Burb's Eye View: A SoCal hike makes for a birthday treat

I count my first real adult birthday at age 26 — a year after the last big growing-up milestone.

The Powers That Be already afforded me the privilege to drive (age 16), the right to vote (18), the privilege to be the popular guy in the dorm who could go on beer runs (21), and lastly, a discount on my car insurance (25).

After that, birthdays became largely interchangeable. Welcome to adulthood: Age ain’t nothin’ but a number.

Each of us approaches birthdays differently. You’re either a year wiser or a year not dead. It’s another year to celebrate life, or another date to roll your eyes at and hope for its passing with as little fanfare as possible.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look forward to my birthday at least a little bit. I try to use it as an occasion to see old friends and family, and to maybe try something new.

While searching for the perfect birthday activity last week, I stumbled on Burbank’s 11th annual Verdugo Hills Community Hike. Hiking’s a new passion for me since moving to SoCal, and this hike’s got it all: exercise, adventure, the imminent threat of predatory wildlife and sandwiches. Well, wraps anyway.

The Boy Scouts of Troop 201 will be doling out the sustenance after a 1.5- or 3.2-mile trek, depending on which trail you want to take. The hikes begin at either 1701 Wildwood Canyon Drive — if you’re into the longer hike — or at Stough Nature Center, 2300 Walnut Ave., for the shorter sojourn. It’s $10 to sign up on the day of the event.

I’ll be packing my water, sunscreen and well-worn sneakers for the hike, which Recreation Supervisor Carol Mercado says will do just fine. In the past, some hikers have run the trail barefoot — an intriguing feat for sure, but as I’m a newbie to this trail, I think I’ll stick to the traditional gear.

The more hard-core hikers may recall a longer route that stretched from Glendale to the Old Campgrounds near the Stough Nature Center in Burbank. But Mercado said budget cuts have forced Glendale to drop out this year.

Instead, Burbank is hosting an educational hike through the Old Campground trail in which docents will give a history of the area and explore the local flora and fauna — rattlesnakes and mountain lions, for example.

“There definitely could be rattlesnakes; it’s supposed to be cooler that day, so there may not be many,” Mercado assured me. “There could be mountain lions, but with this many people, I seriously doubt they’ll be out and about.”

Safety in numbers. It’s a lesson that also applies to birthdays. The higher that number gets, the less concerned I am about wildlife and things lurking in the shadows. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure my ankle is making a weird popping noise, and my hamstring has finally just recovered from a particularly tough day at the gym.

Semantics, of course. If you’ve got your health, you’ve got all the reason to celebrate the turning of the year. And with folks on this hike twice my age, I look forward to many more birthdays in the great outdoors.

BRYAN MAHONEY is a recent transplant from the East Coast. When he’s not wrestling rattlesnakes, he can be reached at 818NewGuy@gmail.com and on Twitter @818NewGuy.

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