June 24, 2011

The Lost Road to Glendale Peak

"We might get lost today," I told Kevin as he climbed into the passenger side of my car. He was in LA for a few days and suggested we go on a hike together to catch up.

"That's OK," he said. "I'm ready to get lost."

"OK because I'm taking you to a place that's not on most maps..."

I was taking him to Glendale Peak in Griffith Park.

We found the trailhead easily enough, situated between the two tennis courts at the Vermont Canyon tennis complex, and navigated the unmarked trails that wound up and around towards the peak...

...past the landmarks we knew to look for...

to the green pump house, where the bridle trail is marked.

And then I got confused.

We faced the choice of heading left towards Glendale or right towards the city skyline. I tried to remember the lines on the map, to no avail. We headed right first, and then I second-guessed myself and led us left, through an open gate. It felt wrong, but I knew the other way was wrong too. And I thought we only had the two options.

Kevin was a great hiking partner because he was interested in everything we saw - the sandstone crumbling alongside us, the lizards crossing our path, the garter snake slithering away, and the bridge looming high above us.

"Oh," I said. "We're supposed to be up there. But how do we get up there?"

We kept walking until I checked the time and remarked that we had to go back in order for Kevin to check out of his hotel in time, so we retraced our steps to the pump house, where I discovered my previous error in judgement: there was a third path, a bridle trail that would lead us behind the pump house, up the hill and, eventually, across that bridge.

But it was too late to hike the rest of the way to Glendale Peak, so we abandoned mission, and went back.

I returned to Griffith Park Tuesday night after work to complete the hike, with about an hour left before the sun set, on the longest day of the year.

I found the bridge...

...and the sign for Henry's Trail to Glendale Peak...

...and I found Glendale Peak, whose narrow trail was overgrown with mustard and brush, slippery silt crumbling beneath our feet, brittle branches for grabbing and possibly breaking if we lost our footing.

But once we were at the top, with the sun setting behind the much taller peaks to our west in the park, and only a half hour left of daylight on the longest day of the year, what were we to do but simply go back down to where we started?

I took a moment to point out where I'd gotten lost before, down below, now having a high-level view where my mistake seemed so obvious to me.

And now I can move onto the next opportunity to get lost for a while, and find my way...

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