Letter: Winding Way solution sought

Letter to the Editor

We have lived on Winding Way for 20 years and have seen the Escondido trail become the most used and abused hiking trail in the area. [Response to “Popular hike a headache for residents, law enforcement,” published July 11] 

My family is blessed to live here, and we have always supported public access, but the situation is out of control. It saddens me to see water bottles and trash carelessly tossed, and people sometimes smoking in this tinder-dry boxed canyon. 

We hike or ride our horses on the trail several times a week (except on the weekends when thousands of people flock here, making driving down the street even tricky). I have never seen a ranger in the canyon, or a sign noting that the upper falls is on private property, and I have certainly never seen anything to indicate that the well-traversed trail to the top is very dangerous. I do know that people have been killed, crippled and injured, and as last week’s article points out, this area deals with more emergency rescues than any location in Malibu. 

I don’t understand how Dash Stolarz, director for the Mountain Recreation and Conservation Authority can say, “We do everything we can to stop people from trespassing.” They do? How would anyone know it’s private? In fact, if you go to the SMMC website and click on the Escondido link, their own description is clearly inviting and says nothing about the upper falls being off limits: “…A mile into the trail you will reach the base of the waterfall. This is the lower tier of the huge limestone fall. The upper tier is 150 feet tall with a deep pool at its base.” 

The real reason why there isn’t a sign has to do with “liability” (I’ve been told that many times). But what about insuring the public safety, not to mention the cost and man hours, when fire crews, paramedics, rescue volunteers and helicopters are called in because another person was injured climbing where they had no business to be? 

Let’s come up with some real solutions to keep the public safe and restore the integrity of the canyon. 

Lori Gray