When I first talked to a recruiter about jobs in the US, my only criteria was ‘anywhere but LA’, since all I’d heard was traffic, gangs and Hollywood. Of course, all the offers I received were in LA. I accepted one, since I was only coming over for a year or so. That was six years ago! This picture shows one big reason why I stayed.
The first week I was here, I stayed in Thousand Oaks, a suburb of LA. I knew I wanted to get some hiking in, so I looked for big areas of green on the road map, and headed to one about 10 minutes drive away. Once I stepped out of the car, I knew it was something special. Ahead of me was Boney Mountain, and a wilderness 10 miles deep to the ocean. A mangy looking dog was trotting loose on the trail nearby, so I followed it. Pretty soon I found myself in the middle of a whole bunch of mangy dogs, making funny yelps that I assumed meant ‘I wonder if he’s edible?’, and I realized I’d wandered into a pack of coyotes.
It was evening, so that was a short hike, but as soon as I had a weekend free I set off for the ocean. I found waterfalls, cliffs, flowers, lichen, deer, bobcats. I fell in love, it was like nothing I’d ever seen. The Santa Monica mountains are an amazing secret of LA, an area around
40 miles by 8 miles of wilderness filled with spectacular trails. You can hike for hours and not see another soul, just half an hour from the 405.
I kept finding excuses to get out in the mountains, met Liz while when we both were volunteers repairing trails, and fell in love again.
The photo is of Boney Mountain from the ocean side, from a hike we just did today. If you’re ever in LA, look up Topanga, Point Mugu, Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa (where I saw the coyotes), Malibu Creek, or one of the dozens of trail heads out in the mountains, you won’t be disappointed.