Sandstone Peak Trip Report

Sandstone Peak (3,111 feet)

Date: December 2, 2004

This was a whirlwind, single-day trip from home to Ventura County to home. Sandstone Peak is the Santa Monica Range highpoint, located northwest of Malibu, south of Thousand Oaks, and within a few tens of miles of Los Angeles.

I had previously planned on Sandstone Peak but was compelled to visit my parents instead. They live in Encino of the San Fernando Valley in the Los Angeles greater metropolitan area. Here is the link to a description of that trip last spring.

I arose at 3:30 a.m. and drove by 4 a.m. up I-5, through Los Angeles proper and thence up the Pacific Coast Highway. From the western termination of I-10, in Santa Monica, it is thirty road miles, along the Coast Highway, to Yerba Buena Road. This road is immediately west of famous Zuma Beach, and leads into the hills north of the coastal community of Malibu.

Zero odometer upon turning onto Yerba Buena Road. At logical mile marker 6.25 (same on my odometer), locate the trailhead for Sandstone Peak on the left (west) side of the road. Park.

The trail is actually a jeep road from the trailhead to within a hundred vertical feet of the summit. It is gated immediately above the parking lot, so allowing only pedestrian traffic.

I began the hike at 7:01 a.m. wearing windpants over my trousers, and a parka, because the weather was unusually cold the previous few days - near freezing temperatures for the San Fernando Valley before dawn, accompanied by winds from the northeast. The parka was removed after a short while, as the sun started to make its presence felt on the land.

After 0.3 mile is a trail junction indicating Sandstone Peak to the left (west). Take it 1.1 additional miles to the summit for a net elevation gain of 1,000 vertical feet from the trailhead.

Almost at your goal, the jeep road taken heads west as it traverses the slope to the north of the actual summit. You leave the jeep road by locating a signed trail (i.e. no longer an abandoned jeep road) on the left (south) side of the road and take it, somewhat steeply for a trail, the final hundred or so vertical feet, in a southeasterly direction.

I touched the summit boulder at 7:33 a.m. and then followed Andy Martin's advice and scrambled east to a nearby boulder, perhaps 50-70 feet away, that competes in altitude.

I called my mother while huddled near a bush and sheltered from much of the wind by boulders immediately beneath the western summit. We were scheduled to visit the Getty Museum that afternoon. She recommended that we consider going to Costco instead - the discount food store that sells items in bulk, often for ridiculously low prices. I accepted.

I took several photographs and enjoyed a breakfast of bagel with cream cheese and grape jelly; a Fruit Loops cereal bar, and Yohoo! chocolate drink.

I was completely alone, isolated, yet within a geographic stone's throw of the most populated metropolis on the west coast of North America. Pity all those poor souls mired in morning rush hour traffic - unable to share the joys of unemployment!

The wind became annoyingly sharp after one-half hour of motionlessness, the only complaint being tingling fingertips beneath my thin liner gloves. Were it to have been windier and/or colder I had come prepared with two pairs of normal gloves and even overmitts.

I departed at 8:12 a.m. and returned to my Tacoma truck at 8:36. The ascent had taken 32 minutes and the descent a mere 24 minutes. I find myself doing 1,800 vertical feet an hour at low elevation. It is too bad I generally do not follow that pace at high altitude!

I removed the windpants and changed trousers; returned the 6+ miles to the Pacific Coast Highway, and headed back east for a short nap in a Malibu shopping center's parking lot.

Given the new venue I decided to avoid downtown by taking route 27, the Topanga Canyon Road, across the mountains and directly into Woodland Hills of the San Fernando Valley. By 10:40 a.m. I was waiting for my parents to meet me in the Costco parking lot in Northridge. We had lived in Northridge for several years at 9534 Wish Avenue.

I was treated to a shopping spree, stocking up on several items ranging from bulk parmesan cheese and pitted dates, to Liquid Plumr for bathroom sink problems.

We caravaned home, in Encino, to refrigerate an eighteen-pack of Yo-Plait yogurt. We then drove the short distance to a delicatessen, Jerry's, where we all enjoyed large breakfasts available all day. I had lox in eggs and onions, adorned with cream cheese; a baked potato with sour cream and chives; and toast with jam and marmalade. Pineapple was the appetizer, and, for dessert, a French napoleon with a ball of chocolate ice cream from my father's dessert. Although the meal was overpriced, it was a rare treat indeed.

I had climbed a mountain; saw my parents and enjoyed exactly what I had craved to eat - a most wonderful day!

The previous time I had visited my parents was on Thanksgiving Day a mere week earlier. I took just 1 hour 48 minutes to drive from their Encino home to mine in Del Mar - a personal record owing to light traffic. This time, however, the drive home was unfortunately through Los Angeles rush hour traffic. I left the restaurant at 3:05 p.m. and after the same 108 minutes had only reached Irvine - less than one-half of the required distance. Traffic was marginal until after Laguna Beach, whence 70+ m.p.h. highway speeds were again possible.