9 OCTOBER 2020 W6/CT-218
The first time I hiked up Temescal Peak I was about 12 years old. My buddy Allan Gardner and I had seen the enticingly-named Eagle Springs on the topographical quad and it beckoned. Having no idea how long it would take, we left the quiet streets of Pacific Palisades at 2:30 AM. Our canvas Yucca Packs were ridiculously heavy — packed with all kinds of outlandish gear found in our suburban garages.
It was a long, strange odyssey. Using Al’s dad’s humongous SCUBA diving light, we saw a weasel raiding a large bird’s aerie for eggs in Temescal Canyon. As we made our way up to Temescal ridge in the dark, we kept hearing something strange whistling through the air over our heads. Much later we heard the report of a rifle and then the whistling sound, so we started yelling our heads off. A guy appeared over the edge of the firebreak above us on horseback brandishing a rifle. He told us “Don’t worry about it.” Yeah, right.
A little while later we came around a corner and in front of us was a large pack of wild dogs. They were mostly pretty scraggly looking, but the leader was a large shepherd mix. Al grabbed a machete out of his Yucca Pack and I picked up a huge stick with a large burl on the end. We stared the dogs down and they eventually ran off down into upper Santa Ynez Canyon.
When we arrived on 2,126′ (it wasn’t called Temescal Peak back then) I stuck the “dog bonker” stick in the pole that still graces the summit. For years after that you could see that stick for miles around. We called the summit Dog Bonker Peak for years.
In our pre-teen minds we were like Lewis and Clark in the wild west.
There are a lot of ways to hike up to Temescal Peak. I’ve done most of them. But for old time’s sake I left Trippet Ranch in Topanga State Park well before dawn. It was a nostalgic hike for me. The marine layer was in at about 2,500′ blocking out the waning moonlight, but the light LA and the San Fernando Valley provided enough illumination on the underside of the stratus to see well enough, once my eyes adapted to the dark.
The hike from Trippet Ranch is 3.7 miles, one way, with 1200 feet of elevation gain on well-graded fireroads. The turn-off is where the Backbone Trail leaves the Temescal Fireroad. You can see it in the photo above. The trail contours around the south side of the peak and you make your way to the summit via a small use trail on the east side.
My first contact was with Brian (WA6JFK) over on Cerro Negro Benchmark (CT-226) for a nice summit-to-summit contact. Unlike last week, Brian heard me loud and clear. He was 59 armchair copy. I made 19 contacts – 17 on 2 meters and 2 on 70cm. Cassie (KG6MZR) called me from home.
The hike from Topanga State Park takes you by Eagle Springs and right under the strangly sculpted Eagle Rock.