Hiking in California: Backbone Trail – Segment 8

I wasn’t able to join our little group when they walked the last segment of the Backbone Trail on Saturday November 3, 2012, because I’ve been “feeling poorly”, but it gives me much pleasure to tell you that one of my hiking buddies offered to do a guest post of the hike for my blog. 

Please welcome Edith de Guzman, as the very first guest blogger to Wondering RoseEdith and her husband Jolly have camped extensively around the south-western United States, and recently traveled in Australia and New Zealand, and are both brilliant photographers.   I hope this will be the first of many guest blogs from them.

GUEST POST by Edith de Guzman.

Photos by E. and J. de Guzman.

The eighth and final segment of the Backbone Trail starts at Trippet Ranch in Topanga State Park and meanders twelve miles to Will Rogers State Historic Park.

The day we hiked it was an unusually warm Saturday in November, with clear skies and highs in the upper 80s.

All photos credit de Guzman

At Trippet Ranch, historic ranch buildings are still in use and horses have their own special drinking fountains, which fill a shallow bowl with water when a horse pushes against a lever. Pretty clever!

Of all the segments, this one was among the most ecosystem-diverse, traversing through grasslands, chaparral, oak woodlands and riparian areas. Ours is a semi-arid Mediterranean climate, with moderate rainfall from late fall to spring, and little to no rainfall the rest of the year. We had a long dry summer this year, and the grasslands on the trail were a crispy golden-yellow. With some good winter rains, they’ll turn into a vibrant blanket of green by early spring.

photo credit de Guzman

Despite being just a few miles from one of the world’s most metropolitan areas, we are lucky to have public lands agencies with a history of fighting for land preservation. When we started with the first segment all those months ago, we were in a part of Ventura County as far as we would find ourselves from development. All along the nearly 70 miles we hiked, we have been rewarded with gorgeous vistas like this one (above). But as we’ve moved east with each segment, we’ve gotten closer and closer to dense parts of Los Angeles County and housing developments have crept in – eliciting even more appreciation from our group for the land preservation efforts that have made this trail possible. If you look closely you can see the city skyline on the far left of the photo (under a blanket of smog).

Many parts of the trail were under a reddish tint created by thousands of dried buckwheat flowers. It’s a bit hard to see, but the buckwheat shrubs are covered in a native parasitic plant called California dodder, which usually appears as bright orange mass of strings – like a kid emptied a spray can of silly string all over the place. This late in the hot, dry season, the buckwheat had no moisture to offer and even the dodder was dry, starved of nutrients it couldn’t get from its host plant.

A small wildfire recently burned near portions of our hike, and we suspect that the great deal of trail maintenance that was evident along the trail had something to do with the fire.

At one point we saw a freshly cut tree greeting the trail with this beautiful cross-section a recorded past.

When we came upon this ornate tree trunk we forgot to look up and find any leaves in an attempt to identify the tree species.

A few yards from the trail, we came upon this freshly picked-on bird skeleton, feathers strewn every which way. It was quite large — the spine was probably about a foot long — and the best guess our tracker-hiker-friend had was that it belonged to a turkey vulture.

Further along the hike, we traversed a ridge above Rustic Canyon and spotted a few of the relics of a Nazi-sympathizer compound that operated from the 1930s until the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor (when a federal government raid put an end to it). From our vantage point, we saw a large water tank, two sets of never-ending concrete staircases leading deep into the canyon, a barn and an ornate gate leading into the compound.

The site is a dark and fascinating piece of LA’s history, and if you too are intrigued, you might want to visit the site to learn more.

After our 12-mile adventure, our group enjoyed a few minutes of rest on the grassy polo field at Will Rogers State Historic Park  before heading back to Topanga to retrieve our other car and enjoy some ice cream. And then we took our dusty hiking boots off.


My posts on the previous segments of the Backbone Trail

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.
This entry was posted in Photography, The Natural World, Tutto va bene, Wondering and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Hiking in California: Backbone Trail – Segment 8

  1. A warm welcome to you, Edith! (Sorry to hear you aren’t feeling so well, Rosie…)

    Great guest post! Land preservation is such an important task and it’s fortunate that so many folks in your part of the country are tending to it. Your pictures do give a sense of how hot and dry it’s been there, so much different than the climate here in Connecticut. The turkey vulture bones are fascinating – amazing birds to see soaring in the sky!

    • dearrosie says:

      Thank you for your warm welcome to Edith Barbara. She is passionate about land preservation. I hope she’ll share more of her photos and stories on that subject with us in future guest blogs.

      I was also thrilled to see the skeleton of the turkey vulture.

      As predicted, it rained today: a few drops wet the bricks on my patio

    • Edith de Guzman says:

      Kind thanks for the warm welcome, Barbara! Yes, we are fortunate to benefit from the preservation efforts of an intrepid few in a land that is otherwise characterized by sprawl.

      I haven’t yet been to Connecticut, but would love to visit one day. My boots like all types of terrain and climate, and I’m sure they’d love to explore your state, too!

  2. As a Hiker Appreciator but not an Actual Hiker, I love living vicariously through all the segments you post….and having a guest to share experiences is always a bonus.

    Sorry to learn you are feeling poorly.

    • dearrosie says:

      It’s good to know you enjoy hiking vicariously with me, and guest bloggers EOS. Your term “Hiker Appreciator” is great – it makes me laugh.

      Thanks for your concern re my health EOS. I hope to be hiking up the canyons in time for Christmas.

    • Edith de Guzman says:

      Hello, and thanks for the lovely words! It’s a pleasure to be the first guest blogger on Wondering Rose and to have the honor of “meeting” some of dearrosie’s blogger friends. I’ve enjoyed reading some of your posts, EOS and will make certain to visit again so I, too, can live vicariously…reciprocally!

  3. Thank you, Edith. I loved reading this. I have been to Will Rogers State Park many times, but never really explored the areas you highlight in the hiking trail. I would be very interested in checking some of that out, especially the Nazi compound site! I had no idea the remains were still there! My dad used to talk about that unsavory piece of history. Now I MUST go to see for myself.

    Rosie, I’m so sorry you’re not feeling well. Get well soon my friend!

    • dearrosie says:

      I’ve also been to Will Rogers State Park but never knew there was a Nazi compound there. Good gracious! Interesting that your Dad knew of it!

      My hiking buddies promised they’d do a repeat of Hike #8 for me and Mr F (who stayed home with me) when the days are longer in the spring. You’d be welcome to join us – it’s a strenuous 12 miles because it includes a lot of elevation gain and loss.

      Thanks for the get well wishes Debra. I hope to be back on the Hiking Trails by Christmas!

      • My dad always speaks of a great variety of odd little things along the trails. He retired as a lineman for Southern California Edison and so he often worked along these different trails. He saw a lot of things that he doesn’t think of as unusual, and every now and then he’ll mention something and be so surprised that I find it interesting.

        Sometime I’ll go on one of your hikes…one of the shorter ones! 🙂

      • dearrosie says:

        We’d love to have you join us Debra.
        Perhaps you can share some of your Dad’s stories in a post?

    • Edith de Guzman says:

      My pleasure, and thank you! I’m pleased to hear that our hike sparked an interest in you to explore new parts of the park. The Nazi compound is a particularly interesting canyon hike — it’s a nice mix of interesting topography and fascinating history (albeit dark). There is talk that the remnants may be removed because they are seen as a liability by open space agencies like State Parks, so I suggest visiting soon in case that rumor is true.

      The first time my husband and I visited the compound, we had a rather odd experience. We were on our way back to the car just after sunset, and while walking along the restricted-entry road just above the canyon, a golf cart drove toward us, paused briefly, and drove off. The driver was Adam Sandler and he was giving a tour of what must be his neighborhood to some visiting friends. I don’t think the Nazi sympathizers would have predicted that their backyard would one day be home to a very successful Jewish entertainer.

  4. So great to hear from you, Edith! Hope you’ll do many more posts. Looks like a stunning place to hike–skeletal remains not withstanding.
    Rose, hope you’re feeling better soon!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Kathy,
      Many thanks for the get well wishes and your lovely welcome to Edith. I hope she’ll also answer.

    • Edith de Guzman says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, Kathryn. It just so happens that we were looking for a good spot to stop for lunch when we came upon the skeleton. It appears that humans are not the only species that considered that particular spot a good one for lunch!

  5. sybil says:

    Lovely guest post Edith. How did you resist exploring that compound ? Rosie, hope you’re back hiking soon.

    • dearrosie says:

      My hiking buddies are going to do a repeat of Hike #8 for me and Mr F (who stayed home with me) in the spring when the days are longer. You’re invited to join us 🙂
      I hope to be back hiking by Christmas.

    • Edith de Guzman says:

      Hello and thanks, Sybil. Though we didn’t explore the compound during this particular hike, I’ve been there a couple times in the past and it’s quite fascinating (while simultaneously a bit creepy).

      Perhaps our group will return there once dearrosie gets her hiking boots back on.

  6. Rosie — I am worried about you since you almost never seem too “done in” to walk! I loved this post but of course am fascinated by the Nazi post overlooking LA! Sheesh, who knew?? It’s always astonishing to me to see the beautiful vistas and unspoiled landscapes so close to the city. Lovely!!!

    • dearrosie says:

      You’re such a good friend Betty because you understand that I don’t like to say “no” to a hike. I hope to be back on the trails by Christmas. Want to come join me?

      It’s amazing to think there was a Nazi compound in L.A.!

  7. Edith de Guzman says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Another nearby hike with fascinating history is San Vicente Mountain, off of Mulholland Drive as it meanders west of the 405 freeway. The site was home to a Nike missile launch site during the Cold War, and if you’re interested, you can read more in this LA Times article.

  8. Edith gave us a priceless adventure. what an amazing trail. Nature allows us to heal and renergize.California has no many beautiful places to visit and discover. Love the post. Have a great day.

    • Edith de Guzman says:

      Thanks, island traveler — for the kind words and the gorgeous photos and musings on your posts. I just visited and very much enjoyed your most recent post.

  9. Feeling poorly? Poor Rosie! Does heat make your blood pressure fall? It does that to me when i’ve been on my feet for a long time. Edith did a great job –

    Thanks, Edith, for sharing this story!

    • Edith de Guzman says:

      My pleasure! Thanks for reading and for the good wishes for Rosie. She needs all the healing energy she can get from friends and family near and far…so we can hit the trail together again.

  10. Dee Ready says:

    Dear Rose and Edith, what a wonderful posting. I need now to go and read the other segments about these California trials. Thanks for the link to the info about the Nazi compound. I’ve never heard about this before. Peace.

  11. Rosie, you were there in spirit. Next time!
    Great job and very interesting visual and verbal journey, Edith. Thank you to you both!

  12. So sorry you are not feeling well. Your hiking buddies are good friends. Thank you to you and Edith for keeping us up with your hiking trails.

  13. Edith de Guzman says:

    Thanks, and we look forward to sharing more hiking posts once Rosie is back on the trail with us.

  14. munchow says:

    I enjoy reading the hiking adventure, Edith. Fun to follow along as you went from Trippet Ranch to Will Rogers State Historic Park. Great pictures, too. Sounds like a really nice trail. I hope you feel better Rosanne.

  15. Robin says:

    Thank you for sharing your hike, Edith. It was beautiful, in both words and images.

    Hope you’re feeling better, Rosie. 🙂

  16. I’ve loved this whole series! A really good idea to do a longer trail in sections. When I think of the Los Angeles area, I always imagine a huge sprawling city. It’s nice to see huge areas of wilderness close by.

    • dearrosie says:

      I imagine if you ask someone who hasn’t been here what three words they’d use to describe L.A. they’d most probably say “Hollywood” “traffic jams” and “smog”! We’ve lived in a few cities around the world and LA offers the *best* opportunities for outdoor adventures of any other city, and all so close to home! Thanks for commenting Lisa.

I'd be delighted if you left me a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s