Santa Susana Pass between Chatsworth and Simi Valley has a tragic story of water.  Once the home to native people, it lies on the border of Chumash/Tongva territories, it was a water wonderland.  It even became a comfortable home to Mexican then American settlers.  Deep cut stream beds intersect the hillside, ponds dot the plateaus, and large and small waterfalls tumble over the sandstone.

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Once an indian trail cut over the Santa Susana Pass, then it was discovered by Spanish Missionaries and it became El Camino Nuevo, cutting about 50 miles of walking off the journey from Los Angeles to San Francisco that formerly could only be made via El Camino Real to the west.  Soon stagecoach lines discovered the route and made the treacherously steep pass over the sandstone, renaming it “The Devil’s Slide”.  By now the pass was a well known direct route from Los Angeles to San Francisco so the railroad got involved and in 1905 blasted a long tunnel under the mountain and accidentally puncturing the aquifer.  Bye bye water, hello desert.

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A portion of The Devil’s Slide that’s turned into a bit of a waterfall these days

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Yesterday, while we’re still enjoying our rainy season in Los Angeles, the  Wild Women Hiking Club explored the water features at Santa Susana Pass / Old Stagecoach Road State Historic Park.

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We made sure to take a little side trip over to a pond to look for tadpoles.

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Tadpoles were collected in a ziplock pistachio bag to take home and to the kids’ school.

Along The Old Stagecoach Road was the De La Osa stage stop with a cistern to water the horses.

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We climbed around in the boulders near the scarp a little bit and actually found two indian shelters I haven’t seen before.

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This day was a fun meander, full of discovery, at my favorite park in Los Angeles.  Its a hotbed of history.  Indians, settlers, rock quarry barons, stagecoaches, Catholic padres, the railroad, Hollywood westerns, and even Charles Manson (who lived there at Spahn Ranch) all left their marks on this park.  Its just got layer upon layer of history.  I’ve been exploring this park for about three years now and I have yet to run out of new discoveries.  Thank you California State Parks and the local citizens who advocate vociferously to maintain this natural and cultural heritage site.

Women of the San Fernando Valley area, you are invited to join the Wild Women Hiking Club that is guided by me.  www.wildwomenhiking.com  We typically hike Tuesdays and Fridays, September through early June.

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