Tucked up in the box end of Solstice Canyon are the ruins of the Roberts Ranch House, “Tropical Terrace”, designed by renowned architect Paul R. Williams in the 1950s. Although it was specifically designed to survive a wildfire, the pumps, pipes and pools were not maintained after the owners’ deaths, and the home burned down in 1982. Extensive paving, brickwork and chimneys remain, along with many non-native plants and trees. It’s now National Park Service property.
I ventured to the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains for today’s hike. I consider Griffith Park to be a bit of a crown jewel in the metropolis of Los Angeles. With over 4210 acres (1703 ha) of both natural terrain and landscaped parkland, it’s one of the largest municipal parks with urban wilderness areas in the United States.
Most of the land was purchased in 1882 by Griffith J. Griffith, who made his fortune in gold mine speculation. In 1896, he bequeathed it as a Christmas gift to the people of Los Angeles to be used as parkland.
“It must be made a place of recreation and rest for the masses, a resort for the rank and file, for the plain people,” Griffith said on that occasion. “I consider it my obligation to make Los Angeles a happier, cleaner, and finer city. I wish to pay my debt of duty in this way to the community in which I have prospered.”
So noble, right? But Griffith Griffith was not exactly an all-round good guy. He shot his wife in the head in a Santa Monica hotel room (she survived) and at the trial it was revealed that he was not, in fact, a teetotaller but a secret drunk with paranoid delusions. He was deemed to be suffering from “alcoholic insanity” and so served less than two years in jail. He went on to die of liver disease in 1919.
Be that as it may … as a member of “the rank and file, the plain people”, I am very grateful for Griffith Park. While I would never describe LA as a happy, clean or fine city, I have to say that the Park tilts things a little more in that direction.
Griffith J. Griffith, San Quentin State Prison. Public Domain.
drawing room rocks
We planned to climb Didthul, but the access road was closed. So we opted for the (easier) hike further north — Drawing Room Rocks. Spectacular!
fossil ridge trail
I got to see something very special today.
Top of Red Rock Canyon, looking west.
lilies and phacelia
I don’t know how long the Humboldt lilies are going to last in Santa Ynez Canyon, but for now they’re still going strong, and we’re loving them.
I was sooo excited to see this little guy down in Cold Creek; first time I’ve seen one in the wild. All credit goes to Annette for spotting it first.
Hiking in Santa Ynez Canyon yesterday, Annette spotted this Anise Swallowtail caterpillar munching on wild fennel, their preferred food source.
santa ynez canyon
I spent three hours forest-bathing and nature-journalling in Santa Ynez Canyon this morning. Riparian and Oak Woodlands are my happy place. So many Humboldt Lilies!