Christmas Hike in SoCal

So. what better way to take a break from all the holiday hullabaloo than to get out in nature and get some fresh air?  Of course, here in Southern California the air hasn’t been so fresh lately with the huge Thomas fire bringing air quality to lows not seen in years.  But the winds have pretty much shifted so the monkey took off for the hills.

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Kongo is fortunate to live adjacent to the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation area and loves to take advantage of the dozens of nearby scenic trails.  On this brisk day he pretty much had the entire mountain range to himself, except for some plodding equestrians and a lone jogger or two.  Everyone else must be at the mall or waiting for the FedEx truck to drop off the last of their Christmas packages.

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Kongo got a new Apple Watch for an early Christmas present and he likes closing those three colorful rings so hiking always adds thousands of steps to his daily tally.  For this particular walk the monkey chose a rather hilly terrain that also added 11 stories (as in elevation) to his workout.

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From this overlook near the southern extremity of the Santa Monica mountain range you can see over the Oxnard plain all the way to the Pacific Ocean at Point Mugu.  Turning to look left, you can see through the peaks of the mountains and spy the Channel Islands.  If you look carefully you can spot Anacapa Island.

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Anacapa Island is that smudge of blue between the saddle of hills on the right third of this photo.

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A lone jogger travels across a grassy area.  Earlier she had panted up the hill where the monkey was taking in the view, said “hi,” took a big drink of water, and headed back the way she had come.  In his younger days Kongo like to go for long runs himself.  Then his knees starting talking back so now he just walks (more like sauntering) and takes time to take in the view.

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Living next to an open wilderness area this time of year is always a little nerve wracking.  The big Thomas fire, still burning to the north is the largest in California’s recent history now.  A week ago you could smell the smoke and see the flames at night but it has moved on toward new fuel in Santa Barbara country.  Each morning you get up and look for smoke and worry whether its a new fire or just a wind shift.  Fires burned a lot of the brush in the area a few years ago but the rains last winter generated quite a bit of new growth so there is always something to worry about.

In the picture below you can see smoke from the Thomas fire on the far horizon.  That’s open country and no homes are burning there but still…it keeps burning.

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Best wishes to all for a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a safe, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

Travel safe.  Have fun!

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