Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Miles: 5.0
Elevation Gain900 Feet
Time: 1.25 Hours
Difficulty (1-10): 3.5
Reward (1-10): 2.5
Look out for the snake
Where: Malibu, CA
Directions: From the 101 Freeway in Westlake Village, exit at Westlake Blvd (the 23) and head south.  After Potrero Road drive very carefully as the road makes crazy turns and is narrow.  I was on my bike and had fun with the leaning but the wind was another story.  After about 10 minutes, keep straight onto Mullholland Hwy West.  A few minutes later you will pass the "Lucky Ranch" on your right.  It is highlighted with a white fence.  Immediately after the fence, the Backbone Trail crosses.  There is no place to park, unless you are on a bike.
**MY 73 DAY SUMMARY:  256.75 Miles  +39,775 Feet**
Backbone Trail from Mullholland to Encinal

This is the trail on the left side of the street if you are coming from Westlake Village as indicated in the directions above.  I did not see any parking for cars but if you are interested in doing this 1.1 mile stretch, there is plenty of parking on Encinal Rd.  Basically follow the directions that I wrote up yesterday but continue another mile up Encinal to reach the end of this section.  This would be a very easy 2.2 mile hike.

Well, call it easy if you like but I faced problems immediately!  I began my trot on the mostly flat trail and rounded a turn with a rock to the left.  I was only a minute or so into the wild and then I heard a sound that I had never heard before and I screamed like a girl.  Really, I jumped about 10 feet into the air!

 A Rattler!

I did not see this at first but I definitely heard it.  I backed up and shot a video of it.  I posted the video on Facebook.  Check it out by clicking on my FB page "Jeremy Jacobus".  I am not familiar with snakes but my 9-year-old tells me that this was a Diamond Back Rattler!

Eventually, I continued down the trail but trust me, I was cautious.  As I ran, every little twig appeared as a snake in my mind and every little sound had me jumping like a bunny.  Nevertheless, I continued down the slow downhill trail and reach Encinal Road rather quickly.  From here, there was no true definition or sign to locate the Backbone Trail.  I did find a trail directly across the street and there was a large sign facing the other direction that read, "Pass With Care".  I assume that is meant for the bikers coming down the hill as they cross Encinal.  

I began hiking up the hill and ran into a T junction.  I took a right turn, which ended up being a wrong turn.  This led me down and then up and over to a dirt road.  I took the dirt road lower and saw a sign that read, "Danger Sewage Pond, Do Not Come In Contact"  Ok then, I wont!!  I continued down the road realizing that it was probably wrong.  I dropped a quick hundred feet and then intersected a road with a fire station.  I read about this little station that does a lot of training up in these hills.

I turned around and slowly hiked back up the steep hill.  I made my way all the way back to the T junction and decided to explore the new trail.  It brought me up a steep trail.  At the top of this section, there was a strange wooden post labeled as "Agony".  There was a clear shot of the ocean:

The trail then led me lower and I crossed an alternate trail and thought about turning.  Don't do that...  I didn't explore the trail but it turns out that staying straight did make sense.  My mission today was to hike to the bridge that I left off yesterday.  I knew I had to be close but when the trail swerved back toward Encinal Road, I had my doubts.  It then turned back down and in.  I lowered to a small water crossing.  I assumed that I would follow this for awhile until I reached the bridge:

Well, this wasn't the bridge that I saw yesterday but I felt like I was getting close.  I crossed the creek and became disappointed to start trekking up another hill.  It was now getting late and the 20 minute detour to the fire station was now going to cost me a completed section!  I did hike up about 100 feet but when it kept going I said, no, 'my wife wanted me at home by 5:30' and according to the sun, it was nearly 5:00.  

I turned around and retraced my footsteps.  As I came close to the road, instead of following the trail back down and in, I saw an animal trail that worked its way back up.  I ended up on Encinal and Clubhouse.  So next time, maybe I will cheat start from here...

I followed the road back to the Real Trailhead for the final 1.1 mile stretch back to my bike.  I was quite nervous because of the snake. Did it move?  Was it closer?  Was he mad I took it's picture???!  Slight panic so I rounded each turn slowly.  When I approached the known rock I stopped, backed up a step and then jolted like Edwin Moses over a hurdle.  The snake was still there but I sprinted back to the bike before he could get me!


  1. Thirteen rattles. That's quite impressive.

    Ironically, I also came across a big and loud, 13-rattle rattlesnake during my visit to Sandstone Peak in the Santa Monica Mountains NRA. Either there's a lot of big rattlesnakes out this way, or this one guy covered a lot of ground during the past 4-5 months!

  2. If this guy wanted to reach out and get me, he could have. He sounded sssspissssed.... I really worry for when I take my son out. If I get bit, no big deal. I'll die doing what I love :)

    Really though, I should look into carrying first aid for the venom. The snakes are out there, people get bit and with me hiking everyday, its only a matter of time!




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