Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Exploring LA's Wild Side: Part 1

"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness," or so people say, or so I've heard. Actually, John Muir said it. But I believe it, and I needed to get away from work a bit this weekend and get back to nature so I packed in as many fun outdoor LA activities as I could over the course of two days. After the jump, you'll find half of these activities; stay tuned for part two, coming next week. 

Backbone Trail / Mt. Allen
There is a twisty-turny road you have to drive on to get to the beginning of the trail and it's pretty narrow. Carve out a good amount of time for this hike; maybe half a day? It's about a mile each way, but you may want to stop for air or to take in the view at the top. Mt. Allen is the highest point of the Santa Monica Mountains. There is another route--that I did not attempt--that's about seven miles long, I've been told. Go either early-early or late-ish, not at 2pm (like I did) because it's prime sun time.  

Take water, coconut water, juice, beer, whatever--and snacks. Search out sage, succulents, lizards and birds. We met a pretty cool chihuahua at the top who was off-leash and couldn't have been happier to hang with us. I slipped in my non-hiking Nikes more times than I can count and felt like I might faint a few times, but there were a couple cool people around to almost-catch me, and ultimately I made it to the top. Wear hiking shoes. The dirt is dry (thanks to the lovely California drought), which makes it much easier to slip.

Leo Carrillo State Beach
Go early, go late, go whenever. There are many beaches in Malibu, but I had never been to this one and liked that it was less congested than some of the other spots I've frequented. Take a picnic, take a sweater, take a blanket, take a dog, and settle in for the sunset. More than likely, there will be dolphin sightings and lots of surfers. I did spot some dead crabs, bird skeletons and a headless seal washed up on shore. That was eery, and not at all picturesque, but if you're a science buff, researching these deaths may be just the way you'd want to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Wildlife Learning Center 
Visit this place (in Sylmar, on what looks like a residential street) for a regular dose of monkeys, sloths, parrots, turtles, alligators, foxes, wildcats and a room filled with reptiles/amphibians and one tarantula. You can pay extra for the "experience" which allows you to touch and take pictures with some of the animals, including the foxes and wildcats. I'm a very tactile person, meaning I like to touch everything, so although I didn't pay for the experience, I'm assuming it would've heightened my enjoyment at the WLC quite a bit. Either way, the place is still nice (albeit small) and the people who work there are informative and friendly. The monkeys kind of come when you call them, which is always entertaining. 

There are also ostriches (and a baby giraffe that I didn't see) next door used for filming. I wanted to get closer to them, but made the mistake of asking someone at the facility about it. I was told explicitly that the next door property was not open to visitors; and I wasn't in the mood to get kicked out. Isn't the saying that you should always ask for forgiveness instead of permission? I'll keep that in mind for next time. 

Come back next week for the rest of this list, which includes a zoo, a poppy field and, quite possibly, another beach. 


1 comment:

  1. Pinned this! I'm hoping to visit Cali soon and this is perfect! I'm a lover of wild adventures and animals (fingers crossed I see a sloth aha)!


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