Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bronson Caves

Let's not beat around the bush. I've had a rather depressing week. So I decided to do what every good pseudo-hippy does when they are sad/confused and angry- walk into the wilderness alone. Not really the wilderness, more like the giant city park that is basically my backyard. I have had many excellent solo adventures in Griffith Park (the best was when I got stuck on the side of a mountain clinging to a pipe and had to be rescued by two Marines) but I had never heard of Bronson Caves till my friend Kevin told me about them, so I decided to get my butt over to Griffith and have a gander.

The Bronson Caves are formations left over from a quarry set up by the Union Rock Company in 1903, for the excavation of that most mundane of natural resources- crushed rock. Like every other useless place in LA (we do know how to recycle!) it became a popular production location for film and TV from the 20's on. Movies that have filmed there include "The Searchers," "I am a Fugitive from the Chain Gang" and the fantastically titled "They Saved Hitler's Brain." The site is most famous for being the suspected Batcave from the original Batman TV series, though for some reason that theory cannot be proved- which makes no sense- aren't at least 65% of the people who worked on that show still alive?

Anyway, the walk up to the site is very short ( about 1/4 mile from the road) and not the prettiest of hikes. In fact, the first path I took straight up Canyon Rd.,which as is often my lot was the wrong one, was absolutely beautiful and misty and magical, and it was all overcast and chilly with bright yellow flowers, low hanging trees and a couple sitting in the middle of the stream holding each other.(Oh and did I mention the skating ramp with a bunch of pimply teenagers and a giant spray-painted dragon? Cause that was there as well.)

Once on the correct and rather barren path I suddenly saw a stream of nicely dressed people coming from the fork in the trail which led to the caves, many holding beers, some holding children. I was confused, but just walked by and pulled my red Garbo hat over my eyes in full "I want to be alone" fashion. The Caves are right off the fork in a man-made canyon which will look very familiar to anyone who has ever driven through the otherworldly stripped mountains of West Virginia or Tennessee.

In the middle of the canyon sit the "caves". There is actually only one cave and it is really just a very short tunnel- though it has two exits and you can walk through both, which I did with great trepidation. I am not a fan of confined spaces, but I must say it was totally worth it. It was quieter than anywhere I have ever been in LA, and someone had sprinkled glittering confetti all over the tunnel's floor, so it glittered like some pathway to another planet.

On the way back to my car I ran into a friend who explained the mystery of the group of people I had seen before. They had been holding a covert service for a family member who had recently passed and had always loved the quiet beauty of the quarry. Suddenly my little pity party seemed very trivial and far away. Score one reality!

I have not posted any pictures of the caves because seriously loveys, this is like a 30-minute meal post. You can do this hike and exploration in the time it takes to watch one episode of Batman, and for anyone who lives on the Eastside the drive couldn't be easier, it's free, and it's cool especially for you dudes who like to have a little nerdy trivia ("Invasion of the Body Snatchers" also shot in the canyon!) mixed in with your exercise.

Travel: A+
Ease: A+
Content: B- ( Griffith Park as whole gets an A++++, you are truly an idiot if you haven't explored it yet.)
Subjective coolness: C (A positive C as in- it's neat, not as in it's worthlessly mediocre. If only my teachers felt that way about my math grades growing up....)
Overall : B-

Directions: Turn from Franklin Ave. onto Bronson, continue on Bronson after it turns into Canyon Drive. You will enter the gates to Griffith Park on Canyon Drive and there will be a gravel parking lot on your right. Park there and turn right on the main road. You will see a curb painted red. Follow the curb and turn right onto the trail. You will walk for a couple minutes and the trail will fork into two, turn left and you will see the caves.
Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset(Seriously, you do not want to be in Griffith Park after dark my brave ones).
Price: Free!

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