I have been looking for a forever home for my blog these last few weeks and think I found it -  JustAmbling.com  - so please be aware all new posts will be appearing on that site.  

Thanks so much for reading :) 

Mount Work - what a strange, not particularly enticing name. Who wants to hike a mountain when they are reminded it is work?  Maybe Mt. Stroll in Woods would be a better name.  But it should actually be called Mount Wark - as it was named after John Wark (the fur trader, not the soccer player).  When Wark joined the Hudson's Bay Company in 1814 he Anglecized his name to Work... and there you go - the story behind the name Mt. Work.  

The main excitement of the day was the wind... and what a wind it was.  Something maybe only Island people would understand, because I have never felt wind like this in Vancouver.  The entire hike up I could hear the trees cracking and popping as the wind readjusted and tested them.  Small branches breezed my my head.  I came up with my plans for if a) a tree was going to fall on me - run like hell and b) a giant branch came sailing at me - jump, duck, run....   It was windy. 

I found it rather humurous that the beginning of the trail had a handful of signs pointing to the summit, but once I got up there... I had no idea, and still don't really KNOW, where the summit was.  There was a flat expanse of rock with a beautiful view up Island that I will call the summit - unfortunately I did not take much time to enjoy the vista because the wind was particularly strong without the trees to break its full force.  I had to brace myself, legs apart, knees bent, shoulder to the wind... just to keep standing.  I squatted down (less surface area?) to take a picture, and was blown over.  So needless to say, I did not stop to enjoy my snack.

The trail carried on past the summit and down the other side - I followed this part way, still in search of the perhaps official Summit, but turned back after awhile - the trail was becoming slightly hard to follow and my ears were particularly icy.  

If you are thinking about hiking Mount Work - check out this project I am working on for some more details.   

Have you ever played video games and realized that you haven't blinked for the last 10 minutes?  Or breathed for that matter.   That is what driving through LA is like.  There is so much traffic and so many idiots trying to zip through cars standing still, you are just hoping and praying you aren't hit.  Seriously I was.  After noticing about 5 pairs of cars in various states of disrepair pulled over on the curb with the drivers out and yelling, I started to worry I might be next.  I couldn't get to Santa Monica fast enough.  You see just north of Santa Monica - the pier, the promenade, the beach - are the Santa Monica Mountains.  

The trail I chose was called Temescal Canyon and yelp users had given it an almost perfect 5.  It was a pretty steep ascent with spectacular views in every direction.  If you looked North, you could see the mansions of Malibu with their Olympic sized swimming pools and manicured palm trees.  If you looked West, you could see Santa Monica Pier as well as every other beaches' pier dotting the coast.  And if you looked South, you saw the highrises that marked the madness of LA.  And if you looked East - well you saw the trail sneaking up through the woods, a little piece of wilderness, an oasis, within this urban sprawl.  

Although the Santa Monica Mountains offered enough hikes to keep me blissfully entertained for weeks, I only did one more trail - Escondido Falls.  

I had read reviews saying these falls were more like a trickle, so I lowered my expectations and was pleasantly surprised.  Although the amount of water was slight, the height it fell from made it spectacular.   For the first mile or so, the "trail" was meerly a dirt path along the streets of residential Malibu - this was a bit of sightseeing in itself - looking at people's private tennis courts and riding stables.  There were signs everywhere telling hikers not to stray from their path - it felt a little bit like we were not wanted here, but they would put up with us.... 

When the trail finally entered the woods, it snaked back and forth over a small creek - and eventually to the falls.  Well... or it should have, but I took a wrong turn and first climbed (a bit precariously) to the top of the falls, and then came down and had a closer look.    I noticed a hidden rope among the rocks that would have allowed people to climb up under the falls - but since I had all my stuff with me, and it would have got soaked (plus it looked rather slippery), I decided not to. Seriously one of the harden things to walk away from - it would have been so cool to go up under there!!!  It was one of the first moments I really, really wished I had someone there with me.  I had another moment of longing for a companion earlier this morning when I was reading about the abundance of ticks in this area (active October to March ... right now!) with a small percent carrying Lyme disease.... yikes.  

Now to update you on my actual whereabouts - I am back home in Victoria.  I spent the next day exploring Ventura Pier and cycling the coast a bit, then decided to drive home.  I slept in my car for a few more nights heading back to Vancouver (I sleep so well in my car, its pretty astonishing) - got detained at the border as they asked me if I had installed any secret compartments in my car, went through my wallet and my phone... apparently my free spirit and wandering soul fits a certain profile.... 

Until next time ;)