Taking a Leap

There is nothing I enjoy more than discovering a new favorite. New favorite people. New favorite music. New favorite activities. New favorite spots. New favorites are my favorite.

I’ve heard of Malibu Creek State Park several times. And I’ve ventured very close several times. Whether it to be to Paramount Ranch for the Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest or Malibu Wines for outdoor movies and frequent imbibing of beverages made of grapes and chevre coated in blueberries with friends.

Neither of those other two are far from this popular hiking/camping spot…and yet, yesterday was my first time.

When people talk about Malibu Creek…they talk about the rock pool and the M*A*S*H site. M*A*S*H site as in site of leftover props from the popular TV show. Paramount Ranch and Malibu Creek are both featured in a multitude of films.

We arrived and parked and had no idea where to go from there. We could have bought a map at the gate, but we didn’t. So we looked at one hanging near the bathrooms and hoped we could make sense of it. There were LOTS of trails on said map. And while I’m a good passenger navigator where roads are concerned, I’m no expert in topography.

Lucky for us, we only got a few steps going the wrong way when we ran into Steve, a dad-age friendly man who volunteers as a docent and was on his way to open the visitors’ center. Luckier for us that visitors’ center is located near the rock pool and he was happy to play tour guide. I was happy to listen to his stories.

Stories about how he and his wife used to take night hikes at Griffith Park to practice carrying their packs. And how plate shifts created the hills/mountains we were looking at.

We've got a climber!

Paraphrasing (because I’m no geology expert) he said the plates collided and created some volcanic activity, but they capped themselves off, providing us with the awesome terrain. (If this is incorrect, I’m sure it’s in my regurgitation and not his explanation.) He also told me that Malibu Creek State Park was – at the turn of the 20th century – a country club for people. Then the studios took it over. And at some point it became a park. What? I wasn’t writing down notes! I was enjoying everything! Like the story about how missionaries (a long, long time ago) would drop mustard seeds to mark the trails between missions in SoCal…an action that now provides awesome views.

Your move, ketchup.

We made it to the rock pool, and I was immediately in awe. I had read where people said it was hard to believe you were so close to LA, and that’s the first thing that comes to mind. An hour or so before we had been fighting through Saturday morning traffic in Hollywood, and now I was staring into an oasis that looked like something you’d see in Hawaii. Like something I HAVE seen in Hawaii. Maybe it was the lava rocks?

As seen in Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid

Or the fact that people were jumping from those rocks? I knew I wanted to do it. I had gone into the day knowing that. And because I wanted to do it, I had to do it. Because otherwise I would have wished I would have. And I hate wishing I would have done something.

The first step was getting into the water. A task made more difficult after we felt how cold said water actually was.

I don’t know an exact temp, but even my back boobs were packing peas. I thought that it was warmer than the hardly-ever 70 degree Pacific Ocean, but I was rebuffed.

In a cold water situation, if you’re going to do it, you just have to do it. If you hem and haw and try to slowly ease into it, you leave yourself with way too much time on your hands to talk yourself out of it. You just have to do that thing where you swim into it without thinking. And then you have to keep swimming. Because it’s so cold you’re convinced hypothermia is moments away. You’re thinking, this is how Jack and Rose must have felt. And then either you get used to it or numb to it and it becomes invigorating and refreshing, and what one second before was miserable has morphed into exhilarating.

The goal was to swim to the tallest rock in the middle and jump from it. We had seen the guys go around to the back of the rock to climb up, so we followed suit. Scrambling was involved, but the great thing about lava rocks is the solid natural hand holds. We were up top in no time.

Looking down from the rock made jumping from the rock a little scary. I was super nervous about my ability to get far enough away from the rock to avoid hitting it on the way down. The guys told us where it was deeper, so I wasn’t really worried about hitting bottom.

I definitely had to psych myself up. I rued the fact I’m unable to dive. Finally I took a running leap.

Photo credit: Shannon

My plan was a cannonball. That obviously didn’t happen. But at least I cleared the rock!! It felt amazing. I couldn’t wait to do it again. So we climbed up the face of the rock and did it again.

Then we swam back behind the rock and discovered another lagoon. A snapped rope swing hung overhead. Had it been intact, I was totally game. On the other side of the lagoon was a mass of rocks and the recognizable sound of a waterfall.

More barefoot scrambling and climbing were required, but the view was so worth it. It all felt so undiscovered. We perhaps sunned a bit too long, because jumping back into the lagoon was similar to our initial experience in that the water was painfully cold. On our way back to the original shore, we took one more leap off the rock. Because, why not???

Once back on dry land, we made the decision to hike about a mile and a half further in to get to the M*A*S*H site. None of us were super fans, but it was there and we were curious.


I LOVED these “You are here” signs. They pointed out specific filming locations and it was really interesting. I climbed up to the helipad as well, but there wasn’t much to see up there.

On our way back out, we stopped to take a gander at Century Lake aka the dam lake.

It was alright, and I’m glad I’ve now seen the lake and the M*A*S*H site, because now in subsequent visits I can hang out at the rock pool with no need or vague desire to see what else the park has to offer. I’ve already found my favorite part.

Let’s face it, my arm would not have had to be twisted to go back today.

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One Response to Taking a Leap

  1. Pingback: Moments | Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing

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