Imagine: Hiking with Justin Bieber


Me and Mike, we have this habit of going for hikes on the weekends. You pull on your boots, drive out of the city and take all of the stress you collect in the week and tramp it down into the dirt, like a paper candy wrapper. There are quite a few good trails in Los Angeles, but most are pretty unused – I guess most Angelinos don’t know they’re there – you don’t exactly get a good view of the mountains through the car exhaust fumes.

Mike loves trashy pop songs. On the drive over, the radio stations are pumping this stuff out and Mike, because he thinks I’m so uptight and judgemental about this kind of music, starts singing along just to annoy me. I sulk at first but he just laughs at me and I can’t keep a straight face.

We’ve been climbing for a while, to a point of the park where the dirt trail gets quite steep and you have to pace yourself. I haven’t been hiking in a while, I’m out of practice. And I’m exhausted, I’ve hit the wall. You know what it’s like – your body revolts against your brain and your legs won’t move – you’ll just stand there, perhaps doubled over, vision going a little blurry and chest aching from the effort of breathing. Mike sees me leaning on a boulder, staring into space, and breaks the silence of the park with a shout; he’s begun singing ‘Baby’ by Justin Bieber in the wrong key. And I can’t stop laughing, despite myself and despite the pain in my lungs.

I work my way up the slope and Mike stays a few metres ahead of me, singing and mocking me all the way.I reach the summit and Mike is ahead of me but the singing has stopped. All I can hear is him laughing and shouting, “Yo Biebz!” I swear under my breath and round the corner of the trail to find him and tell him to drop the joke because it’s getting old now and he runs the risk of tipping me into a mood.

But I don’t because Mike is standing there shooting the breeze with Justin Bieber.

He looks a little older than he does in the photos, a little more real. The photos always make him look as if his own skin is a little too big for him but now he looks just like any other young guy. “Nice day for a hike, right?” he says to me. I’m red and sweaty and angry and Justin Bieber flashes a perfect stage smile at me. Mike asks him what he’s doing up here on his own. “I just like to come up here sometimes, get away from it all. It gets real crazy down there.”

Mike is a little awestruck, and I’m still catching my breath. There’s an awkward pause. “Want to take a selfie? Nobody will believe you guys if you don’t have pictures.” So we sit down on this bench that’s been put there for the view, and he and Mike gurn together for a photo. Justin Bieber takes out his iPhone – it’s gold plated, and he says that the camera has twice the normal amount of megapixels that you get on a normal iPhone.

He asked whether we ever listened to his music. I told him I didn’t even think it was music, and Mike elbowed me. “It’s music to someone, I guess,” said Justin Bieber. I asked him what he listened to when he was alone. “Shania Twain. I like Shania Twain.” He looks me in the eye. “I guess it’s a Canadian thing,” he shrugged.

“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately,” he says looking out over the city. “You guys move here from someplace else?” Mike nods; we moved from Wisconsin years back. “It sucks, being away from home,” says Justin Bieber.

“There’s always people at my place, and I used to come and walk my dog up here except I’m not allowed animals anymore, not after that whole thing in Germany with Mally. So I just come up here by myself now.” He looked at us, and seems a little embarrassed. Mike said he should do a duet with Shania Twain. “You’re so right! That would be amazing. I’ll call her as soon as I get home,” says Justin Bieber. “I think Scooter has her agent’s number.”

The breeze on the top of the hill has left me a little cold, but Justin Bieber doesn’t seem to be bothered by it with his shirt off. Mike says we won’t tell anybody that he comes up here. I hear a high pitched squeal from behind us, and Justin Bieber looks around. “Thanks, but I think you’re too late.” Two girls who look to be about sixteen have appeared behind us on the trail. “I think that’s my cue to leave,” says Justin Bieber. He jumps up and walks over to greet the fans.

Mike and I get up to leave and head back to the car, and Justin Bieber waves at us before turning around and climbing back up the hill.

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