The 170 Story Mountain

This edition of Nice Work comes to you from 2165 feet above sea level. Your intrepid web loggist stands atop the third highest peak of the Santa Monicas. Yes: I climbed Mount Calabasas.

Or trudged up it, to be more accurate. Trudged slowly and dizzily, to be more accurate still. It took me some 55 hard-breathing minutes to make the 1000 foot ascent from trailhead to windblasted summit. You might make the hike in less time. Certainly the laughing little girls who skipped past me on the way up spent no more than half an hour conquering Calabasas.

But it was worth the sweat, the sore hamstrings, the acrophobia. Forget that view from the ill-named “Top of Topanga Overlook.” Ha! Just look at this panorama as we gaze southwest toward the ocean:

Or is it a kestrel?I was not far along my desecent when I looked down — down! –to see a couple of hawks wheeling in the air. I inched my tripod cautiously to the edge of the trail hoping to get their portrait and, lo!, one of them kindly obliged me. He even flew right up to me, hovered before me a moment, and uttered something fairly shamanistic. “Awk,” if I recall correctly.

See that collection of houses in the upper left of the photo — they look like white stones? Well, you must not look too closely, because it is a the very exclusive gated community known as the Palisades Highlands. Wave to Brad Pitt, everyone. Beyond that is Santa Monica.

Many eye-catching rock formations catch the eye along the mountain path. These things intrigued me:

The water bottle is seven feet tall.

What are they? Dinosaur eggs? It’s as though the rockface were studded with boulders around which had formed dozens of thin stone shells. Geologists must surely have a name for this curious phenom, but I have no idea how to find it. I’d ask a geologist, but they are a notoriously tight-lipped guild. The water bottle is in the picture for scale.

Every twist of the climbing dirt road generously offered another dozen or so photo opportunities. Here — click on the boldfaced phrase — is a sportif website that includes a whole bunch of such photos: CLICK ME YOU FOOL! Go there for your rock formation photo needs, because I respect you too much to try your patience with my humble snaps. However, it does occur to me that my freethinking, skeptical readers may demand more solid proof than my mere word that I did indeed have the strength of nerve and limb to ascend Mount Calabasas — with neither special equipment nor oxygen! — and so here is one more photo:

It's hard to see, but my cap is backwards.

There I am on the downward journey, glowing with my triumph over the proud mountain. To confirm that it’s me and none other I am making the secret Nice Work gang sign.


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