Backbone Trail, Day 2:

Start: Musch Camp Ground
End: Malibu Creek State Park
Miles Walked: 15.4 miles on the Backbone Trail (due to the fact that I had to walk several miles off the trail to get to the campsite.)
Approximate Ascent: 4,067 feet
Approximate Time: 7 hours


I woke up at Musch Campground early on Day 2 of my Backbone Trail hike to see a beautiful orange and yellow sunrise. I prefer hiking in the morning before it gets hot, so I quickly packed up my tent, guzzled some water, and started on my way. One mile into my hike, right as I neared the parking lot for the Trippet Ranch, I noticed some deer eating their breakfast…with one deer actually grazing on the Backbone Trail! I had to get through, so I approached the deer as quietly and carefully as I could. She didn’t seem to mind too much, ducking under a fence to let me pass her by. I was the only one around – it was a pretty magical moment as she stared into my eyes.

Over the next few miles I hiked into and around the Topanga Canyon Community- Sections 2 & 3 of the Backbone Trail in the “Day Hikes in Santa Monica” book. I was glad to have such detailed directions in my guidebook, because it was not always obvious where the trail was heading. Finally, after about an 45 minutes of zigzagging behind buildings, I crossed a stream and started Section 4. This section had my first climb of the day up Hondo Canyon to Fossil Ridge and Lois Erwen Overlook – about 1,650 of elevation gain over the course of 4.3 miles. Lois Erwen Overlook boasted beautiful views of both the Pacific Ocean and the valley – I definitely plan on returning. From Lois Erwen, I started Section 5, hiking 5.2 miles back down again through amazing sandstone rock formations and wild flowers. The sun got higher, and my feet started to hurt a little, so before hiking Section 6 I decided to take a rest at Dark Canyon creek. It was pleasant to be in the shaded damp, cool, air next to the burbling creek. I drank more water, ate some snacks, and prepared myself for the final few miles. While hiking Section 6, I came across a film crew preparing costumes and sets for a movie for that was being filmed in one of the beautiful mansions in the hills. I think they were as interested in me as I was in them! I stopped and talked to them for a minute – it sounded like the movie was being produced by Brad Pitt and was starring Steve Carrell. From the end of Section 6, I left the Backbone Trail and picked up the Tapia Spur Trail to get to the Malibu Creek State Park Campground. I was grateful that Eric and I had hiked this section of the trail several weekends previously, because the signage was not completely obvious. I got to the Malibu Creek State Park Campground around 2. I ate one of my instant meals, set up my tent, ate another instant meal, and did some stretches before the sun set and I went to bed.

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