One afternoon in the summer of 2005 I went on a hike sponsored by LINC HOUSING:
LINC Housing builds, renovates, and preserves affordable homes for seniors and families throughout California. We collaborate with local governments, financial institutions and intermediaries to structure financial packages that have enabled us to create 45 thoughtfully designed housing communities of nearly 6,000 affordable homes with a sense of place and belonging for our 12,000 residents.
One of the things they do is take residents of their projects on hikes, and trips from time to time, and this trip to the UCLA Stunt Ranch Reserve at Cold Creek, in the Santa Monica Mountains of Calabasas, California.
The land is named for the Stunt family, settlers wh o emigrated from England in 1885 to homestead on this land, located in the heart of the Cold Creek watershed, and is perhaps the most pristine and biologically diverse watershed Santa Monica mountains.
Cold Creek itself flows year-round through the reserve.
Smaller tributaries of Cold Creek additionally provide the reserve with a well-developed corridor of riparian habitat. Primary habitats include chaparral, coast live oak woodland, and annual grasslands.
Overall, there are more than 300 vascular plant species, including the state-endangered Pentachaeta lyonii, a rare member of the sunflower family.
The reserve also harbors an abundance of fauna, particularly birds, and two rare reptile species: the San Diego horned lizard and the San Diego Mountain kingsnake.
This is my story of that trip.
It's 8am, and as 40 adults, and kids, mostly Hispanic, all gather on the tour bus it's hard to tell who's more excited, the kids (5 to 12 yrs. old), or the adults.
We are heading out for a nice, guided, hike in the coastal mountains.
On the bus trip I was reminded, for the 1st time in a long while, of just how many freakin' freeways dot the landscape of Orange County, and Los Angeles County.
We took at least six, and passed interchanges with still more!
Most Californians truly would be lost without their freeways to get them, and their cars, from place to place. ;-D
As we pass thru downtown Los Angeles I admire its impressive skyline.
As we drive thru the Santa Monica Mountains I see a lot of bicyclists out for a ride.
We finally reach our destination deep in the mountains, off a narrow two-lane road, after passing lots of open space, and many private homes.
The specific area, and trail we were to visit is known as the Cold Creek Valley Preserve/ Yucca Trail, and was formerly the home territory of the Chumash Indian tribe.
The Sumach Chaparal of the area love fire, and the region was completely burned out over a decade ago, but has been completely revived since.
Our walk took us past various plants, and trees, on a very narrow, winding, trail up a hillside to a portable Nature Center.
Our group was divided into three parts, each with its own trained guide to explain our surroundings.
Since 1977, the Cold Creek Docents have been leading nature walks in the Cold Creek area of the Santa Monica Mountains near Calabasas, California. Regularly scheduled public nature walks are conducted at Cold Creek Valley Preserve, Cold Creek Canyon Preserve, and along various trails in the Cold Creek basin....
The Docents are dedicated:
To educating the public, particularly school children, about the nature and cultural history of the Cold Creek watershed and its relationship to the Santa Monica Mountains and to worldwide ecological principles;
To conducting hands-on programs that include geology, Chumash studies, ethnobotany, and chaparral ecology on Cold Creek area trails and at the Katherine Spensley Nature Education Center at UCLA Stunt Ranch Reserve.
To promoting appreciation, conservation, and stewardship of the Cold Creek watershed.
My groups Guide, was a Chumash Indian named Rob who, being very proud of, as well as knowledgeable about, his heritage, told us about the plants, and their uses, and pointed out animal scat (Crap to all you folks in Rio Linda!), and other sign.
He tossed in many comments about how the Indian culture, and land was destroyed by native contact with non-native people, cultures, and plants.
Our man turned out to have a nice touch with kids as, while the adults all sat in the lunch are he took the kids, and interested adults, to the little building full of artifacts, and made a very informative presentation, then took the kids, and showed them how to sand paint, ground seeds into flour, with a mortar, and pestle, and make music with native instruments.
One of my favorite comments of our opinionated, yet informative, guide was this one:
When everyone dies the FBI takes over: Fungus, Bacteria, and Insects.
After lunch we returned to our busses by an entirely different route, and tired, happy, and informed, returned to civilization.
I really enjoyed myself on this hike (About 4 miles total, I think.).
The flora, and fauna, was beautiful, the views will take your breath away, the information packet they give you explains the plant, and animal communities of the area, and about the Chumash Indian Culture, and, when you have an interesting guide to add punch to the standard tour then you are guaranteed to have a fine time.