I discovered a hidden hiking trail one day in the hills above the Hollywood reservoir that leads to a lone tree that can be seen from most of Los Angeles. It’s a steep, rocky trail that seemed best suited for rattlesnakes as opposed to people. But this was a man’s hike, and I reveled at the challenge. I hiked to the pinnacle of the hill, 1700 feet up, and looked out over the entire Los Angeles area, all the way to the ocean 25 miles away. This was my new retreat. A place I could go to escape the city. A place that few other people went to. Yep, this place was my place, until that fateful weekend
It was a hot day as I began my ascent up the hill. As I looked up I thought I saw a person at the top, near the “tree”. The tree is a bit of a landmark, and the only one on top of the hill. You can see this tree from anywhere in the LA basin, and there’s even a guest book at the base of the tree for visitors to sign and write down their impressions.
As I reached the top of the ridge, soaked in sweat and looking something like an unshaven, dirty serial killer, I saw a mirage. There were four girls sitting on a couch by the tree. And they were drinking wine. Now, the reasons I thought this was a mirage were multiple. This was my private place (with a guestbook), and it was a manly hike to get up there. There was absolutely no way what I was seeing was happening.
I walked along the path at the top of the ridge, towards the mirage, but the mirage remained as I approached the girls. Finally I had to accept what I was seeing. There was indeed a couch. And there were four girls sitting on and around it drinking wine. My brain was not getting it. Maybe it was the heat. I was, after all, feeling hot and dehydrated. But there was no denying it was real when one of the girls asked “are you one of the musicians”?
I was not sure how to respond. Yes, I am a musician but no, I’m not one of the musicians, whatever that meant. They offered me wine and asked if I wanted to stay. My first thought was that they were probably offering me poison for some hippie or witch ritual. My second thought was why in the hell someone would offer a hot, sweaty hiker wine. That seemed to be a sure way to get hurt while hiking back down.
While still bewildered, I thanked them and turned to walk along the ridge. It was then that I noticed backpacks and coolers piled under the tree. So I asked the girls what is going on, and how they got the couch up there. One began to speak but was quickly hushed by her friend. Now it was getting spooky.
I hiked away, along the ridge to another part of the mountain. As I completed that part of the journey and turned back to head back down the ridge to the hiking trail, I noticed more people, along the side of the hill…..and another couch. Okay, now this is ridiculous.
As I reached the trail to hike back down (remember, this is a “bad ass, manly hike” in my mind) a girl appeared at the top, wearing a sundress and moccasins. Yes, she hiked all the way up in freaking moccasins. Wow, these hippies have amazing powers! She then asked me where the drinks were, so I pointed her on her way and headed down. Apparently one of their powers isn’t flying, at least not physically.
During my hike down the hill, I came across every variation of person imaginable. There were musicians dressed as though they were about to play the Roxy Theater, hauling instruments and asking one question, every single time I came across one. “How much further”? I told everyone they were almost there, regardless of how far they had to go. I didn’t want them to lose faith. But wow, there is nothing funnier than people dressed for a night of clubbing hiking up a steep trail in 100 degree heat. The girls who didn’t get the memo were just precious looking with their makeup melting and running.
I guess the group was well-intentioned, but they weren’t very good at cleaning up. The couches will probably just rot up there. And apparently they also spread the news about the wonders of MY spot, because on July 4th I hiked up to watch fireworks, only to find at least 100 of them cooking hot dogs, drinking and smoking pot. I didn’t see anything on the news afterwards, but there is no way they all made it down in the dark, in an altered state, without someone getting hurt!
It went this way most of the summer. They even put a zip line up so they could ride from one part of the mountain to another. Not that I ever tried it. I’m not trusting a bunch of stoners to put up a proper zip line. But now that summer has waned, I guess they have gone back into hiding, and I have my tree back.