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!
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…
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.
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.
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.
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,