Sunday, November 23, 2008

Life In the Big Tujunga Creek - Part 1

When I first started hiking the creek, I would seldom see another soul. But as my schedule changed from the demands of a "regular" job, I started meeting more and more people there. I must say I enjoy both scenarios. There are times I'm so inside my head and need to think, that I really enjoy the solitude. At other times, I find myself grateful to find someone to share the trail.

But this past year, things have changed.There's more hikers than ever and there's more homeless. And after making the list below, I'm sort of shocked at just how populated my little creek is!

Everyone at the creek is somehow categorized:

1) Creekhikers - those of us who hike with dogs.
2) Weirdos - those who hike alone. There is only one Weirdo that is considered OK - only because he hikes daily and vast distances so everyone knows him. However, he ignores all dogs that approach him for affection. He wears an i pod and keeps his eyes on the ground a short distance in front of his feet.
3) Family Walkers - usually a group just enjoying a pleasant day. You only see them after a large holiday meal or on a holiday weekend. There is a sub-group of family walkers called Idiots. Idiots usually have with them someone not steady on their feet, i.e. a toddler or a very old person, both of which have no business hiking in the creek with cacti and poisonous snakes and coyotes.
4) Bicycle kids - they are usually in the 8 - 15 year-old-range and are very industrious boys. They come with shovels and build jumps with for their bikes and sometimes they hide in the bushes and smoke really bad weed. (This from someone who has never smoked weed... even I know that stuff doesn't smell right!)
5) Teens - looking for a place to drink beer or have sex.
6) Punks - This group, just out of their teens, will not be around for months and then spend the night in the creek for a few days on end. Most Creekhikers hate the punks because they have three bad-ass pit bulls that hate all other dogs. And some of these kids are clean and have no weird piercings and dress well. You have to wonder if they don't have a mother or dad worried about them... But you could say that about all of these last three groups.
7) Jerks - These are the cross country motor bikers -which is illegal in our creek. Everyone hates them because the bikes tear up the trails. Not to mention that even our docile dogs want to attack them for riding so close and kicking up all that dust.
8) Horsepeople - self explanatory. Horsepeople hate everybody. They want all of us to leave their trails alone. However, Horsepeople will bond with Creekhikers if there is some cause to be won... i.e. fighting the golf course.
9) Hispanic workers - they don't hike because they enjoy it. It's just a shortcut from work in Sunland to homes in Lake View Terrace and beyond. They often gather and drink beer on Friday nights before heading on home.
10) The homeless - Three categories here: The bad homeless - these guys are trouble. Stay out of their way or wear your big boy pants. I've had to wear my big boy pants on occaision and have been very grateful for the cajones my mother gave this girl! The unknown - newcomers. I see evidence of them but rarely see them in person. And the good old timers - they've lived here for a while and are kinda like traffic cops. Good people down on their luck and find no shame in that. Nor should they.

In the creek, as in the real world, like attracts like. And while I've spent many, many hours with my fellow Creekhikers, I'm terribly ashamed to say that, when approached by one in the grocery store in town, I have absolutely NO idea who they are! Let's just say that most of them clean up well for a trip to "town," unlike me who pretty much lives in pj bottoms, a t-shirt or sweat shirt and my hair perpetually in a bun! But they call my name and stare at my bewildered look as my mind reels to place them. They finally help me out with, "I'm Chloe's dad" or "You know me! I'm Lucy's mom!" Ooooohhh. Right!

And yet, when we hike, we know each other and what's important (dogs). But I can't really tell you what any of them do for a living or their last name, save for a handful.


Anonymous said...

Interesting social observations!

I have trouble placing people out of their "normal contexts" too. One incident that stands out was when we we were in the mall and encountered a woman who looked very familiar, she knew our names but Mom and I didn't know hers, and after we'd parted, we were thinking about where we'd seen her before and about half an hour later realized she was the receptionist at one of the doctors' offices we go to occasionally.

Linda@VS said...

Thanks for letting us hike along with you and meet your trailmates.

I have a terrible time recognizing people out of context. The mailman, out of his uniform, looked like a stranger to me.