Jewish Journal

Mama, Take A Hike

by Mihal Levy

February 23, 2010 | 11:30 am

When it comes to nature, I pretty much have a fear of it - like Monk (the Obsessive-Compulsive Detective that was played by Tony Shalhoub).  I am sure there is a name for that sort of thing.  Ok, so maybe I exaggerate a little.  It is not so much a fear of nature, as it is the fear of being outside in nature and being eaten alive by a mountain lion or bitten by a poisonous snake or coming face to face with Jack the Ripper who goes out on hiking trails to find unsuspecting victims.  So, I guess those are more my fears than nature itself, although nature has proven to be quite scary at times.  I.E.: tidal waves, earthquakes…you get my point.

Also, my past experience on hiking trails has not been so pretty.  (Which probably adds to my fear of ever hiking again.)  For example, when I vacationed in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico years ago and joined an “easy” hike, it turned out, well, not so easy.  We had to walk across a “narrow bridge” (or as I like to call it, a “tightrope”) that hung about fifty feet over roaring rapids.  Everyone made it across, thankfully, while I had to be dragged and carried by two tour guides.  That was not the end.  Then we had to simply jump across stones in a river.  Again - everyone made it across - let’s just say I made it “through” and was very, very wet.

Then there was my time camping in my early twenties.  All was well (better than I had expected) until bears circled our camp on our second night there for the food we had left out accidentally.  I also returned from that trip beet-red, covered in blisters.  Turned out I had third degree burns even though I went through at least three bottles of SPF 80 or so for the two days that we were there.

So, with these ever so wonderful experiences, you can imagine how uncooperative I have been with my husband throughout our marriage whenever he suggested nature hikes.  (And he looooooooves them.)  We would make a plan, I would actually get there, take five steps and head home.  (Sorry, hubby.)

My idea of the perfect hike is a trek uphill through crowded streets like in Downtown L.A., or a walk from the Upper West Side to the East Side of New York City.  Anything that involves paved roads (most of the time) and no mountain lions in sight.  City life is my idea of “nature.”

So, much to my surprise (well, not really), my husband had had enough of me and told me it was time to “take a hike!”  Of course he meant the scenic kind with him included.  So, the opportunity arose and I ventured out on my first hike in years. 

We joined another family we had met and brought our son as well.  We took a hike and I actually liked it.

Of all places, it was in the San Fernando Valley.  Ok, above it.  Who knew a view of the good ol’ San Fernando Valley could be so beautiful after the rains (there was actually no smog).

We simply took Reseda Boulevard south - way south - past Ventura Boulevard until we hit the trail.  It was a beautiful hike up the Santa Monica Mountains.  Wow!  My son loved it as well.  Hubby was a given.  The trail was a little steep at first, but great.  No mountain lions in sight or cannibals (that I knew of) - just runners, bikers and families like us. 

What a great way to start the day.  A way that every day should start.  I enjoyed my time well-spent in nature (of all places…for me) with great views, great company and a great nap I was hoping would follow, but never did.

So, now when my hubby tells me to “take a hike,” I will - well…if it is the nature trail-type he is talking about…and only if he comes along, of course.

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Mihal Levy used to collect degrees as a hobby.  After receiving her B.S. and M.S. degrees, she worked as a psychotherapist and research scientist before continuing her hobby of...

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