Hiking in the wrong attire feels like hiking naked. Really. I am the living expert. Just take a gander at the masthead of this blog. That’s me, hiking in Edinburgh in a dress.
Show me a mountain with the barest hint of a trail, and up I go. It’s like I’m Teddy in the play “Arsenic and Old Lace,” bellowing CHARGE! as I disappear up the sheer incline into a thicket of who-knows-what. Living life feels like a blind charge sometimes.
It’s always a blind charge, but we humans only realize that sporadically. Last week, I found myself devastated, alone and out of sorts. Being alone isn’t something I do well. My nagging worries feed my neurotic insecurities until I become someone even I want to flee.
Luckily for me, I could see an undulating, green mountain from the window of my hotel. A few taps on Google revealed that it was a public park with hiking trails and a 360 degree view of Los Angeles. It was so close I could almost touch the relief the open air would give my sagging spirit.
You know how things look close on the expanse of ocean, even when they’re miles and miles and miles away? As it turns out, the same phenomenon happens on land.
I used my trusty iPhone to map the best pedestrian approach to the park. One.four urban miles, it jingled, through the Hollywood Hills. Easy-peasey. Perhaps I will see a celebrity! I thought as I set off up the gentle incline of the sidewalk in a dress and Mary Janes. When the sidewalk ended a third of the way, I kept charging uphill. That’s what TR* would do, and I love TR. The neighborhood was eclectic, and I wasn’t really sweating, and the car that buzzed me was possibly driven by Steve Martin or his evil twin. Fresh air.
Gasping Strolling up a 15 degree incline. Just what I needed to clear the old noggin.
By the time I reached the famed Mulholland Drive, I was soaked and disheveled. More than once, people studied me like I was casing the whole area with the intention of breaking and entering. Bull-headedness propelled me along the side of the dusty, twisting road. In less than ten minutes, I found it. My phone practically exploded with the news that I was at the (now) fabled entrance to Runyon Canyon, a wonderland of hiking bliss sprawling before me.
“Beware of rattlesnakes. They are everywhere.” I wasn’t twenty yards up my chosen trail when that sign announced my impending doom. With a sigh, I forged onward. I wasn’t going back the way I came – Steven Martin might really hit me with his car. The only way through the park was through it.
A handful of ginger steps in my dress and snake-bait bare legs led me to a summit. I sat and surveyed how far I’d come when I was so unprepared and ill-equipped. Life always shows us we can do things, even when we doubt ourselves, especially when we don’t think we can. I sat on that mountaintop in my dress and Mary Janes.
And I laughed.
*TR is Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States.
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