I live in hills. These hills are pretty close to the center of LA, near Dodger Stadium, but they are hills.
When I moved in here my only complaint (and it was a small one) was that my view, somewhat spectacular through the trees, (but there are enough trees around me to obscure it except in the winter), is north, across Glendale, rather than south, with a panorama of LA.
On the other side of Glendale – the end of my view, not so far away – there are mountains. Two sets, in fact, one smaller and closer, and the other just behind them.
The closer set are the Verdugos.
A year ago, running in Griffith park and just starting to explore trails, I would ask people about the Verdugos. Had anyone run them? Did anyone know of any good routes? There was one guy, a barefoot runner who claimed to be an ultrarunner and a trail expert, who had heard of people running up there, but that was as close as I got to a yes. I looked ’em up online, and discovered that Barefoot Ted used to run up there. Folks made it sounds like a fearsome wilderness crawling with mountain lions and really not so safe for humans.
Now I run in the Verdugos at least once a week, usually on Wednesday morning. There’s nothing terribly fearsome about them. Occasionally (frequently, actually) I come upon deer. Often enough I come upon rattlesnakes. Mostly I come upon hikers and mountain bikers.
Behind the Verdugos – the back of my horizon – a nearby horizon because I can’t see beyond the mountains – are the San Gabriels.
Nowadays, I prefer it that my view points away from the city.
I spend as much time as I can in the San Gabriels.
From my view here, I can barely make out a few peaks with cell and radio towers. I’ve run to those peaks, a bunch of times, and I run along the ridgeline all the time.
It looks so high up from down here. Cruising around in a car looking up at those mountains it’s hard for me to imagine that I regularly run to and then along the tops of them.
About 2 hours drive east of LA, between Hemet in Riverside County and Palm Desert in the desert, are the San Jacinto Mountains, and up in the mountains is the small town of Idyllwild, once an German themed ALpine tourist village, later a hippie hangout (Timothy Leary had his Brotherhood of Eternal Love HQ there), and now a peaceful mountain community and weekend getaway full of artists.
Idyllwild sits at about 5,000 ft. Kista and I spent a wonderful couple of days there. The first day we did a 20 mile run from the town up to Tahquitz Peak. It was a slow, easy run, with lots of stops to admire the scenery. I was in awe. There’s not much point trying to describe it – the pictures do a much better job, but even they are wholly inadequate compared to the reality of the place.