Sunday, January 3, 2010

Eagle Rock aka "The Horse-Beast Highway"

Hike: Trippet Ranch-Eagle Rock loop
The Inspiration: Modern Hiker
Highest Altitude: 1957'
Trip Mileage: 6.5
Total 2010 Mileage: 6.5

My last hike in Topanga State Park was a memorable one, filled with waterfall-seeking, creek-hopping, cave-exploring, and pagan ritual worship simulation.

You know how it goes.

So when Rebecca suggested a return visit to try out the figure eight loop from Trippet Ranch to Eagle Rock and back, I strapped on my sense of adventure and readily agreed.

We began on the Musch Trail, winding through grassland, past an equestrian-friendly campsite, and down, down, down to the valley floor.

Then we climbed. And we climbed. Nothing matching the intensity of the Chumash Trail to La Jolla Valley or the godforsaken steep scree mess of the Cucamonga Peak-bound trail barely stitched onto the side of Bighorn Mountain, but sweat-inducing all the same for a girl who has spent the past month basically bathing in Santa-shaped chocolate.

Once at the foot of the rock, Rebecca moved forward and began up its diagonal slope. I called after her, "You just head up there. I'm going to stay put and just enjoy the view from here."

I glanced around. The view options were the backside of Eagle Rock or the Valley's urban sprawl.

I followed Rebecca up, vertigo-prone mind imagining that my shoes were made out of a combination of spider monkey and Spiderman. After crawling around for a bit near the top, soaking in the 100-mile, nearly 360 views, I awkwardly placed myself on a bump and asked Rebecca to take my photo. Upon further inspection of said photo, you can see the fear in my eyes. I will not be publishing this on the internets.

On the way back down, things were going along swimmingly. My heart rate was decreasing. There were nice people hiking. Nice people biking. Nice people running.

And nice people riding horses. Horses! From a distance, they're all pretty, mythical, shiny, majestic - very Misty of Chincoteague, in league with the unicorn. I fought back the urge to run up to one and slap its chocolately haunches.

Yet, for all of my wishes, when I finally got close enough to one to initiate said haunch-slapping, I realized something very important:

I am afraid of The Horse.

The Horse is no Misty of Chintoteague, The Horse is no unicorn; The Horse is an erratic 10-ton wildebeast, all flared nostrils and blistering muscle, waiting for the precise moment in which it might rear on its hind legs and proceed to throw its entire body weight upon me, crushing all of my very delicate vital organs in one giant thruuuump.

So, yes.
I am afraid of The Horses and I am afraid of The Heights.
But I would still do that trail again because it was amazing, and amazing trumps fear anytime.

(Unless "fear" trumps "amazing" by materializing in the form of an attacking Horse.)

Addendum - 1/5/10: Rebecca has informed me that I am not allowed to be The One Who Is Afraid Of Animals, as that position is already occupied on our team. Henceforth, I shall return to being simply The One Who Is Afraid Of Heights.

What Would Ed Do?
Ed would have a gentle, but firm conversation with The Horse, guiding it through the pros and cons of crushing all of my very delicate vital organs, after which Ed would mount The Horse and ride it North to the summit of Mt. Whitney, setting about twelve world records in the process.

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