Last weekend I did the most LA thing ever: I tried a new brunch spot, and hiked Murphy Ranch. And it was great.
My friend and I brunched at PUMP. Let me preface with this - I have never seen Vanderpump Rules and didn't even know that the restaurant was remotely related. I just found a cool looking brunch patio on Open Table and knew I wanted to drink mimosas under their unseasonably ornamented shade trees. So what I'm trying to say is don't judge me.
Needless to say the ambiance was perfect for a girls' brunch, and my blackberry smash cocktail was mighty dee-licious, but the food wasn't anything special. At PUMP, you're definitely paying for the atmosphere - which was totally fine with me - that's what I went there for in the first place!
After brunch, we headed up towards the Pacific Palisades towards our hike spot. I've had Murphy Ranch on my bucket list recently because according to this LAist article a coworker shared with me, the ranch will be torn down NEXT WEEKEND. Since many consider it a "staple" LA hike, I considered it a must-see, and I couldn't waste any time getting around to it.
For those who have never heard of Murphy Ranch, I'd encourage you to read this article about the rumored history of the area. But in short, the ranch was allegedly built by Nazi supporters to be a self-sustaining farm and utopia after the United States fell to the Axis powers at the end of WWII. As we all know, the Axis powers did not, in fact, triumph over the Allies, and thus the ranch fell to ruins in the years after the war. Some of the buildings still remain intact (for the time being), though rusted and layered with graffiti.
The hike begins like many other LA-area hikes, with views of the ocean from the desert hills. The hike would continue on this way, too, should the hikers not be aware of the cement stairs that descend down to the valley floor just beyond a forced opening in the chain link fence. (DISCLAIMER: Exploring Murphy Ranch is considered trespassing; hike at your own risk!) Once you've climbed safely through the fence, an empty silo marks the beginning of the staircase that descends into the brush.
The stairs seem to go on forever. They're narrow and shallow and it's hard to feel like you're making much progress with each step. And once I did finally reach the bottom, my calves were physically shaking with fatigue. But we still had some ground to cover before we actually got to the ranch buildings, so we managed to carry on!
The main building is relatively easy to find after descending the stairs just by taking a short jaunt to the left. It too is covered in graffiti but the colors of the paint really make the buildings pop out from the greenish-brown surroundings. The building also allows access to the roof for those who dare to climb up the old, rusted catwalk.
I was not so brave and felt quite comfortable on the floor. I haven't had a tetanus shot in a while.
We explored around a bit longer and came across the ruins of an old military style Jeep, some boundary walls and what appeared to be an outdoor chimney, and decided we'd spent enough time in the unseasonable February heat and headed back up the endless stairs. As we slowly ascended, my friend and I discussed what it might have looked like while it was operational - if there really were Silver Shirts patrolling the grounds and if Nazi banners might have hung inside the same buildings that don wall-to-wall graffiti today. In the end, who knows?
As the Murphy Ranch remains are made to rainbow-colored rubble, the local population's interest in the area's history will likely vanish with the buildings. I'm just glad I could make time to explore the mysterious LA landmark before it's gone.