I have gone to the hills behind Serrania Park (off De Soto) for about thirty years now. I have gone there since before there even existed a Serrania Park. Back when all those fancy homes back there were nothing but a ginormous dirt lot (where my 8-year-old self once spent a terrifying spell on a spooked, spastic runaway Arabian horse who was the offspring of a very famous racehorse, so the blinding speed had the effect of being raced off to one’s untimely death, but that’s a story for another day).
We used to go horseback riding back there, but in later years after the horses were long gone, it became my ultimate hiking destination. The majority of the hike is a fairly steep, butt-blasting climb, providing breathtaking views of the aforementioned fancy homes, the Santa Monica Mountains, the golf course, and on a clear day, the entire valley. I have gone to this hike over the years for many reasons:
1) To mend a broken heart. You’ve heard of chicken soup being Jewish penicillin? Well this hike is the Sad Sack’s valium. Not only does the exertion get your endorphins going and thus, actually incites a mild drug reaction that bumps you out of depression, but the views and the smell of sage and the gorgeous silence distract you from your pain and make you realize that all this beauty is larger than your petty little problems and hurts.
2) To lose weight. I have been known to dump a good 10 pounds or so just by doing that hike two or three times a week for a few weeks. With zero dietary restrictions. It is a caloric Hoover From Hell. Srsly.
3) To bring friends and make them tell me their secrets. There is something about hiking that makes people an open book. They will start yapping about what is really eating them, sometimes even crying, hyperventilating, laughing hysterically, confessing. It is the strangest phenomenon. Something about that hike is like truth serum. It’s cleansing.
4) To be alone. Hardly anybody ever goes there when there is the much more famous Runyon Canyon where you can go and spot celebs and such. But that isn’t really my speed and I prefer to not have a million other people’s energies swirling around me when I am trying to settle down my own, thankyouverymuch.
Only one time in all the years of going on the Serrania hike, have I ever had an episode that made me not feel so safe being there alone. This icky pervy man wearing nothing but a speedo appeared out of nowhere, out in the middle of the trail, and tried to convince me that there were snakes about and that I needed to go with him to this area behind the bushes to find a stick (you think I’m making this up, but I swear it’s all true!) to scare off the snakes. When I said “not so much, thanks” he said I could also go back there and meet his girlfriend. Yeeeeaaaah, you have a girlfriend back there. And I’m the Queen of Sheba, you friggin’ tool. As I was in Heartbreak Recovery Mode as mentioned in #1 above, I was too lost in my own sorry thoughts to be afraid that Pervy Speedo Man was following behind me at a brisk pace until it dawned on me -- he may have a friend lurking about waiting to do an ambush on my sorry ass. Oh shit! So I started running. You know, so that if somebody darted out from the bushes, they would at least have to hit a moving target. I turned to check behind me and Pervy Speedo Man was running too! He and his floppy dingle-dangle were chasing my ass! WTF?! As I rounded the next corner, my mind was racing. What the hell was he planning on doing? It’s not like the speedo left a lot of room for weapons. Then a feeling started spreading throughout me and it spread like a virus: Extreme pissedoffedness. Extreme, people. Similar to what I felt years later when that wanker messed with the wrong Valley Girl in Encino. I’ve been hiking up this damn hill for YEARS! These are MY hills, asshat! I have had no fewer than THREE pervs try to pick me up during my childhood in the valley, and now this dude was seriously wanting to have his ass kicked by me. Who the FARFEGNUGEN does he think he’s dealing with???
I turned and looked behind me again. Nobody. Gone. Poof, like a puff of perv vanished into thin air.
As I got to the bottom of the hill, another woman was going up. I told her about Pervy Speedo Man and she turned right around and went back to her car. And I reported him to the police. Never found out what happened to him, but after that I was determined not to let his pervy ass turn me off of going back there alone, I am SO SURE. Of course nowadays, it’s not an issue since I bring The Big Giant Snarling Vicious Brown Dog with me whenever I go, and he has that charming effect of conveying the sentiment “YOU’LL GO THE FART AWAY IF YOU KNOW WHAT’S GOOD FOR YOU, SHITHEEL” to any passersby with less than honorable intentions.
Anyhoo, new to the list of reasons to do the Serrania hike is the following: to kill your post-Thanksgiving-too-much-food-and-drink-hangover. See, we were supposed to go see Derek’s family up north for Turkey Day, but as it turned out, Homeboy got sick and we couldn’t run the risk of exposing his Grammy (who just turned 102) and the kidlets to his germies, so we had to stay home and I, in a fit of stunted family visit sadness, saw fit to kill my sadness with a bottle of champagne, half a bottle of wine, and I am told, a few shotgunned beers. Yeah. Have yourself a very Lushy Thanksgiving, Valley Girl. But the hike fixed me up, and there was nary a perv in sight.
And for that, I am thankful.