Thursday, February 3, 2011

Notes on the Sam Merrill Trail

We've had cool weather for a few days and the sky is clear. I took this shot from about a mile and a half up the Sam Merrill trail, looking out from alongside one of the electric towers. If you enlarge the photo you can see Century City and Santa Monica. That glow is the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean.

Just looking at the photo makes me want to get on the trail--any trail. Each has different merits. The Sam Merrill trail is so popular I rarely use it on weekends. John and I like it for exercise because it has some steep parts and it gets your heart going, not to mention your lungs and thighs. And the views are great. Other trails in the area might be less well traveled and therefore better for bird watching, finding wild flowers or thinking.

I wrote a lot of the first draft of my novel on the Sam Merrill trail. John and I were living near the trail head while I was writing it, and I would stomp up the hill with a note pad in my pack, letting the characters talk to me. Whenever they said anything worthwhile I'd stop and write it down.

Most of what they said may have worthwhile, but not worth keeping for the final draft. But you have to write that first draft in order to get to the second, third, fourth, etc.

Walking is a great writing tool. I walk a lot, and I always have a note pad and pen with me. Camera too, of course.

21 comments:

tracie said...

Such a beautiful photo. I haven't been up the Sam Merrill trail in years, but I remember what a fun hike it was. I also distinctly remember how good it felt to tick off each mile marker on the way up.

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

Love this shot and thinking about your trail, your musings, your writing... show more!

Bellis said...

That trail is hard work, but well worth it for the views, though I hope you got down before it was too dark to see all the little rocks on the trail. :o)

Have you tried the iPhone dictation app? Larry Wilson uses it all the time, but I haven't tried mine out yet.

Petrea said...

Tracie, I know exactly what you mean. After a long time off that trail we're working our way up to mile marker 2. It's also a matter of how much time one has, especially since we only hike Sam Merrill on weekdays. Welcome, thanks for commenting.

Merci Genie! I'm glad you're interested.

Bellis, I managed to get a serious sprain tripping on one of those rocks in broad daylight. I haven't tried the dictation app. I'll check it out right now.

Bellis said...

The dictation app is called Voice Memos.

Anonymous said...

Love Love Love this!

can't remember my google info, so I hope you accept anonymous posts.

Happy New Year, Petrea! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and photos with us every day! I work in a cubicle and always look forward to reading your blog.

Anonymous said...

Um, that anonymous post was from Amy/Hollis the Cat. Just FYI. :)

Petrea said...

Thanks, Bellis.

Hi Amy/Hollis! Thanks for your enthusiasm. I get a lot of pleasure out of creating this blog, but the best of it is hearing from commenters.

Cafe Observer said...

It's good to hear John Muir & you were living near the trailhead back then when you wrote your notes.

Susan Campisi said...

I've only done this hike a few times and I've never seen the ocean. Great shot. Hiking up mountains does get the creative juices flowing. I'll have to try that voice app too (the droid version).

Trish said...

haven't done this hike in eons...never seem to have time when visiting to hike. I used to sit up there and ponder life...glad you found inspiration.

looks like, not only CC you captured, but also am looks like the edge of the Arroyo, and looks like a quick glimpse of my godparents house too (if you know where to look, there's a slight light mark on the hill). thanks for the memories!

Petrea said...

Cafe, I may be old but I'm not that old.

Susan, the ocean is a relatively rare sight from the trail due to LA's smoggy skies. But when it's clear it's spectacular.

Looks like a nice place, Trish!

Trish said...

ditto the comment about you not being as old as Muir---he died in 1914! perhaps your inspiration at that place was similar to Muir's?

am amazed you got such a clear pic---took years of bringing my sweetheart back to LA for us to see Mt Wilson from the basin at all, let alone the ocean---previously, too much smog to see the mtns.

and a quick check turns out the ~6500sqft Marston & Van Pelt property (it was 8800 when I loitered around it...don't know how you lose 2300sqft but at that size, what's a few thousand sqft?) is up for sale again in LV. Am surprised it isn't better highlighted! ;-)

Petrea said...

Is this it, Trish?

Virginia said...

OH this is g rand P. I'm sorry to report that I could walk from here to China and not get a damn thing written. Guess you've guessed that's why I love the camera. It helps me say it......without the words I can't seem to conjur up.

Ms M said...

wonderful photo and story about your writing. :)

Katie said...

Gorgeous view. Amazing that you can see this from a hiking trial, as I figured the photo was taken from an airplane. Cool that walking helps your writing; win win!

Petrea said...

Virginia, the photos that don't need words are the best ones. And like good writing, sometimes it takes several attempts to get it right.

Ms. M, thank you very much.

Katie, "win win" is what I tell myself on the steeper parts of the trail when my lungs, heart and thighs are all complaining.

Gina said...

I just started working on a novel. I will have to remember to try hiking as a cure to writers block. Although I don't like to write by hand so I guess I'll just have to hike with my laptop.

Dina said...

We are anxious to see the final draft, especially if the first ones were written under the influence of Nature.
I used to do that too, carry a notebook in my pocket. But now the voices so seldom talk to me as I walk. How can I get them back, Petrea?

Petrea said...

Gina: smartphone?

Dina: I don't know the answer for you. I know what's best for me is to walk alone, and if nothing comes naturally I actively direct my mind to it.