Today we explored a tiny bit of the enormous Topanga State Park. If you were to fly north by northwest over Thomas Mann’s old stomping ground, Pacific Palisades (which Aldous Huxley also called home), you would soon look down into Santa Ynez canyon. Topanga State Park surrounds and engulfs that canyon.
“Topanga” is derived from words in the Shoshone dialect meaning “the best route for arriving at Panga.” The words “State Park” mean “Park in a State.”
The vast preserve offered more trails to chose from than you could shake a walking stick at, so I picked “Eagle Rock” as my destination because it looked easy.
Maybe it is for people like the mountain bikers I met as they skidded down the path. It was a bit of challenge for me: 800 feet of upward trekking spread unevenly along 2 miles of horizontal trekking.
The objective eventually loomed into sight:
See those little squiggles on the top edge, about 2/3 of the way down? Those are two guys who had been standing on the crown of the eagle moments before. I met the two young fellows as they were descending the path I was ascending and I begged them with what little breath I could spare to tell me it wasn’t much further. They did so — they weren’t in the least winded. They encouraged me with word and gesture to persevere.
Finally, huffing mightily, I beheld this most beautiful sight:
A bench! Weatherbeaten, but hospitable. I took my own sweet time on that humble bench high amid the circling hawks, slowly sipping an energy drink and encouraging my gobsmacked red cells to take big, deep breaths and pink up already. Our height above sea level was 1800 feet (24 meters). The temp was 92°. We all enjoyed a nice, leisurely gander at the impressive slab of stone called “Eagle Rock” in California dialect. Here’s a better view of it:
We’re looking at the eagle from behind. You have to imagine the narrow part at the top of the incline as the eagle’s head, its beak curving down and to the left; the wider part looks like the eagle’s wings folded back. Got it?
It took me an hour (minus picture-taking pauses) to clamber up from the parking (EIGHT BUCKS!!) lot to that lovely bench. Fifty minutes sufficed to return me to my RAV which was hopping about, panting and tugging at its leash.