Here are some photographs I took while on a hike in Temescal Canyon, which is in the Santa Monica Mountains. It is only minutes from a heavily populated urban area, yet here the rangers warn you to keep an eye out for cougars, coyotes, and rattlesnakes. It is truly wild. Since it is spring the brush is still green and at parts so dense that it felt like twilight. I only hiked about an hour and a half since I have not hiked like this for a very long time and I am out of shape. My goal was to reach a waterfall a short distance up the canyon; however, the trail became so steep and rocky and it was already hot at 9 am in the morning, I felt that I couldn’t risk it. Although there were plenty of people on the trail, I didn’t want to have to bother to ask for assistance if I got heat stroke. So I turned around without making it to the waterfall. That’s okay… it will motivate me to come again when it is not so hot and I’m in better shape.
This is where I was heading. I didn’t make it to the top this time.
The name of the canyon, Temescal, is the Chumash word for “sweat lodge” and I presume at one time before the Europeans came there was a sweat lodge in the canyon. Sweat lodges were used by the native Americans in the area for spiritual purposes. Supposedly, sitting in a sweat lodge helped them connect with the spirit realm. I have to to admit that the canyon does have an otherworldly feel to it. I am not surprised they chose this place to connect with the spirits. After a few minutes of walking, the sound of traffic on Sunset Boulevard faded away and I was surrounded by the sound of chirping birds and running water. Serene. Peaceful. It was like being in the sanctuary of a proper church. In some places, the vines (wild cucumber, I think) had grown up the trees and arched over the trail– again it felt like I was surrounded by the soaring vaults and arches of a cathedral. It was truly humbling to stand in the presence of 300 year old oak trees. Extraordinary!
Sycamore trees are the other lords of the forest.
The canopy was extremely dense in some areas.
A grove of coastal oak trees.
I didn’t meet any coyote or cougar today, but I did come across this little fellow along with rabbit, lizards, monarch butterflies (their breeding area) and singing birds of all kinds.
And looking back towards the Pacific Ocean.
Images and text: L. Gloyd (c) 2008