Yesterday, a friend and I took a semi-leisurely hike in the Santa Monica mountains. We started at Tapia Park and hiked over the summit of the Tapia Spur to the former set of MASH. It was a gorgeous day and the company was great! One thing I noticed was the very large cross on Brent's Mountain.
Apparently, there has been a cross on this mountain in Malibu for at least one hundred years. It was originally placed there by a Salvationist group in the late 30's. All I can say is, those people must have had very strong backs and a real zeal for their faith because the trail is, and always has been, vastly overgrown with scrub oak and chapparel...and those "rocks" are, in all actuality, crumbly, sandstone boulders. It's a 1500 foot, near verticle (in places) climb.
Why am I writing about this? Well, for one, as a naturalist who loves uninterupted vistas- it's sort of an eyesore. It is the first thing you notice and, in my opinion, it shouldn't be. Second, Brent's Mounatin is part of Malibu Creek STATE Park. I decided to do a little research and I downloaded a map of the park's boundaries. There's a Salvation Army camp in Tapia's Park and I thought, perhaps, they also owned Brent's Mountain (thereby making the cross private property). That's not the case. Now, again...why is this important. Well, if you read the latest environmental impact report for the area, the cross is kind of a pain in the ass! Sure, it's a trail area and with trails come humans and humans leave garbage. But, reading a few web sites and hiking forums reveals that there are complaints of "candles and religious cards" left at the Cross site. Wait. CANDLES? CANDLES?! For anyone unfamiliar with Malibu and...oh, say, the months of August through October- It's basically a pyromaniac's wet dream! Billions are spent annually to protect California's parks and properties from wildfires. Yet, maybe because we don't want to offend anyone, we're going to allow backpackers to take CANDLES to a horribly remote, hard to get to location in the mountains? To my knowledge, lighting a fire in a FIRE RING at a campsite requires a permit and a fee. In summation: we have a State owned park with a religious display and a fire hazard. That doesn't seem very smart to me. I realize there's not a whole lot to do about it - it just struck me as a little careless.
Can't wait to see the giant menorah or Shahada! Wouldn't that be fun?