Nowhere does the interplay of wind, light and water capture the beauty of nature more than in the heights of Topanga State Park around Eagle Rock.
To get to the park, drive up Topanga Canyon Boulevard away from the ocean and make a right on Entrada Road; then follow the signs to the Triplet Ranch parking lot. From the ranch, follow the signs to East Topanga Fire Road. The large dirt trail is well-kempt and is great for hiking, biking and even horseback riding.
On my last hike, the path rose quickly as I moved up East Topanga Fire Road, catching the skyline and meeting the junction with Eagle Rock Trail. As I hiked upward, the topography and vegetation changed. Smaller shrubs and oaks began to recede, replaced by larger scrub oaks and big, blooming bushels of Laurel Sumac.
The fragrances rising up through the mists of the dense brush filled my nose as I ascended the dirt path that intermittently turned to sandstone beneath my feet. The wind had drawn circular-edged inscriptions that looked like a recorded history of the elements as they rubbed against the mountain's skin, scarring it and changing its contours.
Further up, the trail opened to an expansive view overlooking the Pacific and the outskirts of Pacific Palisades, which resembled a horseshoe etched in the mountainside.
I enjoy the views of the coast from the mountaintops, they give me a truer sense of my place on earth. From the higher elevation, I feel as if I'm looking down at a map, except this map is alive. And despite the fact that it makes me feel insignificant, it also fills me with a sense that I am part of something much grander than what I experience in the mundane routines of life.
Moving up toward Eagle Junction, the road narrowed slightly, eventually forking into three separate paths: Musch Trail, Eagle Rock, or Eagle Springs Fire Road. I decided to go straight ahead onto Eagle Rock and explore its abstract shapes.
The top of the rock is a geological wonder with caverns and crevices filling its every pore. And if you move to the ledge of the rock overlooking the hills below, you can enter "the eagle's face," as I like to call it – a cave with windows shaped like an eagle's hollowed eyes that overlooks the skyline and mountains. It's kind of like wearing a mask carved out of the rock face. The inside is marked with colorful graffiti, more artistic in nature than mere urban pollution. And the rock provides a naturally chiseled stone couch to recline on while enjoying the tranquility of the view.
For my descent I chose Musch Trail back to the main parking lot. The trail's switchbacks turned sharply into the dense cover of oaks, moving under sycamores and between moss-covered rocks. As I passed over creek beds, I noticed they were slightly damp from the recent rains, a harbinger of what may lie ahead.
If we are blessed with a truly rainy season, soon the water will course through the stream beds like lifeblood through the veins of a forest god, awakening and enriching the flora that inhabit this region.
The verdant season for hiking has begun.