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The Perils Of Hiking Naked

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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Happy Halloween!

40 Comments Post a comment
  1. As Teddy said “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”.

    Bully for you charging up that hill, especially in your cute little Mary Janes.

    Soooo, tomorrow we get to hear the rest of the story, that you were picked up by the nice men in the blue shirts and had a lovely overnight stay at the local sanitarium….the nice one with the soft rubber walls.

    October 31, 2011
    • No, that isn’t the story for tomorrow. 🙂 From the top, I could sort of see a path that seemed to lead out of the park. I took that one and almost bumped into a jogging Vin Diesel or his workout twin. After MUCH steep, uneven downhill, I made it to a different exit. It was THREE BLOCKS FROM MY HOTEL. Why my map app sent me the way it did is beyond me.

      October 31, 2011
  2. That’s the great thing about LA.
    A person on foot, who isn’t in really cute – no that’s not right – expensive (that’s it) jogging clothes is regarded as a potential mugger or burglar

    October 31, 2011
    • And, I was carrying a massive bag on my shoulder. Perfect for thievery, especially since it was a no-name brand.

      October 31, 2011
  3. How did your lungs do with the California air? That’s the most difficult task for me in California. Your post reminded me of one of my workout shirts: “Hike naked, it puts some color in your cheeks.” Haha. A dress is great to hike in (unless it’s restrictive in the legs) because there’s great circulation. 😉

    October 31, 2011
    • I never have a problem out there, Lori. I notice the air is dryer than home. Whenever I hike in the Sierras there, I struggle to breathe simply because the elevation is so different from my sea level home.

      I guess I need to go find one of those shirts now……… 😉

      October 31, 2011
  4. Great post, Andra. I once did this same thing with the same mentality in Salt Lake City. I’m often stubborn/foolish like that, too. Nice to know I’m in good company… 🙂

    October 31, 2011
    • Another place I want to visit. I’ve only been on quick trips through there. I’m sure I’d enjoy the countryside.

      It is always good to know we’re not alone. 🙂

      October 31, 2011
  5. A Guess #

    Hiking in a dress. It is so AW. *

    *AW is Andra Watkins. A writer living in Charleston, SC. Despite what she may say here, she always manages to look fabulously put together. Even on the hiking trail!

    October 31, 2011
    • That is kind of you to say. I seldom feel put together, especially today, when I’m plowing through work at my desk in my pajamas. 🙂

      October 31, 2011
      • you are though – always fabulously put together. even at breakfast meetings. Oh, the shoes…

        October 31, 2011
      • I am still in my pajamas, Amanda, and my shoes today are hideous. But, thank you. It makes a girl feel good to hear these things when she’s sick.

        October 31, 2011
  6. Dogged persistence. It’s a wonderful trait. One that is highly under-rated by personal coaches, and business mentors. Maybe that’s why you loved your Jazzmine…she of the bulldog traits..tenacious, determined. Committed. And that’s how I think of you–but also with caring, kindness, generosity, and intelligence.

    Love Lori’s shirt quotation–made me laugh so hard my coffee and toast crumbs (fabulous sourdough) almost spewed across the room.

    October 31, 2011
    • I’m so glad the bread turned out, Cheryl. Interesting to see all the different uses for it.

      October 31, 2011
  7. You are ready to go with me on the Camino in 2013!!!

    October 31, 2011
  8. The shortest distance often is NOT a straight line, either in hiking or in life, but TR-like tenacity (and, yes, even bull-headedness) will carry you far.

    I, too, love Lori’s shirt – can think of several who would proudly sport one, even if they never hiked a day in their lives! 🙂

    October 31, 2011
  9. “The only way through the park was through it”…. just brilliant 🙂 Take comfort (or horror) that had I been wandering around LA I most definitely would’ve trekked that trail beside you… probably in a Snuggie or some form of footed pajamas 🙂

    October 31, 2011
    • The image of that made me laugh out loud. Thank you, Tori. I needed that. 🙂

      October 31, 2011
  10. One word sums up incorrect walking gear – Chaffing.

    I’m a martyr to it.

    October 31, 2011
    • Me, too. Even in the right clothes, I always manage to rub something the wrong way. 🙂

      October 31, 2011
  11. I spent a week in LA one night, and it was a foreign land. I was
    1) too fat
    2) too pale
    3) too poor, and
    4) too indifferent to 1) – 3)

    Although I did take a nice walk through Santa Monica. That must be not-LA, right?

    Hiking in a dress seems very romantic, like being in an LL Bean catalog.

    October 31, 2011
    • Roxanne, I was all four as well, and I didn’t care one bit.

      Hiking in a dress is stupid when the hike requires clamoring over obstacles. But, I survived, and it ended up being fun.

      October 31, 2011
  12. I love Arsenic and Old Lace. Has to be one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Well, funniest thing next to the naked cootchie-mama climbing up a hill over Hollywood.

    By the way, did you see any rattlesnakes? Or were they too dumbfounded by your vision of loveliness to pop their heads out at you?

    October 31, 2011
    • What’s even worse about this little story is that I was wearing my glasses instead of contacts. I never hike in glasses, because I have no peripheral vision, and that’s much needed when hiking. If snakes were there, I never saw them.

      October 31, 2011
  13. I love your never-back-down attitude, Andra! Your hike is so like life’s challenges: seems like a good idea/easy task, turns into a hot mess, no way out but through it, grit your teeth and thumb your nose and press onward, make it through only to now see clearly the much easier way to have done it, don’t care ’cause you just kicked butt – aren’t you awesome!

    October 31, 2011
    • This whole post is a metaphor (though it did happen) and a kick in the pants for me, Elizabeth. On the scale of where I am with the real thing compared to this post, I’m still lost somewhere in the Hollywood Hills, I suspect. But, I’ll get there eventually.

      October 31, 2011
  14. Thank you for the clarification about TR. That made me laugh. As well as the visual of you hiking in a dress in your Mary Janes (and sitting there laughing about it). I wish I were in LA with you. I’d totally hike and stalk celebrities.

    October 31, 2011
    • I saw Vin Diesel in the park, as well as a lot of frightfully skinny people.

      October 31, 2011
  15. Love your metaphor, and the laughs that came with it. Thanks.

    October 31, 2011
  16. mtm #

    Possible 2012 Blog Title: Hiking Naked with Snakes and Celebrities

    October 31, 2011
  17. As is sometimes the case, MTM steals the last laugh! 🙂

    October 31, 2011
  18. You’re good! I’m usually soaked and disheveled after stepping up one step! I take it you enjoyed the view?
    Oh, Happy Halloween to you too, Andra! 😀

    October 31, 2011
    • Thanks, Tom. Your blog is such a treat.

      The view? Such as it was, I enjoyed it. The accomplishment was more enriching than the view.

      October 31, 2011
  19. That was quite a hike, Andra: if I’m feeling out of sorts I get walking, too. Somehow, it always makes me feel better, wherever I go. Lovely to go on a hike with you today…

    October 31, 2011
    • I wish I had an actual PHOTO of one of these celebrities, Kate. Alas, I’m not that kind of girl.

      It’s always ironic when you get out to escape something, and life hands you EXACTLY what you’re dealing with, only to its conclusion, and you can see that, eventually, somehow, you WILL get through it.

      October 31, 2011

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