Published on October 17th, 2014 | by tanya0
Five Minutes With…Laura Randall
Here’s the second installment of our Five Minutes With… series. Laura Randall is an experienced writer and has published three books for us—Peaceful Places: Los Angeles, 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Los Angeles, and Day & Overnight Hikes in Palm Springs. She loves hiking with her children, and I love the photos that she sends over!
Why did you decide to write a guidebook?
I had just left my desk job as a business editor for a weekly magazine and was busy setting up a freelance writing career. To break up my day and get out of the house, I started meeting a friend for moderate hikes around the city. I couldn’t believe how many were in easy driving distance of my home — Griffith Park, Runyon Canyon, and all kinds of hidden loops off Mulholland Drive. Then I heard that Menasha Ridge was looking for a Los Angeles-based writer for its 60 Hikes/60 Miles series. I applied immediately and couldn’t wait to get started. 60 Hikes/60 Miles: Los Angeles is now in its 2nd edition, and I followed that first guidebook assignment up with Day & Overnight Hikes in Palm Springs and Peaceful Places: Los Angeles, also Menasha Ridge books.
What are your favorite things to nosh on when you’re on an adventure?
I tend to keep it simple with trail mix and lots of water during a hike. But my best memory of eating while hiking was during a group trek through the Indian Canyons of Palm Springs. There was no shade and significant elevation gain in typical desert heat. Just when we were all burning out, we stopped at a beautiful plateau overlooking a palm oasis and surrounded by soaring rock canyons. I had thought to pack a more robust lunch for a change, and I think it was the best ham and cheese sandwich I’d ever tasted.
If you could trek anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Pennsylvania. It’s October and this is the time of year I’m most wistful for my home state and fall foliage. Hawk Mountain is renowned as a raptor site, but it also has some terrific trails and overlooks with forest views that seems to go on forever. It’s a training ground for local hikers preparing to hike the Himalayan foothills. One day I want to do the Skyline Trail, which connects to the Appalachian trail, just beyond the sanctuary’s boundary.
What advocacy or conservation groups are you a part of locally, and why are they important to you?
The Sierra Club Angeles Chapter hosts so many great activities in Los Angeles and Orange counties it will make your head spin. Their Griffith Park full moon hikes are legendary and always attract a fun and diverse group of Angelenos. I’m also a big fan of the Audubon Center at Debs Park. They have turned a small wilderness area near downtown into a community hub with nature hikes, free tai chi classes and all kinds of activities for kids.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not outdoors?
I love to travel and have been able to turn many of my trips — Hong Kong, Barcelona, the Big Island of Hawaii — into travel writing assignments for newspapers and magazines. I also recently co-authored a travel app on Downtown Los Angeles — it covers everything from where to buy discount pinatas and how to meditate in a Japanese Zen temple to where to enjoy drinks in a basement vault and get ice cream churned by a bicycle. It was my first experience with creating an app and it got me exploring a unique and incredibly dynamic section of the city.