I used to hike in the L.A. area quite often. If you have never been to L.A. or are unaware, there are hundreds of hikes in the area. All worthy of your time and effort. I mostly hiked on the coastal Santa Monica mountain range.
Eric Dickerson is one of the greatest football players ever. He was a running back from SMU. That’s Southern Methodist University. While he was at SMU, he was a part of the “Pony Express” which was the name of the backfield he shared with Craig James. They were also known as “Salt and Pepper”, as Craig James was white and Eric Dickerson was black. Really fucking creative. What? Nobody cared to christen them the “Othello Fellows”? The game, of course, not the play. Iago is a bitch. Anyway, Craig James was maybe the last notable white running back, not that I care. I just remember that Craig James was one of the last white running backs that had over 1,000 yards one year in the NFL, which is considered good for a running back. And that was in 1985, just to give you a reference.
It should be duly noted that the SMU football players received so much money from boosters and whatnot at that time that the NCAA handed down the only “Death Penalty” in college football history. This means that SMU could not have a football program at their school for X amount of years. I think it was one or two years, but I don’t do research.
Anyway, Eric Dickerson was THE SHIT!!! As a member of the Los Angeles Rams in the NFL, he had 1,808 yards rushing his rookie season, an NFL record, and a still NFL record 2105 yards in his second season as a pro. Actually, I think they are both still records…he was that badass. If you are unfamiliar with football, that’s equivalent to a Kardashian having sex with 96 people when she turns 18 and sex with 157 people the next year.
Out of the several hikes available to me in L.A., the hike to Trippet Ranch was one of my favorites. From the trailhead, you would meander through about a mile of scenic tree-covered flatland, with a few crossings over a stream that was almost never there. Then you’d hit the mountain. It is a great hike. I think, maybe, flatland and all, it is about two and a half miles, five miles round trip. But who am I kidding, we only count the miles going up, right? So, yeah, two and a half fucking miles. My favorite time hiking this trail is when me and my best friend woke up early and hiked the trail in early morning darkness while it was raining. Our flashlights illuminated the drizzle and I was high for shizzle and nary a mountain lion gave a grizzle. It was epic, but I digress.
With that same friend, at a different time, I again hiked the Trippet trail. It is a trail that is positioned in a manner that at one point you are walking downward on a smaller hill as you make your way towards the steeper incline of the main mountain. If you ever get the chance, don’t hike it hungover, as I often did. That mountain is a bitch. On the descent from the
smaller ridge to the upward path of the main mountain, you can see any other hikers coming up or down the main mountain path.
This not being one of my better days (I think a “car-bomb” or two or twelve was a part of my previous night’s activity), I kept a keen eye on how far I had to hike.
While on the downward slope of the first smaller hill, I saw a bright yellow shirt hiking down, way off in the distance. The shirt was bright yellow like the ones that bikers wear. Not like a biker gang shirt, that would be fucking ridiculous. Who’s afraid of the bright yellow biker gang? Like Tour de France yellow. I noted this shirt because it reminded me of how far I had to go. It was a good “had to go”, because I love hiking, but I still made note of it.
Eventually, I hit the incline of the mountain’s main trail.
If you have ever hiked, or walked up stairs (Aha! I’ve included almost EVERYBODY), you know that you generally keep your head down, watching your feet and the steps directly in front of you. This, of course, was the case with me.
I played football. I was quite good. I’m not bragging, but just to note it, I know football.
As I was hiking up the incline of the main mountain up to Trippet Ranch, I had my head down, looking at the ground. Looking at my steps. Looking only a couple of feet in front of me. When you are hiking in this nature, you are paying attention to your immediate path. You have to actually stop and look around to notice the beauty, which I often do. Sometimes too often for my hiking partners, as I get winded more often than my in-shape friends. There was one time, actually, where I was too gassed to hike, and I told my hiking partner that I had to tie my shoe, which I really did need to. While I was tying my shoe, I saw a deer off in the distance. Not too far away, but in the direction in which I was bent over tying my shoe. I milked that fucking moment for as long as I could! My friend said “What are you doing? Let’s go”. I replied, “I’m trying to whistle to this deer”. I was just stalling to catch my breath. I wasn’t even fucking whistling. Then I tried to blow some weak-ass noise out of my panting mouth. We laugh about that now. Yeah, sometimes exhaustion can be fun. This time on Trippet, however, was just hiking up an incline. This was not one of those stop and look around moments.
As I was honed in on my path, a pair of shoes came into my sight, about three feet in front of me. I paused. I stopped. My ass dropped, in proximity, lower than I usually carried it. I naturally gave my feet a perfect balance, shoulder-width apart. I arched my back up, no longer looking at the path, and I had my hands up “at the ready” on each side of my body, like I was ready to catch a boulder. These positions came together naturally and within one second. I tilted my head up
If you know football, or even if you don’t…as I described, I was in a “break-down” position. Meaning, I was ready to make a tackle. I was in perfect fucking form. I didn’t mean to be in this position, it just happened naturally.
This all happened in a nanosecond.
The shoes in my path, the shoes of the man with the Tour de France yellow shirt, were the shoes of Eric Dickerson.
Erick FUCKING Dickerson.
As I reared up my head, I looked directly into Eric Dickerson’s eyes, within awkward-first-date kissing distance…I mean, I was right up in his face…and, without missing a beat, said, “I got you”.
He laughed. He knew what I meant.