21 Hikers Complete Backbone Trail Trek 2008

Story by Ed Stauss
Photos by Jerry Mitcham and Barry Dydyk

A total of twenty-one hikers, one from Oregon and the rest Californians, participated in the 7th Annual Backbone Trail Trek (BBT Trek), which was held over a seven-day period, May 3-10, 2008, in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. About 20 volunteers coordinated the hiking portion and prepared the evening meals.

The Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council and Coastwalk joined together for the BBT Trek 2008. As in years past, this was an effective team, resulting in a highly successful event.

The hike began at the western terminus of the Backbone Trail in Point Mugu State Park and ended 65 miles later at the eastern terminus in Will Rogers State Historic Park. Participants hiked about ten miles each day and camped each night in a nearby campground. When necessary, a vehicle shuttle was provided to and from the campgrounds. Personal camping equipment and a "chuck wagon" were transported between campgrounds by volunteers.

As the trekkers hiked over ridges and into canyons, some of the out-of-area hikers were surprised and delighted at the diversity of the Santa Monica Mountains. The group was treated with an abundance of wildflowers; hike-leader Burt Elliott counted a total of 152 blooming species during the week. A persistent marine layer resulted in fog and low clouds, which restricted the usual spectacular views, but the hikers benefited from the resulting cool temperatures.

One of the highlights of the trek occurred on Tuesday evening, an "all you can eat" BBQ dinner at the popular Calamigos Ranch. Another evening they were entertained by a National Park Ranger who gave an informative presentation on the local mountain lion tracking program. The trek concluded on Saturday, May 10th as the somewhat tired but proud hikers marched into Will Rogers State Historic Park.

This year's success is attributed to having twenty-one cheerful, conditioned and congenial hikers supported by several dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers. Many are looking forward to Backbone Trail Trek 2009.