HIKE01: Malibu Creek State Park--Lost Cabin

Word has it that Malibu Creek is one of the most popular State Parks in the Los Angeles area.  All this time, and we've never even been there. 

We got started a bit later than usual--didn't leave the house until after 9, meaning we didn't reach the park until a bit after 10.  Upon arrival we were greeted with a nice $12 fee. Gotta love the California budget crisis.

Not too crowded as we headed down the path on this first really warm Sunday morning of the year. The park stretches along Malibu Creek between high hills of sand stone and volcanic rock.

The "trail" began by way of a wide gravel road following the creek. Ugh. Not a fan of gravel road hiking. It's pretty common in Southern California as many trails double as fire roads. Or maybe many fire roads double as trails. I'm not exactly sure. In any case they're usually hot, shadeless and tiring. The saving grace here was the ample shade provided by large oak trees along the path.  Can't complain about any local trail with shade as they're not as common as I'd like.  I can manage, but with her fair skin and red hair, sun is a truly major concern for Liz. I'm sure I'll write an entire explanation of our effort to fight that challenge soon...

About a mile in, the gravel road climbed over a ridge and the trees disappeared. Uh oh. Fortunately, we quickly dropped down to the water level and the wide road narrowed to a narrow path. OK, this is a trail.

We crossed a bridge that showed evidence of flooding from the heavy rain this winter and then continued on a rocky, muddy scramble at water level.  Saw a paddle boat stuck in a tree--more evidence of the flooding and especially incredible since Malibu Creek runs at barely a trickle in the summer months.

The path opened up again when we stumbled on the site where M*A*S*H was filmed.

A couple signs with photos, two rusted out trucks and a replica of the directional post from the show marked the location. Most of the trail up to this point had been flat so we originally planned to fork off on a short spur that climbed 900 feet.  But we had only walked an easy 2 and a half miles and wanted a workout. There was a lake and damn ahead if we soldiered on.  After taking a wrong turn, we never found the lake and the damn was hard to see thanks to an annoying fence.  We did annoy a couple enjoying a picnic alone at the end of the trial when we sat for a snack before heading back.

The sun was getting heavy by the time we got back to the M*A*S*H site.  We really needed the uphill workout so I convinced Liz that we should still take that spur.  By this point the sun was getting to Liz and she didn't really want to continue.  I pushed her, probably a little too much, but we made it to the top to be rewarded with cool breezes and an empty hillside painted with wildflowers.

We didn't see a single other person on the Lost Cabin spur trail. That was nice. As soon as we reconnected with the main trail the park's crowds started to become more apparent.  Watched a man try to push a stroller over the ragged rocks near the flood-stranded paddle boat.  It wasn't working.  He turned around just as we passed him.  And there was a kid sitting in it.  Is that abuse?

The closer we got to the car, the more families we saw. Each one seemed to have more children running amuck.  We stopped in a visitor center for a cold drink and I swear the place was filled with thirty bebes screaming and yelling and thowing food.  At least 80% of our walk had been relatively peaceful.

We walked the last bit on the opposite side of the creek unaware that no bridge would carry us over the water at the end. From what we heard, you can usually walk across without stepping into the water. Should we back and around?  That would mean about a mile more sun and Liz was done....I was too.  Took off the shoes, pulled up the pants, and splashed across. A couple stairs and we were done. It was nearly 3PM.

8 miles.  900 feet elevation gain.  4 1/2 hours.  Tired and sunburned.   We have a long way to go.

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