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The Middle Ages: Happy Hour Hiking Club hits the road

As my buddy Theodore used to say, life is not a dress rehearsal. It’s a live television show. You flub a line, you move on. You miss a mark, you hit the next one.

It is in the spirit of Ted – of spontaneity, of making the best of things – that we created the Happy Hour Hiking Club and invited everyone. In a few short weeks, it has grown into one of America’s great social institutions.

In New Orleans, they might call it a second line, a mockery of death. In Cleveland, they’d call it a glorified pub crawl, a mockery of life. In reality, we’re just a bunch of goofs out for some fresh air, followed by the sort of hydration required of semi-serious exercise.

I see the Happy Hour Hiking Club as the kind of loose-limbed social experiment Ben Franklin might’ve endorsed. If we’d given him a white horse and a cigar, Mark Twain would’ve ridden along.

In fact, in our inaugural outing in Pasadena, one woman said she’d show up on her horse. Evidently, she got lost, for we never saw her. I think you’d notice a woman on a horse.

Though she RSVP’d, Quinn from Costa Mesa also never made it to Pasadena. Just as I suspected. I mean, who drives through three hours of rush-hour traffic just to hike with me?

Insane people, that’s who.

Because Tony showed up, all the way from Laguna Niguel, as did Maggie from Venice. A gang of very funny moms from Simi Valley showed up too – you could hear them before you saw them. I think I can still hear them.

The hike went well, thanks for asking. Barely lost anybody out of a group of 60 or so. Holy cow, 60 people? That’s not a hiking group, that’s a wedding.

For about 45 minutes, we hoofed it along a lovely creek, breathing in spring – the grasses, the pollens, the oily L.A. air. I like to think that, in the spring, there’s a bit of whiskey in the rain. Every drop its own cocktail. Thanks to those wonderful rains, we stomped on verdant trails.

I’ll eventually leave L.A. – not nearly enough Greek food or freshwater fishing. But I will always remember the folks here, warm, witty and interesting.

In addition to fitness, the Happy Hour Hiking Club is dedicated to ample appetizers and sturdy drink, so after we hiked we made our way to a local watering hole for a quick toast to our survival, fresh friendships and the end of a better-than-average day.

Seriously, you should always be wary of taking life advice from me – someone who once had a 45-minute conversation with a raw oyster. But I like this combo of slow hikes and easy interaction. I like the buzz of new friendship. I like the Happy Hour Hiking Club as an example of adult social engagement in suburbs that usually cater only to kids.

Speaking of new friendships, I told my wife, Posh, that I could get her a gig working the bar at the next HHHC gathering. She is sort of the Cleopatra of our cul-de-sac, dressing as she does in sequins and a small tiara. I told her that my fellow hikers would get a real kick out of having Cleopatra yelling at customers and ordering the help around.

She said no way. Her decision puzzles me because we could really use that tip jar money.

When Cleopatra gets like that, I have to remind myself: “If she were any sort of sane, she never would’ve married me in the first place.”

That’s what we husbands all need to remember, that if they were sane, they probably never would’ve married us. Who knows why they did.

Yet they did. They married us. What follows is not always perfect. Just a series of hikes, followed by the happy hour.


Email Chris Erskine at, or follow him on Twitter at @erskinetimes.