It took some hunting, some back-and-forthing in the car, to find this entrance — over-bowered and recessed — but we did at last. Beyond that bloodied iron door lies a trailhead of the Temescal Ridge Trail. The simpler way to access that trail is from Temescal Gateway Park down on Sunset Boulevard, but arcane signs had lured us here. And so we strapped on our backpacks, wrapped trek pole straps around our wrists and set forth.
The forbidding door creaked ominously on its hinges as we pulled it open. Beyond stretched a narrow path dedicted to the memory of Philip Leacock. He was a film director from England where he had achieved some critical acclaim with movies like The Spanish Gardener (1956). He gave up all that when he got a taste of California. He settled in the Palisades (where this trailhead is found) and spent the rest of his career directing TV shows like Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, and Dynasty. Spent some time hiking, too, I guess, since this really nice half-mile trail is named in his honor.
Honor him we did, and gladly, as we climbed, making merry melody upon his sunny trail — a very nice trail rapidly whisking us above the ritzy manses of Pacific Palisades Highlands for half a mile before glomming onto the Temescal Canyon Ridge trail. Not at all spooky as the eerie trailhead gate had seemed to portend. We paused for breath at the junction.
That is when we felt the FEAR.
A FEAR emanating from the north. A FEAR growing with every step as we wound along the rising ridge. What chthonic evil radiated this pulsing dread?
The answer appeared after a mile or so of climbing:
The rock in our road is none other than infamous SKULL ROCK. Did we dare pass Skull Rock — glaring at us from its empty sockets, if it’s possible to glare from empty sockets — and Skull Rock’s equally menacing companion, Weird-shaped Rock? We certainly did dare. We had the key.
We re-named it.
Inspired by the Philip Leacock leg of our journey, we invoked the beneficent power of television and dubbed the threatening boulder “Squidward Rock.” A glittering of fairy-dust, the tiny chiming of celestial bells, a harp arpeggio and the evil dispersed. We strolled blithely on our way, whistling.