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March 19, 2023

Sierra Pelona

Filed under: Hikes — Tags: , — Michael @ 20:16

With a few days’ break between Atmospheric Rivers 11 and 12 this storm season, Beth and I headed back out in the mountainous wilderness of the Angeles National Forest. This time, we drove for just over an hour to the trailhead of Hike 3 from Trails of the Angeles, “Sierra Pelona.” The chapter on this outing recognizes it as appropriate for any season of the year but cautions, “not on a windy day.” Of course, we knew we would be ready for any wind that the pressure gradients would cast our way. Video below shows our survival at the turnaround bald ridge.

But before that … starting out, we had our first encounter of the year with people hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Our own plan today followed the PCT southbound for a few miles, with our turnaround at the wind-battered summit ridgeline. We met the first two members of this five-strong group within the first ten minutes of our climb. They had already had to leapfrog past some snow-packed inaccessible sections in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains, and neither Beth nor I believe that the Sierra Nevada range will be passable anytime in the next two to four months, so we think they will have to bypass a few more sections before reaching the Canadian border. But the most recent problem they had was that they tried to spend the night at the same place where we had warning of winds. They must not have slept much.

We had lots of beautiful green hills, a couple of sections through oak groves that formed tunnels for the trail, a dripping spring, and lunch in a tree-sheltered nook below the windy ridge. We made it back to the car a few hours after our start and then had a nice drive home.

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Starting out fresh
Windy Sierra Pelona
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March 17, 2023

Silver Lake Court

Filed under: Hikes — Tags: , , — Michael @ 20:40

For this Friday afternoon-into-evening stairway walk from Secret Stairs, Beth and I covered Walk #27. For this one, we got to pass a couple of Easter Island mo’ai (which I now know are called mo’ai), a muddy dirt road more in-place in a rural woodsy area of the country, and a house/exhibit reportedly with a 2600-year-old mummy inside. We also got to go up a couple of staircases that we went down on our February 12 Astro Loop hike.

Watch this Three Stooges short to see what I think of on every one of these stairway adventures.

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Tiki and mo’ai at foot of first stairway

March 12, 2023

Eagle Rock

Filed under: Hikes — Tags: , , — Michael @ 18:38

Beth and I planned to cover two stairway walks today from Secret Stairs: “Whitley Heights” (# 36) and “Hollywood Bowl and High Tower Loop” (#37), both of which start and end at the intersection of Highland and Franklin Avenues in Hollywood. Before driving to Hollywood though, we fortunately noticed the 2023 Academy Awards on schedule for this very evening at the Dolby Theatre … only one block away from our start/finish point. My dislike of the hunt for a parking space and Beth’s aversion to slow traffic convinced us to change our plans and to reschedule those stairs for another day.

We instead went on Walk #2, which, in the community of Eagle Rock, takes only a few minutes to drive to. Soon after (easily) parking the car, we saw two large tiltrotor aircraft flying from west to east. We guessed that they might be in use to aid rescuing snowbound people in the mountains around us that took huge snow loads last week. But we saw several other military aircraft – jets and helicopters – moving in varying directions, so we decided that they either had Sunday training to do or were part of festivities at the Oscars or some other big event. We enjoyed a perfect-weather partly cloudy day for our ups-and-downs today that made us a little sad that winter might be done for this year.

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March 5, 2023

Santa Monica – Rustic Canyon Loop

Filed under: Hikes — Tags: , , — Michael @ 21:19

With legs holding two days of stairs already this weekend, Beth and I drove to Santa Monica for Walk #40 from Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles, climbing the steepest stairways yet. Early in the walk, we got some directions from a couple of kind ladies out on their (non-staircase) walk. The best part: they are 89 and 90 years old and still making good time around neighborhoods.

At the westernmost reach of our outing, we got to pop into an Open House. We figure that even if someone gave us money to buy the $5.55 million house outright, we would still find it challenging to come up with $60,000 every year to pay its property taxes. That being said, we are ready to find a way should anyone choose to buy it for us.

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March 4, 2023

Los Feliz – Griffith Park Loop

Filed under: Hikes — Tags: , , — Michael @ 20:35

For the second of three planned walks this weekend, we chose Walk #29 from Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles, which winds through hilly areas of the Los Feliz district and culminates at the Griffith Observatory, which we reached just at sunset. Highlights include the Ennis House (a Frank Lloyd Wright design) and the Observatory. We ran across only a few people for most of the hike, but got to have one conversation with a follower of Southern California Weather Force, a meteorologist who predicts an “Ark Storm” hitting California sometime in the middle to second half of March.

A couple of turns and climbs inside Griffith Park brought us to the base of the Observatory and its crowd of visitors from all over the world.

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March 3, 2023

Pasadena – La Loma Road

Filed under: Hikes — Tags: , , — Michael @ 20:36

Walk #1 from Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles is the Secret Stair walk closest to home, scaling the San Rafael hillside area of western Pasadena. Starting this first evening walk of stairs for Beth and me, it appeared that a number of houses chose to drain swimming pools, as lots of water ran down from several residences and into the street. Through the hike though, we realized that it just takes lots of days for heavy rains of last week to seep down and out of the hills.

Somewhere past the halfway point of the walk, we discovered some wind/rain damage that will necessitate an edit of the book for later editions: “Follow Cheviotdale … up to a huge gnarled eucalyptus at the corner of Juniper.” The trunk of this eucalyptus tree lay on the ground along Juniper Drive, recent strong winds having uprooted it from the rain-softened soil.

We will follow this Friday walk with two more this weekend, one on Saturday evening and one on Sunday.

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February 26, 2023

Avalon-Baxter Loop

Filed under: Hikes — Tags: , , — Michael @ 16:34

Beth and I went on Walk #15 from Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles by ourselves today. We climbed stairs on lots of wet hillsides and enjoyed views of low snowlines in the hills and mountains to the north. We lucked out with this one partly-sunny day in between two February 2023 winter storms. We also got to cross paths with another pair of staircase walkers for the first time!

After the walk, we enjoyed lunch at Larchmont Bungalow Café, which Beth had driven past many times when she commuted to West Hollywood for work.

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February 19, 2023

Happy Valley and Montecito Heights

Filed under: Hikes — Tags: , , — Michael @ 16:50

Spyros joined Beth and me for Walk #10 from Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles, trekking up and down through neighborhoods just northwest of the point where Mission Rd turns into Huntington Dr. Most of our walk took us through Rose Hill and Hungry Valley, with views of Montecito Heights down below us, ironically.

Three squeezes through a locked gate (with permission from local resident Sam) gave us highlight panoramic views from Paradise Hill of downtown LA and Dodger Stadium to the south and west, with the San Gabriel Mountains rising up to the north. Local residents are working to keep Paradise Hill from becoming a gated community.

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  • A couple of hundred stairs
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February 12, 2023

Astro Loop

Filed under: Hikes — Tags: , , — Michael @ 17:06

Walk #23 from Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles climbs and descends hills in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles, up against Interstate 5 and the LA River. In addition to the stairs and hill houses, Beth and I walked along a portion of the Corralitas Red Line Trail but got stymied by construction blocking the route. Our hope is that the closure is temporary and only for hillside repair or – even better – park construction.

We also got to see Judy Garland’s (Frances Gumm’s) 1933 “castle” home beside one of the stairways. Late breakfast at Ivanhoe Restaurant fueled us for the last couple of stairways.

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February 11, 2023

Mt. Washington

Filed under: Hikes — Tags: , , — Michael @ 17:59

Walk #5 from Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles, starts near Southwestern Museum and makes a clockwise loop in the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Los Angeles, just southwest of Highland Park.

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