Reader, I managed him.
Yes, two and half hours after planning to take my first LA hike up Runyon Canyon, I have returned home and am enjoying a well-deserved cold beer.
Thanks to Google Maps, I was led up some very dangerous, bendy roads with no pavements – all uphill. I may even have been in Canada for all the time it took me to reach the summit.
I stopped to ask two women – the only people I saw en route – if I was anywhere close, and they shook their heads with sorrow, informing me that I had at least another hour to go. Or was it a day? Or a week?
Anyway, on I trundled and knew I was heading in the right direction when a sign warned me to beware of oncoming reindeer. I knew I had arrived when another told me to beware of rattlesnakes.
I saw none, but then I saw no celebrities, either, which had been the point of my going in the first place. No Gerard Butler, no Colin Farrell; not even any celebrity lookalikes.
The place was like an overheated Fraggle Rock. Fat people, mad people, loud people, hideous people . . . all humankind was there. And every dogkind, too.
It was the dogs I felt most sorry for. All of them were dragging their bodies along, panting, and looking, for all the world, a wag away from rigor mortis. One woman was insistent that she and her companion stop to give their dog some water. “She doesn’t need water!” he yelled. “She’s just being lazy.”
All the fears I expressed in my earlier blog were realised. I have two barbecued arms. My bladder nearly burst with the strain of carrying this morning’s tea over seven miles. Yet I am dehydrated.
Don’t get me wrong. I love exercise and I can walk up to 15 miles a day, and regularly do. But not in the sun and along a dirt track with no refreshment truck and no public conveniences.
It’s not often that I look longingly towards Downtown LA in the smog, but each time it materialised into view on my trail, I sobbed with relief.
Having done five miles uphill, the last two were all down, and when I hit Hollywood Boulevard and spotted the sign for the 217 bus that takes me almost to my door, I wept with relief.
I like the buses here. They are not overheated. They don’t give you pains in your back and legs. And you are never more than a couple of stops away from a toilet. Or a beer.
Thanks a bunch to those people who told me to take a hike; after today, I’m telling you to do one, too. Because yes, my hiking days are over, before they have barely begun.
And now it’s lunchtime, I am going to settle down in front of the telly with a bowl of home-made spaghetti Bolognese and a glass of Rioja.
I’ve already burnt the calories off, after all.
Maybe I’ll have seconds.