about it though. We didn’t run into a lot of other people but it was kind of annoying when we ran into filming a couple of times. It’s worth keeping in mind for the convenience factor, we suppose — same as some of the other Griffith or Franklin hikes we’ve done.

And then, as we know, Shannon was too busy asking for a moment to talk about our lord and savior Imperator Furiosa to write this post. So guess what you guys get? A little bonus!

Before we started this blog, Allison and Shannon used to rollerblade together every Friday on the Santa Monica bike path. Trips out of town and weather have kept us from the tradition for several weeks, but two days after our Bee Rock hike we went again! And a good thing too, because we both had brand new knee socks we’d been dying to wear.


Par example

Anyway there’s not a lot to tell. We start at the Santa Monica Pier and head either north or south until it basically becomes impossible to keep going, then turn back. Whichever way you go it’s about a 6-mile round trip usually. We went south this time because it had been a while since we did that.


Shannon needs to talk to Allison about taking creepy pictures of her ass without permission lol what

The southbound path takes you through Venice Beach down to Manhattan Beach. Basically lots of stoners, skaters, homeless people, tourists, and total asshole bikers. Also people that are on weird devices that do NOT qualify as bikes. We’re talking those weird close-to-the-ground tricycles, and also some things that are basically ellipticals but on wheels. We didn’t make it as far as usual this day because unfortunately we came across a stretch of path that was entirely covered in sand like an inch thick.


We offer proof so you don’t think we’re just lazy. We’re lazy but not JUST lazy

So we took a selfie and turned back.


Living close to the ocean is fine we guess

So we headed back up to the pier, regretting our lack of giant boom box the whole way. And as we made our way back up to the pier we kind of registered something we’d never really noticed before, in all the times we’ve done this route: there’s a seating area in the shape of a boat.



And you might ask “princesses, what is that behind the boat? What is chasing you?”

Well, it’s a dragon head.


Don’t fucking ask us to explain Santa Monica to you

In any case, after this we completed the remainder of our #ladyfriendFriday tradition, which is to get frozen yogurt from the Pinkberry on the 3rd Street Promenade and continue in our quest to make the staff there think that we are the world’s most adorable lesbian couple.

Thanks for waiting for the new post and for reading! We’ll be back in the next couple of days with a new post; tomorrow we’re planning on taking some EXTRA special guests on a hike with us so be sure not to miss it! And if you have any suggestions for us about hikes to try, please leave them in the comments!

Until next time,


Wednesday, May 13, 2015: Franklin Canyon

Today was not our most exciting hike but it was a super-exciting day anyway, because today the princesses were joined by our first guest hiker!


Guest hikers are not allowed sunglasses

This is our friend Alejandra! Important things to know about her: she is also an actor, we met her in our acting class here in Los Angeles, she usually doesn’t have her cell phone, she’s very short, and her new hiking nickname is Sooky. Another important thing is that she lives near Shannon and is therefore the reason this hike happened, because Shannon’s car was in the shop and Allison doesn’t love her enough to come pick her up.

We decided to stick close to home today, because it was a last-minute plan and our guest had to work later in the day. Allison and Shannon have hiked a trail in Franklin Canyon before but we knew there was at least one other, so we tackled that today. We think it kind of ended up being a patchwork of the Franklin Canyon Loop and Chaparral Trail? We tried to follow the directions on the hikespeak page but tbh they didn’t always make all the sense. It would be easier if maps were available but nothing ever goes our way, it’s hard being us.


That’s why we cling to each other for support

The hike started out pretty standard for a park hike in Los Angeles. Dirt paths, nice enough views as we ascended the hillside. The first bit of it had some of those plank stairs set into the dirt, which was helpful, because we’ve have to climb insanely steep dirt paths with no stairs or anything to give us traction and that did not go well in a lot of ways. We pretty much played catch-up w/r/t conversation on the way, since we don’t see Alejandra as often as we see each other. It gave us another fun excuse to recap Allison’s love life though, and that’s Shannon’s favorite subject, so.

The trail let out back on the paved road we had driven on to get to the trailhead and that was kind of where we started getting confused. We ended up following that road for a while as it passed by Franklin Canyon Lake, but we were separated from the lake by a half wall and some land. It looked like there was a trail down there too, but again, we were trying to follow the hikespeak page. Then again, if we hadn’t been on the paved road, we wouldn’t have come across the weird hut.


We reacted really strongly to it


Especially Alejandra, but then again she wasn’t with us last week when we found a Nazi compound


Or maybe it’s because she spotted a lurker outside

And a little bit past the hut was an amphitheater! Well, you can probably guess what happened when three actors found an empty amphitheater.


This was Joan of Arc. It was very moving, trust us


This was Two Gentlemen of Verona. Maybe a little less moving, but by design

After our very inspiring Shakespearean monologues we walked on. Just a bit past the odd grass hut and the amphitheater we came to a little picnic area and big parking lot and we had to…cross the parking lot. It wasn’t the most adventurous or idyllic path we’ve had to traverse. But it led to another path and a very steep ridge.


The iPhone lens might have gotten smeared a little with sunscreen again…so welcome back to Hiking Through Oil Paintings


And in the very back you can see the picturesque…parking lot

The ridge was brief but took as a while to climb up. Officially the reason is that we didn’t want to break our guest hiker on our first time having one out. Really we’re also kind of lazy. The trail crossed another trail and then came to what is apparently a “false summit.” This prompted a lot of discussion about what makes a false summit and whether that is anything like a false prophet and whether it needs to be cleansed with fire. That would probably end up with all of L.A. burning down though and we all like L.A. a lot.


Anyway, having a bench and a view made it a real enough summit for us

Maybe it was called a false summit because it wasn’t actually the top of the ridge? There was just a little bit of path left, so we followed it to see if it would take us to the actual summit just above us. But it wasn’t a summit. It was a helipad. We had hiked up to the fire station on Coldwater Canyon, apparently. It didn’t seem like it was a problem for us to be up there or anything either. Like, there were no helicopters or anything. In fact, there was a firefighter there talking to what looked like another pair of hikers, giving them the 411 on hiking back down. So we took in the views, which, tbh, were pretty much the same as they were from the false summit. And there was no bench on the helipad.


False summit one, helipad zip

At that point there was nothing to do but head back down the steep ridge. There was actually enough rocky surface that none of us even slipped. Then it was back across the parking lot, but we didn’t want to head back down the paved road because it was kind of boring and we couldn’t really figure out the instructions from the hikespeak page. So we kind of made our own way from there, which may very well have been the way we were supposed to go but at this point we don’t care, we’re rebels, YOU CAN’T TELL US WHAT TO DO.

So we came back to the weird-ass stairs that took us over the half wall separating us from the lake and the trail around it. Well, Allison and Alejandra took the stairs. Shannon climbed over the wall because it was barely even a thing and she didn’t want to validate it by implying she needed the stairs.



This turned out to be a good choice. We took the dirt trail much of the way around the lake from here. We got to be nice and close to the water, and watch ducks.


And anywhere you find actual water in California is worth documenting

Also, every once in a while there would be a neat little alcove or something we could explore. And explore we did.


We explored each other and ourselves a little bit too. We’re actors, we are free spirits


We also practiced posing like female superheroes just in case we need to know how to show off our v feminine bodies

At one point we started a band with a guy we walked by. We probably won’t last long because we don’t really have any instruments, and because Allison and Alejandra don’t know how to pay the proper respect to the song “Mr. Brightside.” But in case we make it to our first album, we shot the cover.


We’re called Intermittent Orange


You get no explanation for this because there is none


Alejandra seems to have picked up on our hiking style v quickly

As we came around the south end of the lake we ended up back on the paved road. Nice lake views from there.


A reminder that this is technically Beverly Hills (we think)

We could have walked along it for a while but after we passed some artists painting the lake (which was pretty cool) we found another little gateway leading down, so we took it. It led to, like, a big slanted concrete thing? It was cool because it seemed like it should be off-limits but clearly wasn’t because there were staircases leading to it from both directions. We sprawled out for a little while — not because we were tired, just because we liked it. You want to know how not tired we were? We did push-ups.


And then we earned our break


Not that we needed to earn it because we ball so hard

There are lots of picnic areas around but tbh we think this would be a great spot to sit and eat. You could spread out really well and it has the best views of the lake, and it also kind of feels like you’re sitting on the side of the river where they had that drag race towards the end of Grease where (spoilers!) Danny beat Craterface.



From there we went back up to the paved road via the other stairs. We probably could have taken the dirt trail back to the trailhead and our cars, but we weren’t 100% sure it was the right way and we knew how to get there via the road so that’s what we did. We were also getting hungry. You know how you wouldn’t like Bruce Banner when he’s angry? Probably don’t let Shannon get hungry.

It didn’t take too long to get to the cars, and then we went to Lemonade for lunch and to Lucky Puppy Rescue and Retail for puppy snuggles. Yeah, be jealous.

Wildlife? Thin on the ground here. We saw two or three lizards, some vaguely rodential creatures that could have been squirrels? Or chipmunks? We don’t know, we’re city girls. And lots of bees. We are getting more and more certain that this whole to-do about the bees dying out and how we have to save the bees is some massively successful PR campaign on the part of bees, because we’ve seen a bunch of bees, and beehives, and also Shannon has to stop her dog from eating bees like every day. There were ducks in the pond too.

Conclusion? The hike was enjoyable enough but felt kind of patchworked and confusing. The views were nice but we sort of had to make our own entertainment along the way. The major advantage was how easy it is for all of us to get to Franklin Canyon, since it’s basically right between our homes. We’ll probably keep it in mind for days when we don’t have a lot of time for commuting.

Thanks for reading! We didn’t go rollerblading last week because of shitty weather and it looks like that will be the case again this Friday, so we’ll probably see you next week after our next hike. And if you have any suggestions for us about hikes to try, please leave them in the comments!

Until next time,


Wednesday, May 6th, 2015: Murphy Ranch

NAZIS. GHOSTS. RANDOM HORROR MOVIE SWEATSHIRTS. You guys are in for an adventure in this post.


Today we hiked to a literal abandoned Nazi compound in the Santa Monica Mountains and it was amazing. Now, no Nazis have lived there for quite some time, but just in case, we brought Our Lady Peggy Carter with us for protection.


Patron saint of kicking ass with random household objects

“But princesses!” you might say. “Who was protecting your cars from the evil Nazis?” Don’t worry, we had that covered too.


…Shannon may have been waiting for a chance to show this off

So Murphy Ranch was built in the 1930s by Nazi sympathizers, presumably so they could wait it out until the USA lost WWII and the Nazis took over. Unfortunately they were big dum-dums, because the cops raided the places after Pearl Harbor. Since then it’s been an artist’s commune for a while, then it kind of fell apart and partially burned down, as structures in these mountains tend to do (re: Solstice Canyon). Now it’s mostly one big graffiti canvas and a hell of a good destination hike.

We took the Sullivan Trail to Murphy Ranch (which we gather is one of two ways to get there) so it actually started in a really nice neighborhood in the Pacific Palisades. If you don’t know Los Angeles, those are some fancy damn digs. There’s like a 0% chance we didn’t pass at least one celebrity’s house on our way to the trailhead. Also it was pretty obvious that anyone who was actually walking through the streets with a dog or a baby was actually hired help.

Anyway, a fire road leads to the park/compound’s gate. It’s nice and wide, mostly paved if not in great shape, has nice views and steady, slow elevation. We had to move over a time or two for a park ranger truck, which was just leaving the gate as we got there.


Yes, that says “no grafity” [sic] in graffiti. We don’t get it either


It’s v important to keep gates securely locked when there is a big hole in the wall right next to it, v v important

From there the trail starts to lead down into the valley. It’s still paved but even more torn up, which isn’t a problem unless you’re biking or like Bella Swan levels of clumsy. Eventually we came to a fork in the road, with no indication as to which way we should go. Usually we keep the hikespeak page open on one of our iPhones so we can refer to it even if we have no service (which we usually don’t) but we’d forgotten to do that today, so we completely arbitrarily chose the left fork and hoped it would all loop around eventually.


We didn’t even sing anything from “Into the Woods” this time

It wasn’t long before we found our first ruined/burned structure on the side of the trail. All that was really left was the foundation, a fireplace, and what maybe looked like some bathroom fixtures? It was all very overgrown and graffitied (that’s gonna be a theme in this one, people) so it was kind of hard to tell.


And then there were SCARY MONSTERS jk that’s Shannon the scary stuff comes later


Shannon’s just thinking about freedom

We encountered our first other hiker on this trail, who said he had just come down an insanely long staircase right off the trail. We poked our heads over there and he was not lying about it being long.


Allison went high enough for a picture and no higher, Shannon stayed on the ground because why wouldn’t she

The trail continued on for a while longer. We had time to chat. Allison’s love life of course came first, because that’s v important and also because we knew once we started talking about the new Avengers movie it would be a while before we moved on to another topic, and we were correct, especially because Shannon took out her phone and read aloud some of the list she had made of homoerotic moments between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark in the film. She only read some of it, because it is not a short list. It is very insightful though.

Alas, the scintillating topic of Marvel slash shipping was cut short when we arrived at the main event. The trail forked again, this time with one prong(?) leading up and another fairly flat. We headed up and found what may have been a building at one point but looked to us more like an old garden.


Now it only grows delinquents

It would make sense if it were a garden, of course, because the ranch was designed to be self-contained for long periods of time because apparently the USA was going to fall into anarchy when they lost the war to the Nazis, but apparently those fuckers never heard of CAPTAIN AMERICA. (I’m just kidding of course, Steve Rogers didn’t take the super-soldier serum until 1942 and the ranch had already been raided then, duh.) Anyway, um, Nazis are bad.


Stay in school kids

There was another long staircase leading up from the garden which we climbed a bit of before discovering we still couldn’t see the top and calling bullshit on that. Instead we descended a very short staircase and slipped through a big hole in a chain-link fence to get to what we have since learned was a power station.


We were not at all kidding about the mass amounts of graffiti

Some of the graffiti is boring and pretty pointless, just tagging and throwing something up there to be a badass or whatever, or so you can say you did. Some of the artwork was pretty staggeringly good though.


See how staggered we are?


We took pictures with this because we were impressed by the artistic ability and not at all because it looks like Vision from the new Avengers movie

There were some basement-like caverns that could be accessed through stairs, which we did not go into because they were full of garbage and because we are not crazy. There was also a ladder you could use to access a sort of catwalk, which we did not climb for that second reason again. Someone else did climb it while we were there though and he bonked his head on something so we felt pretty good about our decision.


Naturally we thought it looked like a stage because the play is our master and we are its whores

When we headed out the back of the power station is when things started to get really good. We could see another structure through some trees and started towards it. We had to do a little creative maneuvering and duck under some makeshift fences but when we got there, we realized it was a water tower.


Did someone spell “Hodor” wrong? 

Or it used to be a water tower, anyway, because something big damaged that thing. We are talking huge, devastating dent in what is basically a big steel tank. We’re dying to know what happened, because it looks like the work of either the Hulk or Mjolnir.


It was probably something like this


Okay fine whatever Allison is strong too

There was some more very cool graffiti up there, and some of it was very high up. Like, do taggers bring their own ladders with them to this place? Because the only ladder on the water tower itself was hella broken and way too high to reach. We’re telling you, someone went through a whole lot of effort to paint some shitty snails on that thing. Anyway.


Guess we know which one of us is interested in history

So we started to head back down to the power station so we could continue on from there, and as we mentioned (and as you can see in some of the pictures) there were mass amounts of litter everywhere. Spray paint bottles, water bottles, empty food containers, and in the picture above, you can also see a sweatshirt someone left there. It’s been there for a while. It’s crusty and dirty. And as we were passing by, we noticed we could see the letters MUH written on it. Those are letters we are very familiar with. So we spread out the sweatshirt a bit…


This is where our horror movie starts

AND IT WAS A FUCKING MUHLENBERG SWEATSHIRT. For those of you who don’t know, Muhlenberg College is Allison and Shannon’s alma mater. It’s where we met. It’s also a very tiny school and is all the way across the country in eastern Pennsylvania. So this was not like finding a UCLA sweatshirt. It wasn’t even like finding a fucking University of Wisconsin sweatshirt. Muhlenberg has less than 3000 students and the odds of finding a sweatshirt from there on our hiking trip are astronomical and NOW WE ARE FUCKING SCARED.


Why is this happening? What does it want from us? WHAT IS IT TRYING TO TELL US

So basically we got the fuck out of that little valley because finding our initials written on walls or carved into trees is one thing but this is some M. Night Shyamalan shit and it is above our fucking pay grade.


But first we had to take a picture of Allison in this weird little prison…which in retrospect may have been a bad place to take a picture of a Jewish girl

On we went until we came to the most ruin-y ruins (and also the ones that Allison thought smelled like poop), the former machine shed and garage.


Perfect place for a barbeque

There wasn’t much to explore here, though we did find another random bathtub filled with debris and junk. We slipped through another hole in another chain-link fence. We can’t quite figure out the fences. There was a big hole in every one so they were doing absolutely zero in terms of security, like, apparently someone decided at one point that they were going to block everything off but do a totally half-assed job and then completely neglect to follow through on maintenance or even ever coming back.


Bathtubs: you’re doing it wrong

We had basically been following a paved or partially-paved trail this whole time, but now we were following a dirt trail. It was obviously well-traveled and even had some bike tracks, plus we were still coming across graffiti so we figured we were good in terms of staying pretty much on track. We saw what we think used to be a truck that had been pretty dramatically destroyed (again, DYING to know the story) and some weird chimney with a chicken or something on it.


Also the steps were broken

At this point we still hadn’t come across anything that had obviously been a residence, so we have to wonder if all of those burned down? Or if they never got around to building any? Or if Nazis are just really poor planners? We may never know.

The dirt trail continued for a while and now all we were seeing was wilderness. We could have been on any hike at this point, except there was still graffiti on some of the trees, and we passed the broken-down remains of what could have been an old plow.


Btw at this point we were still 100% chilled to the bone by the sweatshirt tbh

The dirt path let out at another structure, which we weren’t really expecting because we had walked quite far from the others. But here we were, walking right over another broken-down chain-link fence and strolling into a barn.


This particular barn appears to have attracted a more philosophical class of tagger


No there were shitty ones here too nm


Horse stalls and everything

The barn had a second floor, sort of a cross between a loft and an attic. It looked cool up there so we climbed the ladder, and it was cool but also parts of the floor had fallen in, not to mention half the roof and it was not exactly the safest we had ever felt. Also there was an empty Lunchables package? And some cans? And one of the cans was still like half full of cocktail fruit? Basically why are people so gross.


This is your weekly reminder that the City of Los Angeles is not here to hold your fucking hand; if you want to climb into condemned buildings go the fuck ahead and not dying is on you

We climbed back down and exchanged info about our journey thus far with the other two people who were currently at the barn, since they had come from the opposite direction and hadn’t seen any of the other buildings yet. It was a girl and a guy, and the girl was wearing a Batman shirt, so it was kind of like a parlay between Marvel and DC. It was fruitful for all.

Now, during the whole trip we had kept our eye out for graffiti of our initials, like we found on our last two hikes, because of the spirits that are haunting us. Wouldn’t you know it, when we take probably the most heavily graffitied hike there is, we couldn’t find them anywhere. Finally on the side of the barn we sort of hit the jackpot.


Just…pretend you can’t see the beginning of a third letter

Since that was a little disappointing, instead we found some nicknames written and decided to adopt them as our own. That’s how nicknames work, right?


Shannon&Allison now = Skip&Bird until the end of time

On our way back out the way the other two at the barn had come, we ran back into the guy who had told us about the long staircase way back after we had taken the left fork when we entered the gate. In retrospect, it took him and his hiking buddy a really long time to get there? Like, we had definitely taken the longer route, and had taken a bunch of time to explore and be terrified to our very bones, so we don’t know what they were getting up to. Maybe something homoerotic. Probably.

Anyway, the trail soon became paved again, and before long we were back at the fork, which did in fact loop around to meet itself (as in, we finished in the opposite prong[??] than the one we had taken). We felt really good about that, like we did something right. We like doing stuff right.


These are not the faces of people who get stuff right a lot. Not when homoeroticism isn’t involved

From there it was a short trip back up to the gate and then back down the fire road to the neighborhood where our cars were parked. There were nice views down into Santa Monica and out to the ocean. The visibility wasn’t the best because it was cloudy, but since it was a destination hike the overcast sky had no adverse effect on our experience. Really it made the hike a little better, since it was nice and cool, unlike last week.


Plus we can see the ocean anytime. We do live here

Afterwards we went to lunch at Le Pain Quotidien, which was probably the least fancy place nearby but still feels pretty fancy when you’re wearing workout clothes and covered in Nazi grime. We had quiches, because we’re Americans and we’re free.

Wildlife? Thin on the ground for this hike! We only saw about two lizards, both of them when we were on the dirt trail between the machine shed and the barn. We did pass like three beehives though, which is not at all a fair trade-off but did inspire quite an Eddie Izzard quote-a-thon (“I’M COVERED IN BEES!”) And on the way back down the fire trail at the end Shannon saw what she optimistically hopes was a little rabbit but was probably just a fat squirrel.

Conclusion? This was a fucking awesome hike. The weather was perfect for it, we only saw probably a half-dozen other people all the way up until we were heading back down to the cars, and there was so much to explore. It’s probably more crowded later in the day and on weekends, which would be less fun and also probably take away from some of the inherent eeriness that makes the hike unique. 10/10 would do again.

Thanks for reading! We may be back in a couple of days with a short post about a rollerblading trip, depending on if we have anything interesting to tell you. Otherwise we’ll be back when we can, hopefully next week, with a new hike. And if you have any suggestions for us about hikes to try, please leave them in the comments!

Until next time,


Wednesday, April 29th, 2015: The Grotto

Two things often come to mind when someone hears “The Grotto”: the Little Mermaid’s hiding place for all her found human treasures, or the Playboy mansion. Whichever of those you thought of, or even if you’re one of those very special people who thought of both, there’s something here for everyone! Promise. Just wait.


These are our smug faces. This may have been early in the hike.

Today we continued our unlikely streak of good luck w/r/t finding each other at trailheads that are not where maps say they are, in areas that have no cell service. We once again found ourselves with a lot of overlapping free time on a day when Allison had to be out west for something anyway, so we hit Malibu again, but in a different way than last week. Like, last week was Malibu, but it was barely off the PCH. Today was like deep cut Malibu. It took an hour to drive there from Valley Village, which was not really a problem because the route went through Malibu’s little wine country and some truly staggering scenery. The only problem was that neither of us has a chauffeur so we could just stare out the windows the whole time — we actually had to watch the road, ugh, because the drive is also pretty treacherous. Super-thin-winding-roads-on-the-side-of-a-mountain treacherous.


This is an example of a mountain, for Shannon’s friends who live in Illinois and have never seen such a thing in their lives

So this hike, unlike many others we’ve taken, was downhill for the first half and uphill for the trip back. We’re not sure if we liked that? Change is scary. But the hike itself was fairly diverse, which was cool — a lot of it had great views and a lot of it was more surrounded by trees and cliffs. Best of all, a lot of the trail was shaded, and a few of the sections which were in the sun at least afforded us a bit of a breeze coming from the ocean, all of which was needed because it was hot today. 87F by Shannon’s car thermometer at the trailhead, which was at least down from 95F when she left home.


This is the part where we hiked through an oil painting, a.k.a. Shannon’s iPhone camera had sunscreen smudged on the lens because sunscreen is v important


Last week Shannon was aiming for an Indiana Jones vibe and landed somewhere around wood nymph. This time she went for fairytale princess and splashed down somewhere around “NOW HOLD ON JUST A FUCKING SECOND”

So the hike goes mostly downhill for a couple of miles and we only met three other hikers on the way: one solo woman, who we think maybe worked at the trailhead, and a pair hiking together. We had been expecting a quiet trail since there were only two other cars in the lot when we arrived, but it was a very nice change from some of the more populated hikes we’ve done in L.A. It gave us plenty of time to talk about things like why everyone else we invite to go hiking flakes on us, the amount of hassle it takes to get birth control pills even though many women use them for purposes other than birth control and EVEN THE ONES WHO USE THEM FOR THEIR INTENDED PURPOSE SHOULD GET TO HAVE CONSEQUENCE-FREE SEX (yes that’s right we are feminist princess hikers), how many times we moved in college, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and most importantly Allison’s blossoming love life. The trail then led us to Terabithia, pretty much.


Allison called the woodland creatures to her oil painting. They totally came and you can’t prove they didn’t


Shannon is a really good ballerina fairy and you can’t prove she’s not

And here is where things got magical, because do you guys remember last week at Solstice Canyon when we found graffiti with our initials?


Allison L + Shannon L (the W is silent)

In the Terabithia clearing, we found them AGAIN, but carved into a tree this time.


Shannon’s lens was still a bit smeared, but it says A

So here’s our theory. Allison and Shannon have been possessed by the ghosts of lovers who hiked together to affirm their passion for each other and the outdoors. Now we are being gently led through each of this pair’s favorite hikes until we reach the trail where they met their doom, but which we are meant to survive. That way the spirits can finish their final hike through us and, their unfinished business concluded, finally move on to the other side, probably. Anyway then we reached the Grotto, which is sort of a big rock formation, really. In wetter years (California is in a drought in case you haven’t heard), there’s probably more water trickling through, and I believe a waterfall. Today there was some standing water in the Terabithia clearing which mostly meant a lot of bugs.


For real we put up with a lot of bugs for this picture of water

Then we worked our way over to the really big rock formation, which is where you can climb and explore, kind of like the waterfall next to the ruins in Solstice Canyon last week. There were two more hikers there hanging out on the rocks, but they didn’t climb down as far as we did, at least while we were there, because they are not as hardcore as us.


Then Shannon laid stretched out on the rocks in the sun just like the Little Mermaid would do. See, Disney fans? We told you there’d be something for you


We’re both smiling because we both remembered to bring a snack this time

These rocks were a lot harder to maneuver than the ones at Solstice Canyon, and also falling would probably have been a lot more lethal. It was less like a jungle gym, we guess is what we’re saying. However, it was nice to have fewer people there. It would have been great if it was just the two of us, but having two other people there is hardly something to complain about. Not that it will stop us.


Just you bitches try and get me down

There was water underneath the formations too; some of it close enough to touch and some of it way the fuck down below us. It’s possible we could have found a way to climb down there if we had the energy or inclination, but it was hot and we still had to hike all the way back up.


This picture is angled down further than it looks like; the climb was pretty steep. Also this is Shannon’s attempt at that porny Spiderwoman cover, proving that that is not how ladies’ bodies work 

There was only one part of the rock formations where it was a little tricky to get back up the way we’d gotten down. After careful consideration and some trial and error, Shannon basically grabbed two big ol’ handfuls of Allison’s ass and boosted her up before using her awesome climbing skillz to pull herself up without dying at all. (That was for you Playboy mansion pervs!) It may have been two hot, tired, sweaty, and slightly crankier princesses that began the hike back up to the trailhead. Just cranky enough (and sick of being swarmed by all the bugs) that when we came back to the Terabithia clearing and noticed that there was a log that looked kind of like a bear giving us the finger, we were not having any of it.


In retrospect we might have overreacted

We took the hike back up slowly, stopping a couple of times for water and a rest. Allison is still kind of getting over being sick and Shannon kind of almost got heat sickness at the zoo yesterday so we thought we’d take it easy on ourselves. We had the time, too, because the hike down had taken less than an hour and we had pretty much all afternoon. It’s nice to be us sometimes.


We’re totally fine. We’re not tired at all. We will take what is ours wITH FIRE AND BLOOD


We’re so excited to walk back up this trail can’t you see it on Shannon’s face CAN’T YOU SEE

When we made it back to the parking lot (fun fact: the walk from the trailhead to the parking lot was the longest walk ever taken, we’re pretty sure) we may have broken into the “We Did It” song from Dora the Explorer, or what we could remember of it after our brains had been cooking for two hours. Pro tip: carry ample water with you, yes, but also have some in your car for after the hike when you still have to drive an hour or more home.

Wildlife? We think our lizard count ended up topping out around seventeen. There were a lot of lizards today! Including the two we saw in the Terabithia clearing that were chasing each other around, and then one latched onto the other one’s tail with its mouth and just…hung on. Like, for a while. We think it was a sex thing…maybe…?


Come on, lizard love, just last the year

We also are pretty sure we heard a rattlesnake at least once but didn’t actually see any snakes. We did see billions of bugs, which included, as usual, plenty of butterflies who clearly knew we were princesses and chose to make our world a little more magical. And as we began our hike back up there was the CUTEST PUPPY, with big ol’ paws and bright blue eyes and he was SO EXCITED to be on a hike with his friends!

ConclusionAnother good hike. Would probably be better on a cooler day. The occasional scenery was great, the destination was pretty cool (we decided the fact that it was less populated made up for it not being quite as fun as Solstice Canyon), and even the drive out there was pretty satisfactory. We might do it again someday if we have the time, especially if the drought breaks, but probably not anytime soon.

Thanks for reading! Our plan is to be back next Wednesday with a new hike!

Until next time,


Friday, April 24, 2015: Solstice Canyon Trail

First of all: Allison and Shannon need to get walkie-talkies. When planning a hike, we generally text about it the night before and try to narrow down where and when we are meeting as much as possible. However, pretty much all of these places are ones we’ve never been to before, and many of the trailheads don’t have cell service, so we end up hoping we manage to find each other. Today we each arrived to Malibu almost fifteen minutes early and started our hike fifteen minutes late because Allison arrived at the front parking lot right after Shannon figured out there was a back parking lot and drove back there, and we couldn’t find each other because we didn’t have any bars. Solution? Walkie-talkies. Allison’s birthday is in August, so someone get on that.


Since Allison had to be in Woodland Hills this morning anyway, we decided to try a new trail out in Malibu that Shannon had read about in an article: Solstice Canyon. It was a relatively easy hike; the hikespeak page said it could be done in flip-flops, which is maybe technically true but would be kind of a dumb thing to do, so don’t. On the way up the trail we passed the stone remains of a burned-down cabin; at first we thought this was the end of the trail (which would have made it a very short trail indeed) but luckily we figured out there was more to go, and also luckily Allison asked the nice lady with an adorable dog which way the waterfall was, and she knew. Allison is good at asking strangers for directions like that. Shannon doesn’t like talking to strangers. Shannon barely likes talking to Allison sometimes. We kept heading up the trail and passed a group who had caught a lizard, for some reason. The path was wide and fairly smooth all the way up, but very dusty in places, because if you haven’t heard California is in a drought. Another reason flip-flops would be a stupid choice. The trail has pleasant scenery all the way up but nothing special until you reach your destination: the remains of a burned-down mansion (seeing a theme here? only you can prevent forest fires, kids) next to a waterfall. The foundation of the house is still there, plus some walls and fireplaces. The fire was in 1982 so plenty of plant life has grown over it. We felt like Indiana Jones, only there were too many other people there (the trail wasn’t exactly crowded, but the parking lot was full and there were quite a few other hikers for a late Friday morning).


I shall discover everything about this unknown land, never before seen by human eyes WHO THE FUCK IS TALKING

We also found some graffiti someone apparently left just for us (L is Allison’s last initial, and L is Shannon’s middle initial that she has to use often because she has another friend named Shannon and it was her friend’s name first).


We really did find it this way. Not only would we not graffiti, our handwriting is way better.

The ruins are awesome on their own and would be an amazing place for a photo shoot tbh, but the crown jewel of this hike is the waterfall. Someone knew what they were doing when they built a house right next to it…of course, that someone also chose to build a house right in prime wildfire zone, so that may be a wash.


I’m the queen of the motherfucking forest.

It really was like a grown-up playground. There are a couple of signs warning you not to leave the official trail, but one of my favorite things about hiking in Los Angeles is that really, it’s on you not to die. There are no fences or anything stopping you from exploring, and we were far from the only people climbing all over these rocks like they were a great big jungle gym.


The majestic waterfall that we think might actually just be from someone’s garden hose that got left on.

As you might be able to guess (see above re: drought) the waterfall wasn’t exactly roaring. It was more of a watertrickle. But it was relaxing and pretty and made for a nice bright green oasis in what’s become a pretty brown state. Plus most of the rocks were pretty dry, which made them even better for climbing. We don’t know if you know this, but Shannon loves to climb stuff. Heights are not her favorite. But she will climb stuff all damn day if you will let her, and this was the perfect place, especially because you can climb not just up but down, and that made this probably even better than Eagle Rock, which we hiked a few months ago.


This is probably the closest thing to meditation Shannon will ever experience.

Allison climbed too, when she wasn’t busy eating chips. Shannon was not jealous at all. Shannon didn’t even want any chips. Shannon bears no ill will towards Allison whatsoever.



We probably could have happily spent more time climbing and exploring the ruins and rocks had there not been quite so many people, and had we not been getting hungry. We headed back down the trail, and this time we turned across a bridge that took us to see the remains of that first burned house we mentioned earlier. This one had a fence around it to keep you from getting too close, which was a little strange because it seemed both way less dangerous and way less fascinating than the ruins of the mansion. Also the fence would have been super-easy to get past but we’re not those assholes. Instead we looked at flowers and Allison informed Shannon that some of them are edible but do not taste good so we left that alone.


These are not the edible flowers DON’T EAT THESE FLOWERS

And before long we were back to the cars! Allison wanted to eat lunch at Coco’s because Shannon has never been to one, but apparently the one by the 101 exit to Malibu is closed so we had delicious Mediterranean food instead. Shannon bought the spinach pies, Allison sprung for baklava, and there was hummus for errybody.

Wildlife? Well there were those people that caught a lizard, and not a terribly small one. We saw a couple more, and heard either a big lizard or a snake in the brush right next to us. A butterfly accompanied us on a section of our hike back. He was kind of stalking us for a while but then he got ahead of us so it looked like WE were stalking HIM, like we don’t know THAT trick.

Conclusion? A+ hike! It was worth the drive out to Malibu (especially since Allison was nearer than usual). The hike wasn’t challenging but Allison’s getting over being sick and Shannon thought she might be coming down with something yesterday so we weren’t really up for a trek up Mount Doom. It’s more of a destination hike than anything else, better for exploring than for views. The ruins and waterfall were a bit crowded since that’s the whole point of the hike; don’t know if that could have been avoided by going on a different day or at a different time.

We’ll be back next week! Wednesday we’re hoping to get all the way out west to go to the Grotto Trail.

Until next time,