ANOTHER PETAL OF THE VIOLET TO PLUCK
I won’t name the place we visited first, Saturday afternoon, but when we arrived it was postcard pretty, the street dropping low into the valley, lined with souped-up cars and trucks and young people in swimsuits walking back to their vehicles. A mother sat on a hill watching her children play on the manicured knolls just outside of a ritzy golf course. At 6:30, yellow auras blazed the treetops and sank behind the hills. I wasn’t too hip on the crowds, and I stuck out with my Mall Clerks outfit, slash pajama-hiker-wooden-hiking-staff-look. We made it to the “ant mound” under the bridge by the large aluminum drains emptying water out into the creek. Waves of youth and unleashed dogs, dripping wet, gathered at the entrance, like a theater that just let out after a movie.
We bounced. We chose instead to look for a secret entrance to more remote parts of the park. Every park has them, and this should be no different, right? We walked up the hill on the street scanning the woods for hidden openings. Instead we found crushed beer cans, a diaper hanging on a branch, and purple fence posts. We felt like Eleven and Mike trying to find a way into the facility, meanwhile evading the demagorgons responsible for all of this littering.
We made a getaway and were back to square one racing the sunset and trying not to waste hike-time on our first crapshot site selection. Unfortunately, we first had to drive through Beverly Hills and gawk at mansions on the way out. Dressed like Silent Bob in a little Toyota passing Spanish tile mansions, I felt a little out of place and was ready to get to the woods with the bats, squirrels, and decaying logs where I belong.
We drove around looking at some possible trailheads but we either had parking issues or found purple posts: those familiar signs that keep hiker trash like me OUT. Oh well, no worries. We were close to one of our go-to spots and had only an hour of sunlight so we headed that way.
Too bad sitting in the car for this long had me stiffer than a taxidermy project.
I remembered that there was a hidden trail on the hike we were going to and I told my wife we should look for it. That proposal did the trick and fired us up. It was hidden because I’d only seen it on one of my maps, and none of the others, and I could never find it when I passed the area.
We dropped into the cliffside and made our way down. We hadn’t been hiking much lately but we’d been walking 5 miles a day in our neighborhood, and boy did the rocks and terrain feel good. It felt like an obstacle course. This Silent Bob is fat, but fast of foot in the woods. Somebody get me some moccasins.
It was new! All new. My wife and I love that feeling and usually one of us starts hauling ass and leaving the other in the dust. She was gone. My knees started to howl so we had to stop so I could do my hip bridges and belly reverse leg extensions to wake up my ass cheeks to help with the load. After I dusted off the dirt and mosquitoes, I was Li Mu Bai from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, basically high-flying across the branches of trees. I recovered and eventually caught up to Jen Yu as she pranced from hill to hill. Ha!
I knew we would reach an underpass at some point and I was excited. They always feel like ruins to me. A place where you feel a great absence. When we made it there, I couldn’t help but think I was at the ruins of a futuristic civilization, or at the crash site of an ancient spaceship. These pillars were enormous. Stoic. Utilitarian. Unperturbed by the weeds and vines trying to cover them, resolutely performing their colossal function of carrying FOMO jetsetters down the highway.
I got to admire the petroglyphs of the young artists bleeding out their buried songs onto the concrete. This guy had some serious colors splashing out. Kaleidoscopes of patterns and logos. I was impressed. There’s no White Out for spray paint. You have to be sure-handed like a surgeon. I tip my backwards hat to you, sir.
We walked across a very quiet, gentle wood. The trees were spread out in a pattern and completely shaded the whole trail. The grasses were fresh, untouched; the breezes were playful. We could hear the pelting of car tires in traffic, noticeably more frequent than earlier in the quarantine. It started to get dark at 8 o’clock, so we needed to turn back. We put on our headlamps and headed back double-speed. I heard the screeching of bats above the treeline and we made good time. But on came the bugs. I got uppercut by a giant, flying green bug on my face. I swung back and he juked me and hit me with at least two crosses until I cussed him out of my life. Switched to low beam and I was good. That high beam was too much for him to resist.
You know, on the course of the hike we passed two or three rusted gate posts with barbed wire that were now gate-less thanks to, and I say this with respect, HIPPIES. When I realized this, I told my wife we HAVE to contribute to any conservancy group we can. They paved the way to bring down purple fence posts and barbed wire, so all of us little Henry David Thoreaus can amble through the woods. We owe them a great deal and I do not say that lightly. I honor them with this post. Not only did they open an area, but they shared it. Big deal.
The sky turned indigo, the trees creaked like new leather, and the moon lit our way out.