One of the great things about living in Southern California is the proximity of open space to just about all developed areas. I live in Los Angeles, and am rarely more than a 30 minute drive from a solid hike in the backcountry. Today, the hiking destination was Las Virgenes Canyon, a hilly area on the west side of the San Fernando Valley.
For much of the year, the SoCal backcountry is yellow, dry, and crunchy, but for a couple of months in the spring, after the winter rains but before the summer heat, there’s a little water and the hills are green flecked with yellow mustard grass.
All you can hear during the hike is the wind, frogs, and the birds. There are hills, ponds and wildflowers for as far as you can see. If you are a bird enthusiast, then bring your binoculars or a budget spotting scope. Oak trees and rocks provide excellent nesting sites for hawks, owls, and other birds.
On today’s hike, I encountered all sorts of creatures – frogs and swarms of tadpoles in small seasonal ponds,hawks, small mammals, and even a very large rattlesnake poking his head out of the bushes on the side of the trail. There’s nothing like almost stepping on a rattlesnake to liven up the senses. From then on, every stick lying on the trail becomes a potential snake…