Leap of Faith

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I really love the outdoors and adventures.  After a week of being flyered and seeing old friends, all while starting classes, this weekend my friends and I were able to go on an incredibly spontaneous adventure in Angeles National Forest.

At 3:30 on Sunday afternoon, one of my friends ran to my apartment (from just down the hall), yelled “Cliff jumping in 5 minutes, come!”, before quickly leaving.  After standing there a moment in indecision, I put on my bathing suit and packed a hiking bag.  A few minutes later, we were on our way to Glendale/Arcadia area and made our way up a mountain.  After a few questions about whether or not we would make it before it got too cold or before the sun got too low, we began our hike.  The hike itself was not very long, but the last bit required some actual rock climbing.  With shadows falling heavily on the mountain, we made it to the pool of water!

The water was cold. Very cold.  While the sun was still in the sky, the pool was not in direct sunlight.  After putting our feet in, my friends and I chuckled nervously.  Had we come all that way for nothing?  We decided that we would all get into the water, no matter what it took!  Each of my friends jumped off a small rock into the freezing cold water.  I was the last one, but I did it!  When first hitting the water, it wasn’t that bad…but after 30 seconds in the water I had to get out!  Next we tackled the 20 foot cliff!

It was such a fun adventure (and a great way to start senior year)! The water was cold and it was a bit scary, but so are a lot of things in life.  This year I hope to jump off more cliffs (both literally and metaphorically)!

Not so Gloomy Afterall!

In LA we may not get extreme weather, but we do experience a natural phenomenon known as “June Gloom”.  For those of you unfamiliar with this term, June Gloom refers to the spring/summer cloud cover that happens most mornings in June.  This may not sound all that extreme, but the weather in the mornings looks entirely different from weather in the afternoons.  While it rarely stays cloudy for the entire day, the cloud cover reappears every morning, regardless of how clear it was the night before.  Even though it is July, we are experiencing some June Gloom residuals even now.

While June Gloom sounds terrible and…well…gloomy, it’s really not that bad!  I don’t know about you, but I hate waking up in the morning feeling sweaty.  It leaves me feeling lethargic and slow.  When it is cloudy in the mornings (and consequently cooler) I am able to enjoy my cup of coffee better.  June Gloom also makes runs a lot better!  This morning I was able to go running at 7:30am and did not feel like I was sweating buckets.  Cloud cover makes running the hilly perimeter quite enjoyable!  Last week when I talked about hiking, we experienced some June Gloom but our hike was fantastic!

All that being said, June Gloom does not get in the way of all of the fun things to do in LA (even when it persists into July)!  You can still get tan (and burned) when there is a cloud cover…so make sure you wear sun screen!  I have been to the beach four times over this last week and a half.  Each time it was cloudy and each time it cleared up by the afternoon.  This past weekend we even saw dolphins swimming within 50 feet of the shore in Santa Monica!  If I had to pick between June Gloom and swimming with dolphins, I’d pick dolphins.

Conclusion: June (Okay…July) Gloom does make for cooler weather, but that’s what happens when you live so close to the beautiful Pacific Ocean.  It’s such a bummer to have to see dolphins on a cloudy day or enjoy a cool run at a reasonable time in the morning.  I guess you have to make sacrifices wherever you live, right?

Hikes and Hobbies

One hobby that I never thought I would discover and develop while in LA is hiking.  When most people think of LA they imagine the beach, downtown, Hollywood, and other LA landmarks.  While all of these iconic places are part of what makes LA so unique, we also are blessed to be surrounded by several wonderful mountain ranges!

I grew up hiking with my family in Colorado, but I never thoroughly enjoyed it.  Colorado is known for it’s mountains and for hiking, but I could not appreciate it at all.   I was always the child dragging my feet and wondering when we would get to the top so that we could start the hike back down.  I’m sure my dad felt like he was pulling teeth to get my siblings and I to go on even a short afternoon hike.

Since coming to LA three years ago now, I have discovered that hiking can be fun and that I do actually enjoy it!  I have been on tons of hikes in Malibu, Pacific Palisades, and Santa Monica.  Whenever I go on club retreats to the mountains, I take every opportunity I can to go hiking.  One of the great things about hiking in LA is that no matter where you go (on the west side anyways) the top always has an incredible view of the Pacific Ocean!

Last Saturday, I organized a hike with a group of friends who are around for the summer.  We hiked near Pacific Palisades on a trail called Los Liones.  You know you are hiking in LA when there is a real parking lot at the trail head! We met some friendly people at the bottom of the trail who took a picture for our group then told us that they were taking an alternative route and would race us to the top.  We ended up winning!

The hike was 7.3 miles there and back.  We began at 8:45am and got to enjoy an overcast but warm day.  We had a view of the ocean throughout the entire hike! It was awesome!

I am looking forward to doing a couple more hikes in LA this summer!  More importantly though, I am looking forward to the end of summer when my friends and I are going to Colorado to my grandparents cabin for a whole week of hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park.  If you had told me that I would be going to Colorado to voluntarily hike for 5 days when I was ten, I would not have believed you.  I would believe you even less if you told me it had been my idea!

Thanks to all my LA hikes and my upcoming Colorado trip, I finally got my own pair of hiking boots!

Sunday Morning Hike

 

 

Last Sunday morning I woke up around 9 AM after a long two days of activity (Spring Sing on Friday night and UniCamp Campathon all day Saturday really wears you out!) so I was planning on waking up nice and slow, enjoying a cup of tea, and maybe lounging around for a couple of hours before working on an essay I had due on Monday night. I started my morning with the usual checking-of-the-iPhone and saw that I just received a snapchat from one of my best friends that lives a few doors down from me in my apartment complex that read “WAKE UP EVERYONE! Let’s go hiking!” Unable to turn down an opportunity to hang out with some of my best friends and roommates, I ran over there and we woke everyone in our two apartments up by jumping on them while they were still in bed (the most efficient method, of course). Once the hiking group was established, we ate a super quick breakfast and headed to the Solstice Canyon trail in the Santa Monica mountains in Malibu.

After a fairly short 25 minute drive, we started our adventure. First we explored the ruins of an old mansion from the 1800’s which was super cool. Then, we followed up a little stream and climbed up multiple waterfalls. It was really beautiful and the cool ocean breeze from Malibu being so near was amazing. After coming back down, we decided to be adventurous and take the “loop trail” back to our parking space. This trail went for three miles and went uphill for a long time, until we finally reached the top of a mountain and saw the extraordinary view of the ocean. The long hike up was worth it- especially because I got to race my roommates on the way down!

LA can be outdoorsy too!

 

Since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve been trying to do all of the city-like things I didn’t get to do at home, like going to concerts at nearby venues or trying out as many unique, hip restaurants as possible. But one thing that has surprised me about LA is how “outdoorsy” it can actually be. Tons of people here actually prefer things like bike-riding, surfing, and hiking over things like shopping at expensive stores and attending movie premiers (weird, right?). Since living here, I have gotten a chance to experience both the glitz and glamour of LA, but also the down-to-earth side of LA.

This past weekend I mixed the glitz and glamour with the down-to-earth aspects of Los Angeles in one of the best ways possible: I hiked to the Hollywood sign! It was a blast. There are a couple  of different main trails that people take when hiking to the sign- including one that will take you in front of it, one that will take you in back of it, and one that starts from Griffith park. We decided to take the shortest route that leads us to the back of the Hollywood sign. The hike was short and sweet and we got to see a bunch of horses and even a snake- two things you don’t see in Westwood very often. We ran into a few other UCLA students on the way up as well! The view at the top of the Hollywood sign is amazing. Not only are you able to see the gorgeous Hollywood Hills, but also downtown Los Angeles, Westwood and the Pacific Ocean. If you turn around you can also see whats behind the mountain- towns like Burbank and Glendale and the 5 freeway! It definitely gave me a better understanding of the overall geography of Los Angeles and how close everything actually was. After our trip we rewarded ourselves and stopped by Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills on the way back to Westwood. As usual, it was delicious. I felt like a true tourist this day and I can’t wait to go again!

Nature Lover

I grew up without television. My friends say this explains a lot about my eccentric personality, but what I think this really did for me was that it fostered a love of the outdoors and the majestic use of my imagination. Growing up we had a large backyard that was packed with trees and flowers and was backed up by a creek. I would spend most of my days frolicking around pretending I was an Indian Princess, or a lost explorer.

You are probably assuming that with age these silly children’s fantasy games went away. However, they did not. I love imagination and exploration and discovery. But how was I going to take advantage of what my mind and creativity had to offer if I had no place to go? In Westwood, there is little to no foliage to get lost in.

If you’re anything like me, you may have come to Los Angeles, taken a look around, and wondered to yourself, where is the nature? This was probably the most difficult thing I had to face upon coming to UCLA. Being from the Bay Area, I always had Muir Woods, Pismo Beach, Yellowstone, and Lake Tahoe just a stones throw away. I could venture up into the mountains for long backpacking trips with my family and friends, or just explore for a casual day hike.

It has been my quest to find as many good hikes as possible in these tough surroundings. Luckily, this past weekend, I found one to get lost in. Sadly it takes a full day to do the entire trip, so if you have a jam packed schedule as I do, this can’t be an everyday frequent, but it is worth it time permitting.

My dear friend Ashley and I took to the internet to find a hike that led us to the highest peak in Santa Monica. We drove our car up and around winding roads until we finally found the gravel parking lot the yelp commenters are had mentioned.

The brush and bramble wasn’t exquisite on the way up, but the large rock formations and the way the sun hit the stone made it all worth our while. When we finally emerged victorious at the top, the view was breathtaking. In the distance, the beautiful ocean could be seen sparkling in the sun light, and the hills around us made civilization seem a thing of the past. We were along to indulge in a delicious picnic and catch up without the woes of our world below us.

As the sun began to set, we set off at a quick pace with hopes of catching the sun setting in Malibu. However, one wrong turn, a pitiful tripping on my part, and a bloody knee, resulted in a less glamorous viewing from the side of the hill. All in all, can’t complain. And, I have a nice little scar on my knee to hold the memory forever.