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Inspiration from the top of the world

Posted: December 29, 2013 3:36 p.m.
Updated: December 29, 2013 3:36 p.m.

About 35 hikers turned out Saturday for a Community Hiking Club hike through the Golden Valley Ranch Open Space. Signal photo by Dan Watson

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For Santa Clarita Valley resident Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel, the journey began in 1993 following a trek up Mt. Everest.

After she climbed the highest mountain on Earth, Erskine-Hellrigel returned to the Santa Clarita Valley and began work in earnest on ways to promote local wilderness conservation and outreach.

From that interest, and cooperation with other like-minded individuals, was born the Community Hiking Club, a group of hiking enthusiasts who take regular journeys out to the more rustic, or historic, areas of the Santa Clarita Valley.

“It’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever done, and the most rewarding,” she said Saturday during one of the group’s hikes.

However, the club is anything but a simple hiking organization.

Erskine-Hellrigel, who now serves as the club’s director, said among the group’s priorities is conservation projects, including trash pickup and invasive-plant removal.

The club also does outreach to teach survival techniques and get people interested in spending more time outdoors.

Another emphasis of the group is local history. On Saturday morning, for instance, about 35 people turned out for a hike at the historic Golden Valley Ranch Open Space in Placerita Canyon, including a stop by the original cabin built by local patriarch Frank Walker.

Ron Kraus, vice president of Placerita Canyon Nature Center Associates, said he leads several hikes throughout the year to help teach attendees about local history.

During Saturday’s hike he discussed the history of the Golden Valley Ranch Open Space, an area that was slated for a residential development before being set aside for preservation.

But while the club has many goals and efforts, hiking is still a primary component.

“I love it when people get out for a hike and enjoy themselves,” Erskine-Hellrigel said.

One such hiker is Canyon Country resident Karen LeBlanc, who said she learned of the group online.

She called the experience “anti-gym management,” adding, I’m happy to come hike with locals.”

“I commute five days a week, but commuting for a hike? That’s another story,” she said.

Canyon Country resident Cesar Martos said he hikes with the group regularly.

“I hike locally quite a bit, but I like going with groups,” he said.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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