Monday, February 28, 2011

Unconquered Canyon

For the past 2 years I've heard about Turnbull Canyon from Ray. He excitedly told me about the great mountain biking trails, the awesome view, the winding road, and water tower sitting atop the hill. I lived in La Mirada for almost 20 years oblivious of this canyon's existence even though I was only twenty minutes away. Last week, we took a short drive to Whittier and scoped out Turnbull Canyon. From the car Ray showed me the trails he used to bike on and the water tower high on the hill. He transformed into an excited little boy bouncing in his seat so we decided to hike the following weekend, rain or shine. We've been so consumed with family obligations that carving out OUR time was imperative. 

Yesterday was the day that my bony arse got sorely kicked by Turnbull Canyon. Ray scoffed at me when I suggested stuffing a backpack filled with water, protein bars, sunscreen, wipes and camera. "It's not that serious!" he told me. I brought my backpack anyway (because we all know how well I listen) and he lugged only his water bottle.  Even though there were severe storms in other parts of the city the weather was favoring us. The previous night's rainfall purified the air so much the scenery was as crisp and clear as high-definition t.v. 

I was ready for what I assumed was going to be a leisurely hike but I was horribly mistaken. My daydreams of getting to the top of the hill, twirling around with arms flung wide, gustily singing The Sound of Music like Maria in the movie, were going to be crushed. I should have known that my daredevil boyfriend was going to take me off the beaten path. My first warning flag came when Ray wanted to follow this guy who sprinted up this steep, muddy, crooked path with what looked like ski poles. And we weren't even near the entrance yet! I was chagrined to see Ray attempting to follow him. Although I balked and told him I'd take the regular path and meet him at the top, my stupid pride propelled me forward then upward. You can take the girl from being a tomboy but you can't take the tomboy out of the girl. That will always be my downfall. I was secretly relieved when Ray decided to turn back and head for the entrance. Yeah, where all the normal people enter!  

This sign heralded our arrival which was a total buzzkill to my Sound of Music daydreams. There were NO mountain lions threatening Maria when she sang up on that hill! 

I warily followed behind him distrusting that gleam shining out of his eyes. See his stance? No bueno. It means he's gearing up to do something crazy. My gut was right...

...this is the hill Ray decided to take instead of the regular path. Looks pretty tame and innocuous, right? WRONG! My picture doesn't convey the steep grade. 

I was going to remain below while he attempted to hike up the hill but halfway there he beckoned me. "It's not that bad! There are holes you can stick your feet in." I galvanized my pitiful hubris and trekked up to meet him. And it really wasn't that bad until...

...until the ground started getting closer and closer to my face. I thought for sure I was going to get a free mud facial on my first hike at Turnbull Canyon. The higher we got, the steeper it became, and I ended up crawling/climbing/shimmying/panting up the hill. Soon the Sound of Music soundtrack playing in my head flipped into Rage Against The Machine's Bullet In The Head. Why couldn't I be a girlie-girl instead of always trying to outdo the big boys?! Ugh! I thought my boyfriend's moniker, DJ Curse, was apropos as I was cursing the damn mofo with each searing breath I took. He must have either heard me or my mental telepathy slammed his brain because he suggested I stop to rest while he sprinted (sprinted!) to the top (which wasn't far) to see what was awaiting us. I plopped into the soft, squishy mud and situated myself to make sure I didn't slide down. I finally had the courage to look down and I almost spewed bile on myself. Did I also say I was afraid of heights? This picture shows my view from almost to the top of the hill, my view looking down the hill, and the sane people walking on the regular path! No, those aren't ants, they're people!!!! 

I was gung-ho to climb the rest of the way up. But when Ray called down saying there was no other path up there except another one that was steeper and higher, I felt the gusto seep out of me. Oh helllll to the nooooo! I yelled. As I rested I mentally listed the inventory of my backpack and the contents of my stomach. Which was coffee. In my excitement I had forgotten to eat breakfast. Again.Thank God I never leave home without my favorite Think Thin protein bar stashed somewhere. You know, for the times I forget to eat! I gritted my teeth when Ray effortlessly sprinted back down the dratted hill while I only had energy to ungracefully drag my butt down the dirt and mud. I didn't care. I wanted to get down on solid ground. Even in my lost dignity I refused his offer to help me and I vaguely recall swatting his hand away. Hmmph, I could do this myself thank you very much! 

Back on solid ground we walked up the path that I now call "the path of sanity" and enjoyed the scenery despite the drying mud  splattered on my face, hair, hands, shoes, pants, fingernails, and camera. Yes, my camera. How did the war photographers' cameras survive the dirt?  I wondered. 

Mister Dardevil himself. 

My victory was short-lived because me and my deflated, muddied butt were crying later. Like the next morning when I could barely move from the pain in my lower back. 

It's a good thing that I didn't research Turnbull Canyon's history and urban legends before our hike because what I dug up on the internet freaked me the heck out. Read it here

I'll close this post with pictures that Ray took while I was busy shoving a protein bar down my stupid throat like a barbarian.