Because It’s Stairs

In the Los Angeles Basin, a mainly pancakish bit of geography, there’s a gathering of big anomalous lumps known as the Baldwin Hills. Lots of oil pumps bob like drinking birds all over the 511 ft high protuberances. Fewer than in the past, though. As the oil companies move off to richer reservoirs, the land is being reclaimed by California State Parks. The northernmost prominence has been conveniently decked out with a viewing platform and Visitor Center.

This is where the footpath begins off Jefferson St.Today we set out to conquer that peak and view things from that viewing platform. Conquerors before us had provided a nice winding footpath all the way to the summit, and also a steep set of Tolkienesque stone steps climbing straight up from Jefferson Street to the snazzy Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook at the top.

Each step could have use its own set of stairs to mount it.We hauled ourselves up the uneven steps with greater determination than ease.

Well, in truth, the younger NiceWork pranced skyward like a mountain goat while the older NiceWork gasped for ever-thinning oxygen and wondered with each pop of the knee whether it wasn’t the sound of the fatal aneurysm.

There were lots of snails in the brush on either side of the staircase.Undaunted by either the number of stairs or the size of some of them, we rose and rose in hard-won increments high above Los Angeles.

The shades of night were falling fast, / As through an Alpine village passed / A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice, / A banner with the strange device, / Excelsior!We climbed with a half a dozen pauses to draw in prodigious lungfuls of the brisk and cool Pacific breezes. Our ascent was rewarded with wonderful views of Marina Del Rey and Santa Monica buried under the marine layer to the west, and the Hollywood Hills carousing far to the north, and the downtown L.A. bundle of skyscrapers off to the northeast, but we can’t share any of it with you because the shutter on the NiceWork camera jammed for all the summit shots.

Rested and jubilant, we hopped back down from stair to stair like Jiminy Cricket, and we solemnly vowed to return one day when we could jog blithely to the top like the many athletes who passed us on the way up and on the way down even after they had stopped at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook to do, so help me, pushups.

"Beware the pine-tree's withered branch! / Beware the awful avalanche!" / This was the peasant's last Good-night, / A voice replied, far up the height, / Excelsior!


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