Monday, 9 March 2015

I have a girlfriend who looks very poorly upon my tendency to go hiking alone in the wilds surrounding Los Angeles.  I don’t know what she thinks is going to happen to me.  I suppose she imagines me falling down a ravine and breaking my neck or being kidnapped by lunatic failed actors hiding in the bushes.  Last week I desperately needed to get out and be one with nature and all that jazz and so I decided to try a new hike.  Yes, all by myself.  I drove up to Pacific Palisades in order to attempt the Santa Ynez Falls trail.  Short, sweet, apparently not very hard but very pretty. 

I traipsed off down said pretty track full of enthusiasm.  As I passed into the section of the trail that is ‘unmaintained’, I was overwhelmed by a great sense of adventure.  I was leaping across sections of creek, jumping between rocks, clambering up steep little hills little with thick and winding tree roots.  I was Gertrude Bell!  I was Isabella Bird! I was Jeanne Bare (without the boat)!

About twenty minutes later, the sense of adventure started to withdraw towards a sense of mild unease.  I was bound to slip and break an ankle on anyone one of the little rocks falls, or fall face down into the creek and drown.  How the heck was I was going to get back?  Who would come to look for me?  I began to imagine a 127 Hours scenario, dragging myself along the creek bed, a bloody and mutilated foot leaving a trail of my impending death along the ground, a helicopter airlifting me out of the plush surrounds of the Pacific Palisades mansions.  Then I just started to get really annoyed.  Where was this bloody waterfall?!  I had been hiking for half an hour, surely?!  The path just kept getting more and more ‘unmaintained’ and treacherous.  I even abandoned my water bottle so I could use both hands to clamber over roots and rocks.  Eventually, I gave up and headed back the way I came, getting slightly lost once or twice before finding my way back to the main, ‘maintained’ trail. 

By the way, no martinis are allowed on the trail.  This is possibly the way alcohol is represented on park signs in this part of California.  I like to think it’s more likely than one too many residents of the surrounding gated community mansions stumbled into the park late at night with a martini glass in hand and got into serious trouble on the ‘unmaintained’ paths… 

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