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Griffith Park: Travel Town to Ferndell, 12.7 Miles RT, 2,080 +/-, March 24, 2019

Griffith Park:  Travel Town to Ferndell, 12.7 Miles RT, 2,080 +/-, March 24, 2019

Today we hiked the entire length of Griffith Park from Travel Town (north) to Fern Dell (south) and back. The nice thing about living so close to the park is we get to sleep in since we don’t need to travel very far to start hiking. We didn’t get on the trail until about 8 am. We started up Oak Canyon which is a popular equestrian trail. It’s very pretty and like the trail’s name, it’s a canyon covered in beautiful oak trees. The morning was chilly and there was frost on the ground. From Oak Canyon we connected with the Toyon Trail. This trail was very lush and green. I almost felt like I was walking along a country road. We then connected to Mt. Hollywood Drive. It’s a winding concrete road, but it was very quiet and we saw very few people. To my surprise, we happened to come upon the infamous haunted picnic table, table #29. If you don’t know the legend of the picnic table, two young lovers, Nancy and Rand, were crushed to death by a tree that fell right on top of them while they were making love on Halloween night in 1978. The fallen tree still remains on top of the table as is because when the city sent someone to cut it down, he became scared out of his wits and claims he saw the tree start to shake violently and heard voices telling him, “Leave us alone!”. When his supervisor went up to do the job himself, he was found dead of a heart attack the next morning. Quite an interesting little story. From Mt. Hollywood Drive, we made our way up near the Griffith Park Observatory. The trail became very busy here with tourists and people hiking in from the south side of the park. We then descended down the West Trail into Fern Dell. Fern Dell was very pretty with it’s cascading pools of water and tropical flora, but we didn’t stay very long. There were A LOT of people here and although I was expecting it to be this way, we were done with crowds and ready to head back to the peace and quiet on the north side of the park. We hiked back on the West Trail and then took the Charlie Turner Trail up and around Mt. Hollywood. From there we headed north around Taco Peak and then followed the trail West. From here we picked up the North Trail near Mt. Chapel and then back again to Mt. Hollywood Drive, Toyon Trail and eventually Oak Canyon. It was a fun day, but as fun as the past few weeks have been trying out city hiking, I think I am ready to get back into the wilderness!

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Descanso Gardens, January 27, 2019

Descanso Gardens, January 27, 2019

Today was a beautiful day to visit Descanso Gardens. As always, it was full of magic. Hellebores were blooming and the daffodils were right on schedule. It’s such a fairytale-like feeling walking through the camellia forest. What a wonderful Sunday morning!

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Angeles National Forest, Charlton Flats to Vetter Mountain 3.8 miles RT (525 Ft +/-) & Silver Moccasin Trail

Angeles National Forest, Charlton Flats to Vetter Mountain 3.8 miles RT (525 Ft +/-)  & Silver Moccasin Trail

Angeles National Forest is practically in my backyard.  I’ve visited a few times in the past, but it wasn’t until recently when I discovered the work of David Horner, a Santa Monica based photographer who specializes in wild butterfly photography (solardarkroom.com) that my interest was piqued.  His California Butterfly Project (over 10 years in the making) includes over 100 species that he photographed in the wild from sea level to 10,000 ft. from the border to Sonora Pass in the Sierra Nevada.  I took notice that many of his sightings were located right here in the Angeles National Forest.  About two years ago, I started a butterfly garden, Since then I’ve become somewhat of a butterfly enthusiast mostly observing them in my backyard and on my visits to local public gardens.  When I saw the number of different butterfly species we have here in California on David’s website, I was inspired to revisit Angeles NF not only in the hopes of viewing butterflies in their natural habitats, but also to take advantage of the multitude of hiking trails.  Years ago when I lived in Pennsylvania, I did quite a bit of hiking on solitary trails surrounded by nothing but the birds, the trees, the wildlife and peace and quiet.  But now that I’ve been living in a big city, I didn’t really think too much about what else was available here aside from the overly populated locations such as runyon canyon or hiking up to the Hollywood sign.  This past weekend I recruited my husband as my hiking partner (since you should never hike alone) and we ventured into Angeles NF.  The drive alone up the winding roads offers such spectacular views.  I’d planned ahead and decided our destination would be to hike from Charlton Flats to the top of Vetter Mountain.  As we climbed up the trail, I was able to see first hand some of the damage done by the 2009 Station Fire which burned more than 161,000 acres.  I also noticed lots of poodle dog bush which is a plant that causes skin irritation similar to poison oak if touched.  Much of this was located within the burn area perimeter and as I later learned, it’s usually found in nearly all habitats that have been burned.  Winding up the mountain, the trail was nothing less then spectacular with breathtaking views and wildflowers.  We detoured off the main path to do an out and back trek along the Silver Moccasin trail which traversed upward and down through oak-lined canyons and high ridges.  One day I’d like to take that trial a little further, as I didn’t want to get too side tracked since our goal was to reach the top of Vetter Mountain.  After getting back on the main trail, we continued our journey until we reached the top of the fire lookout at Vetter Mountain.  There we shared friendly conversation with forest rangers who were happy to answer our questions about the location.  These people stand guard daily over our beautiful forest with nothing but a small shelter.  The actual lookout tower was burned in the Station Fire.  I have to give them credit for being up there all day watching out for us with the wind and colder temperatures on the 5,903 ft. sumit.  We then climbed to the top of what remains of the old lookout and stood for a moment to enjoy the 360 degree view of the San Gabriel Mountains.  With mission accomplished, it was time to head back.  Round trip with our Silver Moccasin detour we did about a 7 mile, 2.5 hour hike.  My hope for the day was to possibly photograph at least one wild butterfly.  My wish was granted by a little common branded skipper who I saw fluttering along the trail as we got closer to where we started at Charlton Flats.  It was a great morning and I will definitely be visiting Angeles NF more frequently to take advantage to all that it has to to offer including butterfly sightings and more hiking adventures.

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