Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Hike 2017.012 -- Griffith Observatory to Mount Hollywood

Hiked Monday, March 13. After work, on the first full day of Daylight Saving Time, I had a couple of peculiar reasons to head to the Observatory. Arrived there around 5:40pm. Sunset is currently just around 7pm, and I knew I had until 7:30pm to get back down to the Observatory, so I could see a speaker.
That's plenty of time for this hike, even at a relatively leisurely pace. I wanted to do that, because I was in my work clothes (minus only my tie). It was still somewhat warm, so I intended to take the eastern approach to the top (shaded from the setting sun), and try not to sweat too much.

There are lots of wonderful views back to the south over almost this entire hike. The Observatory, with the DTLA skyline, looks impressive, day or night.

A fair wildflower bloom is on going. The most common flower is wild mustard, followed by phacelia and Canterbury bell. Lupine are a distant fifth. I think fillaree are probably fourth, but not very interesting to me, since they're such a common yard weed.
Also, at the last turn before heading to the summit, there's a nice little tree, covered in tiny flowers. I'm assuming it's a wild lilac: very fragrant.
With my very leisurely pace (but not all that much time at the summit), I got back down just around 7:30pm, which was in time to listen to a very entertaining and informative talk on observing solar eclipses. The speaker was Mike Simmons, who founded "Astronomers Without Borders," and has observed numerous eclipses from all over the world. He was the guest speaker at the monthly Los Angeles Astronomical Society Meeting, which was held in Griffith Observatory. Since I am planning to see the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse, the talk seemed like something worth catching.
Interestingly (to me, since I was not driving at this time), there was a double-row of cars, gridlocked, on the way up to the Observatory as I returned from my hike. No, they were not coming for the speaker. They probably thought they were coming to visit the Observatory, except the Observatory is closed every Monday. As I joked to my wife, "If only there were some sort of Interconnected network, or web, of informational pages that could be accessed from anywhere in the world, making that information widely available to all who are able to connect to this network."
So, partially, it's because of the stupid visitors not knowing they were driving up there for nothing. And partly, it was because the main lot was being reserved for LAAS meeting attendees. And, partly, it's the new traffic layout they're working on.

Last week, they restriped the roads, so that West Observatory Road is a one-way road up to the Observatory, and East Observatory Road is one way, down. Employee parking remains on East Observatory Road, albeit only on one side, now. Parking on West Observatory Road is also largely limited to one side. That means much less parking spaces. In theory, however, traffic should move more smoothly, since no one needs to make a turn back down the hill, in search of parking. In practice, it seems to mean cars just stop and wait for an open space, bringing the flow of traffic to a halt.
Starting next week, parking along West Observatory Road or the upper parking lot will cost $4/hour. Alternatively, parking down by the Greek, or possibly on Western Canyon, will be free. Also, there will be seven-day-a-week (or maybe six day a week?) shuttle service. I think it's going to be the regular DASH bus, from the Sunset and Vermont Red Line Station, with stops at the Greek and at the Observatory. They may also add a circulator bus, just between the Greek and the Observatory. It's still a work in progress.

The first few days with the new traffic pattern has been a pretty big disaster, I think. We'll see if things run smoother after the fees and buses start.

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