November 29, 2011

What Lies on the Other Side

The first time I hiked Runyon Canyon, I entered from the north at Mulholland Drive. I hiked down a slippery, eroded trail until I hit basically a huge boulder that looked like the end of the trail. I could see more hikers down below, but I couldn't really figure out how to get down there.

Subsequently, I entered Runyon from the south entrances at Fuller and Vista and hiked up and around, but never made my way back to that first blockade.

What lie beyond that boulder?

As of this past Friday, now I know.

This thing:

It's a marker of sorts, to commemorate your ascent up the steep, scrambling trail from the Vista entrance to the south of Runyon - not up the slow sloping paved fire road, but up a dirt trail that's just as likely to lead you into bramble as it is to expose its trail down to pure rock.

But when you get to the top of that first climb, your hike is not over.

Although you can see the city - Hollywood, West Hollywood, Downtown and beyond - sprawling out below, beyond the hikers and dog-walkers leisurely sauntering along the "easy way," you've got one more hill to climb.

This one:

I wish I'd taken more photos to show how steep and intense the climb was, because I had many moments when I didn't think I would make it, but I needed both of my hands to hold on for dear life.

Who knew Runyon could get so high?

Who knew a climb like this could get you so high?

On the other side of that miniature mountain, the descent was so steep I had to crab-walk my way down on all fours, scooting along and resting my rear on a flat surface when I found one. Hikers attempted to climb up, changed their minds, and turned around.

I walked a short distance more, and saw the familiar path that would take me back up, as far as to Mulholland Drive, or looping around to meet the paved fire road which would take me back down to the bottom of the canyon.

And just went I thought my hike was complete, when I thought I'd conquered Runyon and all of its trails, I witnessed two men run sideways down the canyon wall, where a short distance beyond them lie a circular plot of stones, laid out as though part of some pagan ritual.

I looked around from the fire road and realized that the whole canyon had been carved out by foot into an entire web of unofficial trails, paths, walkways, and clearings. Old building foundations rise from behind thick overgrowth, drooping fan palms and dense brush.

I may now know what lies behind that first blockade I encountered upon my initial visit to Runyon, but I still don't really know what lies on the other side of the trail.

At least, not all of them.

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