Posted by: GeekHiker | November 24, 2007

Biking and Distant Fires

(Written Saturday, posted Sunday…)

Today dawned sunny and warm, with a mild Santa Ana wind settling in. With the Parentage having booked out of town at five am, I took the opportunity to sleep in a bit.

Stepping outside into weather that was clearly headed towards the seventies (which, yes, is unseasonably warm for LA), I knew that I didn’t want to do a lot of driving anywhere. Most days it’s not uncommon for me to drive up to seventy miles or so to get to a trailhead but today, given the nature of the lazy weekend in general, was not that day.

Instead I filled up the tires on my old bike, threw it in the back of the truck, grabbed a book and a couple of bottles of water, and headed for the beach and the South Bay Bicycle Path. Today, the GeekHiker temporarily became the GeekBiker.

Bike Path 01

The 12-foot wide South Bay Bike Path

Driving towards my starting spot in Playa del Rey, I saw a dark line of clouds over the ocean. At first I thought it was just a band of offshore fog, but as I approached the beach I saw that the fog had a distinctive right edge.

It wasn’t fog. Malibu was burning. Again.

Bike Path 02

Smoke billowing up from the Corral Canyon Fire

Bike Path 03

The smoke drifts south from the fire area towards Santa Catalina Island

I sighed, watching the smoke billowing up in the distance, and started riding south. I’ll confess that the rest of the day was a bit strange: beautiful weather, a nice bike ride (including a tail-wind on the return) all while homes were burning a few miles away. It was surreal.

The occasional smell of smoke served as a constant reminder too.

My goal was simple: ride the path south to the end near the Palos Verdes Peninsula and back. Total distance today: about 26 miles.

The path is relatively flat and straightforward, with numerous points to get food (as I did when I stopped for ice cream), or walk the bike out to the end of one of the piers to take in the view. Since there’s no real “trail” description needed, on to the pretty pictures:

Bike Path Pano 01

Starting out at the Ballona Creek Bridge, the San Gabriel Mountains clearly seen in the distance

Bike Path 04

Looking south at Dockweiler State Beach towards Palos Verdes

Bike Path 08

Hang gliders at El Segundo Beach

Bike Path Pano 02

A panorama near Manhattan Beach. Along here, multimillon dollar homes line the path on one side, the beach and ocean the other.

Bike Path 06

The Redondo Beach Pier

Bike Path 05

The end of the path, looking at the hilly Palos Verdes Peninsula

Bike Path 07

Looks almost tropical, doesn’t it?

Bike Path 09

Nearing my starting point, sun setting, the path curves along the beach

Finally arriving back at my starting point in Playa del Rey, the winds had clearly died down over the fire, giving the firefighters a chance.

Bike Path 10

Diminished smoke in the evening

Sadly it wasn’t enough, as 50 homes had already burned.

On a personal note, the fire also burned near one of my favorite spots in the Santa Monicas, though I won’t know for days whether it’s all burned up or not. On the balance, of course, I would rather my spot burn than people’s homes.

Actually, in an ideal world, there would be no fire. As I edit this Sunday, investigators have determined that the fire was caused by an illegal “party” fire at the end of a road near the top of a ridge, a trailhead parking lot I’ve stopped at before.

It’s one thing when fires are started by natural causes. Or accidents. It’s something entirely different when it’s started by rampant stupidity…



  1. Lovely photos.

    To think we’re on the same coast and we have snow warnings tonight.

  2. It’s been gray and raining here for the past few days. I’m so incredibly jealous.

  3. I became more relaxed just reading your post. That sounds like a magnificent Saturday. Except for the fire, of course.

  4. just a girl – thanks. Amazing what a difference a few thousand miles can make, isn’t it?

    lea – 😦 Sorry, my friend. Will be wishing blue skies your way.

    Homer-Dog – Indeed, I’ll be coming back to this post on down days. It was a pleasant Saturday and, as I write this, the fire is out, so that’s good too.

  5. Yeah! So happy to see you got out on your bike!! I too was so bummed to hear about the SM fire. 😦

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