Category Archives: photography|landscape

Chumash Rock

Chumash Rock from the Chumash Trail.
Chumash Rock from the Chumash Trail.

Practically any objective can be a good excuse for an adventure. Each time up or down the Chumash Trail, I pondered the prominent rock formation northwest of the trail and wondered what I might find there.

My first thought was to find a direct route across the deep canyon that parallels the Chumash Trail. Recons from a couple of points on the trail revealed this was a bad idea. Sections of the canyon that looked passable from above were incised, with crumbling, near-vertical walls. A Plan B was required.

A look at a topo map suggested it might be possible to access the formation from Las Llajas Canyon. An advantage of this approach was that, if it worked, it could be part of a loop. On a cool January morning, I decided to give it a go.

From Las Llajas Canyon, an old, overgrown roadbed led up a side canyon to a point where there was no obvious route. The canyon bottom did not look promising, and steep slopes bounded both sides of the canyon. After scrambling several hundred feet up a south-facing slope, I found a deer trail that seemed to be headed in the direction I wanted to go.

This game trail was the key. It reflected the cumulative experience of many deer dealing with the terrain issues I faced. It was remarkably efficient and appeared to be the path that expended the least energy to reach the main ridge. That is, if you’re a deer. At one point, I was forced to backtrack when the trail crossed a steep, exposed slope better suited to those with four legs and cervid hooves.

Chumash Rock

Once on the main ridge, it didn’t take long to reach the rock formation.

According to the Dibblee geologic map of the area, the formation is positioned on the south branch of the Simi Fault. The steeply inclined layers of cobble that are embedded in the formation might have been deposited as part of a fan delta some 60 million years ago. This cobble is also encountered at several places along the Chumash Trail.

Near the summit of the formation I found some chiseled inscriptions. They were very weathered. The most prominent might be either a “93” or “33” over the top of a “W,” and another is perhaps a “DH.” It’s hard to tell.

Chiseled inscriptions near the summit of Chumash Rock.
Chiseled inscriptions near the summit of Chumash Rock.

Of the three high points comprising the formation, I scrambled to the top of two. The easternmost summit (on the far right when viewed from the Chumash Trail) involved climbing on loose cobble, and looked like an accident waiting to happen. Here’s a photo from the middle tooth, looking down the ridge.

As I climbed down from the summit to a saddle northeast of the rock formation, I spooked a deer, and it bounded into a brush-filled gully.

Continuing up the ridge, it eventually intersected Rocky Peak Rd. at its high point near some bivalve fossil beds. According to the Dibblee map, these are much younger than the rock formation’s cobble and may have been deposited in shallow marine conditions or lagoons a couple million years ago.

At Rocky Peak Rd. I had the option of returning via Las Llajas Canyon but decided to complete the approximately 8-mile route using the Chumash Trail.

This interactive, 3D terrain map shows the approximate route used to get to Chumash Rock and then complete the loop. The hike/run was on January 29, 2006.

Sage Ranch Sunset


Sunset at Sage Ranch Park, a few weeks following the Topanga Fire.


 

Sunset at Sage Ranch Park, a few weeks following the Topanga Fire. The loop at Sage Ranch is about 2.4 miles. My usual route here is an out and back of about 4.5 miles. It’s a good short-day run with an elevation gain/loss of about 700 ft. (Photo from a run on November 14, 2005.)

San Joaquin Juniper


Juniper on the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River.


This photograph was taken early in the morning in the canyon of the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River, on a solo trail run from Agnew Meadows to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, in the Summer of 1986 or 1987. My route followed the river trail to Thousand Island Lake, and then the PCT over Island and Donohue Passes, and down Lyell Canyon to the Tioga Road. It was a wonderful and adventurous run in a stunning area.

Runner on Circuit of Mt. Ausangate (20,905 ft.)

A runner descends the trail below Palomani Pass (16,600 ft.) on a circuit of Mt. Ausangate (20,905 ft.) in the Peruvian Andes.


A runner descends the trail below Palomani Pass (16,600 ft.) on a Circuit of Mt. Ausangate (20,905 ft.) in the Peruvian Andes. Once acclimated, running at that altitude wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, and when you return home, those 10,000 ft. trails feel like you’re running at sea level. The trip was arranged by my good friend Devy Reinstein of Andes Adventures and was unforgettable. (Photo taken July 23, 2003.)

New Grass at Ahmanson Ranch Following the Topanga Fire

New sprouts of grass at Ahmanson Ranch less than a month after the Topanga wildfire burned 24,175 acres in the Simi Hills, northwest of Los Angeles.

New sprouts of grass at Ahmanson Ranch less than a month after the Topanga wildfire burned 24,175 acres in the Simi Hills, northwest of Los Angeles. More photos and information regarding the Topanga Fire can be found in my Coyote Oak Journal article The Topanga Fire, Part I: Rain, Wind and Fire. (Photo from October 25, 2005.)

San Fernando Valley from Rocky Peak

San Fernando Valley from Rocky Peak

Updated May 3, 2008.

Whether it’s raining, 100 degrees, or snowing (!) you’re likely to see someone hiking, mountain-biking, or running Rocky Peak road in  Rocky Peak Park. Switchbacking up from the 118 freeway, the fire road climbs along the spine of the Santa Susana mountains. It’s proximity to the San Fernando and Simi Valleys, and array of route variations, make it the choice of many for a morning or afternoon workout.

It’s not because it’s easy — the route is steep from the start, gaining 500 ft. in the first three-quarters of a mile, and 1200 ft. in just over 2 miles.

Following are some approximate one-way distances and elevation gains.

Hummingbird Trail: 0.8 miles 500 ft.

High point at turnoff to peak: 2.4 miles 1200 ft.

Johnson Motorway: 3.2 miles 1350 ft.

Chumash Trail: 3.8 miles 1390 ft.

Fossils: 4.8 miles 1800 ft.

Las Llajas Loop turnoff: 5.5 miles 1950 ft.

End of Rocky Peak Rd at Las Llajas Cyn Rd.: 6.3 2070 ft.

Related posts: Chumash Trail Snow, Oat Mountain Snow, Sunset Snow Shower.

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