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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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This is always okay regardless

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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,

Skip&Bird[&Sooky]

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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.

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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.

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S-C-H-A-D-E-N-F-R-E-U-D-E.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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].

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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,

Skip&Bird

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.'”

READ THAT AGAIN AND TELL US THAT WAS NOT JOHANN SCHMIDT A.K.A. THE RED SKULL.

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!

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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?

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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!

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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.

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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…

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I’M TELLING YOU THAT’S WHERE I SAW THE GROUND LAST

…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.

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just doN’T FUCKING PANIC

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.

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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.

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See it’s not creepy at all

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See how very brave and not creeped out we are

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Genuinely terrifying

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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,

Skip&Bird(&Sooky)