Climbing Los Angeles One Step at a Time

Friday, August 27, 2010

Walk #1: Pasadena - La Loma Road

Distance: 2.7 miles
Steps: 996
Difficulty: 3
This is a green, leafy walk through one of Pasadena's westernmost neighborhoods, filled with charming stairways and a virtual arboretum of mixed tree varieties. It is one of the city's shadiest walks, too, and an excellent choice for a hot day." Taken from Secret Stairs by Charles Fleming.

This was definitely a great walk to do on a hot day! I was surprised yet again to see this part of Los Angeles. Route 66 was at onetime the main highway for vacationers heading to Los Angeles but those days are long gone and Routes 66 is more of a curiosity.
I worked in Pasadena for many years and have been to Eagle Rock as well but I had never been to this neighborhood where Pasadena and Eagle Rock share a border. Willie, Carlos, and Alice joined Charles and me on this walk which began at Figueroa and Colorado. What was unusual about this walk is that many of the stairways overlapped. We went up/down several stairways only to revisit them later on. Sometimes there just aren't enough of them to make a loop.
There is a reason they call this 'La Loma' - it's Spanish for 'the hill.' After walking uphill for a few blocks we encountered our first stairway on Elmwood Drive. 98 steps and then we crossed the street only to find another one - this 2nd one had 100 steps.

We then landed in front of this interesting home at Tamarac Drive. Almost immediately we came to yet another staircase but this time we went down 86 shaded, leafy steps.

At the bottom we crossed the streets and right away came these. At first they appeared to be part of the house on the left but they were a public staircase with walkways in between.
99 steps
We don't mean to snoop but sometimes on these stairways you get to see backyards that you would never see from the street. You can see pools and secret gardens and sometimes just lots of junk!

Each walk usually contains an intereting mailbox - this one had 2.

A Streamline Moderne home - this was a late type of Art Deco dating to the 1930s.

This street had a wide array of styles - Art Deco and English Tudor to name a few.

We walked right past this staircase but we would later climb it.

One of many grand trees found on this walk.

The owner of this home was very nice. I guess she is used to Stair Walkers getting lost on this portion of the walk and guided us to the right corner.

Mailbox #2.

44 easy, shady steps.

We climbed up the stairs we had seen earlier.
Down the 99 stairs we already climbed!
Up the 86 stairs we already climbed.

There was a USC flag too but why waste my blog space on that?!

19 steps to a walkway that led us to 71 going down.
A view of Glendale and the 2 Fwy from the top.
A natural arch of Oleander plants.
The final 98 steps down.
Intersting front lawn art.
The end of the walk.
Back to 'civilization'.

Feel free to join me as I discover hidden parts of Los Angeles and tackle the remaining 24 stair walks.
Steps walked to date: 9,533
Follow me on Twitter: @ClimbingLA

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Walk #40 : Santa Monica - Rustic Canyon Loop

Distance: 3 miles
Steps: 1,069
Difficulty: 4.5

"This is an athletic walk up the southern side of Santa Monica Canyon and back down bucolic Rustic Canyon, through leafy, eucalyptus-scented glades and past historic homes and architectural wonders. Along the way are hard bodies and ocean views." Taken from Secret Stairs by Charles Fleming.

This was an amazing walk! Exhausting and long and difficult at times, but it was really memorable. Great location, great company, great workout, and then an afternoon at the beach! It was a heck of a way to spend a Sunday.

We began this walk at the intersection of Chautauqua and PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) in Santa Monica. It was overcast (as it almost always is at the beach in SoCal) but as we say here "it'll burn off" and it did but like at 3pm! We had 2 new guests on this walk. I met Carlos recently at UCLA as we were both taking US Law and Interpreting classes. He is Colombian and so is Vlad and so am I so Spanish was heard throughout. Carlos and his wife Alice joined the walk as did two of 'regulars' - Willie and Vlad. Since Willie and Vlad participate so often maybe I should assign them to write some of these entries.

From left to right: Alice, Carlos, Vlad, Willie, Charles

I never noticed the large stairway while driving down this stretch of busy PCH - probably because if you are driving you had better be paying attention. Unfortunately, accidents are common on this highay.

Only 48 steps and we landed on a very quiet, upscale neighborhood. This was the first of our 4 Westside walks and it was great to leave the more familiar Silver Lake/Echo Park/Hollywood/Pasadena to discover new neighborhoods. I know the beach area and lived nearby while attending UCLA but I had never explored these parts of Santa Monica. On the Westside we have a Pacific Palisades stair walk coming up in addition to one by the more touristy area around the pier and a 'monster' walk high above the are in Topanga State Park. We'll be doing these before the summer ends which means we'll be done with them by October. If you want to join us we still have 25 more walks to go.
Our first stairway - 48 easy steps.

I don't get this front yard decoration scheme. Think Flintstones.

After the first easy one we encountered a very long stairway. It takes me a while to wake up in the morning and this one definitely woke me up and prepared me for what was to come.
169 steps.

It happened again! We took a wrong turn and had a laugh. Sometimes we get confused and make wrong turns and in this case we climbed the wrong staircase. It looked very inviting and we fell for the trap.
Rome has the Spanish Steps and Santa Monica has the 4th Street Steps. I had heard about these but never felt the need to drive across LA to climb them although it seems like everyone else does. There are 2 sets of them and they are not far from each other and both are clogged like the 405 Freeway on a Friday afternoon. I couldn't get a nice picture of them without people walking on them. Many people use these steps for workouts and trainers punish their clients by making them climb them again and again. It truly is a circus-type scene and I'm glad I finally was able to participate if only very briefly. 189 steep and grueling steps left us panting at the top but the payoff was worth it.
Vlad tackles the Santa Monica Steps in style.

Rustic Canyon as seen from the top of the stairs.

It seems the residents don't take too kindly to constant streams of sweaty people. You would tink that the well-heeld residents of this tony area would be able to have them closed off but according to the author of Secret Stairs, the reason they can't be closed is because they are part of a tsunami evacuation plan and must be kept open for emergencies.

How'd you like to see people doing push-ups in front of your house?

The beautiful Craftsman at the top of the stairs was built in 1905.
The views of Rustic Canyon were spectacular as were the homes on this street. We walked along this street for a while, passing the 2nd stairway before returning to it for our climb down.

The upper section of the 2nd set of the Santa Monica Steps is made of wood and they are much wider that the other ones up the street. I'm glad we climbed down.
Traffic jam on the steps.
We were soon headed towards a much quieter area - Rustic Canyon. I'd heard of it but never thought to explore it and I'm really glad we did because all 6 of us really felt it was special. On the way there we walked down an 'alley' but it was the nicest one I've ever seen.

We climbed 124 steps and no sooner had we reached the top than we saw the next staircase which would take us deeper into Rustic Canyon.

Willie taking the lead.

The Estenza house built in 1937 in the Streamline Moderne style.

Steep and uneven - I almost took a tumble here.

Mixing up the styles?

Our bucolic walk was nearly over and we wood soon rejoin the busy Chautauqua street and the bustle of the beach.
No comment!

Some may remember this place when it was the Friendship Bar.

Back on PCH and across the street from Will Rogers State Beach is Patrick's Roadhouse - a local landmark that has seen its share of Hollywood stars and where we had lunch.

Charles, Vlad and I made a day of it and after a long walk and a tasty lunch we crossed the highway to chillax on the beach. It was a perfect ending to a perfect walk.

Our Beach Condo

Charles, being a child.

Feel free to join me as I discover hidden parts of Los Angeles and tackle the remaining 25 stair walks.

Steps walked to date: 8,537

Follow me on Twitter: @ClimbingLA