Thursday, January 25, 2007

Escape from L.A.

People are bizarrely obsessed with nature in Los Angeles.. or rather, the idea of nature. Whenever I mention I'm going on a hike, I get the 'what? where??' reaction. Because the city seems to sprawl into infinity in any given direction, it tends to make its citizens feel trapped; hiking/water/trees/solitude becomes a mysterious idea that can only exist for those who have some sort of secret knowledge or magic portal. Not so! I live in the middle of crumbling suburban gloom, and yet I can drive 15 minutes to this place:

That's the view you get when you climb to the top of Stough Canyon, a nature preserve above Burbank. It's always empty. You can have the hills to yourself.. if it rains, you get wildflowers. If its sunny, you get lizards and hawks and butterflies.

You can bring your dogs, and they will be happy:

If scrubby chapparal isn't your scene, the Angeles National Forest is only about 30 minutes farther.. land of secret swimming holes and wild tigerlillies! And again, very few people if you go on a weekday.

For some reason, it seems the Stough nature preserve wasn't 'wild' enough in itself, so some kind of public park set decorator brought this rock in.. it lives at the base of the trail:

I've walked by it so many times without much notice, until one day I decided to sit on it. It felt strange. I rapped my knuckles against it. Hollow! Plastic! I finally noticed this on the back:

Oh Los Angeles! Constantly entertaining.