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Hotties One and All

(12/4/07) Written by Andy S.

Photo Credits: Glen O.

So where do you go when *every* national and state park in SoCal, except one, is closed due to wildfires and/or extreme fire damage? Obviously you go to the one that's not closed. I thought that this was going to be a "closing time" hike-i.e., you've got no other options, so might as well settle. But this was actually pretty darn cool (Score! Good job Mike)

Four old hands (but not old faces-or at least, not this one): me, Glen, Mike B., & Jeff C. Two new members: Erez, a graduate student at my old graduate alma mater (although living in much better graduate student housing than I got), and David, who thought he was snarky (until he met me, silly boy).

I'm always ecstatic when new folks join in. But I also worry a bit-we spend a lot of time debating how to describe trips so that no one gets in over their head. Moderate? Strenuous? Very strenuous? Those words mean different things to different people. You don't want to scare people off, so I guess it's best to say that when a hike is described as strenuous, well, there's no kidding involved. So let me just say: this was an awesome crew. And of course, since it's Perfect Pace, hotties one and all.

Monster drive from SD for a day hike (Clear the other side of LA, 3 hours, anyone?). We also passed through some of the burned areas around Camp Pendleton. Picture chaparral and scrub, but burned black and/or to ash (I miss the snow angels of my Northeast youth).

That said, it was a nice day for a hike-a good marine layer to keep things cool, but not so gloomy you felt like going back to bed. But it was DRYYYYYYYYYYYYY. Although there were a couple spills that were still trickling, the actual creek was just a slightly damp spot. Welcome to SoCal in a dry spell.

It was a nifty hike-up and down, up and down, up and down. Nothing extreme, but plenty to get the blood pumping.

For those of you not from SoCal, well, you might be asking yourselves, "what do I see on these hikes?" Mediterranean. Lots of fragrant shrubs (especially fennel). Lots of scrub oaks. Lots of grasses. And "real" trees (cottonwood, sycamore, willow) in damp places.

I should mention, both at the start, and at lunch, we ran into the Sierra Club's LA GLS (Gay & Lesbian Sierran) section. Which, I think, was whom Mike was originally going to hike with before the wildfires closed all of PP's other hiking options. Also a cool crew, but we were moving a bit faster.

What else is there to say? Great land views, awesome ocean vistas, and no wildfires: what more could you ask for. We finished up, one and all, in great shape, and headed out for some nosh.

As we were driving out, we passed a birthday party at one of the mansions. And there was a young family walking back to their car. I suggested, just a second too late, that we ostentatiously lock our doors. Just 'cause, you know? Hmm. I guess I am a bit snarky.

Where to? Allegria-a nifty (and purported sometime celeb hangout) Italian eatery on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in Malibu. There we enjoyed some quite well-prepared food, and casual conversation.

Afterwards, we headed home. Some lucky souls (well, I guess since they live in LA, they're not that lucky) were home within 30 minutes. Others of us had a DRIVE. We took a shortcut from the PCH to the 5, through areas that had just burned. Wow, talk about devastation-it almost looked like San Diego, although mellower, as things in LA tend to be. (Not to knock any of the pain/suffering folks anywhere in SoCal experienced). (But still, come on, Malibu vs working class San Diego?)

See you out on the trails...............