Hike during June Gloom in Southern California's Zuma Canyon

Catalina Eddy and June Gloom: They sound like a pair ofgrifters straight out of Raymond Chandler. To many people, theseclimatic features are indeed villains, cheating SouthernCalifornians of their inalienable right to summer sunshine.

I happen to love this respite of gray before summer's blue-skiedperfection settles in. The June Gloom keeps the coastal sage scrubin bloom a little longer and extends the prime hiking season atlower elevations for a few more weeks.

The phenomenon is caused as northwest winds move down theSouthern California coast. South of Point Conception, the windsbegin to turn counterclockwise when they bump up against land,creating a low-pressure swirl called the Catalina Eddy. The ensuingsoutherly wind shift increases existing fog and promotes new fogformation. The result is a deepening marine layer, aka JuneGloom.

June Gloom can make a good hike even more memorable. Hikingbeneath the veil, the temperature is a good 20° cooler than inthe sun. If the fog does retreat, you'll get spectacular views ofridges emerging from the mist into the bright, inevitable summersun.

With easy canyon-floor trails and more challenging ridge routes,Zuma Canyon (free; www.nps.gov/samo or805/370-2301), inland from Zuma Beach off Pacific Coast Hwy. inMalibu, is great for June Gloom hiking.

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