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We had been talking about a trek to this storied oasis outside of Hesperia for awhile now, and a trip to Vegas in June finally afforded us with the opportunity to visit. It turned out to be a true adventure, one that I highly recommend every water-loving Angeleno have at some point!
Before we left I checked out the online bulletin board deepcreekhotsprings.net to get a sense of the conditions from the regulars who post there. We set out from LA at 8am and arrived at the Bowen Ranch “gate” around 10.15am (the Ranch is about 22 miles from 1-15; directions here; there is an alternate trail, longer but less steep, to the springs too; directions here). The drive was a little bumpy and slow at some points on those last 7 dirt miles, but my non-4x4 vehicle did just fine. A friendly hippie dude greeted us, collected the $5 per person fee ($10 for overnight parking/camping), supplied us with a map and trash bag, and sent us on our way. He advised us repeatedly to take lots of water along, and that the hike in — or more accurately, down — was about 45 minutes, while the return trip up was “the longest 2 miles of your life.” He wasn’t kidding: It’s pretty much all goat trail on the side of the granite-pocked mountains, so you will be baby-stepping and sliding some on the way there, and huffing and puffing on the way back (take breaks!).
I recommend an early hike in and a late (but not too late!) hike out, especially in the hot summer months. The views are beautiful, but also make sure you pay attention to where you are going. We went on a Tuesday so we encountered very few people on the hike. I can’t imagine what it would be like on that narrow trail on a busy Saturday or Sunday!
Once we made it down to the creek, we encountered one of the most pleasant locales imaginable. It’s easy to see why Deep Creek is such a popular destination. The creek passes alongside a huge rock formation with several natural pools situated in its outcroppings. These pools are lovingly maintained by volunteers and each has a special name. From our point of entry, we had to ford the chilly river to reach the springs. Apparently when the water is high after rains, such as in early spring, it is dangerous and/or impossible to do this. During this time, the springs can only be accessed via the alternate 6-mile year-round trail mentioned above, so be forewarned. No matter what, bring your water shoes!
Luckily for us, it was perfect weather and we crossed over to a handful of amicable naked folks, families and cholos hanging out in the pools. There are two smaller pools at the low point of the rocks that are quite hot - one is called the “Crab Cooker”, I believe. The large pool in the middle is the perfect one, big and warm and deep, and appropriately termed “The Womb.” Above this is the “Anniversary Pool” which is a bit hotter, and which supplies the shower that you can stand under in the creek below. It’s possible to jump off the rock outcropping into the creek as well, but it’s pretty shallow so use precaution. We stayed for hours, hopping from hot to cold, and swimming all around the nooks of the creek, exploring its mini-falls and boulders. Heavenly and fun! Big trees provided a few shady spots on both sides of the water, and some people seemed to have set up camp. I totally get why people want to camp here, especially after such a long hike, but it is illegal and you can be ticketed for it. Just sayin.
We did not want to leave this water wonderland, but we still had to hike out and complete a 3-hour drive, so we took off at about 2pm. Crazy, I know. By this time, things had already started to get somewhat boisterous in the pools anyway. Everyone was really nice, but a few more locals had shown up, bad guitar was being played, and a drunk kid hit his head on a rock. It seemed like a good time to go, so we wet down all our clothes then put them on and soldiered up the mountain. It was intense - we’d brought just enough water and poor Ric got a sunburn on his head! We made it back in just over an hour, with a sense of accomplishment in tow.
I feel like I had the optimal Deep Creek experience and for that I am lucky. It is a special place that is worth the visit, but the timing and the preparedness level have to be right. There are a surprising number of helicopter rescues here as it turns out, and the summer/fall weekends are, by many accounts, a shit-show. If you are not cool with naked men, you should also take heed, although most people had suits on and everyone seemed comfortable. My advice: Go early and on a weekday, and expect to spend your whole day there. If you haven’t done much physical activity lately, be ready for a serious workout. Backpack. Food. Water. Hiking boots. Hat. Sunscreen. Water Shoes. And of course, no glass and no garbage!!
Someday I will return to these wonderful hot springs, dear readers, mark my words. Lord only knows when, but it will happen!
Almost everything you need to know is here: http://www.deepcreekvolunteers.com
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1350 SEPULVEDA BLVD. (map)
(South of Wilshire, part of the Westwood Recreational Complex)
LOS ANGELES, CA 90025
SUMMER LAP SWIM SCHEDULE (until 9/18, check website above for updates!)
MONDAY 9am - 12.45pm, 6 - 9pm
TUES-FRI 6.30am - 12.45pm, 6 - 9pm
SATURDAY 9am - 12.45pm
SUNDAY 10am - 12.45pm
YEAR-ROUND / INDOOR / HEATED (81-83 degrees)
25 meters x 25 yards (10 x 10 lanes), 3-16 ft. depth, diving board
COST: $2.50 / $2.00 with LA library card
$55 pass for 30 admissions
FREE FOR CHILDREN / SENIORS / ADAPTIVE
First off, apologies for the lack of active posting on my part - I know it’s summer and therefore crucial swim time, but it is also the only season when I am able to take off on an annual west-coast road trip! As you might imagine, I had some fantastic hot springs experiences that I intend to chronicle in the near future. But today I plan to discuss a horse of an entirely different color. That horse is the Westwood Pool - a place I’m sure you’ve driven past a million times but somehow never noticed as you trudged down Sepulveda in rush hour traffic. (That’s also because the entrance to the pool is on the “back” side of the building, adjacent to a huge park - FYI.)
Now, to continue the metaphor, I love horses, but this is no Lipizzaner stallion. It’s more like one of those horses attached to a carriage in Central Park - cute but haggard, seemingly made for a life of work. And work is probably all that you will want to do here. But before we get to that, let’s begin with the locker rooms.
As you can see, no frills here. It’s a little old, but I must confess, I’ve seen worse at other city pools. What’s different is the panopticon shape of the changing stalls - the attendant (who works on the safety-pin system) can see everything that is going on, as can everyone else – no curtains, my ladies! The showers are especially antiquated, but in a way that actually works out well, since they are faucet and not push-button. There were also several signs saying “don’t do this or that”, including a number that indicated no shaving or razors were allowed. I shuddered briefly as I imagined the situation that had prompted such a forceful display of concern…
But anyway, on to the pool itself! It’s pretty much a glorified garage: built in 1998, it’s a corrugated roof on a box with a few sets of bleachers. And yet, it gets the job done. My initial reason for coming here was that it has a wide range of lap swim hours, until 9pm(!) on weekdays, which is really nice in the winter. There are pull buoys and kickboards too. Of course, as a year-round city pool, a lot of other stuff is happening here at the same time: swim lessons, aqua jogging and, most importantly, SCAQ masters swim at 5.30am, 12pm and 7pm. What this means is that it is BUSY (though more in the fall/winter than in the summer). I’ve heard that the AM session is (overly) plentiful with bodies and I know that at night you can expect 3-4 people per narrow-ish lane by 7.30pm. In other words, if this is where you choose to swim, either out of convenience or necessity, push through your work-out, save the full-blown shower for home, and blast the eff outta there! I recommend arriving right at 6pm if you want an optimal experience. Good luck!
Actually, I think it was the Skyways Hotel and this might be 1961?? Anyway, what I wouldn’t give for one of those sexy vintage swimsuits. Love ‘em! Oh, and is that Don Draper sitting by the pool in his suit a la season two??? Funny.
Post card, Skyway Hotel, Los Angeles, 1950’s
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7900 LOYOLA BLVD. (map)
LOS ANGELES, CA 90045
(Be sure to check the MONTHLY CALENDAR on the website!)
Monday & Wednesday: 6:00am - 1:30pm; 3:30pm - 8:00pm
Tuesday & Thursday: 6:30am – 8:00pm
Friday: 6:00am – 1:30pm; 3:30pm – 7:30pm
Saturday: 8:00am – 5:30pm
Sunday: 10:00am – 5:30pm
YEAR-ROUND / OUTDOOR / HEATED / CHLORINATED
I don’t know what took me so long to visit the swimming pool at LMU, especially given that I’ve been working there for over a year now. I guess if you combine my love of the Swim Stadium downtown with the horrid commute I endured until my recent move to the westside, my non-attendance begins to make sense. But, after finally getting a membership at the Burns Recreation Center and going in for laps a few times in the past three weeks, I can report that I have really been missing out! This pool is terrific and, at least for me, it doesn’t get more convenient than this. (There is even a parking lot right out front!)
Unfortunately for you, the only way to go to this pool is if you have some affiliation with the university and purchase a membership (click here for eligibility info), or if you are the guest of a member ($5 for guests of students; $10 for all other guests). Another way to access the pool is to join the LMU Masters Swim club, which meets for daily workouts here at the crack of dawn, at noon and at 6.30 pm. All in all, I think this is a bit restrictive. At USC, $10 gets anyone in the door.
Anyway, if you are lucky enough to get in, you will pass through a clean, mid-size locker room (bring your own lock), with showers and a bathing suit spinner. The Rec Center is currently making efforts to go green, so they have implemented a towel service, which is a nice touch too. The pool itself is a 50 meter by 25 yard competition pool, and depending on the time of day, it is set up either in a short course (17 – 25yd lanes) or a long course format (8 – 50 meter lanes). You can find out what to expect on the very detailed monthly schedule on the pool’s main website.
The pool itself is in great condition: it was constructed in 2000 and has an advanced deck-level draining system. It is surrounded by a massive deck with bleachers, deck chairs and even a grassy area with a couple picnic tables. There are kickboards, floats and flippers for public use. Because of the pool’s limited access to non-members and because it has such extensive hours, it is never that busy. Having to share a lane is a rarity. How pleasant! The sun-worshippers out there will be happy to know that this pool gets tons of sun, but because it is located up on the bluff, it can be rather windy, and therefore chilly, especially when exiting the warm water. So be sure to bring out your towel. Other than that, go forth and make a splash! See you there.
ThingsPlaces Organized Neatly.
Photo: A pool near downtown Los Angeles, as shot from the Goodyear blimp in July. More awesome photos, including tilt-shifted aerial views, at Framework. Credit: John W. Adkisson / Los Angeles Times
This looks like a nice place to swim downtown…maybe too nice and neat?? I wonder if it is a hotel or a residential building. Anyone have any idea where this is?
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4175 OVERLAND AVE. (map)
(JUST SOUTH OF CULVER BLVD, NEXT TO VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK)
CULVER CITY, CA 90230
LAP SWIM HOURS AS OF SPRING 2011:
MONDAY-FRIDAY: 6:00 AM - 2:00 PM (LONG COURSE)
MONDAY & WEDNESDAY: 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM (SHORT COURSE)
TUESDAY & THURSDAY: 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM (SHORT COURSE)
SATURDAY: 7:00am - 9:00am (LONG COURSE); 9:30am - 2:00pm (SHORT COURSE)
YEAR ROUND OUTDOOR POOL (50 m x 25 y, 8 x 20 lanes, 4-12 feet deep)
HEATED (79°F in winter, 81° in summer) & CHLORINATED
COST: $4.00 / $2.50 FOR SENIORS & DISABLED
15-VISIT PASSES: $35 Residents / $50 non-residents / $20 Seniors & Disabled resident / $25 non-resident
MAJOR CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED!
It has been far too long since I posted a good old-fashioned pool review, and I apologize for that, but I have a good excuse! I have been busy the last few weeks moving to the westside. What this means for me is a much shorter commute, which is fantastic, but what it means for Swimming in LA is something even more wonderful: a whole bunch of new pools for me to discover, explore and share with you - just in time for summer, dear reader!
And so, to inaugurate this new era of aquatic reportage, Ric and I visited the much-beloved Culver City Plunge last week, a place that I’m sure we will be returning to regularly. The Plunge is lap-swim central, a sparkling outdoor shrine for the truly devoted, flanked on one side by a massive tower (the actual function of which I have yet to determine) and shaded by several huge trees lining the adjacent sidewalk. Pleasant surroundings, to be sure.
The locker-rooms are nothing fancy, but a step up of sorts from some of the pools we’ve featured, with lots of hot push-button showers, changing stalls and mirrors with outlets so you can get ready on the go. Be sure to bring a padlock and a pair of flip-flops for hanging out on the big concrete deck. On the day we were there, each of the pool’s eight lanes was marked slow, medium or fast, and held at least three or four swimmers. This seemed daunting at first, but once we jumped into the brisker-than-expected(!) water, we realized the lanes were rather sizable. We swam easily in a circle with two other people, but I can imagine that once the weather gets warmer and more people start coming out of their shells, it could get hectic, especially if you are using a kickboard or a float like I usually do. I’d suggest going earlier than we did (12pm) if you like more solitude. One other thing that is a bit of a bummer: the pool does not seem to be open on Sundays much. And it only offers recreational swimming on weekends from 12.15 to 2pm during the summer. Don’t get me wrong, I like that so much time is dedicated to lap-swimming on the schedule, but 3.5 hours a week total for the kiddies to jump off the high dive? That’s it? I find that surprising.
One of the reasons for the busy-ness of the Plunge must be because it is one of the most accessible pools on the westside. It’s also clean, pretty cheap, parking is easy, and there is the option to swim long-course during the day and short-course during the evening. On top of that, there are a variety of swim lessons, lifeguard training, and aerobics classes on offer (see culvercity.org for information). Another reason is because it is one of the main training pools for a gaggle of swim teams, and for the Southern California Aquatic Masters Swim Club (SCAQ), which, according to its website, is “the largest Masters swimming program in the United States.” They offer 65 different workouts at seven different facilities per week, including Echo Deep and USC. While I’m not sure if I am quite ready for that level of workout, I plan to learn more about Masters swimming in the near future, so I will keep y’all posted on that. But, in the meantime, I give the Plunge a solid thumbs-up! I just hope it doesn’t get too crazy there once the heat comes to town…
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OK, so I finally made it to this installation at the MOCA Geffen Contemporary, which includes the wonderfully immersive exhibit by Brazilian multimedia artists Hélio Oiticica and Neville D’Almeida, entitled Cosmococa-Programa in Progress, CC4 Nocagions (1973).
In an effort to create a socially and sensually engaged space that invites the viewers’ participation, the artists conceived of and eventually constructed a pool three feet deep, surrounded by colored light and monitored by a lifeguard. On two walls opposite the pool, projected images of John Cage’s book Notations, embellished with lines of cocaine and all manner of drug paraphanalia, flash sporadically — an apparent homage to some of the substances of the artists’ inspiration. John Cage’s music also plays in a loop in the background as an homage to the act of appropriation that artists habitually indulge in. There are also adjacent changing areas, lockers and a towel station, which presumably are meant to add an air of authenticity to the experience, but which also lend it a Disneyland-like quality.
If the goal was to produce a psychadelic feast for the senses, this project definitely hit the target. The pool was cut out of a raised platform that served as the deck area, which was wet with footprints and strewn with cushions to lounge on. There were no steps or ladder in the pool - you just had to plop into the water, which, as it turns out was quite cold and slightly opaque! Several children were splashing in it and screaming gleefully, along with a parent or two. The pool’s interior was uneven in spots, padded and slick, so a bit of caution was in order. The darkness of the room and the contrasting brightness of the blow-tastic slides served as a strange backdrop to the playful and familial atmosphere. Meanwhile, I was having nostalgic flashbacks to a quaalude-and-chardonnay, muu-muu wearing, Fleetwood Mac-soundtracked 70s that I was just a little too young to have actually known personally. Clothed observers came and went through the white wall space, taking in the swimmers as part of the piece, while the swimmers did the same to them. Overall, it was awkward but fun, just the way I like my modern art.
Speaking of awkward, there were supposed to be disposable swimsuits for sale in the gift shop, but I did not spy any. Don’t let this prevent you from experiencing the spectacle. I mean, when is the next time you will be able to swim inside a museum alongside your fellow patrons? So go on and get wet! You only have one more week - the exhibit closes on Sunday, 2/27.
Check out a few links, reviews and more of my pics:
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