Friday, September 28, 2012
Started from the Observa-tory, around 5pm. Headed out on Mt. Hollywood Road, first. I wanted to check out a short "point of the mountain" trail that heads south from the road to an overlook. I thought maybe it would provide a city hall backdrop. After verifying that the view here was not better than the view I was considering further up on the Charlie Turner Trail, I returned down Mt. Hollywood Road, then began up West Observatory Road. However, shortly after passing Western Canyon Road, I headed down on the West Trail.
I walked to the left of the picnic area and followed what I believed to be the main trail. It paralleled the road for about 1/2 mile before reaching a junction. Apparently (judging by the map), this junction would have been at the top of the Ferndell Nature Area.
Headed up that last stretch, then continued in to the observatory.
Earth looks kinda weird. Or, more precisely, Alaska is oddly shaped.
Saturn looks very pretty. I like that it provides a sense of scale of the ring system, too.
I'll call it three miles for the day.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Headed up here with some friends who wanted to be a part of yet another "once in a lifetime" events. We all headed up towards Mt. Hollywood, and settled in our respective locations.
We arrived early at Griffith Observatory, because we were expecting traffic to be crazy. Pulled into the parking area at 7am, by which time the regular parking spots were already all taken. Fortunately, I had a staff parking permit, so we did find a spot up near the top.
This trail is really pretty desolate. With the exception of a few rock outcroppings, and perhaps if you head up to Dante's View, you have essentially no shade. Meanwhile, the flyby was not scheduled until about 11:30am. So, with people arriving by 8am or earlier, that was a long time to spend in the sun.
Yet, rumor was they would return. And indeed, after apparently visiting Santa Monica, it slowly made its way back towards us.
It then banked to the left, and swept to the north, towards JPL.
From our perspective, it disappeared behind Mt. Hollywood.
However, with the supposed itinerary saying that, in addition to JPL, a flyby of Universal Studios was on tap, I was confident the shuttle would soon reappear on the west side of the peak. I made my way across the wide dirt path that is Mt. Hollywood Road. And, sure enough, the shuttle soon emerged, flying probably right over the Ventura Freeway (CA 134).
Then it banked to the left, flying over Universal Studios, and just west of Burbank and Cahuenga Peaks. Earlier, I had pointed my telephoto lens at Burbank Peak, so I know at least a few people got an up-close, eye-level view of the shuttle as it made that flight segment.
After clearing Cahuenga Pass, the shuttle-topped 747 banked left, making another nearby pass, somewhat to our south, but over Hollywood, again. It continued to our east, eventually disappearing behind the ridge that runs up towards Mt. Hollywood. The time stamp on my last photo says this would be around 12:11pm.
From Griffith Observatory, the aerial show headed towards Disneyland, with a low flight over the Downey plant where the shuttle was built. A co-worker in Norwalk, who did not take the day off, reported it flew right over our work place there (near the Registrar-Recorder's building).
It was a long, dry, tiring day, but we all had a ball. We love events like this. It's sort of like the Venus Transit or Annular Eclipse, where all sorts of people with all sorts of backgrounds, who may have little in common with each other, can stop and share a common experience that transcends economics and culture.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Kenneth Hahn State Park (Recreation Area) is located in the Baldwin Hills. It is bounded by La Cienega on the west, La Brea on the east, and (roughly) Rodeo Road on the north and Fairfax/Stocker on the south (it actually doesn't quite reach those roads, but that's the vicinity). To get there, take I-10 (the Santa Monica Freeway). If coming from Downtown, exit at Washington/Fairfax, turn left at the light (Washington), another left almost immediately after that (Fairfax), then another left after about 1/4 mile (La Cienega Blvd).
Meanwhile, last Saturday, my three lanes of traffic were moving fast as I climbed up along La Cienga, into the hills, expecting to reach a left turn pocket to turn into the park. Instead, an offramp suddenly materialized on the right, with a sign indicating that was the way to Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area.
I followed the road all the way to the end, on up a hill, because that's where the signs for the event I was attending pointed. This was a "Fitness Challenge" event for the entity that employs me, which meant free entry for me (even though it was a weekend), plus the promise of free giveaways and a little Saturday morning hiking. I'm not sure if this road is normally open or not.
The pre-hike warmup was something with very funky music. However, me being me, I did not participate in that part of the festivities. To me, the hike was going to be the warmup. Besides which, the musically assisted stretching would have required that I have a minimal sense of rhythm. I made about three half-hearted steps in time to the music, then gave up. Instead, I enjoyed the view from this hilltop location. The downtown skyline was off to the northeast. This is the opposite direction from what I normally see it.
Instead, when the hike began, we headed due south. A dirt road left from the gathering spot, past a water tower, and pass some powerlines that were very popular with the doves.
Kenny, by the way, was a long-time LA County Supervisor. His son was once mayor of Los Angeles, and his daughter is now a member of Congress, after previously serving on the Los Angeles City Council.
The park is located at the top of Baldwin Hills, which was also once a reservoir. The dam burst in 1963, and the former reservoir was later largely filled in. "The Bowl" is still visible as the outlines of the reservoir, however.
After about 1/2 mile of rolling towards the south, we reached a paved road with a locked gate against La Brea. We then headed up this long (not all that steep, but pretty long) incline. At a level area just over 1/2 way up, we reached an LADWP structure. I guess there's still some groundwater pumping going on in the area, despite the reservoir no longer being there.
Once all the way around The Bowl, another sign was on the south end of the depression. It read, "Janice's Green Valley." I assumed a young Janice Hahn used to enjoy this view.
Finally straggled back to the staging area for the event. It's not that I'm a slow hiker--I was just taking a lot of pictures.
I took even more pictures on the second "advanced" hike. This one seemed perhaps a bit longer than the last one. We started out heading north, around "The Bowl," again. But, at the northwest end of the the depression, a trail peeled off to the right. We continued travelling to the northwest, first near the ridge. There were several pavilions for people to enjoy the view in the shade. I took LOTS of pictures. In particular, I noted that I could see both the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Park, well off to the north-northeast. The whole ridge I had hiked on the previous hike was laid out in the distance.
Closer, to the northwest, was Culver City. On views back to the southwest, I could see the control tower for LAX. This struck me as not a bad place to watch a space shuttle make final approach. Not worth a trip for me, since I feel I have a better viewpoint closer to home. But for folks living out this way, it's a possibility.
The voices were gathered around a waterfall. Yes, clearly not a natural falls. Still, the sound of cascading waters is always soothing.
Just south of us was Doris' Japanese Garden. The garden itself is fenced off, but there are pretty views of the small red bridge, the lotus-filled pond, and the smattering of other Japanese influences. Not what you would expect in the Baldwin Hills. I took 18 shots just of the lotus, trying to get it just right. Used the old trick of long zoom and wide aperture to minimize depth of field.
From there, we had at least a long mile, treking across the park, then up the road, back to our starting point.
I'll call it five miles for the day, though both walks seemed longer than 2 1/2 miles. Trail junctions tend not to be signed, though the park is small enough that even a wrong turn should mean nothing more than an extra 1/2 mile or so of walking. Dogs on a leash are permitted.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
This road turned out to be Griffith Park Road. I followed it for a winding mile and a half or so, going up, then down. Finally, as I neared what turned out to be Mineral Wells Road, there were some cars parked on the side of the road. A trail access was to the west of them, so I parked and began my hike. A large sign for Mineral Wells picnic area was right near my car.
Tom LaBonge map I have mentioned before.
It's a steep trail, gaining about 150 feet in maybe 1/8 of a mile. As I climbed, I could see Burbank and Glendale behind me. I also climbed above a golf course, and a driving range.
visited on a previous hike.
Ahead of me, in the late afternoon glare, I could see Mt. Lee and Cahuenga Peak.
The trail that heads along the ridge line to the southwest of Mt. Lee continues for about 2/5ths of a mile. There are a couple of places with substantial drop offs and scenic views to the south. In several spots, the Mulholland Trail is right below you. It's junction with the Hollyridge Trail also occurs far below your perch.
Just where the road makes a hairpin turn and makes the final run to the summit of Mt. Lee, there's a monument and a somewhat-hidden trail that goes to the west. That one heads on to Cahuenga Peak. From there, you could also continue at least to Burbank Peak. That was ground I also covered in a previous hike.
Hard to be certain on the mileage. If you add up all the segments and double it, you'd be at about 4 miles. My suspicion is the total mileage was probably between 4.5 and 5 miles roundtrip. Although going to Mt. Lee from Mineral Wells was probably one mile shorter each way than going from the Griffith Observatory, I think the degree of difficulty is considerably higher. That's a pretty long and strenuous climb from Mineral Wells up to the ridge line.
The main point of this hike was to scout possible locations to photograph the impending arrival of the space shuttle Endeavour in Los Angeles (Now scheduled for Friday--postponed a day because of weather). It is considered likely that a flyby of the Hollywood Sign will be part of the victory lap, and I am going to try to get some good pictures of the shuttle and the Observatory on Thursday (or later, if the arrival turns out to be delayed).
Thursday, September 13, 2012
On Sunday afternoon, from the Observatory parking lot, I headed down the trail that departs from just northwest of the Observatory structure. Hikers, bikers and joggers are always going up and down that trail, but I did not know where it went. Today, I would find out.
Instead, it dropped down, to the south. Nice views back at the Observatory dome as it dropped, before making a left and continue to lose altitude. After about 1/4 mile, I hit a multi-pointed junction. I turned left, because that's the way I wanted to go. After another 1/4 mile, I hit a paved road. Just down and across on that road, the dirt trail continued, so I went that way. I could undoubtedly have continued on the pavement for some distance in either direction, but I don't like walking on pavement.
"In the road?" you ask? Yes, in the road. In the middle of the road. Because, on the afternoon I was hiking, there was a concern in the Greek Theater, which is also on Vermont. There's not a lot of parking adjacent to the Greek, so one of the things they do is stack parked cars right in the middle of both Vermont and Vista Del Valle.
"Deer?" you ask? Yes, deer. I saw two of them, browsing under the trees, about 30 yards from some picnickers. Both seemed happy to pretend to ignore each other. But I still like taking pictures of deer, so I zoomed in and snapped a number of shots.
They were a couple, a buck and a doe. Clearly, the grass is greener down near these manicured park lands than it is up in the chaparral.
I get the impression the bird sanctuary is the area that's fenced off from fire damage. The only trail from this area heads north, but climbs up the west end of the canyon. A chain link fence borders you on your right.
About 1/4 mile to the east, and you hit Dante's View. Another 1/5 mile or so takes you to the summit.
As I rounded towards the east end of Mt. Hollywood, I saw a portion of a rainbow, rising steeply against the sky. It was raining pretty good down towards the foothills.
Some idiot with a group of other idiots was firing his CO2 bb gun at a bottle cap sitting atop one of the wooden fence posts surrounding the top of Mt. Lee. But no one was willing to tell the idiot what an idiot he was for fear of getting the snot beat out of them.
Returned back to the Observatory parking lot via the Charlie Turner trail. Nice views of Buddha's Rays as the sun set beyond Mt. Lee.
Monday, September 10, 2012
Echo Mountain is possibly my most frequently walked hikes. It starts from the top of Lake Avenue in Altadena. You can reach Lake Avenue from the Foothill Freeway (I-210). For more info and more representative pictures of the hike route, search this site for one of my many other Echo Mountain posts.
On the day I hiked, it was hot (as it's been most of the past few weeks. As a result, the number of walkers (and joggers) I saw was much less than I would have expected. I walked easily, not bothering to bring anything to drink with me. It's only about 5 miles roundrip, with a 1200 to 1400 foot gain, so even on a warm afternoon/evening, I didn't need to bring anything with me besides my camera.
The second helicopter was an LA County fire helicopter. A few days later, I saw an LA City fire helicopter, so now I know the different paint schemes used by each.
Have to admit the shots were not as sharp as I hoped, but were definitely sharper than what I've seen before. Not a very clear day, so it's not a fair test of resolution. Still, compared to the Nikon L110 I have been using, the D3200 is obviously a major improvement. The autofocus also works much quicker and more dependably than the "crossover" camera I had been using.