Wednesday, May 27th, 2015: Fryman Canyon

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

YAASSSS.

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WITH EXTRA SPECIAL GUESTS

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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We could see Shannon’s apartment building from here

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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,

Skip&Bird(&Caramel&Moses)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.]

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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TO BRAAVOS

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

Well, it’s a dragon head.

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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,

Skip&Bird(&Sooky&Muppet)

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!

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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.

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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.

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We reacted really strongly to it

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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PARKOUR

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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We’re called Intermittent Orange

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You get no explanation for this because there is none

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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.

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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.

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And then we earned our break

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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.

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YAAAAAY, ZUKO!

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,

Skip&Bird(&Sooky)

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015: Murphy Ranch

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

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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.

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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.

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…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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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See how staggered we are?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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It was probably something like this

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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No there were shitty ones here too nm

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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,

Skip&Bird