We spent a weekend in San Diego last month, and we did a 45-minute walk one day, and then a three-hour hike up and down a 2,700-foot mountain … and we felt like slugs.
In San Diego, exercising is not part of a lifestyle, it is a lifestyle all on its own. You get fit, then you go find a job.
So get off the couch and grab a bottle of filtered tap water infused with carbonation … and get up a hill, dammit!
A hill like Iron Mountain in the next-over town, Poway.
We drove over there — yes, we should have biked — and found a space out on the street, because the lot was jammed, and we joined the throng of people whose fondest wish on a Sunday afternoon was stride right on up that mountain by scrambling over the tons of rocks that doubled as a “trail” for the final 800 feet or so of our climb.
Our hosts, who by now are just kinda regular San Diegans, said they preferred to go at their pace, which was significantly quicker than ours, and we told them we would see them later. God willing.
Looking up at the peak of the hill was a little intimidating, but then we saw a little girl coming down the trail, and we said, “If a little girl can make it, we can make it!”
Later, we saw a boy not more than five years old, and … “If a five-year-old can do it …”
Then we saw dogs. A medium-size dog, then a smaller dog, and a Chihuahua, and we said, “If tiny dogs can make it so can we.”
Of course, we didn’t say it quite the directly because we were panting at the time.
The climb was steady and seemed never-ending. I remember remarking, between breaths, that I would give a dollar for 10 yards of flat trail. Alas …
San Diegans don’t want “easy”. They want hard. They want difficult. They want a good workout, and if they don’t get one, they will find a tougher mountain to climb.
I thought the one we had was plenty tough. A climb of 1,000 from bottom to top. All those rocks. (Don’t know for a fact that someone slips and gets seriously hurt on all those rocks masquerading as a trail, but they have a helipad about halfway up the hill. No, really.)
No water anywhere on the trail. Almost zero trees, meaning no shade. Which is not a problem in January but certainly can be in the summer.
Things get crowded, too, because so many San Diegans are pushing up and down the hill. It’s basically one lane of people in each direction, with the occasional mountain-biker grinding past us (on the way up ) or bouncing his way down (on the return).
The final few hundred feet also was quite windy, which made it just about impossible to communicate, but we weren’t doing much talking, those final 200 feet.
At the top, the peak is about as big as a phone booth. OK, a phone booth with a couple of picnic tables in it. But nothing much other than that … just a couple of dozen people at the summit making a point of admiring the view — the Pacific Ocean to the west, San Diego to the south (and Mexico, too), and a reservoir to the east.
We asked a San Diegan to take a picture of the four of us, and he seemed disgusted. Thinking perhaps, “You want to remember this half-assed climb the rest of your life? Do you take photos after you walk around the block, too?”
But, because the guy was a San Diegan, after he smirk-shamed us for our silly sense of accomplishment … he went ahead and took our picture. (In San Diego, you must accept any photo request from a tourist. It’s the law.)
We tumbled down the hill, and managed not to take a dive over the rocks, and felt pretty good about it.
It had approached the threshold of legitimate exercise. I made the mistake of checking on how many feet we had climbed; I was thinking 2,000. It was half that. Did I mention the rocks were steep?
The next day, we drove back to the Inland Empire, where Fit Bits are not on every wrist and rocky hills are meant for four-wheel drives and where a 45 minutes of moseying is considered a workout.