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July 23, 2016
by David Ryan
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Wandering to the World Famous “Hollywood” Sign

Earlier this week my daughter Amy, grandson Jake, and I had the opportunity to link up in Los Angeles and walk to the world famous Hollywood sign. When we started planning our get-together, I contacted Bob Inman, the author of “Finding Los Angeles by Foot”, for a good walking route to the sign. The route he mapped out for us and the walk itself were both fantastic. And if you plan on doing some exploring in Los Angeles, Bob’s book is an amazing resource for finding hidden stairways and paths throughout the area.

Our route started at the granite gate on Beachwood at the entrance of Hollywoodland. As most of you probably know, the Hollywood sign used to say Hollywoodland. The sign was built in the 1920s to promote a housing development of the same name in the Hollywood Hills. Sometime in the late 1940s the sign lost its last four letters and was shortened to Hollywood. The sign was completely refurbished in the late 1970s.

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As you can see by the plaque on the gate, the neighborhood was developed around 1923. You will see the gray granite many times along the way!

As you can see by the plaque on the gate, the neighborhood was developed around 1923. You will see the gray granite many times along the way!

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If you hike far enough, you might run into these volcanic fissures. It looks like the lava pushed out the fissures rather than flow out of the volcano cone.

June 8, 2016
by David Ryan
4 Comments

Wandering on an Amazing Mesa in New Mexico

As mentioned many times in this blog, a basic tenet of the Gentle Art of Wandering is that you’ll find something special every time you wander even in the most unsuspecting of places. A good example of this is a mesa in the backcountry about forty miles or so southwest of Albuquerque.

The mesa itself is generally 300 feet tall and approximately ten miles in length. Its width varies from one to three miles. From a geologic point of view, the mesa has a volcanic lava cap (basalt) with an underlying base of sedimentary rock (typically limestone). There is an extinct volcano at the south end of the mesa and much of the limestone has been transformed into travertine.

The ownership of the mesa is a checkerboard of public (Bureau of Land Management) and private ranch land. The portion of the mesa on public land is open for you to explore.

As you can see, there is nothing particularly special to notice about the mesa.

As you can see, there is nothing that immediately grabs you as particularly special when you approach the mesa from the east. You’ll have to do some exploring to discover its specialness.

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May 9, 2016
by David Ryan
3 Comments

Baltimore Jack (1958 – 2016)

Legendary Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, Jack “Baltimore Jack” Tarlin, passed away at much too young of an age last week. If you have spent any time in the past twenty years on the A.T., there is a good chance that you ran into Baltimore Jack. After thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail a record setting nine times, Jack spent his time at outfitters and hostels along the trail coaching new hikers on how to successfully complete the trail.

In 1997, Jack rescued my wife, Claudia, when she broke her leg on the Appalachian Trail several miles outside of Erwin, Tennessee. If I am not mistaken, 1997 was the year of Jack’s first completed thru-hike.

The July/August 1998 issue of “Appalachian Trailway News” carried an article I wrote about the 1997 rescue. It’s the issue with Bill Clinton and Al Gore on the cover doing trail maintenance. If you are interested in reading the article, a scan of it is posted below. I do want to point out that the article has a typo in the first sentence. (We started our hike in 1997 and not 1996.) Continue Reading →