‘Escaping’ into Nature!

So I’m not sure about all of you, but I think my main activities outside the house since March have mainly included escaping*1 into nature! Mainly surfing the local beaches in LA, hiking on some local trails, and two multi-day backpacking trips in the Sierras.

Since I love these treks so much, I recently took some youth, instructors and parents from a local South LA educational program*2: https://www.theknowledgeshopla.com/programs on a nature hike yesterday. I decided to take them to the Los Leones trail – since its only a 30 min drive, not too strenuous and is a fairly short hike (if your want it to be). The hike is 2.6 miles round trip if you decide that your end game goal is the bench overlooking the Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica and the ocean. You can however go much further!

I also chose this trail because I was really excited to show them the invasive cape ivy- which I previously posted about here: https://juliehopper.wordpress.com/2019/12/18/a-beautiful-day-for-biocontrol-of-cape-ivy/

In addition to cape ivy- another invasive plant that we found and that I hadn’t previously known about was the invasive black mustard plant! (see the yellow flowered plant below)- not only is it destructive to native flora and fauna but it can also serve as kindle for Autumn fires in California- yikes! Read more here

Originally one of my aims was to show all of the participants how to use iNaturalist so that they could all try to identify the flora and fauna while on the hike, and after the hike in their own backyards/neighborhoods. They all had downloaded the app onto their phones before coming to the hike- however one short sight I had is that we did not have very good cellular service.. ha (oops!).. So instead I tried to tell them a bit about what I knew (without the help of iNaturalist) and we also took a lot of photos (above) for post-hike identification (Ive tried to identify a lot of these in the captions above!).

I think overall everyone had a lot of fun. After the group nature hike, I ended up taking the trail for a couple miles further to enhance the workout factor!

*Footnotes! (or how about some Footloose?!) Dang I just gave away my age….

  1. *I will admit that I should not be using the word ‘escape’- see this great essay by William Cronon -since nature is technically all around us all of the time.. take that fly that is on your windowsill or maybe even on your arm right now! I think in this sense that we should all appreciate both proximate and distant nature, and take extra care of our immediate surrounding nature-so that we never feel like we need to escape to wilderness.
  2. TheKnowledgeShop works in conjunction with Stem54.. and these two educational youth programs and their leaders- including Yolande Beckles and Dr. Michael Batie are truly making an amazing difference in the South LA community and Beyond! Check them out!

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