The Ojai valley is located in California 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles and 15 miles east of Santa Barbara. The 10-mile long valley runs east to west and is three miles wide, bordered on the north by the Topatopa Mountains and on the south by Sulphur Mountain.
Everything is a bit unique in here, and at the base of the valley’s anomalies is a geology that runs counter the norm. If you are like me, you probably never considered that valleys in general run in a north-south direction. Here is one of the few exceptions and the reason for what’s known as the “pink moment”. It occurs just as the sun sets, casting a rosy glow over the west-facing Topatopa mountains.
“Topa” is a word in the local Chumash Indian dialect meaning “Gopher”. So Topa Topa means gopher gopher. Unfortunately, the explanation ends there. The last Chumash native speaker passed away in 1965, and since the language was passed along orally, it has not survived. So the connection between the mountains and the local ground dwelling rodents will remain a mystery. But we do know that the Valley was named by the Chumash with the name “Awhay”, meaning moon, which eventually morphed into the modern name Ojai.