JANUARY

January 17th – After Christmas Party

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Ursula Christie again welcomed us into her beautifully decorated home for our annual potluck holiday party. A variety of foodstuffs accumulated as a stream of “Trail Blazers” arrived to partake in the festivities. The participants quickly took advantage of the rare opportunity to spend non-hiking time with “old” friends as small conversational groups formed and re-formed to trade news of each other’s recent activities and discuss plans for futures activities.

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Soon the various culinary delights could no longer be ignored so we sat down together and began sampling the plentiful – and mostly healthy – delicacies including rarely seen dragon fruit. As usual, everyone looked even better than usual (hiking gear) in their holiday dress. After finishing our sit-down dinner (during which it was hard not to overeat!), we continued hobnobbing before taking our leave with holiday well wishes and promises to see one another soon. Not surprisingly, we had been unable to devour all of the food that the guests had brought so there were some delightful “leftovers” to take home. We are all grateful for this wonderful opportunity to spend time with good friends, especially Ursula, who is truly one-of-a-kind.

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January 11th – Johnson Motorway to Rocky Peak

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12 hikers met at the trailhead on Iverson Road just outside the gated southern entrance to Indian Springs Estates in Chatsworth on a chilly winter morning. After following the easement through the upscale gated community, we reached the beginning of the unpaved Johnson Motorway (once a toll road).

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The trail (an old dirt and sandstone roadbed) rose westward until it met a short “driveway” leading north to the ruins of the ranch house that was built by Ann and Neils Johnson who were the first English-speaking homesteaders in the San Fernando Valley; they had built their primary home in “Chatsworth Park” in the 1870’s. Leaving the ruins, we followed the Johnson Motorway as it passed through a landscape of dramatic rock formations, climbing steadily, but not steeply, toward the Rocky Peak Fire Road. We soon warmed up thanks to the direct sunlight and our body’s generation of heat as we hiked uphill. After 3.5 miles we reached the fire road where we took a short break. We then headed southward along the Rocky Peak Fire Road enjoying views of interesting rock formations and Simi Valley to the west. A short spur trail led us to an overlook of the San Fernando Valley near Rocky Peak. We soon retraced our route downhill back to our vehicles and returned home having completed a pleasant 9-mile hike with about 1,900’ of total elevation gain/loss.

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January 4th – Hummingbird Trail and Rocky Peak

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18 hikers assembled at the on-street parking area at the north end of Kuehner Drive at the trailhead (1,175′) for the Hummingbird Trail (just outside the gate into Hummingbird Ranch) on what promised to be a nice day for hiking. The morning was a bit chilly as we started our hike, but we quickly warmed up as we began our 2.4-mile eastward climb to the Rocky Peak Fire Road. The trail passed through (and on) a variety of imposing rock formations along the way including very large boulders and giant slabs of sandstone rock, many with small “caves.”

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As we gained elevation the views of the area expanded and were enhanced by the clear sky (thanks to recent strong winds). The trail continues to be damaged by bicycle riders who (without permission) create “bandit trails” that cut steeply through the pleasant original switchback trail; the “bandit trails” make it nearly impossible to discern the original trail at many intersections. When the group reached the fire road (2,100′), two of the hikers decided to return to the trailhead and did so. The other hikers continued on by following the well-maintained fire road northward along with a variety of bikers, runners, and other hikers while enjoying the sweeping views of eastern Simi Valley, the Santa Susana Mountains, and the Simi Hills. After reaching the customary viewpoint (2,624′) near Rocky Peak (2,715′), there were panoramic views in all directions, including snow-capped peaks in both the Topatopa Mountains and the San Gabriel Mountains, the San Fernando Valley, and the hazy outline of Santa Cruz Island. After taking a short break, we retraced our route and reached the trailhead having completed an 8.4-mile hike with about 2,200′ of elevation gain/loss on a beautiful morning for hiking.

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