The greater Los Angeles metropolitan area evokes images of freeways, traffic jams, smog, sand and sea. But, believe it or not, it’s quite easy to go off road — and on foot — and get away from the hustle and bustle of La La Land.
We secured a homey little Eichler-style cottage in the little town of Altadena. As the name suggests, it is up — about 1,300 feet — nestled at the foot of the sprawling Angeles National Forest, home to the San Gabriel Mountains, which tower as high as 10,000 feet and act as sort of a geologic curtain, separating the temperate coastal climate of the L.A. basin from the oppressive heat of the Mojave desert to the east.
Just a stone’s throw from our cabin was access to the hiking trails in the forest, and so we set out for a bit of a jaunt on a lovely, cool spring day. It was a steep hike up the grade of the mountain range, but the trail was more or less paved, probably used as a service road.
We stopped frequently to catch our breath, enjoy the view, smell the flowers, and listen to nature.
Yes, you could still hear the slight hum of The 210 and other freeways far down below, but the blue jays, turkeys, crows, woodpeckers and other domestic and feral fowl did their best to compete.
After climbing to the peak at 1,800 or so feet, we caught a glimpse of the true wilderness on the other side, where the only sound was the rushing waters of the ironically named Arroyo Seco (dry creek in Spanish).
There was, supposedly, a trail loop that would have taken us over the river and through the woods to the other side, but we couldn’t find it, so we started our descent, retracing our steps, but feeling good about our effort to get away from it all.
Just then, we spotted a car making its way up the hill. There were a few private homes along the way, so this didn’t seem too unusual, until Sherry spotted the ever-unmistakable pink logo for Lyft. We were impressed they could find a place out here, but it deflated our egos just a bit, too.
Guess, we hadn’t quite gotten away from it all after all.