Since January of 2011, I’ve hiked over 3,200 miles in Angeles Forest and taken tens of thousands of photos. Prior to that, I hadn’t hiked much in the forest. I’d only been on a couple trails averaging less than one hike per year in Angeles Forest since my first trek in the 1980’s. I would hike more often in places closer to home like Griffith Park or the Verdugo Mountains. What I discovered last year was a rich and varied place well beyond my expectations. A place I would have frequented constantly starting decades ago if I only realized what was there. For over twenty years I’ve had the guide books and maps to tell me about the hiking opportunities in the forest, but it turned out they didn’t inspire me to go.
In 2011, for a variety of reasons, I decided I wanted to hike Mt. Whitney. I was nowhere near in shape to undertake such an endeavor. I knew I would need a year just to get in good enough shape to then begin to seriously train for a summer 2012 ascent. So, I started hiking all over Angeles Forest. This Mt. Whitney goal inspired me to study my maps and read my guide books to find new places to go and keep things fresh and interesting. Every hike brought with it some element of surprise in seeing something new and unexpected. At the same time, every hike brought with it the feeling that I should have done it long ago.
Weekly, as I completed new hikes and my sense of the diversity and beauty of the forest grew, I began to internalize deeply the meaning of the cliché a picture is worth a thousand words. Descriptions are helpful if one has enough experience and prior knowledge to imagine what is being described. In the past, however, I didn’t know enough to imagine for myself what I was missing. What took a Mt. Whitney goal and all the reasons surrounding it to inspire me into the forest could have easily been accomplished in the past if I just saw enough photos. Seeing (instead of trying to imagine) places I could walk through and views I could see in person would have significantly impacted me to see the distance I needed to drive to get to them differently. These places seem like they should be much further away from the Los Angeles megalopolis. I know I would have hiked a lot more and I would have been healthier for it. So, a key component of this blog is to share many of my photos with you. As I develop this blog further, a more visual approach to sharing information will emerge leading toward an option to navigate the site almost entirely by clicking on pictures.
Trying out new trails most every week has also caused me to internalize the meaning of the cliché the map is not the territory. Maps are great and I use them constantly. However, they have important limits. Space constraints on a sheet of paper, for example, prevent all trails (or trail like features) from being drawn on the map. To do so would generate a cluttered and hard to read resource that would be difficult to use. So, there are times on the trail when there’s a fork and it’s not clear how to proceed, or there’s a fork but it isn’t noticeable unless you are on special alert to look for it. While maps do a great job of giving a general overview of a path through the forest; they can’t show the current level of maintenance, how wide the trail is, the skill level required to traverse it etc. I believe this information is of fundamental significance to help you determine if a hike is appropriate in your current state of physical fitness and hiking experience and to give you a way to determine for yourself an idea regarding how long it might take you to complete the trek.
Fortunately, since January 2011, I’ve photographed all the trailheads, trail intersections, and much of the terrain along each sub-segment of the hikes I’ve been on. Another major component of this site is to share that information and make it possible for you to better know the territory before you embark on a trek.