The trail to Gaviota Peak begins in a thickly wooded area - ancient sycamores overhang the cool, dim trail. It soon opens up into fields of golden grass, shimmering in the evening light.
Half of our group splits off on a shortcut, long legs and heavy boots slashing through the grass. Within moments they are gone, up and over the ridge.
The tawny hills stretch almost as far as the eye can see - a faint shadowy line of fog creeping up behind them from the coastline.
The trail climbs more steeply now, through thickets of Toyon and scrub oak. 'Traveler's Joy' (wild clematis) with it's dry, fluffy seed heads flourishes along the side of the trail. As the sun sinks lower in the west, the encroaching fog bank moves up the valley.
Alone now on the trail in the luminous dusk, the lyrics to an old "Traveling Wilburys" song surface in my mind.
"Well it's all right...... I'm just glad to be here, happy to be alive, at the end of the line. And it don't matter if you're by my side, at the end of the line, I'm satisfied, and it's all right....."
The final ridgeline is reached just after the sun slips over the horizon, and the view opens up to the Pacific Ocean. A cool wind is sweeping strongly across the peak; we retreat down the trail a bit and enjoy biscotti and poetry.
Then down we go, back to the cars. The trail ends too soon - we are dumped abruptly back into the parking lot and the incongruous sight of these signs, freeway traffic roaring by.