Hiking in California: Backbone Trail Segment 7

At 8 a.m the fog hangs low in the valley

My blogging buddy Robin (from Life in the Bogs) invited us all to join her on a walk or hike during the week of October 8 – 14. This post is part of Let’s Walk”.  

View of the valley at the end of the hike.

On Saturday October 13 six of us hiked Segment 7 of the Backbone Trail: from Stunt, Scheueren and Saddle Peak Roads to Topanga State Park.


Background to the Backbone Trail:

  1. It’s taken more than fifty years to put together the almost seventy mile Santa Monica Mountains ridgeline trail known as the Backbone Trail
  2. The trail has been converted from fire roads, and old animal paths that became single-track trails, with only the newest sections built to modern trail standards.
  3. Mr F and I have joined a group of friends to hike the trail in segments.
  4. I’ve included a link to the six hikes we’ve completed at the end of this post.
  5. What do I mean by hiking?  I live in the United States and use it to refer to “walking outdoors on a trail for recreational purposes
  • In the United Kingdom it’s usually called rambling.
  • Australians use the term bushwalking.
  • New Zealanders use tramping.
  • What term do you use where you live?

We started our hike here:

Graffiti everywhere…

As you can see on Nick’s GPS  we hiked a total of 6.61 miles.

When a guy climbed up onto this “thing” to play his harmonica, we heard his music way down in the valley. It was hauntingly beautiful.

Is this a Cold War era tower?

We’ve learned to pay attention when the official National Parks Service site warns hikers that

trail intersections on this segment could be confusing so a GPS unit as well as hiking poles are useful.

We had two GPS units and a map and had to stop and consult them at every intersection.

No dogs. Poor Monty Carlo had to stay home.

Mr F and two others have walking poles.  I use my walking stick I bought in Spain when I walked along the Camino.

The National Park Service site lists the Flora of this segment as:

  • Chaparral, Steamside, Meadow, Oak Woodland, Bay Tree Woodland.

Thanks to Julie, I can tell you that this is called “wand buckwheat, Eriogonum roseum”

Inspired by the marvelous faerie exhibition my blogging buddy Barbara of  By the Sea saw at The Florence Griswold Museum  I secretly hoped I’d see faeries living under the leaves by the side of the path…

But although I looked carefully, I didn’t see any faerie folk, unless they live in a house made of twigs. We saw several nests like this one.

Who built this? Who lives here?

We were supposed to walk past the burned ruins of Paul C. Bragg’s (one of the pioneers of the California health food movement) vacation cabin which burned in the 1993 Topanga fire, but I didn’t see it.

We saw this rock and wondered how it came to have fossil shells embedded in it when it’s on the top of the mountain.

fossils of shells in the rock

We saw this rattlesnake at the side of the path.

Rattle snake

The family of deer enjoying a quiet afternoon in the shade allowed us to come close to admire them…

The horse was more frightened of us than the deer.

Horse and rider

Do you remember Julie’s boots which broke on Segment 4 and she had finish the walk barefoot? Her favorite cobbler repaired them – they look brand new.

Julie’s “new-old” boots

I’m the one who had boot trouble this time. I brought my hiking boots without the inner-soles, I didn’t check, just assumed I’d left them in the boots, so I had to hike 6.61 miles on the hard shoe bottom.  Sheesh I was glad the hike was only six miles 🙂

You can click on any photo in the collage below to see a larger version…

My posts on the previous six segments


About dearrosie

We think we need so much, when all we really need is time to breathe. Come walk with me, put one foot in front of the other, and get to know yourself. Please click the link to my blog - below - and leave me a comment. I love visitors.
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72 Responses to Hiking in California: Backbone Trail Segment 7

  1. Mahalia says:

    Thanks for sharing your hike with us! Sorry i couldn’t join you all on this one. Looks like you were blessed with flora, fauna and mineral excitement, as well as good people company. I love the sign about budget cuts and no restroom. Hilarious. Maybe not the best move for park maintenance…

    • dearrosie says:

      You would’ve loved this hike. Sorry doesn’t adequately describe my sadness that you weren’t able to join us. It was a hot day, and as predicted it was mainly downhill, so it was a good workout. I still feel stiff.

      The comment “f— theives [!]” on the restroom door relates to the California State Parks claim they don’t have money…

      I quote from an article in the Sacramento Bee:

      “California state parks Director Ruth Coleman resigned and her second-in-command was fired Friday after officials discovered the department has been sitting on “hidden assets” totalling nearly $54 million.”

      Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/07/21/4646682/hidden-parks-funds-spark-outrage.html#storylink=cpy

  2. Wonderful post! I’m coming in late on your series, but it is tantalizing nevertheless. It sounds like you’ve got a great group to adventure with. I’m staying tuned 🙂

  3. Love that first shot of the fog – so dreamy. But how close did you get to the rattlesnake to get that picture? Scary.

    • dearrosie says:

      Yeah, the first shot of the fog is dreamy.

      Luckily a couple of people in our group good spotters as the rattlesnake was lying right next to the path, camouflaged in the leaves. We each had to walk slowly and very carefully past it. Scary doesn’t describe the feeling.

  4. Reggie says:

    What an interesting hike, glad you could break it up into segments like this, as it sounds quite daunting all-in-one. And relieved that you spotted the rattlesnake in time!

    We also call this activity ‘hiking’, though for me the word ‘hiking’ is always associated with overnight trails and lugging heavy backpacks. ‘Daypacking’ is also used sometimes for shorter day-long hikes… but I don’t know what the right term is for hikes out in nature (i.e. not on tarred suburban roads) that last between 2 and 5 hours, which is our usual maximum time.

    • dearrosie says:

      The trail is challenging. It runs along the Santa Monica Mountains from sea level all the way up to 3,100 feet, and it’s important to remember that we share it with rattlesnakes, bunnies, deer, birds…

      I think many people associate “hiking” with “overnight trails and lugging heavy backpacks.”… When I walked along the Camino this summer I discovered that many people didn’t know the difference between walking and hiking.

  5. wow.. i loved the fossils then was brought to complete alert mode with the next image of the quite-plump rattlesnake.
    looks like you had a great time!

    • dearrosie says:

      Ola zee,
      It was thrilling to see such large fossils, and so far from the ocean. We mustn’t forget that we share the trails with snakes, deer, bunnies, birds of prey…

  6. Rosie, you are getting SO good with your collages!! Wowsa!!! Love your posts about tramping (my fave word from my New Zealand travels) — xoxoxo b

  7. Linda Shapiro says:

    I am envious. The pictures are sensational. It’s something that everyone should do and probably can. But it takes effort and time. I am so sad you found no faeries. I could have done without the rattlesnake and the restroom situation was not much better.I am totally in awe of my friend whom I met in 1957!

    • dearrosie says:

      I feel humbled by your enthusiastic, encouraging response to my post and feel thank you isn’t enough, but it’s all I can come up with. Thank you Linda, dear friend. As you understand it does take a lot of time and effort to get the pictures from the camera onto the post, but its worth it all when readers like yourself appreciate the pictures.

      As for the rattlesnake, we have to remember that snakes live there and we’re walking along their garden paths.

  8. sybil says:

    I sorta zoned out when I saw the “No dogs” (even on leash) sign. I often hike alone and just would not go places without my dogs.

    Wendy and Trey want me to tell you: “woof, ruff, ruff, whine, whine”. Hope YOU know what that means.

    I hike, wander, shamble, stroll, walk and on a dreamy day, saunter.

    • dearrosie says:

      Thank Wendy and Trey for their sweet message and tell them I don’t know why California State Parks don’t allow dogs. I send them kisses on their black noses.
      When Mr F and I go on our regular hikes on the weekends we always go to those places where Monty Carlo can join us.

      What a lovely list of hiking words. I like “sauntering.”

  9. How do you eat a watermelon? One bite at a time. How wonderful you have this project you can enjoy one segment at a time, and when you’re finished, look at all the miles you have covered. What satisfaction that has to bring. Thank you for all the English interpretations of hiking; I’ve read them and figured them out, but your little glossary confirmed their meaning. Good tags I would think considering wp’s global stretch. I will have to try the collage. I will go back to a previous comment to figure out where to find it.

    • dearrosie says:

      What a beautiful comment Georgette. Thank you dear friend. Walking the route one segment at a time does allow us to enjoy and savor each bite.

      I’m pleased to know that you appreciated the addition of the hiking glossary.

      Let me know if you need further explanations re doing the photo collage.

  10. PS I unfollowed you and then followed back. Yay! This post appeared in my reader this morning.

  11. Robin says:

    What a great hike! Thanks so much for joining the group walk, and taking us along with you. I’m sure the house made of twigs must be a faerie hut. 🙂

  12. The name of Topanga State Park jumped out at me because I recently finished reading Neil Young’s autobiography and he used to live in Topanga Canyon. It sounds like a beautiful area and your pictures are breathtaking. I’m in awe of your stamina – I’ve really got to get back to walking…

    Thank you for the pingback, Rosie! Maybe you’ll see some fairy dwellings another time. Perhaps they don’t like to live so close to rattlesnakes. 🙂 At least you got to see the deer, they always seem magical to me.

    I love “the path is soft with leaves” photo. So inviting!

    • dearrosie says:

      I was going to mention Topanga’s history but the post was too long already. It was a place where hippies and musicians (like Neil Young and Emmylou Harris), lived. It’s still a place where hippies live. I’ll have to do a post on it!

      It’s easy if you just do one walk at a time. That’s how I do it. I don’t whine about it, but I still have fibromyalgia.

      I loved your posts on the faerie houses, and was thinking about them while I was hiking.
      I wonder whether I have to go back on a full-moon night to see the faerie dwellings?

      I was so grateful to walk on the path with soft leaves. It’s really hard to walk on boots without anything on top of the footbed. I don’t know why I assumed that my orthotics were in the shoes.

  13. Pingback: Everybody’s walking « Life in the Bogs

  14. Val says:

    That’s quite a hike! (By the way, as far as I know the difference between rambing and hiking, in the UK, is that the latter is more intensive.

    You must be getting fitter, with all this exercise and output, surely?

    • dearrosie says:

      We don’t use the word “rambling” over here. Thanks for the explanation.

      Actually at 6.6 miles this was one of the easier segments. The hardest one was segment #2 when we climbed from sea level to 3,100 feet and walked about 12 miles.

      With each hike that I push myself – and living with fibromyalgia I have to push myself – I end up feeling fitter, but it’s also empowering and I’m discovering an inner strength I didn’t know I had which in turn makes me so much stronger and happier.

  15. Rosie — I can’t believe you were that close to a rattlesnake! Yikes! But what beautiful pictures. Especially the two of the valley, with one of them showing the morning fog. Looks so quiet and peaceful, like the earth is covered with a blanket. And I’m afraid I don’t have any fancy words for hike. Perhaps “jaunt?” 🙂 You are very brave, and it’s always a treat to read about your wanderings.

    • dearrosie says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment Melissa. It’s not unusual to come this close to rattlesnakes when you’re hiking in a Californian canyon. It’s their home after all, and we’re walking in their garden.

      I hope you can come on a hike with us one day Melissa. It’s quiet and peaceful and oh so beautiful.

      I like the word “jaunt”.

      Photo placement is so important whether one’s writing a magazine article or a blog post. It was a last minute decision to place the two photos of the valley next to each other. It works.

  16. Beautiful post, Rosie! That hanging fog is crazy…looks like a peaceful, full day. Thanks so much for sharing – I felt like I was right along with you 🙂

  17. shoreacres says:

    Your fossils have a simple explanation. Over millenia, the land has changed considerably. For example, the Channel Islands are of a piece with the Santa Monica mountains. Thrust faults, submegence and so on have put seabed on top of mountains!

    I’m not familiar with the details there but I know it’s similar to what we find in the Texas hill country. Our limestone cliffs have so many fossils – at one point, all that land was seabed. I have a basket of fossilized clams, whelks and so on that came from hills up above the cabin I used to go to. Just amazing!

    • dearrosie says:

      Your wealth of general knowledge never fails to amaze and impress me. You know about rainbows, sailing ships, why shell fossils appear on the top of the mountain, etcetera etcetera. I regret that I don’t live close enough to meet you for a weekly hike or even just a chat in a coffee shop, but I’m proud to say you’re my blogging buddy. 😀

  18. What a great hike! You sure do get around, Rosie! Love the photos and the rattle snake was a real bonus! Yikes! 🙂

  19. Laura says:

    What a great hike. The Santa Monica Mountains are so beautiful. You are becoming a “professional” hiker… I am proud of you and thank you for sharing your photos.
    It was so nice to see you today. –

    • dearrosie says:

      Ola Laura,
      The Santa Monica Mountains are unbelievably beautiful. Aren’t we lucky that they’re so close by?

      I feel embarrassed to share my little photos with a great photographer like yourself.

      It was such a lovely surprise to see you today. 🙂 Muchas gracias for visiting my blog.

  20. Sallyann says:

    Hiya, I dropped over from Robin’s blog to join you on your walk, it looks like you had a great time. That rattle snake was a bit scary though. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • dearrosie says:

      Thanks for popping in Sallyann. I’m delighted to welcome another one of Robin’s “walkers” 🙂 I’m always concerned about rattlesnakes when we take our dog with us. A friend’s dog was bitten once and she had to carry the dog all the way down the hill to the emergency vet.

  21. Arindam says:

    Rosie Auntie, as you know I always love reading about your hiking experiences and museum stories. So as you could guess, I just loved this post with all these beautiful pictures. That picture of the tree is my favorite one. It’s beautiful. 🙂

    • dearrosie says:

      I’m glad to share the hikes and museum stories with you. I also love the picture of that tree. Arindam I’m looking forward to reading about your trip to a museum and your hike.

      I like your new gravatar picture.

      • Arindam says:

        Thank you!
        But I’ve never been to either a museum or on a hiking before. The day I am going to experience either of these, for sure I will write about it.

  22. The photo of the people looking at the map is a classic. You had a great day and good friends to experience it with. Thank you for taking us along, too.

  23. Julie says:

    Dear Rosann, Thank you as ever for the recount of our always amazing encounter in the Santa Monica Mountains. As promised, here are responses to the two ‘mystery plants’ we saw on the hike last Saturday. One is the pink plant in your collage post: wand buckwheat, Eriogonum roseum, http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?enlarge=0000+0000+1102+0022

    The other plant is the unphotographed nearly senescent shrub located near our attack-of-the-red-ants lunch site on the sandstone outcrops in the canyon: California false indigo, Amorpha californica var. californica, http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/imgs/128×192/0000_0000/0702/0177.jpeg

    As for California State Parks policy on disallowing canines: it is fostered in the notion that domestic dogs may disturb, harass, & harm wildlife, vegetation, & spread disease. Thank goodness the National Park Service does not have such a stringent policy. We are thus occasionally able to enjoy the accompaniment of our dear 4-legged family members on the trail!

    Blessings and protection to you and all our little tramping and blogging cohorts, Julie

    • dearrosie says:

      Dear Julie,
      Thanks for identifying the plants and providing us not only with their formal names but including a link to a good photo.
      My photos are taken in bright midday sunlight so they aren’t very good. As you may have noticed, I didn’t include the “vinegar” plant, because it was so bright and “glarey”when I took it that you couldn’t see the flowers.

      I don’t remember the plant we saw during lunch. From the photograph it looks similar to “wand buckwheat”.

      Thanks also for explaining why California State Parks don’t allow dogs. Interesting that the National Park Service does.

  24. E Stickymonkeytrekker says:

    Ro, how exciting that we’re nearing the end that we’ll be able to look back and say we tramped, walked, ambled, hiked, bushwalked (and in some cases bushwacked) all 8 segments! And how lovely that you’ve done such a thorough job of documenting each of our outings. I’m looking forward to enjoying more of what we’ve found on the trail: that, as you point out, it’s easier and more fun in a group. The trails of LA County await our footprints!

    PS: I think I may finally be getting the hang of my godforsaken GPS unit.

    • dearrosie says:

      For selfish reasons I’m delighted to hear that you’re getting the hang of your GPS E Stickymonkeytrekker. Sheesh try saying your name fast more than once! 😀

      I was feeling sad that we’re nearing the end of the Backbone hikes but as you just reminded me, we’re so lucky that we live in Los Angeles County because there are hundreds and hundreds of hikes waiting for our footprints… I promise I won’t forget my orthotics ever again.

  25. Sorry, Rosie. All I could think of through the entire post was the haunting harmonica sound, and that Monty Carlo couldn’t come. I did stop a while to consider the faeries and look at the ‘possible’ home, but got right back to the lilt of the sound. Lovely, Rosie.

    And do remember your insoles the next time! It could be a 20 mile hike, for all you know!

    • dearrosie says:

      Perhaps WordPress will bring in a feature where we can upload “sound-bites” on our blogs… I’d love to hear the birds in your part of the world!

      Monty Carlo forgave us that he wasn’t able to join us that day, because he’s still recovering from all the hiking during the Carmaggedon weekend (which I still have to post…)

      Thank you for commiserating with me about the missing orthotics from my boots. The skin under my feet isn’t very hard and I ended up with “blisters” under my feet (not too bad though because Nick had moleskins).

  26. aFrankAngle says:

    Glad to see you trek continues one segment at a time. A great goal … and love the pics from the vistas!

  27. linhartb says:

    The Backbone Trail sounds like a wonderful place to hike! I’ve done a lot of hiking in Colorado, but not in California. Maybe someday I’ll get out there to try some of your trails!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hello Bob! Always a please to welcome someone new to my blog. You’re always welcome to join our little group on our hikes. I think the main difference between hiking in Colorado vs California is it’s dry here. If we have streams they flow for a short time, and we don’t have waterfalls and gushing-rushing rivers like I saw on your blog.

  28. Karma says:

    Hi there! I’m very late to the comment party, but I’ve popped over from Robin’s page. What a very unique walk. I love the variety of images you found on your hike. I’ll have to pop back on another day and check out the other segments of your hike.

    • dearrosie says:

      You know these posts stay up for ever so it’s never too late to join the party, a comment is always welcome. I’m happy to know that you enjoyed walking with us. We’ll be walking the last segment in a couple of weeks…
      I look forward to entertaining you in the future.

  29. That “nest” is the home of a wood rat, also known as the pack rat. We have some in San Diego too. They make giant homes but are the size of a regular rat. And only the females make these nests, the guys can’t build ziltch.

    • dearrosie says:

      At last someone identified the “nest” for us. Thank you so much and also for sharing all the interesting background information – I didn’t know there was a creature called a “pack rat”.
      Those female rats are incredibly talented builders, the nests are huge. Do you know why they build such huge nests?

      • I’m not sure why they are so big, but if they do like most rodents, they probably have different “rooms” in there. One for eating/storing food, one for sleeping, a potty room, etc. It’s a pretty cool structure to spot.

      • dearrosie says:

        There’s so much we can learn from an animal as small as a mouse. The sad thing is we think we know better than them.

  30. Kathy says:

    It was so fun to read about your hike, Rosie. I am sorry to have missed Robin’s challenge for all of us. I could have written about hiking around San Diego!! I am a little spooked about that rattlesnake, however. You must get used to seeing them out there. I kept my eyes peeled whenever we were in rural spots, but didn’t glimpse one. Anyway, congrats about walking over six miles! I think the longest I ever walked was 5 miles and it was exhausting.

    • dearrosie says:

      Glad to hear you went hiking while you were in San Diego. We are used to seeing them but we’re always very cautious when we see one. If you look at the photo the ratllesnake is so perfectly camouflaged that you have to have really good eyes to spot it.

      This was actually one of the shorter hikes. I think the next segment will be over 12 miles.

  31. eof737 says:

    Glad to see your hiking shots.. i enjoy a little hiking myself too. 😉

  32. This is one fun trail with amazing views and discovery. What an adventure! Thank you. Have a blessed day.

  33. Pingback: Hiking in California: Backbone Trail – Segment 8 | Wondering Rose

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