Exploration: Cave of Munits & Castle Peak

A couple of weeks ago, I was informed that I was no longer needed to work one of my contract jobs on Monday, Martin Luther King Day. I had been planning on getting my hiking on with some friends on the Mishe Mokwa Trail all day Sunday, but when I found out I was going to have two days free, I did the only reasonable thing I could think of: decided to drive the seven hours up to Santa Cruz on Sunday and drive back down to LA through Big Sur on Monday. My friend Kalen agreed to accompany on my spontaneous adventure, but we still wanted to go on some sort of hike on Sunday morning before we hit the road, and after doing some Extreme Internet Surfing (the sport I am best at), I dug up a page about the Cave of Munits and the trail to Castle Peak (hello, potential name for an Indiana Jones movie). 

Kalen and I, along with our friends Nick, Kelly, and Richelle, woke up bright and early on Sunday morning and drove to Woodland Hills, located in the San Fernando Valley, right where Santa Monica Mountains begin. We parked by the trailhead in a quiet, residential neighborhood and began our trek, not really having any idea what we were getting ourselves into. Luckily, I had our friendly and very descriptive Hike Speak guide pulled up on my phone to show us the way. 

It turned out to be the kind of hike that goes straight up a mountain and straight back down again, with some spelunking and rock climbing mixed in for good measure. I haven't been exercising much (okay, at all) lately, so this turned out to be a terrific kick in the ass for me. The caves were super cool, though; dark caverns stuck right into the hillside, strewn with bits of NSFW graffiti and holes in the ceiling that turned out to be the only available route to access the rest of the hike. 

Once out of the caves, we climbed and climbed and climbed, and with every break we took, we were able to admire the view: rolling hills to the south and west, suburbia to the north and east, for miles and miles. One of the fun things about Southern California is that no matter where you live, you're not very far from nature. 

Just when I thought I wasn't going to be able to go any further, we reached Castle Peak. Jubilated that we made it, we rested and tried to look for the best way down, which ended up being a combination of sliding, tripping, and carefully stepping from foothold to foothold for the better part of thirty minutes, straight down the side of the mountain. I am not exaggerating - no, really, I'm not - when I say that I couldn't walk correctly for the next three days because my quadriceps were so tight. I've always preferred going up to going down, and this hike clinched that for me. 

Overall, though, I think we all had a great time. It had been awhile since I had done any local exploration, and it was invigorating to know that there are little gems like this scattered throughout the area, often where you would least expect them (a cave in the suburbs?). I've had lots of people express interest in checking out the hike, so I'll probably end up doing it again at some point, hopefully when I'm in better shape, and most likely going up the way we came down and down the way we came up, for the sake of my sanity/quads. 

When we got to the bottom and Kalen and I parted ways with everyone else, stopping at a gas station to fuel up and grab some snacks before getting on the freeway and heading north to the Central Coast, which I'll post about tomorrow, because I am pumping out these posts left and right and getting caught up like a champion this week. Shazam.

via my iPhone

via my iPhone

Happy Hump Day!