Identity Crisis: Lake Hollywood

Beautiful, right? The irony? This is as close as you can get. Leaning over the top ofMulholland Dam (#2), gripping your BlackBerry with two hands as you attempt to get the picture you want without slipping into vertigo, losing both your life and its mobile line.

Lake Hollywood.  Also known as the Hollywood Reservoir. Once upon a time, this here body of dammed-up water provided Los Angeles with most of its precious, not-recommended-sans-filtration drinking water. Before this day, I was unaware of its existence. 

I awoke early, with an urge to trek out to a nature-y part of LA to lose calories, lift spirits and jot down some brilliance. An in-depth (ie, all the way to pg. 2) Google search  let me in on a little secret.  My area of Beverly Hills is more Beverly, less hills. Every interesting trail appeared to be multiple miles in one direction or another - a daunting statistic when coupled with the fact that it was 9am and the over-employed citizens of LA were selfishly crowding every single thoroughfare. (This recession seems to have had little effect on rush hour traffic.  Isn’t there supposed to be some sort of silver lining?)

In short, I searched for something somewhat scenic, somewhat close by.  Lake Hollywood, here I come!

Here are the main take-away points from my Tuesday adventure:

Parking: Bizarrely simple. I drove all the way down to the trailhead, as I wanted to sort of assess the situation at hand prior to committing to a spot, fully prepared to turn back around and park back up top.  No need.  I parked ten feet away from the entrance, on a street with not one single sign dictating the whens and when-nots of parking.  Nothing. Not even a shadow of colored paint on the curb.  I didn’t trust it. It was just fine. [Insert trust-issue-commentary-here]

The Trail: Ok, this was initially disappointing to me.  It’s not a trail.  It’s a glorified blocked-off street, lining the perimeter of the lake.  Well, lining the perimeter of the chain-link fence lining the perimeter of the forest-y things, lining the perimeter of the lake.  I kept thinking I would find the spot where the fence subsided, allowing me to head down a dusty path toward a relaxing, shady writing spot.  I wouldn’t.  Because there isn’t one.  There are a couple places where I longer-than-momentarily considered ignoring the No Trespassing  and Authorized Personnel Only signs, while slinking through the small opening…but then I pictured an awkward Park Ranger (sort of a cross between Ranger Smith and The Man in the Yellow Hat) approaching me, as I sat cross-legged on foliage-ridden grasses, pouring my sardonic soul onto the previously half-empty pages of my floral notebook. What would he do? What would he say? What would I do slash say? My ignorance of the laws regarding trespassing on such grounds slash consequences for breaking said laws, led me to stick to the beaten pavement. (So much to study up on before my next visit!) 

Eventually, the street caps off at the Mulholland Dam.  This is where you can actually see pretty things, without the urban touch of barbed wire invading your periphery.  This is also where I chose to do 180 lunges and other things of a thigh-shaping nature, which have impaired my walking ability in the hours since.  When you’ve finished taking in all the dam has to offer, you have two choices. You can either turn around and go back from whence you came (landslides have rendered part of the path unusable, pending rehabilitation, for the past 7 years) or you can head up through the neighborhood, away from the reservoir, to make it a circular activity. I chose the former. 

The Crowd: There wasn’t one.  This was seriously one of the most amazing parts of the whole thing.  In an hour and a half’s time, I ran into a grand total of 7 people, all of whom were surprisingly friendly, in a normal, non-invasive, non-creepy way. They were also dressed in normal workout attire - no fuzzy boots, skinny jeans or inappropriate choices of outerwear/or aesthetically-offensive headgear.

To be perfectly honest, 99% of the time, I was completely alone, in total bird-chirppy quiet. Heaven. I attributed the psyche-soothing silence to three things:

1. AT&T apparently chooses not to serve this area, which I sort of appreciated after the initial 13 minutes of unavoidable anxiety subsided.

2. Any sounds of traffic were muted by the surrounding hills, trees and, most likely, my floppy eustacian tubes.

3. No dogs are allowed.  Although I have nothing but love for fluff-nuggets, every set of dog walkers I drove past on the road down to the trail was yammering in obnoxious, soul-piercing conversation. But they weren’t allowed inside, and that was cool.

The Smell: Trees. Nature. Water. With none of the occasional stomach-churning whiffs of city-things that embellish most metropolitan outings. So many deep breaths. So much sanity.

Essentially, Lake Hollywood is a quiet little haven that is what you make of it, anaerobically speaking. I, personally, enjoyed it. You should probably stay away, so I can keep doing that.