Walkabout California

Hiking Inn to Inn

Tips learned from hiking the Malibu Coast in 2014

I sent this feedback to Tom and Emily, and they suggested I post it here:

Six of us women (ages 30-43) went on our walkabout—a professor, two pastors, two who work with non-profits and one HR director.  All of us are physically fit but most of the group had no  experience with extended hikes.  Some of our comments reflect that lack of experience, and we hope the lessons we learned will help others who plan to head out on this beautiful trip!


Footwear:  In our group, two people wore Chacos, one wore Vibrams, one wore Ahnus, and two wore Keens.  We’d all broken our shoes in significantly prior to the walkabout.  The wearers of the Chacos and Vibrams got blisters; the others did not.  We were grateful for the suggestion to bring a first aid kit, and we recommend that folks bring a lot of moleskin!  Walkabout-ers should expect to walk in water regularly.  (Tip:  Moleskin comes off after moderate exposure to sand and seawater.  We learned to apply the moleskin and then wrap medical tape around the parts of our feet where the moleskin was.  That seemed to last much longer.)


Packs:  We packed extremely lightly.  A few took daypacks, and a few who experience some regular back trouble brought internal frame packs. We were newcomers to the world of internal frame packs, and found that ours were a little bit of overkill size-wise.  We felt that a person could easily make this trip with a pack smaller than a 42 + 10.  Don’t forget to pack in a way that allows room for food (and drink) that you might purchase each day.


Hydration:  Those of us who’d packed two water bottles were grateful for that.  There were stretches in which there was no place to fill a water bottle.  Our wearer of a daypack with a Camel-Back bladder recommends it highly, as you don’t have to reach back to get access to your water.


Cash:  We underestimated the amount of cash we needed to bring in addition to our credit cards.  Part of this probably had to do with our group size—we were splitting dinner bills, housekeepers’ tips and the like.  We wish we would have brought more money ($100 each?) in smaller denominations. 


Clothes:  We each brought a light, packable sundress to wear out to dinner at night.  One windy night we got cold, but the other two nights were nice and warm.  We each brought flip-flips to wear out at night and appreciated having a second pair of shoes to wear so we could give our feet a break from our hiking shoes.  One woman hiked in stylish, lightweight black hiking pants, and they doubled nicely as dinner-wear.


Gear:  We did not find the need for mosquito spray, headlamps or matches.  (We did all our hiking in sunlight hours.)   Might be helpful to have a bee sting kit, as one of our group stepped on a bee when hiking on the beach in bare feet.  When passing through a cave, one of our group got stung on the hand by something spiny in a tidepool.  She peed on it, and that did the trick!  We recommend bringing Benadryl. (No worries—she had an EpiPen for another condition should she have needed it.)  We found having a phones with a GPS was extremely helpful, as was having an athletic Garmin watch which kept track of distance walked and pace. (We also enjoyed posting pictures to social media throughout the hike.)


Transportation:  We began our hike at Leo Carrillo and had planned to leave a car there.  We didn’t know that their lot was for day use only, but fortunately they arranged it so that we could pay the three nights’ camping fee to leave our car parked in their lot.  If folks are taking this walkabout in the summer and planning to leave a car there, they will want to make reservations far in advance for a campsite, which can be booked through the Leo Carrillo Reserve America website.  The campsites cost $12/night.


We found the app Uber to be really helpful.  When one of our hikers needed to cut her trip short at Will Rogers Beach, she used Uber to arrange for someone to pick her up, and had a ride nearly instantly.  We also used Uber to get back up to Leo Carrillo at the end of the hike to retrieve the car we’d left there. 


Terrain and tides:  We encountered more rocky places than we’d expected, particularly on the first day.  We had anticipated being able to average about 2 mph, but because of the bouldering each day we didn’t consistently achieve that pace.  Some of our time was spent backtracking because we hiked large sections of boulders only to find out that at some point they became impassable.  We adjusted our start time on the second & third days to leave earlier than the guide suggested, relative to the time of low tide. 


Even timing our hiking to the low tides, we had problems with passability in more places than the guide pointed out.  In addition to impasses caused by terrain, we encountered several impasses created by construction along the beaches.  In each impassable situation except one we were able to re-route to walk on PCH.  The one problematic spot was on Day 2 at Duke’s restaurant.  Once we’d climbed the boulders up to the restaurant windows, we were unable to continue beyond the restaurant and had to scale a 7-foot tall chain-link fence which abutted the large glass wall surrounding the deck.  We tossed our packs up and over and then helped each other scale the fence.  That was a little bit of an athletic feat given the angle of the fence, the distance from the boulders to the fence, and few places for toe holds.  It was nice of the surfers below to cheer for us once the last person made it over!


It may be that our problem lay in which low tide we were timing our hikes around.  There are two low tides each day, and the mid-morning low tides were a full foot higher than the middle of the night low tides.   


If we were to do this hike again, we would spend more time simply enjoying the beaches.  We were so focused on trying to reach the impassible spots by low tide that we didn’t stop to linger very often.  Knowing now that some of those spots would still be impassable at the penultimate low tides, we wouldn’t be so concerned with making a certain time goal.


Accommodations:  The Malibu Country Inn was wonderful—great recommendation.  The rooms were clean and pretty, the pool was a nice way to end the day, and the staff was very helpful.  On the second night we stayed at the M Malibu Motel, which also had a lovely pool.  The rooms were clean, but minimalist, and there were very few dining options within a short walking distance.  For the amount we paid, we were surprised that there were no coffeemakers in the room!  We had to schlep a mile north to go to Starbucks.  On the third day we traveled beyond Santa Monica to Venice and stayed at the Venice Beach House, a B & B one block from the beach.  It was also a wonderful place to stay—beautiful rooms, located near a lot of restaurants, and had a huge “continental” breakfast including eggs and sausage! 


Food & Dining:  Night One—loved Zooma Sushi.  If folks are willing to walk about ½ mile past Zooma, there’s a Pavilions grocery store to stock up on provisions for the next day.  Day Two—had “third breakfast” at the restaurant at Paradise Cove. A delicious menu (lox eggs benedict!  Lemon poppy seed pancakes!  Screwdrivers with fresh-squeezed o.j.!)  Night Two—ate a delicious dinner at Plate, in the shopping plaza adjacent to the hotel in Malibu.  Day Three—loved the recommendation of Cholada’s.  Delicious.  Night Three—went to a Mediterranean place on Washington in Venice, but they didn’t serve alcohol (no liquor license yet), so we went to the Venice Whaler.  It had a slightly raucous atmosphere, but we enjoyed that on our last night.  A great selection of seafood, burgers, and local beers. 


We basically made breakfasts from groceries we purchased each night (fruit, yogurt, cheese), and packed peanut butter sandwiches and granola bars for each day.   (We may have eaten our fair share of chocolate along the way, too.)


In all, we had a wonderful time of conversation and activity in a beautiful setting.  We wouldn’t have taken this hike if it weren’t for your guide.  Because of this trip five of my closest friends who didn’t know each other previously are now friends with each other.  This is a blessing not only to them, but to me as well.  Thank you for the joy you ushered us into. 




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