23-Jan-2013 -- I had just arrived in southern California for the GeoDesign Summit at Esri, an event that brings together design, geography, planning, and Geographic Information Systems technologies. Given this event's focus on space and place, a confluence visit seemed like an appropriate way to begin. From the LAX airport in Los Angeles, I drove east on I-105, and north on I-605, exiting to Beverly Boulevard in Whittier. I stopped to pick up some water for a planned hike after the confluence trek. Soon I was high above the urban areas on the extremely steep hills. Some construction was occurring and I was worried that the road would be blocked, which happened once before when I had tried to reach this confluence. But as I neared the crest of the ridge, the construction source appeared: A massive new set of powerlines and associated towers was underway. I drove around Skyline Drive and I stopped in the small graveled pull-off spot conveniently located about 200 meters from the confluence point, gathered supplies, and set out. It was indeed fortuitous that this pull off exists, as the streets are so steep here with no shoulder to park.
I have been to this confluence several times before, and as I approached, planned what I could do to make a different sort of video this time. I decided to start the video at the start of my ascent instead of just at the confluence itself. This was easier said than done, however, as the terrain, as I and others have noted, is extremely steep. I did not want to lose my footing and lose the camera at the same time, so I contented myself with filming only selected segments of the ascent. The results of my speeded-up video are linked to this page and a higher resolution version on my YouTube channel. Fortunately, the ascent is quite short, but very steep. I have seen this confluence in just about every season, and now in winter and with some recent rains, it was a bit greener with grass sprouting even on the steepest part of the hill. This helped make the approach a wee bit easier than in the past, with less loose soil, though it was still far from easy. In retrospect, it was good that I attempted it on this day, and not a few days later, as it rained for several days following my trek. Truly, I am not certain that this confluence would be accessible in the rain. The soil is extremely loose here. The new landowner had numerous No Trespassing signs posted, but fortunately they were all to the south of the ascent and not to the west on the ascent. A short but breathless time later, I turned left (south) at the top of the ridge and arrived at the Desired Spot. The total scramble is probably 10 minutes at the most, but one has to really watch one's step.
As I have noted on previous visits, the confluence lies just west of one of the large shrubs just south of the northernmost point of the peninsula that extends to the north from the road about 250 meters to the south. It is the eastern side of this peninsula that one has to hike up to reach the confluence. Quite fortunately, the confluence lies in small space between two very thorny and spiny bushes. I keep toying with the idea of approaching the point from above; i.e. from the high ground from the road to the south, but that would involve bothering the landowner there and no doubt contending with additional thorns and shrubbery and trees. It is difficult to get a sense of the view from just one photograph, so I took a few additional shots that I saved as an interactive panorama from the top.
On this visit, I was even able to zero out the GPS receiver. I found the geocache there as well. Someday I would like to try to approach this confluence from the house on the ridge above and to the southwest, rather than from the east. As I spent my brief time filming and enjoying the view from the confluence, a rather curious thing happened. I began coughing just as I had there in the past. I had thought it was a fluke, but now realized that there must be some sort of airborne nastiness in the air, perhaps from one of the plants during the ascent or at the top. I made haste to escape once this began, because once before when this happened, the coughing persisted for an entire hour afterward. I watched my footing so as not to tumble down the slope. The landowner to the west from the parking lot was there when I arrived at the parking spot and I waved.
I am rather tenacious about getting my walk in, and knowing that I would be plenty busy at work before the GeoDesign Summit began, I decided to take my daily walk in this neighborhood. I walked for about 55 minutes about 3 miles around on these impossibly steep hills. The coughing subsided after awhile and I again wondered what the source of the airborne nasties was. While hiking, I filmed a movie about the physical and cultural geography of the area. One might be tempted to assume that only in California would people be crazy enough to build in such an environment, but it seems like throughout the world, people build on steep canyon walls, hills, and mountains. They must share an affinity for sweeping views and being high above the surrounding terrain. Perhaps we are all geographers after all!