Mugu Peak

In May of this year a huge fire burned through Point Mugu State Park.  Now, after only a couple of months, all the trails are open again.  I don’t feel sad when I see the destruction caused by such a wildfire because I know the area will be green again eventually.  The native plants are built to burn every once in awhile.  It’s the natural state of things.  I become much more depressed when I see a new shopping mall or condo complex being raised – that’s land that has been destroyed and will probably never be recovered in my our lifetimes.  Once these structures go up they will be there, in some shape or form, for decades to come.  Something to think about when you see that yet another Taco Bell or 7-Eleven being built on open land.  I was grateful for a break in the heat we’ve been having around here lately.  I don’t think the Sun broke through the overcast layer at all and I was able to hike just over 15 miles.

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Smoke from the Point Mugu fire blots out the Sun – May 8, 2013.

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7       8   Chumash Trail took me straight up the mountain.  It’s only 0.8 miles long but is as steep as any trail in Malibu.

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10   While charred black was the color of the day, but life is returning.

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Once I reached the top it was mostly flat.  I picked up La Jolla Valley Loop Trail and headed deeper into the park.

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I took the lower half first, hiking the loop in a counter-clockwise direction.  It was odd seeing all the trails twists and turns that would normally be hidden by thick vegetation.  Photo 2 – Trail Marker, baked.  Photo 4 – The last time I walked passed this little pond it was full of water and ducks.  This day, all dry.

18   Standing in front of a scorched backdrop, a lone yucca blooms.

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I reached the junction to the next trail – Guadalasca Trail.  Boney Mountain beneath foreboding skies.

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24       25   Photo 2 – Cows graze in the distance.  Guadalasca Trail is long and slow going to the bottom with it’s near level switchbacks.  Photo 5 – Winter Wasteland – The ash on the ground and the leafless trees made it look like a snowy day in July.

26     27     28   After Guadalesca Trail I had to climb back up to the top on a section of Overlook Fire Road known as “Hell Hill”, due to it’s steep ascent.  There were some large green patches along the trail, somehow untouched by the massive fire.  Photo 3 – Looking back down Hell Hill

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I picked up La Jolla Valley Loop Trail again, this time taking the upper section.

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I next turned on to an unnamed connector trail which basically cuts right down the middle of La Jolla Valley Loop Trail, heading straight toward the ocean and taking me from the top to the bottom of the loop in 1.1 miles.  This trail dropped me very close to my next trail – Mugu Peak Trail.

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Almost at the end of the connector trail.  From here I could see the top of Mugu Peak and the American flag that flies there.

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Near the beginning of Mugu Peak Trail is an old water tank.  A big hole has been ripped in the side to allow access.

38     39   Also near the beginning, a sycamore has snapped and fallen over the trail.

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The military antennae and dish across the park are in clear view.

42     43     44   Mugu Peak Trail took me up and around the mountain, hugging the hillside.  The wind picked up once I turned the corner.  Photo 2 – Looking back down at the valley through which I had just hiked.  Photo 3 – Shell fossil on Mugu Peak Trail

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Just as I turned the corner on Mugu Peak Trail the views down the coast opened up.

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I felt more exposed today than when previously hiking along the side of this mountain.  When there are plants below the trail it just feels safer, like I would have something to grab on to should I happen to fall over the side.  Photo 2 – Ray Miller Trail is visible, etched into the side of an adjacent mountain.

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50     51   Looking straight out to the Pacific on Mugu Peak Trail.

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I spot the spur trail that leads up to Mugu Peak.  Nice and steep, as it should be.  On top, there are a couple of ammo cans with registers inside.

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The flag atop Mugu Peak.  I guess someone rescued it before the fire could reach it.  The edges were frayed so I’m pretty sure it’s an old flag.

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62   The views from Mugu Peak are truly inspiring.  The area at the top is large and flat so you can’t really take in all the views from a single location.  I walked around the perimeter and took photos from left to right.  First a shot down the coast, then Point Mugu, it’s lagoons and Naval base, the military sat dish, down into La Jolla Valley and finally, Boney Mountain.

63     64   Photo 1 – Now heading back along Mugu Peak Trail, a lizard eyes me.  Photo 2 – Odd looking orange and white cactus pod

65   One last viewpoint to check out, this one has similar ocean views as Mugu Peak but is lower and closer.

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69     70   Ready to head down the Chumash Trail and call it a day.

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