Sundays Are For (Week 19)

by justine

…10 mile hikes.


The plan was to do the Westridge-Canyonback trail from the fire road that comes off Mulholland Drive, west of the 405. We were told it was about 7.5 miles and that we could have the dogs off-leash.

After an odd hour of rushing around from 7:30am-8:30am, we were out the door; H, my sister and Carter Cash, driving the 25min to the trail-head. No big deal. Everyone we were meeting (8 people, 3 doggies) was on time, and we started up the trail by 9:10am.

It was cool in the shade, warm in the sun, a perfect day to be hiking. As you can see from the photo above, the air was clear and we could see for miles. The path goes up, up, up and then starts to head down into a valley.

Problem number one started with having 4 dogs, only mine being on-leash, weaving in and out of all the people. The next problem was worse – mountain bikers. People whizzing by at top speed on huge mountain bikes, around blind corners, and not enough room on the path for all ELEVEN of us (and FOUR DOGS) to move out of the way. It was nerve-wracking. Third problem? TICKS. Lots of freakin’ ticks. Carter was staying mostly on the path since we kept him on his leash, and he still had more than four on him at a time, one already lodged in the underside of his little ear. F-ing gross.

And while that was all frustrating, the worst part came when we just…kept…walking. We were all getting tired, it was getting late, and there didn’t seem to be an end in sight. Clearly we’d gone more than 4miles out, and if this was a 7.5m hike out-and-back, what the hell? If it was 7 miles OUT and 7 miles BACK, we were going to be in trouble soon – our little family definitely didn’t have enough food or water to go 14 miles.

One guy had a GPS and started telling another guy we’d already gone 5.6 miles and still had at least 2 miles to go. WTF?

That’s when I decided we should turn around. Luckily, a few other people were ready to turn back, and we split up as a group.

And then it got worse. With basically no water, mid-day sun and a trek uphill, the return 5 miles was a total bitch. We ended up letting the dog off-leash b/c he was dragging – I mean, just wilting in the sun. A few times he just stopped, wobbled, and laid down in a patch of shade. I was right there with him. We were a sorry bunch.

The good news is, we knew where to go and how much further it would be. And our pup is only 40lbs, so worst case we’d carry him. It didn’t come to that, but it was tough.

As H said this morning, it was a poor choice for our family time.

When we finally got back to the fire road, luck have it, there was a water fountain and restrooms. I drank an entire 32oz Nalgene and then refilled it for H. We all sat in the shade a bit, waiting for the group who went to the end point. Once we were all watered and reunited, energies spiked, and the last mile downhill was cake.

Afterwards we all decided to buy some grillin’ and fixin’ foods and meet back at a friend’s house. The rest of the afternoon was spent limping around his kitchen, stuffing our faces full of burgers and sides, and comparing sunburns.

While I probably won’t do that hike again (H said it was boring, I thought it was nerve-wracking) I’m glad we went. It makes for a good story. And it taught me to always check the trail info for yourself and plan accordingly.

Lesson learned.