Homer's Travels: Hiking Ventura County #32: Heartbreak Hill

Monday, October 08, 2007

Hiking Ventura County #32: Heartbreak Hill

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! It feels really good to be back out on the trail. It has been a month since I hiked as I waited for my foot to get better. My foot hasn't gotten better but more about that later.

This Sunday I hiked Heartbreak Hill and Liberty Canyon trails. The hike is a 6.58 mile Up-Down There-N-Back. You know something? There's a reason it's called Heartbreak Hill. Each time you reach a point where you think you've reached the top of the hill, you turn a corner, see another hill, and your heart breaks. I lost count of the hills after four. Not only that but whomever cut this trail did not believe in switchbacks. The trail heads straight up the hills and often goes from steep to OH MY GOD vertical. It's just crazy. The hike description called it a 1,000 feet elevation gain and it turned out to be just 700 which probably was my salvation. There were some more hills past my turn around point that could have easily added another 300 feet of vertical to the hike so the description I had was probably right for the longer hike.

I had my GPS programed with 14 geocaches - 12 based on the 12 days of Christmas (you know, partridges, pear trees, leaping lords, maids a milking, all sort of fowl). The caches turned out to be pretty easy except for the last one, "One Good Cache..." which nearly drove me the short distance to Nutsville. I eventually found it but man I was frustrated. The last cache also marked the turnaround point of the hike.

On the way back I detoured from the over the hill trails to a couple of side trails that bypassed a few hills. Actually, these detours were the marked trail and the over the hill trails were the unofficial trails. Several of the caches were on these unofficial trails on the tops of the hills. These side trails turned out to be shaded and cool. On Sunday we had some mild Santa Anna winds. I didn't feel them very strongly on this hike but they still felt good. Santa Anna winds tend to be hot but these winds were just a little warm and cooled me off giving me some relief from the bright hot sun. The wind sounded cool rustling the dry tree branches - very relaxing.

There was only one other couple on the trail. That doesn't mean I didn't have traveling companions. The trail was a veritable super highway for these guys. Big red dudes. Not sure but they may be fire ants.

From part of the trail you could see Ronald Reagan's old ranch when he was Governor. The views from this hike are very nice but nothing different from many other hikes I have done in the Santa Monica mountains. I ended up taking only three pictures (here).

Now, about the foot. The foot pain I have been experiencing since August 25 just isn't going away. The level of discomfort - more an irritation then pain - plateaued about two weeks ago. I've tried cold, hot, anti-inflammatories, and shoe inserts. The shoe inserts have helped the most. It looks like more arch support helps relieve the pain. As soon as I take the shoes off though, the pain returns. I have a doctor's appointment on Wednesday and we will see what he says. At this point I am not going to let it get in the way of my hiking. My foot doesn't feel any better or worse after a hike so, unless the doctor says differently, I am going to resume my weekly hiking schedule.


  1. Ah yes, the trail where they really should install ladders. I forget, do you use trekking poles?

    Good luck at the doctor's. I hope the news is positive.

  2. I hike with a single wood staff. a pair of poles would have been a little better on this hike but I managed to make it through without falling on my butt.