October 28th – Westward Beach to Pt. Dume and Paradise Cove

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22 hikers traveled to Malibu and Westward Beach Road where we took advantage of free parking along the road and then hiked to the parking lot trailhead, spotting a solitary seal offshore along the way.  The temperature was pleasant since there was an early morning marine layer as we began hiking up onto Point Dume. 

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After an easy climb, we hiked through a maze of trails surrounded by a “forest” of dormant coreopsis plants to the east side of the peninsula with a breathtaking view of Dume Cove and the Pacific Ocean.  We  then descended a rusty stairway that led down to Dume Beach.  Despite being fairly close to low tide (11:00), our beach walk to Paradise Cove consisted of rocky stretches interspersed with long sandy expanses; at several points we timed our passage to the outflow of waves as we scampered carefully across the exposed bottom before our shoes were inundated by the next wave (all of which made for an interesting passage).  We pretty much had the beach to ourselves as we enjoyed the ocean sounds and sights until we eventually arrived at the Paradise Cove Beach Café (http://www.paradisecovemalibu.com ), a landmark for decades.  We rested for a while in the free-of-charge Adirondack chairs facing the ocean outside the restaurant and watched as our resident merman made another appearance to the amusement of several of the other beachgoers.  The marine layer had lifted and the beach had become busier when we decided to walk out on the nearby pier where several people were fishing (until recently the pier had been closed for several years).  After a while we resumed our hike and headed back along the beach the way we had come; the tide was now “coming in” but it was still possible to minimize getting our boots wet.  After climbing back onto Point Dume, we hiked along a partially sand-covered wooden walkway to an observation platform which afforded views of the ocean and then climbed on up to the flat top of Point Dume with 360-degree views of the surrounding area.  We then returned to the main trail and descended to the parking lot and hiked back to our vehicles, returning home having completed a very pleasant 7-mile hike with about 400’ of elevation gain/loss.

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October 21st – Las Llajas Canyon and Chumash Trail Loop

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17 hikers (and one dog) met at the Las Llajas Canyon trailhead on Evening Sky Drive in Simi Valley on a cool autumn morning.  The hike began by descending a short paved section of road into the canyon bottom; from there a wide graded dirt road followed a streambed north through the canyon, crossing the streambed three times; the stream had a little water in it at places, but not at the stream crossings. 

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The steep canyon walls provided shade and a refreshing breeze as we enjoyed an easy 3.5 mile trek up the canyon.  Nearing the Poe Ranch gate, we took the right (east) fork and continued up the dirt road leading to an abandoned oil field which has been “cleaned up” (purposefully stripped of all remaining aboveground equipment/pipes) and then on up to a junction with the Rocky Peak Fire Road, savoring the views back down the canyon and of the surrounding area along the way.  After reaching the Rocky Peak Fire Road (where a majestic oak tree had died and crashed to the ground), we turned right and headed south toward the upper end of the Chumash Trail.  Along the way we passed Fossil Hill (named for the shells of sea creatures left behind when the area was under a vast sea).  We enjoyed the panoramic views of mountains and canyons to the east, south, and west.  Upon reaching the upper end of the Chumash Trail with its “Chumash Trail 2.7 miles to Flanagan Drive trailhead” sign, we stopped briefly before rapidly descending the familiar trail into Simi Valley.  We then turned right (west) and followed a short trail to a closed-but-not-locked gate in a fence at the east end of Evening Sky Drive.  A short walk along Evening Sky Drive took us back to our vehicles, having completed a very pleasant 9.6-mile hike with 1,900’ of elevation gain.

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October 14th – Mentryville Park

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Today’s Mentryville Park hike was a last-minute substitution hike, due to a red flag warning in the Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County. Most substitution hikes are not the equal of the original hike. This hike was a grand exception. Mentryville was the location of the first commercially successful oil well in California. It is also the site of the longest producing oil well on record.

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Mentryville was a boomtown between 1876 to 1900. The town had a schoolhouse, social hall, bakery, boarding houses, bunkhouses, blacksmith shop, machine shop, a gas-lighted tennis court, croquet fields, and a main road paved with local asphalt. By the 1930s, most of the town’s residents were gone. By 1962 it was a ghost town. Our hike started about a half mike from the main entrance. We took our time and enjoyed a self-guided tour of the remaining buildings. Not far past the town we passed by the schoolhouse and then Johnson Park. Next we explored the site of the first oil well, finally capped in 1990. The elevation gain was gradual up to this point, but that was about to change. The pavement ended, and about 2 miles later we reached an overlook, which became our turn-around point. The view was expansive, but severely compromised by the smoke from the Canyon 2 fire in the Anaheim Hills. We originally intended to take a single-track trail back to Johnson Park, but deemed it unsafe due to some recent erosion, most likely from the rain last winter. Our hike became an out-and-back instead of a lolipop loop. We all agreed that it was a very successful exploratory hike and would be a perfect candidate for next Spring. There’s still more of the area to explore. Our hike was about 7 ¾ miles with 1,360′ of elevation gain.

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October 7th – Work Party – Wild Animal Corridor – Cache In Trash Out Event

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This was our ninth Wildlife Corridor event. Teaming up with local geocachers, the Corridor received a fresh coat of paint and all trash remaining was removed. We visited the Corridor just two weeks before the event and found it completely covered with graffiti and in need of a good cleanup. Between the time of our inspection and our event, some other group got about half the job done.

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The RSRPD had no idea who got the job started for us. So, we were done in under and hour, and quickly down the hill to enjoy some cool water, snacks and some fine conversation.

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