Thursday, April 11, 2013

Kid-friendly hiking

The great thing about Los Angeles is the open space and hiking. There's lots that's close, and quite a bit that's kid-friendly.

 The Audubon Center at Debs Park is fantastic—great trails and great visitor support. They loaned us real binoculars, a bird guide and a nature bingo game in exchange for my car keys, which I didn't want to carry, anyway. They're also very supportive of the community, offering rental of their grounds and meeting room at super-reasonable rates. They have a play area that would be an ideal preschool grounds: lots of sand digging, ponds, a stream, a stream you have to pump—gorgeous natural setting.

Our trail loop was three-quarters of a mile. Not short enough to avoid whining completely, but a pretty quick satisfaction factor once it started. Pretty heavy in poison oak, however, in some parts.

If you do any hiking in southern California, it behooves you to learn about poison oak. It's basically the bully of the weed world, and there is no arguing with it. Starboy kicked some along the path, but I stripped him down before we got back into the car. If you touch any of it—leaves, stems, sticks, or even dead sticks—you have only 10 minutes to try to get the oil washed off before entertaining a nasty rash. Even on a short trail, that's not really enough time. Once the oil is on your clothes (or, as a friend found out a year later: inside your sleeping bag), you can get re-exposed repeatedly. Better to avoid it—and the dogs that obliviously play in it—in the first place.

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