Someone tried to kill me yesterday. And it was one of my closest friends! Here’s what went down:
You’ve read about my friend Tavi before on this blog. He’s mentioned on this blog way too much as it is, and now, with this post, his head might quite literally explode. But just to refresh any foggy memories: I’ve known Tavi since high school, he’s an aerialist and dancer, he lives nearby, he’s one of my closest friends. Over a year ago, Tavi and I hiked in Fryman Canyon, a beautiful nearby park. Tavi took me on a gorgeous winding trail – check out pictures here. During the hike, Tavi casually mentioned that he usually runs this trail, which flabbergasted me, because I had difficulty walking it – there are parts that are very steep, and the trail is very narrow.
Earlier this week, Tavi says to me, “Are you ready to run Fryman with me?” I laughed, and replied that I’d never be ready to run Fryman. Tavi thought otherwise, and for the next day or so, I gave it serious thought. I always tend to underestimate my physical abilities. I never used to think I could ever run a 10K, but I’ve done it. Climbing nearly 100 stories without stopping seems impossible to wrap my mind around, but I did it just the other day. I could run Fryman, couldn’t I?
I decided that I could. And that’s how, yesterday afternoon, I found myself walking with Tavi towards the Fryman Canyon trail head.
The previous hike with Tavi wasn’t my first time in Fryman – I’d been there with Jen and Tiffany for a hike (possibly two) at the asscrack of dawn, and also hiked there with Chris. Even though the routes varied, there’s one constant: it’s steep. Fryman Canyon is located in the Hollywood Hills, and you enter at the bottom and can hike all the way up to Mulholland Drive, the road at the tippy-top.
As we approached the start of our run, the steepness loomed large in my mind, and I made a mental goal: Complete the run without stopping, and if I can’t manage to run, than don’t walk for more than 10 seconds. I wanted to keep moving. I knew that if I walked too long, it would be difficult to get back into running.
We started running at the base of the mountain, and thankfully, one of the steepest parts was at the beginning. I say thankfully because 1) it got a tough part out of the way early on, while I was still fresh, and 2) I knew that if I could conquer this part, I could conquer every other part of the trail.
The run was tough. Tough. After the first few minutes of steep uphill running, I felt ready to crawl under the brush and pass out. Having Tavi in front of me was a good motivator – and he was a good sport, stopping every so often and doing jumping jacks or lunges until I caught up with him.
The nice part about the run was that it’s probably the prettiest run I’ve ever done. There’s all sorts of great views in Fryman, which is loaded with ravines, ridges, and switchbacks, and with the narrow trails, high grasses, and encroaching bushes, there were times when a machete would’ve been helpful to clear the way. The downside is that it’s hard to take in the views because the trail is uneven, undulating, and rocky – if you don’t pay attention to your feet, you could easily twist an ankle or worse. And by worse, I mean stumble and fall down a 30-80 foot near-vertical hillside, which are all over the place.
At one point, you have to traverse a fallen tree to get over a ravine. Here I am not-so-gracefully dismounting from the tree:
But I hit the ground and started running again immediately:
After the tree came the second major uphill part, which seemed, at the time, to be as vertical as a ladder, and it was here that it first occurred to me that I very well might die. Tavi was trying to kill me. He was doing a good job of it, too – my heart was pounding, my legs and core were burning, and I was on the verge of tears. That second uphill part was the last terrible part, though, and the rest of the run was downhill or flat.
The run ended with a final descent down a steep embankment, where Tavi got this picture of me picking my nose:
I’m not picking my nose, I’m pushing my glasses up!
The final stretch was along a fire road that led to the street that we parked on, and we finished at a gate that I collapsed onto:
I finished the run in 41 minutes. Add in the walking to and from the trail head, plus a few minutes of catching my breath at that gate, and we were away from our cars for a little over an hour. Last time we walked this route in two hours. It felt great to cut that time in half!
My theory that Tavi tried to kill me evaporated pretty quickly once my heart rate fell back into a reasonable range. And I’m proud that I accomplished my goals: I never stopped, and the only time I walked more than 10 seconds was during the most strenuous uphill stretches, which were more climbing than walking anyway.
As we walked back to the car, Tavi mentioned “the next time we do this…” and I thought, next time? Isn’t doing it once enough? Just like stand-up paddleboarding and ice skating, I’m glad to have tried running Fryman, but whether I run it again is TBD. We shall see. I’m not going to be rushing back tomorrow to do it again, that’s for sure. Only time will tell if I do it again. Doing it once is enough for me to proudly say…
Keep it up, David!