Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Agreement with Mother Nature

I have never been one to love the outdoors, but just recently, I have come to an understanding with Mother Nature. I will stay on the marked paths and she will keep the larger, scarier creatures away from me.

Recently, I started hiking. I’m not talking about hiking like whole day affairs that involve packs and rock climbing and wildlife. I’m talking about short, paved or gravel paths with the wildlife well aware of the fact that humans are horrible and will harm them out of fear. Unlike true hikers, I do it because I am too broke (and cheap) to have a gym membership. However, I have found that a hike is one of my new favorite ways to workout.

It all started when I got bored running around my neighborhood and on the Chandler bike path. I was trying to think of another place that would be nice but not so secluded I’d be afraid to go myself. (Yes, I have fantasies of falling down the side of a mountain and no one finding me for weeks. Yes, I am aware this makes me slightly crazy.) I remembered my dad driving us around Lake Hollywood, aka the Hollywood Reservoir. I knew there was a path around it and I figured that if I needed to, I could just walk. Plus, it’s round so there is very little chance of me getting lost and ending up having to live off the wild until someone finds me or I find my way out. While this wasn’t technically hiking, it was outside and I realized something: Animals don’t like humans and, for the most part, will stay away from them. So, after running most of the way and just walking to enjoy the rest, I decided to look for some actual hiking trails.

Griffith Park seemed like the easiest place to start. I found a lot of writing about the Charlie Turner Trail, which leads from the Observatory up to Dante’s View, a cute little picnic area. The reviews all said that it was an easy hike and fairly short. I was pleased to see that they were correct. It’s a steady climb up, but not overwhelming. Plus, there was a ton of people out, so again, I didn’t feel like I was going to get lost and go missing. Dante’s View has a picnic area and I totally thought it would be a great spot to bring a book and just read. Although, it also made me think about who this Dante was and if this "view" of LA was really supposed to mean something...

After doing that one a few times, I decided to try out Runyon Canyon again. I’d done it once with my friend Ellen, but it was so strenuous that I didn’t think I would ever do it again. But, for some reason, I was in the mood for a real workout that day. Boy did I get it. There are these stairs that I like to call the “Stairs of Death” because unless you are in the best shape of your life, they will kill your muscles. They play tricks on you by making you thing you’re almost to the top, but NO, you’re not even close. However when you do finally make it up to the top, you feel incredibly accomplished and good about yourself.

I am usually a solitary hiker, but I did take my friends Jason and Meaghan out to the Charlie Turner Trail once. It was a lot of fun and it didn’t feel as long because we were talking most of the time. It’s always great to have someone to talk to when you’re out doing these things. Plus, the risk of falling down a hill and going missing is much lower. If I do fall down the hill and die, at least someone will be there to call the coroner.

For the first time in a long time, I feel like I’ve found a workout that I can actually keep up. When there are days I don’t feel like working out, it’s just a nice walk to get fresh air. When I want to really push myself, there are plenty of paths to make me regret wanting to push myself. As long as I don’t meet any scary creatures and the birds stay in the air where they belong, Mother Nature and I will be cool.

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