Friday, August 1, 2008


In the Hills of Hollywood, there is a 160 acre oasis of hiking trails with spectacular views of LA called Runyon Canyon. It is a mere four blocks up the hill from Rock N’Roll Ralph’s (more on that craziness some other time). It’s a great place to walk your dog, in fact, you should be a dog person if you want to hike. Since the majority of the canyon is an off-leash area, you will definitely receive love from some dogs at some point on your hike. Which, admittedly, is pretty cool.

But - I must say, that this is no easy hike. You go from just a few feet above sea level all the way up to 1320 feet above sea level at Mulholland Drive. And it’s not a very lengthy hike, which makes Runyon no joke at all. I will compare it to this: On the Riviera in France and Italy, you can drive on a seriously curvy highway on top of cliffs that overlook the Mediterranean Sea. Some friends and I were freaking out about the 200 foot drop into the sea with no railing, when some 80 year old Italian dude on a Vespa flies past us (on the outside!) while smoking a cigarette like it was nothing! Crikey! Well, my first few times up Runyon were akin to that, with less fear but more embarrassment. There I was, huffing and puffing and considering turning around, when some 80 year old man ran right by me! Seriously. RAN. I couldn’t believe it, and the only reason I do now is because I have since learned there are people who’ve been using this canyon for exercise and sightseeing since it was opened as a public park. I’m no athlete, but I’m no couch potato either, I definitely get my regular exercise. It’s been a while since I’ve seriously thought about turning around, but the other day my “heat was up” as we say (namaste) and I was working when a literary agent I know quickly jaunted up behind me, chatted quickly, and was off like the wind. All the while with a baby on his back. On his fucking back!

As you can tell, being right smack in Hollywood makes Runyon Canyon an interesting cross-section of Angelenos. I go often enough to have a good feeling about who is a regular and who is trying it on. One athlete in particular gets his daily exercise by running up and down several times each visit, several times each week! It is not uncommon to see actors or other “celebrities” getting their hike on right along with some random Bubby. Everyone, no matter who, knows that they will not be bothered up in Runyonland.

I will repeat, it is a difficult hike! It is not a gentle stroll in the park. But the views of LA and the hills (including the BEST view of the Hollywood sign) are unparalleled. As a friend of mine said, “I totally thought my heart was gonna to pop, then I saw the most beautiful view of downtown I have ever experienced. I could even see the ocean.”

That is what Runyon Canyon is all about. This city is an urban experience, and I could easily get all of my exercise inside a gym while watching TV but I’d miss the sound of the birds. And the view of the mountains. And the smell of wild rosemary. Or the way only we know what fresh clouds smell and taste like. It’s about balance.

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.

1 comment:

Afsheen said...

Paddington used to LOVE going up Runyon. He needed a few breathers once the weather got really got, but it was really adorable to see him scamper along.

My most embarrassing personal moment was very similar to yours -- Pads and I were standing to the side of the trail, breathing heavily, when an 80 year old man wearing a pair of leather loafers (no New Balance shoes for him, thank you very much), shorts, and a button up shirt ran past us on his way up. Maybe it was the same guy.