We started this journey off a lot like we do most..without a specific location in mind. Usually we have a general area we want to visit, and try to go with where life takes us. We were stuck on Ghost Town Road in Bartow, CA for a night sleeping on the cold desert ground with only our blinky lights and sweaters to keep us warm when we decided this adventure would take place in a warm sunny place.
Murphy Ranch is easily found on many sites and became our focus on this long drive around California. When we first arrived on site we assumed we were in the wrong place...this always happens. Beautiful homes with rich landscaping guard the entrance..which is just around the bend from a particularly watchful neighbors house.
Once you round the corner past this wary citizen's home you come across what looks like LA in some apocalyptic future; winding crumbling roads, stunning panoramic views of Malibu, remnants of sun bleached graffiti and detritus.
We walked twisting decaying pavement, passing by a truck that had lost it's way down into the canyon. On and on we walked carrying bags filled with camera equiptment, jewelry and clothes. It was hot and of course we brought everything except; water. After being circled by birds above head we finally came to the break in the fencing and stairway that led into the canyon.
From the top of the canyon we began our descent...longer than we expected we met quite a few characters along the way. A few wanted to interact..one just sat under a tree on the stairs disengaged from the world around them. It was clear immediately this area was well trodden, which made us feel more comfortable after our spooky encounter the nights before.
The stairs turned and twisted and went on and on. They seemed like endless torture devices. A passer by informed us the to bear to the left and the walk would be worth it. We trusted them and kept on down into the canyon.
For a moment we stopped for a bathroom break off the trail, on the remnant of a path that no longer existed. It's hard not to think running into the hills and disappearing into the wilderness when left alone in the peace and quiet of your best friends company and the left hand path of a lost trail in Malibu.
At the time this building still stood in the basin of where we came upon after our long descent. Endless layers of paint thickly coating this old former "base camp". Like a long lost colorful jewel resting within the canyon, safely tucked away from society...and paint stripper. We seized the moment to capture as many photos as we could on this fleeting gem. This was clearly a hot spot for activity, as we changed we watched several groups go in and out of the camp.
Generally we avoid graffiti and tagging when we are photographing look books for ABNDN. We've spend hours photoshopping out random tags in otherwise pristine decay. This time, the paint was unavoidable and drew us to it in it's own odd way. The colors were all encompassing over every bit of man made material within the canyon.
Everywhere you look at Murphy Ranch there are colorful buildings peeking from behind fallen trees and hills.
By the time we were had gotten to the bottom of the canyon and taken a few sets of photos, it was already getting dark and cold. Since we had brought no nourishment we decided making the hike back out of the canyon sooner than later would be in our best interest. We had about ten million stairs ahead of us, so we discussed all the vegan deliciousness we would eat after we survived the hike as motivation to get us out of there.
On the long hike up the hidden canyon stairway we spotted a colorful landmark on another hill in the distance. Too far and treacherous to get to from where we were, we vowed to come back the next day to discover the rest of Murphy Ranch's visual treasures. Plus we still had more pictures to take!
Finally we reached the top of the hill. We watched the sun set over the hills of Malibu and went off on a new adventure; dinner!