We have been in Los Angeles, California for a good week now and have had some fun seeing the city, hanging with new friends and eating amazing food. It’s been really something, but I was so hoping to get outdoors into nature where we could hike, see mountains and listen to the wild. So, being lucky enough to stay at my kickass godfather’s place in the beautiful area of Agoura Hills, we were able to find some nearby trails in the Santa Monica Mountains. It has been ridiculously hot out here and, unless you are swimming, it’s just too warm to be outdoors. So we decided to go for a chilled evening hike in the Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Canyons. It only gets dark at 8pm, so we left just after 5pm, thinking that would easily give us enough time. We took plenty of water and snacks and thought we were well prepared, but Californian canyon hiking is quite different to the Drakensberg hikes we are used to back in South Africa.
First of all, the the heat is something else here in Summer. So dry and so intense, you realise that you really are in a desert. The scenery is also so different. Walking around up high I sort of felt like I was in Little House on the Prairie. The scenery started out looking very dry and dull but, as we walked on, there were plenty of big beautiful oak trees, fields of golden grass and many different textures all around us. It felt good to be back in the wilderness. We chose a route that was meant to be 4 miles, which we sort of converted to be about 6 kilometres. As we walked on, we talked about how different it all was to back at home in South Africa. We knew that it would be dark by 8pm, but expected to be done well before then. Turns out our “4 mile” walk was actually a lot longer than we expected.
By 7:30pm we were half walking, half jogging on the trail worrying our little pants off at how we still hadn’t finished the trail. No worries though right, we can hike in the dark and use our phone torches if need be. It really didn’t help our nerves when we heard a few coyotes crying not far from us. Although I knew that coyotes weren’t really considered a danger to adults, I did recall Pete reading online how attacks on humans had increased and that was enough to make me shit my pants a little. So by this time we were basically running up a rather large hill in full panic, wondering who’s going to be eaten first. I know this probably sounds irrational and even a bit silly, but honestly, when you are in a new country, hiking in the wilderness where you have no idea what to expect from the environment around you, you feel pretty vulnerable and let your irrational fears get the best of you. Anyway, we managed to calm ourselves and finish the hike just as the sun was setting. The sunset was really beautiful but I didn’t get to appreciate it fully as about 300 meters away from our car we bumped into, you’ll never guess what, 2 freaking coyotes. They were super chilled and just scavenging around but Pete and I spotted them and ran for the car. It was pretty damn awesome that we got to see them, even if we didn’t appreciate them at the time. We also have an awesome “we nearly got eaten by coyotes” travel story to start our travel stories list. And, it’s only the beginning.
We have been so fortunate on the first part of our trip, as we have had a beautiful house to stay in and have made some really sweet friends, Eddie and Romy, who have showed us around, spoiled us with Mexican food and just been so kind to us. Eddie, the amazing photographer he is, had an old digital camera which he wanted to give to us for our travels. We have basically been using our iPhones and an old film camera to take photos up until now. So thanks to Eddie, we have some better quality photos to share on this post. Eddie, you’re awesome and we love you.
Apparently this is an Alligator Lizard. We also saw a hare, and tons of squirrels (or ground squirrels or gophers – we still can’t tell the difference easily).