What do I need to bring?
On EVERY hike you should always bring plenty of water, sunshade, sunhat, good hiking shoes or boots, snacks, cell phone and dress appropriately for the weather. This often means that you need to wear LAYERS. You also will most likely need a day pack, fanny pack or some other way to carry these items and your personal belongings. I often also carry a first aid kit, knife, duct tape, hiking poles, binoculars, trail guides, replacement socks, bandana, singnal mirror, matches and camera.
Will we see wild animals?
In a word: maybe. But let's be clear, you're much more likely to see non-threatening animals such as hawks and maybe a coyote or a deer than anything else. Nonetheless, hiking has risks, like all outdoor activities. There are rattlesnakes and other wild animals in Griffith Park, Santa Monica Mountains, etc. Also, there are a very few mountain lions in these hills and mountians. It would be EXTRAORDINARILY RARE to see a mountain lion let alone have an interaction with a mountain lion. They are extremely elusive and not at all interested in bumping into people. A rattlesnake encounter is possilble, though rare, in Southern California. It's important on trails to always be aware of your surroundings and to listen (never wear headphones) as you hike. If you hear a rattle, back up slowly and find a detour. Ranger Ted will LEAD these hikes and thus any encounter with a dangerous animal is extremely remote. Coyotes are not inherently dangerous to humans. However, if they've been fed (a huge NO-NO!) then they are more bold in begging for food. I've only seen this near places like the Greek Theatre and never seen it on the trail. People with DOGS are warned to keep dogs ON A LEASH. First of all, it's usually the LAW in most of these areas. Secondly, you don't want your dog to run into a coyote or rattlesnake and get hurt.
Are these hikes dangerous?
With the proper preparation and precaution, no. If, however, you overestimate your abilities, don't hydrate, act carelessly on narrow paths, wear improper clothing or shoes, then YES. It's very important, even for experienced hikers to watch your step! Sounds simple, but many twisted ankles occur from simply not looking where you are going. If you follow Ranger Ted's lead, if you are prepared and if you exert yourself within the limits of your condition, then you should be just fine. You should carefully read the attached RELEASE OF LIABILITY form.
What is a California Naturalist?
The University of California Cooperative Extension has begun training 'Naturalists' all over the state through a certification program taught at a variety of institutions. Ranger Ted took his courses at the Tejon Ranch Conservancy in the Fraizer Park / Grapevine area. According to the main text of this course, The California Naturalist Handbook, "the goal of the program is to develop a stronger constituency for nature by working with institutions that provide science-based enviromental education to engage a corps of committed volunteer natrualists and citizen scientists." A naturalist is constantly learning new things about the environment. A naturalist loves to investigate the details of biodiversity. Simply, though, a naturalist OBSERVES the world around them, RECORDS what they see and the INFORMS others of their observations. For more information please visit: http://calnat.ucanr.edu/Take_a_class/
What forms of payment do you accept.
Currently, Ranger Ted can accept PAYPAL, CASH, CHECKS and CREDIT CARDS are all accepted. If paying with PAYPAL then you must complete this transaction at least 24 HOURS IN ADVANCE of your hike. Checks should be made payable to "Ted Mattison."
Ranger Ted, what about...?
What is Geocaching?
It's worldwide treasure hunting using GPS. Geocaching is a HUGELY popular outdoor activity and gaining participants rapidly. Ranger Ted often will include Geocacahing on his hikes because it's so much fun! Much more at: https://www.geocaching.com/
Define "Strenuous" "Moderate" and "Easy"
Hiking is a workout like any other. You should estimate your ability given your current state of fitness. A strenuous hike is like a good, strong, lengthy workout at the gym. You'll sweat. You'll breathe hard. You'll need a good amount of water, you'll have to push yourself at times to get through certain potions of the hike. The nice thing about hiking is that when you go UP you also get to go DOWN. This is one of the great rewards of hiking. The absolute KEY to this is to PACE yourself and to take breaks when you need them. The Paseo Miramar trail is strenuous. It has a significant elevation gain over a long period of time and is exposed to the sun for most of the trip.
Moderate means that you'll experience a workout that is less taxing than a strenuous hike but still has portions where you will need to exert, sweat, breathe hard, hydrate and pace yourself. Moderate hikes have lower elevation gains and more opportunity for evenly paced walking. The Griffith Park hike is good example of a moderate hike. It starts with a fairly steep climb but that evens out after a few minutes. The rest of that hike is more steady elevation gain.
An easy hike is just that! However, easy hikes still have their fitness requirements. While there is little elevation gain on these hikes it still requires that you pace yourself, hydrate and be prepared for a workout. Easy hikes are usually on even ground and have relatively the same pace for most of the hike. The Sepulveda Basin hike is a good example of an easy hike.
What hikes are appropriate for my child?
You must be your child's best judge on what their level of fitness is and what hikes they can handle. I would say that young children (under 9 or 10) should probably not attempt a strenuous hike unless you are really clear about their abilites. Most kids, however, can handle moderate to strenuos hikes. Of course, with kids it's imperative that you are prepared with plenty of water, snacks, sunblock, sunshade, and appropriate layers for the weather. If your child plays soccer or basketball or swims for long stretches then your child can handle moderate to strenuous hikes. Please contact Ranger Ted at anytime with questions.
Can I bring my child in a stroller?
Only on SOME of these hikes. Look for the STROLLER ICON to know if your hike is stroller friendly. Generally, however, the "stroller" needs to be more of a "jogger." It should have bigger wheels that can handle more uneven paths. For the scheduled hikes: Yes, on the Sepulveda Basin. Yes, on Paseo Miramar. No for Griffith Park. Possible for Kenneth Hahn but this requies some discussion with Ranger Ted.