I have a genuine fear of being murdered by a serial killer. I don’t fear much else, I’m not scared of sharks, spiders crawling is creepy but not scary, I find snakes fascinating and crocodiles are magnificent. It’s a proven fact (by this info-graphic) that I have a higher chance of being killed by a fellow human than I do by any of the previously mentioned “monster” animals.
When my friend, who is graciously letting me crash in her apartment for a week, suggested I spend the day hiking in the hills near her house my first reaction was “awesome idea – I can work off all the pizza I have consumed” my second reaction was “hang on – I’ve seen Law and Order, CSI, Criminal Minds and NCIS – walking trails are where all the bodies are found OR young people are abducted then grossly dismembered and hung up in trees for other hikers to find… I’m going to be murdered!”.
I don’t think it is a completely irrational thought considering recent events in California – ok maybe it was slightly irrational, but it was stuck in my head.
Morning came around and my friend went off to work while I slept in. Eventually though the beautiful sunshine streaming through the blinds decided that I should stop being a sloth and get up. Finally I couldn’t resist the outdoors any more especially as I had eaten cookies for breakfast and so thought I may be putting on a few kilos. I took screen shots of the map I would need to get to Wildcat Canyon Loop at Rancho San Antonio (as I only have WiFi), grabbed a water bottle and headed to the shed to grab my friends bright pink bike.
The tyres are flat… guess I couldn’t go then!
OR – I could stop being the worlds biggest sissy and see if I can find somewhere to pump them up. Sure enough just round the corner was a garage with three very nice guys who found my accent hilarious and so were able to pump up my tyres for a few “G’Days” and two “Shrimp on the barbies” – yes I prostituted my accent, but it worked!
It took me an hour to ride to the park due to constantly stopping and checking my screen shots. It also took me a while to work out the rules for bikes. My friend had said I could ride anywhere, there weren’t designated places where a bike could go and as a pedestrian I had right of way. EASY!
Nope – this was the hardest thing to get my head around, at every intersection I stopped to let the cars go first and they stopped to let me go first. It took a lot of hand waving to get things organised. Things were even more confusing when I came to a four-way stop sign – everyone stared at each other for about 5 seconds before someone took a chance and went first, it was the ultimate game of chicken – I now take back every negative thing I ever said about round-a-bouts, they work!
I arrived at the park with nerves completely frayed from the fear of being murdered or run over. The park how ever was calm and beautiful – but not very well sign posted. I stood for ages staring at the park map before a local took pity on me. He pointed out where I was (the complete opposite side of the map to what I had been thinking) and where I should go. So off I went… or so I thought. Ten minutes later as I was tying my bike up under some trees the man came running up to me – this was it, this was the moment I was going to get murdered!
Nope, I had gone the wrong way and he had run to catch me up to show me the right way. I walked with him for the next half an hour as he was doing some of the same trail as me. As we walked up giant hills he asked me about the “right-wing buffoon that we have elected as prime minister” and my thoughts of his changes to education. We spoke about the decline in media standards and how the tabloids are making the new generations dumber (mine included in assumed). And we discussed the changes to their healthcare system with ObamaCare. By the time we reached the top of the hill my legs AND my brain were exhausted. He, however, seemed invigorated as he firmly shook my hand goodbye and headed off down a track to the right.
I paused momentarily to catch my breath and that is when I looked around. I was in the middle of no-where, surrounded by hills, there was the sound of a million birds arguing (or singing) and a butterfly even had the audacity to flit around my head for a few moments. It was breath-taking, it was stunning, it was about three more clichés rolled into one! How could I be scared of being murdered in such a beautiful place – and that is when I realised I wasn’t scared anymore.
I headed off down the path that the friendly local had shown me. He had stressed a number of times (I think he thought I was a bit dopey) to always take the left fork and I would eventually end up back at my bike. So left I went.
I slowly descended from the golden ridge line down to the forested covered valley floor where I saw squirrels searching the under growth (not having squirrels back home I chased the first couple with my camera before I realised that they are everywhere).
I walked with a giant smile on my face which got broader with every corner. I was by no means alone though – I came across walkers and runners every few minutes all of whom said hello. At one particularly hilly section when I was heading downhill a man in his late 70s was running up – he took a deep breath to give me “Hello there”, then a few minutes later I saw another man in his 50s, he gave me “HooooooowwwddddyHO” as he sped past, then I saw a man in his 20s, he gave me a grunt – which could have been a “hello” or a “kill me now please”.
I continued to take left hand turns when suddenly a cute little farm-house appeared out of no where, complete with goats and a crowing rooster. People were relaxing in the barn and children were playing on some swings – it was clearly a little hobby farm for families. I stopped for a while to sit in the Peter Rabbit style garden and drink some water before the final stretch of my hike.
Two left hand turns later I had arrived back at my bike – alive!
Distance Rode: 10 Miles OR 16 Kilometres
Miles Walked: 3.7 Miles OR 6 Kilometres