I'm starting to think that facing my fear of heights is only making it worse.
I typically like to do small conditioning hikes - say, three miles in an hour with some significant elevation change - because you don't have to drive far out of an urban area to get to one, and they don't take up much time but you get a good workout out of them.
Wildwood Canyon - next to Stough Canyon - is a good example of that: not too far away from Burbank's commercial district, but just far enough into the Verdugo Mountains to be appropriately wild.
It's also small and simple enough to navigate easily, with four trailheads all leading up to the same ridge trail (which you can then take up farther into the mountains for a bigger workout).
The second and third trailheads are notoriously steep, so I drove my car all the way to the top of the main road to enter the canyon from a longer, more gradual fire road...
...which shows signs of erosion along the canyon walls.
It's not bad at first, and when you get to a saddle at the top of the trail, this time of year you might find a nice seasonal surprise...
...giving you a moment to catch your breath before you start your descent.
You're basically at the top of the trail now, and have to wind your way down - either all the way down to the bottom of the main road (and Trailhead #1), or braving the slippery, steep Trailhead #s 2 and 3...
...which are probably easier to climb up than down.
For views, this is a nice, scenic way to go, with Downtown LA visible in the distance.
But for those of us with any issues with heights or vertigo...
...it is often nail-biting.
Even at the top of the not-steepest trail, it's easy to say, "I have to go down that?"
And it's easy to remember being traumatized by much worse climbs...
...much steeper trails...
...and still feel traumatized, even though this one is comparatively easy.
As I descended the lowermost trail (to Trailhead #1), I got deposited in a relatively wild, woodsy area deserving of the canyon's "Wildwood" moniker...
...and then had an easy (albeit sluggish) walk up the paved main road back to my car, where I started.
It was a good scouting mission, worthy of a return visit to try perhaps to climb up one of the steep trailheads and come back down the more gradually sloping fire road.
But I wonder if I should keep facing this fear, or if it's gotten the better of me. Sure, I've survived all of these excursions, but perhaps more mentally and emotionally damaged than if I hadn't attempted them at all.
At some point, will they get easier?
Or have I merely reached my limit?
Photo Essay: Stough Canyon & Old Youth Campground
Knowing My Limits
Reaching My Limit