The Hike that Nearly Broke Me


Saturday I was supposed to go on a “long” hike with a friend, but as I was on my way to the Westside traveling towards her and the trail ahead, she called up literally lame with a foot injury. So, I turned my truck around and after thirty-seven seconds of “What should I do with my day…” I headed east towards the San Gabriel mountains and some big trees. And because it was a weekend, I figured I’d go deeper in to avoid potential crowds. I stopped in the ranger station to find out about road and trail closures, and then continued on the road again.

I decided to park with my Adventure Pass hanging from my rear-view mirror at Cloudburst Summit and hike towards Cooper Canyon Falls… And dealt with more cramps and odd leg issues along the way than normal…

Several times the thought of “I might be getting too old for solo hikes,” crossed through my mind. “What the hell is that pain now?”


I passed a few over-nighters climbing out of the Cooper Canyon campground, and a large group of street clothing dressed teenagers at the Buchhorn/Cooper Canyon trail intersection. But the trails were largely underpopulated, just how I like ’em.

When I saw the falls below, they were all alone… Quietly babbling from an under-flowing spring melt, which had apparently already melted.

Without a human-soul in sight, I descended into the canyon, using the muddy courtesy rope…

BTW, a little tip… If you’re heading down a slope, and you’re using a rope that someone else tied there… Do yourself a favor and check it before trusting it completely… I found that the underside of this particular had been nearly worn through, having been rubbing against the root structure it had been attached to… And though it took a few minutes I looped it again, to make it safer.


I got a full two-brilliant-minutes of peaceful serene alone time with the cascading water when the converse and jeans wearing teens started to descend towards me, the creek and the waterfall, and one after another they all seeming enjoyed loudly exclaiming how gross the dirty wet rope was… “Ewww.”

IMG_3052-alt-smallThe Cooper Canyon falls were to be my final improvised destination, but I really didn’t want to be around as they chatted, giggled, and exclaimed whatever they were bursting to tell each other, when when they broke out a Frisbee… (Yeah, they did). That was enough for me.

So, in order to find my own personal quiet happiness, I climbed out of the hole like Spider Man, ripping up the rope, up the hill, hands pulling and legs driving, and got back on the main trail in seconds. Taking in more nature and more scenery.

IMG_3146-alt-smallUnsatisfied with the length of my time in the woods, I pressed further… Going towards unknown trails. Kind of a no, no… As I didn’t have a map, nor any idea what trail linked with which, and I didn’t bring a proper amount of hydration.

For three miles I crushed rocks and skated gravel on slopes, till I ran into another exhausted solo hiker that told me the trail I had chosen had no looping point, and it wouldn’t end till Devil’s Punchbowl, eleven miles away…

So, I just made the hike about endurance, scenery and mileage and went till I hit a mile marker I could be proud of… IMG_3171-crop-small

But as I’ve already tipped my hat, I kinda went too far, too hard, with too little water… And had to ration my forty-once stainless steel container to only sips on my way back…

After the sweaty six-mile, I’m-silently-protesting-your-Frisbee-playing extension, I climbed back down to the bottom of the Cooper Canyon falls and while I was once again alone with my cascading two-parts-hydrogen-one-part-oxygen friend, this time I found myself more physically stressed and thinking about the mileage still ahead.

For the record I actually had to climb down a third time, as in my absent minded exhaustion I forgot my hat on a log… And instead of climbing out like Spider Man, this third time I pulled myself out like… Like a tired old grouper who had… Wait, fish don’t pull themselves into boats…

IMG_3121-alt-smallFor whatever reason: The altitude. The distance. The night before. The burrito I had for breakfast. Or the rationing of water… At 3:00 PM I hit a wall like I haven’t hit in a long long time… That sort of wall that people who run marathons hit… That kind of wall that made me want to have the whole experience just end, wishing someone could just blink and transport me with some Star Trek transporter beam out of the woods… Or a Swedish Bikini Team would just happen to be driving by on some Jeep tour. My legs were killing me, cramps, tightness… And I had miles of upward loose rocks ahead of me still.

When’s the last time you really pushed yourself, physically? You know, where you’re making deals with yourself, promising yourself things if you continue…? Where you truly just feel like curling up in a cramp and crying?

Yeah, me neither.

IMG_3123-alt-smallThe great and horrific thing about the wilderness is that you can’t stop. You have to keep moving. The sun will set, and no water is going to magically fill your canteen. So, you press on or you rot like a fallen tree that bugs will make a home out of. Yes, I’m being overly-dramatic. As I’m pretty sure if I broke a leg or absolutely couldn’t go on someone most likely would have passed by either on that day or the next and I could have pleaded for them to get help. But really at that particular moment in time I would have paid $20 for a gallon of fresh clean water or $100 for a ride on the back of an ATV.

My pace had dropped from 20-21 minute miles to 25-26 minute miles… Having to stop every hundred yards or so… Pleading with my illogical self… “Just make it to that next rock up there…” “You can stop at that next patch of shade.” And when I heard a motorcycle whining in the distance I perked up a little, but deflated when I saw how far away the highway might have been… Up up up up… And still around the mountain…

IMG_3143-alt-smallOddly for the first time in all my hiking in those mountains, it was during this climb upwards that I saw an old Grizzly Adams type fellow dressed in green wandering off the trail with a single barreled shotgun cracked/broken open with a little tan hound walking by his side.

It was 4:06 when I reached the parking lot, still logically forever till darkness, and what felt like forever, were some of the longest and difficult sixty-six minutes I’ve physically had in a long time. I recorded a short bit of video when I finally got into my truck, to remember what it was like if I ever need a reminder… You know, playing some role where I’m in a desert or being chased by zombies… And while I can honestly say, I’m not exaggerating how broken I was, the footage is so pathetic I’m not going to post it. Eyes glossed with tears. Sweat. Mumbling words. Shaking hands. Lost rambling thoughts.

IMG_3070-smallI stopped in at a tavern on the way back, giving myself the beer I promised, and once I got home I moved like someone twice my age, and this morning I’m not so much better…

But I’m happy I did the hike. Happy I didn’t and couldn’t quit. Happy I have the ability to go out to nature, to “test” myself… All total the hike was about 12 miles, took about 5 hours, and started at 7000 feet.

– Quiche Out

Runaway Run Away

I don’t know who you voted for in the Los Angeles Mayor race, and I don’t care… As I’m sure you have your own well thought out reasons for voting the way you did. But, yesterday, one of the two remaining candidates, Eric Garcetti and his entourage, were jamming up my local farmers market for a photo op. Actually, I couldn’t figure out why so few parking spaces were available until I saw the local press with their cameras and the candidate’s sign holding way over-dressed supporters. And among his supporters in attendance were apparently three of his former election rivals there in support.

Last TV show I worked on. April 2013

Anyway, I did my best to avoid the whole mess of them, as they would stop for photo ops and clog up the path between farmers tables, forcing anyone that wanted to actually shop, to find other ways to walk, other than the level pavement of the parking lot. Trust me, if the Garcetti wasn’t surrounded by a horde I’d would have loved to given him a little local flavor. I would have loved to have told him how most of my last well paid acting jobs were not only not in Los Angeles, but not even in California… And how it feels like all any one in politics here does is photo ops. For the record, the one time I wrote his office, while he was a councilman for my district, I never got a response from anyone.

After I had my fresh, local broccoli, cabbage, beets and a half-dozen eggs in my bag, I traversed up the dirt hill back to my truck and ran into former mayoral candidate Kevin James (No, not the actor Kevin James). Though honestly I was still slightly annoyed by all the hoopla in the parking lot, and generally more annoyed by my over-taxing, local, ineffectual government in general, I called out…

“I voted for you…”

Which I did. I thought if he did what he said he would do, perhaps things would get better in the city in which I reside…

At studio. Hollywood, Florida April 2013

With a smile he introduced himself, and then I couldn’t help myself… I told him one of my many issues that I agreed with him on… “Runaway production.” I said something about having just come back from Hollywood (Ironically) Florida, shooting a TV show, and that there were four shows shooting there now… And that while I was there I heard that 9 more have signed on to shooting their seasons in Atalanta.

Though his handlers kept his feet moving, our conversation didn’t stop there… “You should see the studios they had there… Five standing sets in the sound stage and they’re not even using half of the space.”

Honestly, his handlers did the right thing, kept him moving… Cause I might have launched into a number of topics that I feel fall upon deaf ears. But I did know candidate James and I shared the same view on this one (as well as the ludicrousness of parking costs & tickets). He talked briefly about the mistakes of former politicians ignoring productions and having their business leave for tax incentives and cheaper pastures. How now film and television infrastructures are built all over the country. Breaking Bad in Albuquerque New Mexico, Lights Out in Jersey City, or The Glades in Florida, were as professional as any television show in LA. Corbin Bernsen and Ron Underwood, the director, who I worked with on The Glades in Florida, were both heading to different cities (not Los Angeles) for their next shoots.

I never know what I’ll be doing in the future as a career, and with so many television shows currently not filming in Los Angeles, if I continue as an actor, I’m not sure what city I’ll be living in… Or if I’ll be a traveling hotel gypsy, but…

I’m not even sure why I’m writing this post today… Probably publicly flushing my frustration… If you live in this town, and you make a living with film and TV (actor, caterer, grip, camera assistant, teamster, designer…) you probably have a lot of frustration as well… And if you own a restaurant, clothing shop, or sell real estate having people and money leave the local economy probably doesn’t make you too happy either.

– Quiche Out

And I suppose if you’re considering moving to Hollywood (California) to start your acting career…

The Glades in Hollywood?

I’m back… Back in Los Angeles after spending seven days in Hollywood. Hollywood, Florida that is. Yup, there’s a Hollywood down there too.

Them: “So, what are you doing here in South Florida…”
Me: “Working on a TV show…”
Them: “Reality, huh?”
Me: “Actually, no…”

Isn’t it sad that that was automatically what many people actually said… “Reality TV” (which is often as “real” as fake wrestling) is so much of the programing on TV these days and I have come to believe, that it’s not just “cheap” for producers, but it’s “cheap,” period.  “Cheap” for minds and souls. Like junk or fast food.  Heavy empty calories causing fat headed people starving of proper nutrition. Not that all scripted TV is educational or makes viewers work or think… But somehow, I think the fact that “reality TV” bills itself as “reality,” somehow does do more harm to our society than good.

Enough of that rant…

IMG_3033I just got back from doing an episode of The Glades… Shooting episode #407 “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves.”  (No, I do not know when it will air yet, but if you hear, you let me know. And for those of you that don’t know, The Glades is a scripted detective/crime show on A&E.)

I play/played a character named Dave Hartwell, a retired cop, turned private detective (scam investigator)… You’ll have to watch the episode for any more information than that. And if you’re a fan of the show or any of the cast or guest cast… Just know that the production crew and cast were all really super friendly. Truly. Some of the best on set conversations I’ve had in a long time…

20130407-191124.jpgI worked my first full day and my last full day in Florida, and had four days off in-between… In which I hoofed around town checking out the Everglades, stops along the Inter-coastal Waterway (in Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood) via the water taxi, the Boardwalk, downtown Hollywood, checked out the pool, people watched, meet new people, walked the beach, took in some restaurants, sang twice at a local Italian restaurant piano bar… Oh, I did a lot.

IMG_0492Anyway it was a good trip… Great to work. Great to be paid. Great to see another part of the country in detail. Great to make some new connections. Great to have some great conversations… Meet and talk at length with the episode director – Ron Underwood, the series star – Matt Passmore, guest star – Corbin Bernsen, a couple of super friendly “Creationists” from Alabama, many bartenders/waitresses… Lots and lots of people. However, if I’m ever invited back to the show, or do another show in South Florida, next time I’ll rent a car as I think I wore out the sidewalks and did just about everything one could do further than normal people walking distance.

Below are a few of the many posts I made to my twitter or Facebook pages while I was there… If you want to see more, cruise those sites… And I’m not sure if I’ll post more pictures than posted here, but below are a few more.

– Quiche Out

  • Tom Kiesche@TomKiesche 4 Apr
    Italian restaurant piano bar – sang some Sinatra, some Dino, finished with “my way.” All requests. Didn’t want to refuse anyone.”
  • “Closet Singer · On set today, famed director Ron Underwood told me with a big smile that he had watched several closet singer songs this weekend. He complimented me and thought they were very fun and creative.”
  • Tom Kiesche · Q: “What are you doing sitting down here again?” (Corbin seeing me people watching in the lobby). “You must hate your room.” A: “No man, I’m just not normal.”(laugh)”