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!
Conclusion? Another 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,