After spending a lethargic Saturday (hottest day ever recorded in LA) melting in my apartment, I mustered up enough energy on Sunday for quite the action-packed day--action-packed enough to warrant splitting my day into three separate entries. Here is part 1:
On Sunday, the day after the hottest day recorded in L.A., Chaya and I decided to go hiking. In an attempt to stave off the heat, I googled "shady hikes in Los Angeles"and clicked on the first entry.
The adjectives "shaded", "picturesque lake" and "easy hike" caught our eye and we picked the "Malibu Creek, Rock Pool & Century Lake hike". Although directions given are via the 101, prefering to spend no time in the Valley, we took PCH instead and turned inland at Malibu Creek Rd (at Pepperdine). Six miles of curvy, Central Cali'esque rolling hills later, we turned left into the Malibu Creek State Park entrance (parking is $8 for the day).
One of the nice things about this hike is that you don't need to wait to you've hiked to the end to enjoy the payoff scenery. The view is amazing from the get go. We crossed a creek and entered what looked like Montana. We forgot our map of course so just followed the sporadic hiking signs (2.1 miles to Century Lake) and the tried to stay on the path that looked the most hiked upon. We walked through shady foresty patches, prairie looking land, wide dirt walkways shaded by giant umbrella-like trees and even rusted out tv set jeeps (the tv series MASH was filmed here), but no lake.
We circled back and wondered "is THIS it?!" every time we came upon a puddle-sized body of water. None of the hikers we asked had seen the lake, so seeing the piles of rocks along what used to look like riverbeds, we assumed the lake had evaporated in the intense LA heat wave we were having (over 100 degrees!). Then just before arriving back to the parking lot, we found a sign, "Century Lake".
Perfectly still, the mirror-like lake was bordered by lilypads and reeds. It was hot. The water didn't look particularly inviting (murky) but like I said, it was hot. We reasoned the overhanging branch with a rope tied to it meant the rope was made for swinging into the lake, and therefore the lake was safe for swimming, even though we couldn't see too far beneath the greenish hue of the water.
After an exhausting 15 minute round of "you go in first", "no, you go in first" and a 60 second leech test (Chaya reasoned if we dangled our feet in the water for a minute and no leeches attached to us, then the lake was leech-free), I bravely slipped into the water, careful to tread water so as not to touch the imagined sludgy bottom. Chaya decided on the "swinging off the rope entrance", but halfway thru decided not to let go and unsuccessfully attempted to bicycle her legs to manouever the rope back on dry land. After the initial feeling of slight disgust for swimming in questionably dirty water which we couldn't see through, we got over it even frolicked for a while in the water until Chaya felt a Lake Ness Monster brush against her leg and we jetted out screaming. (It turned out to be algae stuck on her leg)
The next day Chaya told me her coworker has been hiking that spot for ages and has never seen anyone swim in the water before. Curious, I called the State Park Ranger and asked if you can swim in Century Lake.
"Absolutely not!" she replied
"Oh?! Why? Are there harmful weird diseases if you swim in the lake or something?" I ask, in my most ' this is a hypothetical question, of course!' tone.
"Well, it's not the cleanest of water. People sometimes fish there but nobody swims." she replied, masterfully sidestepping my 'harmful, weird diseases' question.
Hmm, so far, no weird rashes and despite the semi-opaque quality of the water, the refreshing post-hike swim was worth it on a 95 degree day.
Malibu Creek State Park-Century Lake
$8 Parking Entrance Fee