LOS ANGELES BY BUS 2X: CAHUENGA PEAK (1,821’), VERDUGO PEAK (3,126’) April 20-24, 2014

Again, the prospect of another bus trip to climb a couple peaks presented itself. Doing my Net research, I found a discount fare with good lodging rates, the way that I had done it last year. I set some plans to do it, then cancelled to reschedule the next week.

Leaving home on foot early Sunday morning, I did about two miles going to the local intercity bus station, carrying my medium sized day pack with all of my things. Entering the premises, I was checked by security and my two pepper spray bottles were confiscated. I had plans to do a hike where dogs ran loose legally, so I was frustrated there. I boarded the bus with my printed ticket, on time, and we shortly left the station. I began with some video, doing a bit on the ride south to Los Angeles, CA. Not too interested in capturing the sights, again, it’d be more work.

Going by Stockton, CA, we motored south nicely on Interstate 5, and I had an ice cream bar at Avenal, CA. The poppies made for good telephoto video as we passed over the Grapevine, with orange fields against the bright green hills. We encountered traffic, but made it to our destination about on time. I walked over about a mile to Little Tokyo, where I had a nice bowl of ramen, comprising my daily meal. I’d diet a lot on this trip, restraining my eating to basically one larger meal a day.

I strolled about the Go For Broke memorial here, taking pictures, and went into the Japanese-American National Museum. I browsed about the gift shop, seeing items to take back home. The short walk to Union Station is nice enough, crossing over the Hollywood Freeway. I had lost my TAP Card from last year, so had to buy a new one. Putting cash on it by the machine, I was set to go. I fed two $20’s into the machine, total for this trip, and maybe retained a small balance on going home.

Riding the Silver Line, then the Metro bus to my economy lodging in El Monte, this was old hat. While a weekly pass may have been better or less, I’d have to put a dollar fare in the box each time that I rode the Silver Line, due to the fare structure. I rode out and back each day, so a total of eight trips. Checking into my room, I wanted Internet access for every day, which was slow.

Monday, I had my first peak to climb. I had worries about pedestrian access, or closed neighborhoods. Taking the buses, then the Red Line to Hollywood, I had to use a restroom. I couldn’t find any at the Hollywood and Vine Metro station, so went by a coffee shop to buy a coconut water for a high price. I had enough time to catch the Metro bus to the stop where I’d start my hike, at the base of Cahuenga Peak from the northwest.

Met by security and neighborhood watch signs, in addition to a large sign stating, “No Access to the Hollywood Sign,” I strolled on up by the streets that I had selected by my computer maps. One street was closed to hikers, being private. Taking Lake Hollywood Drive, then, I navigated my way to Wonder View Drive. While there were neighbors and traffic, I wasn’t stopped or challenged, and made it to the trailhead.

Having my pee bottle, I was secure from polluting. I never needed to use it on this trip, being that I found restrooms or had no urgent need while hiking. The steep use trail starts up without a good trail sign, but I had my directions from the Net. I enjoyed the opportunity to do this, in the middle of this urban environment, as the area had been opened in the last few years. Climbing up the steep, rocky trail, I came upon two other hikers, then another, and we chatted. One told me of the access to Verdugo Peak, different than what I had surmised by computer. Thanking him for that, I hiked up, and then came to the ridge top. There is a short side trip to the Wisdom Tree, with a register and view, then the trail continues along the ridge to the top. I did my camera work, pleased at an ascent, with a real summit. The trail drops steeply over to Mt. Lee, so I gingerly took it, and came to the new Hugh M. Hefner Overlook, with plaques. The top of the Hollywood sign was there, so I did video and photos, and savored the success. The chair of the peak section liked such publications, having his stash of magazines, and they were a draw for his followers to attend meetings at his home. I determined that Mt. Lee wasn’t a worthy summit, so hiked on back, taking more photos of the class 2 trail.

Pretty beat from the heat, perspiring heavily, I had my coconut water, doing self video as I drank it. I stopped for a few minutes again at the Wisdom Tree, putting a card to mark my ascent here. The return bus to Hollywood only comes by once every hour, so I had to time my descent. It went faster than I figured, so I went by a liquor store for a cold diet soda drink, and waited for the bus.

Getting back to Hollywood, I strolled about, and went back to the noted burger place to get their specialty. I left $40 for the burger, soda drinks, and salad, and the tip. No reason to be cheap, having my dining fun. I walked west along Hollywood Boulevard, taking photos, but I had been here before. Taking the Red Line back, from Hollywood and Highland, I’d stop at Union Station, then took the Silver Line and the Metro bus back to my motel, early.

For Tuesday, the plan had been to hike San Vicente Mountain, but I changed it to Verdugo Peak, a better climb. I awoke real early to take the transit to Union Station, where I had to ride MetroLink, the train. You have to be quick putting in your cash, or the machine takes it all without giving a ticket. I figured for a round trip, being that the Metro bus takes an hour or more, and it’s maybe 12 minutes by train.

Burbank Station is nice, but no restrooms. I knew enough to get breakfast at an eatery by my Net research, so had steak and eggs. It’d be my biggest hike for some time, so I didn’t want to run out of energy. Taking neighborhood streets about 3 miles to the trailhead, I determined that the walking was good and legal, with shoulder going up East Harvard Road to Wildwood Canyon Park. Access is free with restrooms. From here, I had about 1,500 feet of gain, but with good trails and fire road.

Taking the second trailhead as done by the hikers doing the Net directions, I climbed on up to run into other hikers to ask the way. The Vital Link Trail climbs to the ridge top, and the sign with the park map did not indicate it. Finding it, I took it on up, doing plenty of panorama photos as I hiked higher. There were clouds, then some blue sky, and I had stripped down to my Capilene T. I used a $40 jacket and parka, at times, with my old jeans, and light underwear, at times.

It is stated to be a mile to the ridge, so it went quickly enough, and another hiker stood about at the top. I had to determine the road to take to the summit, involving a short drop that is not obvious. Then it was clear as to the way, and I hiked past a couple antenna hills to arrive at the top of Verdugo Peak, with other hikers and their dogs, and maintenance personnel with trucks. I did my camera work again, with my summit twirls, and capturing the view.

Not staying long, I did more video of the birds flitting about in the air, and continued taking pictures with the views and changing light. The same way back was fine, with fire roads to be suggested for easier hiking, but I didn’t have maps for where they went. More hikers were coming up, but I came back then to the bottom, where the restroom made for my use, and then out on the roads to the city streets.

Making my way to Downtown Burbank, it had a pleasant village, with food. I picked a Chinese restaurant for some many refills on diet soda, and sizzling rice soup. Very good! Strolling about, this was a new highlight of this trip.

Back to MetroLink, I waited a short bit for the train, and had a pleasant ride back to Union Station. The facilities there I had used many times, and then looked at getting some pepper spray for another hike. Too much for the trouble. I rode back to my motel, with my TAP card making for fast, easy use.

Wednesday, I was stiff and sore. Declining then the idea of four peaks, I decided to visit Santa Monica, CA, and relax, today. Taking then the Big Blue Bus from Union Station, I came to the town, and beelined to the Pier. Nothing much new but some construction. I did camera work, and looked for food. Back on Ocean Avenue, a restaurant that I had enjoyed was now different, so I passed it by. At the Third Street Promenade, a farmers’ market was ongoing, making for photos. I stopped by the Tesla Store to take a few more photos, with no interest from anyone to share in a vehicle. I was figuring to split the cost, with a time sharing arrangement, whereby one would have it for weekends, and me for midweek, but no one would be game for that. The company is looking at mass production, and lowering the costs, but that’s not for a few more years.

Taking the bus back to Downtown, my sightseeing day was through. Relaxing and enjoying. I walked by Little Tokyo for a meal, economy at some $5.45, then tea at the museum, and went back to my motel.

Thursday, there was a possibility for a peak by Whittier, but I was still too tired. Another time. I had enough fare balance on my TAP card to get me back to Union Station, a small worry. Getting up early, I tried to sleep longer for my ride home. So then, two peaks and relaxing. Good enough for a five day trip. My lodging came to about $250, and I spent about $253 cash. A rock as souvenir. So, an economical journey, with sights to see.

I had time to kill, so strolled about downtown Los Angeles, going by the closed Angels Flight, then Pershing Square. I got breakfast back on First Street, taking my time. The local library was closed, so I sauntered slowly over to the bus station, getting a diet soda drink. I had advised my contacts of my hiking here, and with my electronics, felt safe from any hiking hazards. There were homeless and suspicious people, but an excellent police presence.

Catching the bus ride home, it was right on time, and I did some more video on the ride north. We had an unexpected courtesy stop at Buttonwillow, then I had another ice cream bar in Avenal. It began to be an ordeal, but I made it to the River District, and then to the Green Line light rail station, undisturbed. A quick ride on home, and an uneventful end to my adventure.

So, hiking then about 14 miles and 3,500 feet of gain for the peaks, and some more walking in the towns, I captured 1,340 images and movie clips. My total expense was then about 600 dollars. Never then using a car, that saves the planet on emissions, but Earth Day wasn’t much of an event, this year. Little mention or fanfare as in past years, and with millions of cars doing as they will, every day. The views weren’t totally obscured by smog, and so my software will enhance the scenes, and for this time period, the peak hikes weren’t impossible.

Back home, I am still tired, and need to catch up on sleep and rest. I don’t feel that I slimmed down very much, and am just glad that it went safely and successfully enough. For the rest of the spring, I hope to bag more local peaks, with the lighter snowpack, and an early peak season. With no prospect further for any partners, I plan to do as I will, dining and enjoying, summiting and green travel.