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Burb's Eye View: Community hike imparts chills and thrills

October 30, 2012|By Bryan Mahoney

Burbank has no shortage of ghost stories.

The library at Woodbury University boasts the ghost of Mother Cabrini, the first American to be canonized a saint. Last year I met a woman who may have been haunted by the spirit of her husband. If you look up Burbank Boulevard's Coral Café on YouTube you can watch grainy, choppy footage of a blob follow around an employee as he sweeps.

And who wouldn't want to see the specter for themselves?

“Customers come all the time because of the ghost,” said Peter Vournas, owner and manager of the Coral Café.

They're just curious, he says, especially late at night.

There's an old saying, something about curiosity bringing about the demise of felines. Well, then, call me Garfield, and let me tell you a spooky story about the Curse of the Burbank Canyon Trail.

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It was a dark and stormy night. Except replace “dark” with “sunny,” and “stormy” with “clear.”

Also, it was morning.

I arrived at the foot of the hill like the protagonist so often does at the beginning of old monster flicks — wide-eyed and full of wonder at the scene before him. The trail up the hill stretched beyond vision, leading higher and steeper toward the creepy mansion (I mean radio tower) at the top of the Verdugo hill.

Days earlier I received a mysterious invitation to this spot in the mail. Someone I never met invited me to a “community hike” along Wildwood Canyon, although for the purposes of this story, let's call it Death Valley. Later, I would learn that no deaths ever occurred on the community hike and actually it was rather family-friendly.

As I faced that crevasse and its impossible climb I began to doubt my training, those long hours on the treadmill and the dreaded stretching of hamstrings. Somewhere in the distance a wolf howled. A bat flew by the…sun. Maybe it was a bird. Maybe it was a bird and a Yorkie I saw a woman jogging with. One can never be too careful when wolves are about.

After signing in with one of about 30 volunteers I received some water and a whistle, in case I got lost.

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