Secret Stair Walk #41: Pacific Palisades- Castellammare

It’s about time I shared another Secret Stair Walk with you! This time I ventured over to the west side of town, specifically Pacific Palisades- Castellammare. The great thing about this neighborhood is its steep slope which gives you amazing views of the ocean the entire walk. It also means you get a workout. Get ready to sweat!

—  In 2012 my goal is to do all 42 walks from the book, “Secret Stairs, A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of LA” by Charles Flemming. These posts are to (hopefully) convince you to buy the book and get out there to explore the secret stairs around LA. Enjoy! UPDATE: Due to unforeseen issues, I’ll be completing the last handful of walks I have left in 2013. —

Pacific1

Get ready for a beautiful walk. I’m so jealous of the people who live in these homes, and look out at this all day. If I lived here, I’d be a shut-in.

Pacific2

These homes are beautiful and obviously very expensive, but it’s refreshing to see they aren’t cookie-cutter and there was a lot of creativity on display in this neighborhood. You know how I love doors…

Pacific3

A good tip to this neighborhood: there’s a walking path that takes you over the PCH and down to the beach, so if you are having a tough time dealing with parking drive up into the neighborhood where it’s not restricted and just walk across the bridge to get to the beach.

Pacific4

I love texture.

Pacific5

The beach!

Pacific6

There’s a very colorful giant garden along this walk that you can’t miss.

Pacific7

Up the stairs, down the stairs.

Pacific8

I said hello to a nice older man making this beauty (above) out in his driveway.

Pacific9 Pacific10

Every view on this walk is breathtaking. This is the only way to exercise. Doesn’t this make the gym seem like a prison? You can even see Catalina!

Pacific11

One of the best parts of this walk was when it took us by Villa de Leon. This Italianate mansion overlooking the Pacific is like something out of a movie. Such beautiful architecture, still being renovated (see photo below) and grounds covered in statues. The sad thing was that the only person we saw walking the grounds was a home nurse on her break. It made me sad to think whoever has the money to afford this home is probably very old and has ailing health. But if I needed to pick a place to be bed ridden, it would be here.

Pacific12 Pacific13 Pacific14 Pacific15

Pacific16

Above is a photo of Thema Todd’s garage (her home is higher up on the hillside). This is where she lived when she died of asphyxiation (suspiciously).

PAcific17

Keep a good watch on this walk and not only will you see a cow, but you’ll see a giraffe!

*** UPDATE ***

I recently received a sweet email from the owners of “Giardino di Stretto” (aka the beautiful, colorful garden in the photos above). They’ve been working on their garden and wanted to share some photos of its updated look. I had high hopes of going out there myself and snapping some shots, but my weekends have been too packed to make it over there. Below are the garden-owners photos. Very impressive!

UpdatedGarden

 

Mount Whitney Hike Part 2

Did you enjoy Mt. Whitney Part 1? I last left off where we finally got to trail camp, where we could finally take the gear off our backs, and relax.

qIn the time it took to set-up camp and filter water to refill our canisters, it was time for dinner. Freeze-dried dinners to be exact. This was my first freeze-dried anything. You can get these packs at Sports Chalet, and the veggie lasagna was actually really good. All you need is some boiled water, and tada! Dinner!

The sun was setting as we finished our dinner around 7:30p. The moon came out, and so did the cameras. What a beautiful night. But just after dinner, it’s bedtime. With the alarm set for 2am, we were in our tents with our heads on our pillows by 8:30p. From my tent I could see the very far off headlamps of people at the top of trail crest. That would be us in a few short hours.

After an anxious night of sleep, it was time to hit the trail. By the time we got going it was 3:15a. These photos are courtesy of Dane on the trip. I was so exhausted that I couldn’t be bothered figuring out night photos. The right photo is from trail crest, after completing the infamous 99 switchbacks. You can tell by the rising sun, it’s getting later in the morning. As we hiked, it was fascinating to watch the stars move across the sky. It was the first time I really understood how you could use stars to guide you.

These photos were taken around 5:30am as the sun come up. This is why we climbed this. Where else can you see this? This is the reward for all of our hard work climbing. Priceless.

As we got higher the sun got higher. Light filled the valley behind us and suddenly we could really feel the impact of how high we were. It was a hard 5 miles up.

At 7:30am, I reached the summit. There is a small one-room shack at the top, which provided a temporary shelter from the freezing wind. I can’t stress how cold the last 50 steps to the top of the mountain were, compared to the entire hike. It was gorgeous but unpleasant. I signed in the guestbook, which is a nice pat-on-the-back.

After 20 minutes of photos, we were so uncomfortable and we knew the trek back would be long, so we moved back down this trail we had worked so hard getting up.

Coming down the mountain was frightening for me (I hate heights), but I did it! Slow and steady. Only 1 slight panic attack, which was better than what I had been anticipating. We climbed down the 99 switchbacks and landed at camp, where we packed up our tents and loaded our gear onto our backs. We had to keep moving on, since we had just gone down 5 miles and had the 6 from the day before to complete. We made it to the car at 6:10p, meeting tons of characters along the way. Hikers are so friendly. We had a celebratory pizza dinner in town, and then it was a 3+ hour drive back to LA. I arrived at my house at 11pm (after being up since 2am and hiking 22 miles in the last 24 hours) and collapsed into my bed. Success!

Hike #20: Millard Canyon

If you’re new to the blog, I must explain that not only do I walk all over LA but I also have a great hike book (101 Hikes in Southern California by Jerry Schad). Today I decided to venture out into the great outdoors and do hike number 20 in the book, Millard Canyon. I must say, the loop was incredibly difficult and Im so thankful I had my new hike boots. Well let me take you through it…

I started at 10:15am today and it was a perfect hiking day. It was partly cloudy, which gave a cool breeze and kept the temperature down. Unfortunately, it made for some washed out photos. But I’ll just show you the best of the best. I parked along Chaney Trail and be sure to bring your Adventure Pass.


I followed Sunset Ridge Trail which is popular with mountain bikers so keep an eye out for their bells when you’re traversing up the ridge.

This is Millard Canyon’s 50′ waterfall.

There were 6(?) Northeastern guys that just moved to LA to begin 6 month internships who were very nice. I ran into them several times throughout the hike. While on the Dawn Mine Trail I felt so relieved to hear their voices down below, as many parts of this trail were nonexistent and just straight drops to the canyon below. I should note that this hike was only 3 stars in my book, so I figured it was a safe one to do alone although I do not recommend it with this hike. There were several “hail mary” moments, and I was grateful to have these guys around for the parts of my hike that overlapped their trek.

This is Dawn Mine (at 3100′), which I didn’t enter (as my book didn’t encourage it).

This made me smile as I left Dawn Mine, so I thought I would share it.

The last leg of the hike (from Dawn Mine through Millard Canyon) was much less steep and high than Dawn Mine Trail, but equally as treacherous. There was no real path and it was a relief to see the occasional footprint in the sand to know you were following human life somewhere at least. There were a few steep drops off some giant rocks and many times I sat and slid because it was so steep. My shoes really held up and gripped well to the edges of some pretty smooth boulders. My photos don’t show the depth that I was facing.

This was comforting and let me know I was still on the right track.

Am I getting closer to the end of these rocks? If I missed a very hidden path along the left, I was warned that it would put me on top of the 50′ waterfall and I didn’t want that to happen.

Just a little further…

I’ve never been so happy to see a cabin! It was my marker to know when I was close to the last loop back to my car on Chaney Trail. The hike was an excellent adventure and I recommend it, but don’t make my mistakes. Bring a friend, bring snacks (which I left on my table at home), and when the book says to take the fire road, take the path that leads up by the Cape of Good Hope (as I added an extra mile+ straight uphill by misreading the map). Also, as my Northeastern friends experienced today, always bring a map because many LA trails are unmarked and confusing. Even the map in the book was better than having nothing at all.

I hope you checked out my WEEKEND GUIDE on this lovely three-day weekend, as there is much to do. I can even add to Saturdays events the Eagle Rock Art Walk (aka NELAart). HERE is a map to the walk. Now will I see you at the Golden Road Brew Pub Opening tomorrow? I can’t wait!

I will leave you with this image of the sun slowly setting as taken at the end of my Millard Canyon hike.

Hubbard Park + Castle Craig

Despite the extremely cold day, me and my good friends Jess and Mike ventured out on a hike. It was fun but coooold (I’m still regaining feelings in my fingers). I didn’t really know about Castle Craig’s existence until I went to Hubbard Park on Christmas day to see their Christmas light display (which I blogged about HERE). Get ready for a ton of pics!

After doing a little online sleuthing, I found this MAP to the trail that I took. So we met in Hubbard park and followed the white path (as we only had 2 hours to spend here) on a pretty low-key hike. Only a 700 foot stretch up to the castle was steep, the rest was a pretty graceful incline. No hiking boots necessary and great for the family.

We began by watching the ducks in Mirror Lake. I love the mini-Castle Craig model in the middle of the lake (it’s a duck palace!)

A lot of the hike is woodsy like this image. It’s a fun change for me, especially since you can tell by the photos that it’s frigid out there. The white trail is also heavily marked, so no need to worry about going off on the wrong path.

CASTLE CRAIG! It’s a CASTLE?!

I loved this shot of Jess close to the edge over looking Meriden.

Views from the top. I hope to come back and do this trail again in the summer. This would be a great hike to pack a lunch and eat overlooking CT.

This is the steep hike back down to meet up with the white path. A little rocky, but nothing too tricky.

Continuing on the hike, there are some great views up to the castle.

“Halfway House”

Eventually the hike loops up with Merimere Reservoir (with Mine Island in the middle).

There’s nothing like celebrating a hike well done with a veggie pizza from Modern Apizza in New Haven with my cousin 🙂

Exploring Cape Cod: Great Island Trail

The next day was about ten degree’s warmer, which in winter degrees, made being outside bearable. We decided to make a day of it and head out to Wellfleet, MA. HERE is the link to where you can park to do this hike. THIS link leads to an archaic yet helpful brochure with a map of the hike. We figured we did probably an 8 mile loop in total.

The hike is a mix of marsh, wooded trails, and beach. It also has several places to pick up the walk, so if you want more time walking the beach you can just jump back onto the trail when you’re ready (without having to back track).

Once we had our fill of beach walking (sand walking can be tiresome) we headed up into the hills.

After a wooded hike, the trail spit us out on the other side of the peninsula. We walked this side of the beach for a while. What beautiful cliffs sit ahead of us.

Unfortunately, we reached a point in the hike where we needed to cross a river that was just a tad too wide to jump across and way to deep to cut across. But we were there for a walk, so we just cut back along the dry edge of the marsh, adding distance to our hike.

One thing that was unavoidable, and a bit frightening, were all the dead birds we ran across while in the marsh. We were examining animal tracks, but it was still to hard to tell how they passed on. It was disturbing, the giant quantity of dead birds. Prepare yourself for this if you are going to do this loop. Also be careful if you’re bringing pets along. Whatever killed these birds must be pretty powerful.

Our timing was perfect, as we finished the hike just as the sun was setting. I imagine there are some scary animals in that woods, so be sure to allow yourself time to complete this during daylight hours. Also be sure to check tidal information, as I’m sure at high tide much of the marsh fills in.

The sunset was the perfect payoff to a great hike.

Exploring Cape Cod: Nauset Marsh

Coast Guard Beach

One of the first places we explored during our time in Cape Cod (Dec 28- Jan 2) was Nauset Marsh in Eastham, MA. It was a beautiful day but extremely cold and breezy (a rough combo for a California girl like me).

I was a trooper with my many layers of sweaters and jackets. We followed the trails which in the summertime makes a great bike path. It takes you though the woods (ultimately leading to a visitors center) and along the marsh. It’s fun doing in the winter time because the colors are so unique. The yellows, golds, muted browns and deep reds make for some fun photography, especially compared to the bright colorful photos I’m used to taking in LA.

The photo below was taken from the parking lot of Coast Guard Beach, which is where you would park to explore the bike path and trails along Nauset Marsh. This is a great place to take someone who has trouble walking (maybe a 93 year old Grandma perhaps?). They have several benches along the parking lot, so even sitting you can enjoy a great view and gorgeous sunset.

After the sun began to set and our exploration time was nearing an end, we continued on to Nauset Light (see the picture below). It was only a quick drive-by, but you might as well if you made it all the way out to Nauset Marsh.

Just around the corner from Nauset Light are three lighthouses called The Three Sisters. Stop and take a peek as you’re leaving Nauset Light. Click the link to learn the history of these three lighthouses (all missing their top lights).