Some of us collect anecdotes of stupid hikers at Whiting:
I met him just as he was coming off the Edison Trail in Whiting Ranch, a small, spindly man with no hair, shorts, a short-sleeved plaid shirt, and a pair of earbuds blasting Beethoven as loud as he could stand it. A few months before I had met a mountain lion on this very trail, so I stopped him.
“There’s deer up there at the end of the trail,” he said, waving his arm in the general direction of nowhere in particular. I have to admit that I was surprised that he saw them.
“There’s also mountain lion up there,” I said, motioning to his earbuds.
“Oh yes,” he shouted with a smile and went on his way.
Lynn has been out of town in observance of her mother’s eightieth birthday for the past several days so I had a weekend to fill. Going to hiking meetups seemed the thing. The first one taught me the importance of carefully noting the meeting place. Just because a prominent trail begins in a county park, do not assume that the members will gather there or that you will hike the whole length of the trail. The Arroyo Trabuco trailhead that I know lies in O’Neill Regional Park. I arrived there shortly before the departure time to find the lot empty except for a sports car and an oversized pickup truck. Only a couple of bikers on their way back from a ride lingered at the beginning so I wondered if I had chosen the wrong date or time. The network was thankfully connectible, so I installed the Meetup app and discovered that I was there at the right time, but — this took awhile to sink in — at the wrong place. The organizer had chosen a spot two and a half miles away, so I hoofed it over a path thick with stones the size and shape of prehistoric eggs until I caught up with the other hikers — who were on their way back.
Wide fire roads and ranch roads from the days before foothill subdivisions attract trail bikers to the Southern California wilderness margins. Some will dare the narrow single tracks and in some cases local parks authorities allow this. Just witness the Cactus Hill, Sleepy Hollow and Sage Scrub trails in Whiting. Walking should not entail taking your life into your hands, but keen use of all the senses especially sound and sight will keep you bones unbroken and your vitals unsquashed. Most bikers show respect for walkers. There are those, however, who forget themselves as they feel the adrenaline rush of speed and forget that paths in the chaparral are not rides at Disneyland or Knotts Berry Farm.