Stumbling into the car before dawn, armed with sunscreen and several water bottles, I was finally ready to take on hiking in LA. Nervous for the oppressive heat and minimal tree cover, I again took advantage of jet-lag leaving me wide awake at 5 am for once. By the time the alarm blared, I was ready for our morning trek. Or at least as ready as someone who only packed hi-top Converse can be, but hey. I had heard about the legendary trails and scenery of Los Angeles and Marco, my long-time friend and California native, was not about to let me leave without getting my feet dusty.
Hiking to the cave
We chose the early morning to beat the heat and any other hikers looking to check out the fabled graffiti cave. Allegedly, Jim Morrison, the lead singer of the Doors, used to drive up during his time in film school and write poetry on the walls. There’s even a weathered skull hacked into the rock he’s said to have carved away while on a carousel of drugs. Whether any of this is true, it still makes for a wild experience to pop one’s head literally up into.
We hiked for a short while before coming across some massive, smooth rocks piled together. Pocked with small holes, these mega-pebbles looked as if they could have been pulled from a river bed and placed onto the hills of California. We leapt from rock to rock, scaled and slid through narrow crevices as we attempted to locate the opening of the cave. Marco was sure it was this way, but maybe not? All in all, it’s less than a mile from where one can park their car. But, when you try to recall a certain trail or particular set of rocks from memory, things can get fuzzy. I should know, I never seem to be able to recall what I had for breakfast in the morning. We’ll just say we took the extra-scenic route.
Inside the Jim Morrison cave
Scampering through the tiny “birth canal” opening, we finally made our way into the famous Jim Morrison Cave right after sunrise. The opening is a pretty tight squeeze, and it’s pretty understandable where it’s nickname came from. We had to toss our backpacks up first before sliding through. Corral Canyon Cave is the actual name for the natural opening in the rocks, but most know it as the rumored song-writing space for Morrison. The cave itself isn’t very large, but the overwhelming nature of all the Pepto-Bismol pink paint inside the cave makes it a fantastic photo opportunity. Artists from all over have left a piece of themselves on top of the pink. Ranging from detailed illustrations to random motivational scrawlings, they all come together to complete the strange narrative for the place.
Despite the chaos of the swirling colors, people seem to come here to relax, meditate, and even crack open a beer. Some paid their tribute to Jim Morrison and wrote poetry on the walls. I’m also sure the cave has also seen its fair share of good nights; judging from the collection of undies thrown onto a nearby tree. The cave opens up to a spectacular view of Malibu’s nature trails and other nearby caves, making it pretty darn understandable why so many people wanted to leave their mark on such a place.
While doing some research on the Corral Canyon cave, I was saddened to see they’ve decided to shutter its “doors” for good. They’ll also be blasting the pink insides with walnut shells to remove the graffiti that’s been collecting for decades. Rangers say it’s gotten out of hand; one could spot nearby rocks starting to bloom with spray-painted words and empty cans litter the ground. What makes for a stunning spot to relax and soak in the variety of art others have created over the years has become an environmental nightmare, so I can understand. One could easily argue the added art is what detracted from the beauty of the cave, versus making it a destination location. Either way, I’m going to withhold any information on how to get there to respect the park rangers’ wishes.
Humans VS Nature
When it comes to man-made art made within nature’s untouched works of beauty, who should win out in the end? I’ve always found the decay of abandoned buildings to be beautiful, especially with nature threatening to swallow the walls whole. Nature reclaiming what is rightfully hers; the idea of how everything returns to the earth in the end is romantic, in a way.
Except plastic; those take-out bags and coffee stirrers are here forever.
The human race has done a number on destroying and trying to tame just about every inch of our forests, jungles, and seas. What serves as a fantastic art piece in nature, encourages other rocks to be defaced and turned into a mess of electric blue lyrics and promposals. Exactly how much is too much? People who want to come to relax in nature, but leave behind garbage and ripped undies are selfish. But those who add fantastic art pieces to the cave walls? Are they just as bad? While thrilled to experience such an interesting collection of man-made artwork in nature, I’m glad to see the cave being returned to it’s natural state.
Though, how long the cave will manage to stay pristine, I can’t imagine will be long.