Garden of the Gods

Fri, Nov 23, 2018

With: Tom DiGiuseppe
Jackie Burd

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This was actually a couple of short outings on two consecutive days while I was in Southern California for the Thanksgiving holiday. My daughter and brother-in-law joined me for a hike in Chatsworth Oaks Park, less than two miles of wandering about the hillside park in the Chatsworth Hills. The area is primarily sandstone and there are a number of challenging boulders to climb along the way. A bit of overnight rain made for exceptionally clear air with fine views across the San Fernando Valley to the San Gabriel Mtns. This was a nice little leg-stretcher before heading back for the Thanksgiving feast.

The next morning I got up for an early ride while most of the household was still asleep. I rode around the north side of the Chatsworth Reservoir, a dry basin that hasn't been used by the LADWP for water storage since 1969. There is a small community on that side called Chatsworth Lake Manor that has been around for many decades, a collection of hippy-era shops, homes and businesses. Northeast of there is the Oakwood Memorial Park and Cemetery where I made a side trip to visit the gravesite of my parents who had both died in their 60s due to cancer. My siblings and I are soon approaching 60, so we're keeping our fingers crossed.

Continuing north along Topanga Canyon Blvd, I rode by the iconic Stony Point and then left on Santa Susana Pass Rd. This was the old road connecting the San Fernando Valley with Simi Valley before the 118 freeway was built in the late 1960s. Nearby is the Garden of the Gods, now part of the Santa Monica Conservancy. This was part of the Iverson Ranch, a sprawling movie ranch from 1918 until the early 1960s. A plaque here describes it as "the most shot up location in movie history" for all the "B" Western movies filmed here. There are some impressively large sandstone formations used as the backdrop for these movie scenes, now primarily a bouldering park. Many of the rocks appear unclimbable by scrambling means, but the highest point can be reached by several class 3 routes. Definitely a worthwhile place to visit if you're in the area.

The final leg of my bike ride went west up to Santa Susana Pass and briefly into Simi Valley before turning south to take Box Canyon Rd up and over Pioneer Pass and drop me back into the San Fernando Valley. I spent about two hours on the outing, an enjoyable ride on a crisp Fall morning.

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