11 October 2015

Upper Solstice Canyon

Malibu Creek State Park

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

After hiking around the lower canyon, it is a good time to head up to the end of the road to hike around the upper canyon. Really, I only want to do a little loop in the canyon itself, then take off along the one trail here that I have not really hiked on, the Backbone to the east. The parking lot is nearly empty today, but there are a couple young women looking for "Jim Morrison's cave" with instructions from Yelp, of all things. My prejudices show as my mind instantly suspects it is a place covered in graffiti and trash. The only help I can offer is that they are on the only trail going southwest from here, so that is probably where they want to start their search. I turn up the motorway instead and climb to the saddle at the top to look out over the valley.

panorama around the valley to the north
Poking up to the view at the top.

Catalina Island
Catalina Island in the mist.

fire road and the public road and the mainland
The mainland stretches around in the distance.

A short backtrack from the top gets to a utility road that the Backbone trail crosses below. I drop down and then wander back up among the chaparral and climb back up to the parking lot. On the far side, the trail travels through fins of sandstone along the top of the ridge. An old house foundation seems to be a popular destination, but unless the cave is slang, it is not the cave. Views off to the north and south can be had in many places, so there was no need to grab the view from the saddle, but the angle always changes the view a bit, too.

San Gabriel Mountains in the distance
Another northeasterly view.

supports around a walled rock
Anchor points, some concrete, and a wall hint at the structure that once stood here. The area also contains a large flat area with a slab of concrete and a shallow pool.

snake skin
The animals come here too.

road to Castro Peak
Looking back along the Backbone and Castro Motorway. Bulldog Motorway cuts its way to the north.

The trail drops down to the Mesa Peak Motorway below. No sign marks it for hikers coming from the east. I drop down and start along the motorway. There is no denying that there are a lot of interesting formations in the sandstone up here.

following fins of sandstone down
Dropping down through fins of sandstone to the Mesa Peak Motorway below.

arch in the sandstone
A small arch makes a window onto other sandstone structures.

eye of stone
Humans seem to have helped nature a little in carving out this eye in the sandstone.

I keep on going, past another popular area where the flat has been decorated with swirls of stones, many of them painted brightly. More wonderful sandstone provided by nature rises behind it. I keep on going until my turn around time, when I am beside an unnamed high point. Mesa Peak rises below it where the road meets others. There is a trail up the east side and I follow it to the top before turning back.

rainbow sandstone with caves
Rainbow sandstone rises behind the swirls, riddled with small caves.

easterly road
The road that continues toward Mesa Peak as I start up the nearby high point.

I head back after the little peak following the motorway all the way to the road. On the way, I do accidentally discover the cave the young women were looking for while looking for a geocache named "Reckless Disregard". As far as graffiti goes, it is everything I expected. The trash in the area far exceeds my expectations. It does nothing whatsoever to teach me out of my prejudices. The area is disgusting. The history that goes with the geocache, placed very near the ignition point of the 2007 Coral Fire started by careless humans, does nothing to help the opinion. On the way out, I pass a group that goes up to play at the foundation along the trail and a second group attempting to hide a case of beer under a shirt flap. And so it continues.

palms and pines in a small area
Palms and pines below the motorway near the start hint at more habitation long ago.

It is a short way back up to the car from the junction between the road and the motorway.

©2015 Valerie Norton
Posted 22 Oct 2015

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