Monday, April 1, 2013

Hike 2013.016 -- Observatory to Ferndell, Griffith Park

Hiked Saturday, March 30. Sixteenth hike of the year, which means I'm way behind my pace for even 80 hikes this year, never mind 100. With the longer days between now and early November, however, I hope to pick up the pace. Ideally, three a week through the end of summer and two a week after that would do it. Tough schedule with the two jobs, though.

This was an afternoon hike. Started from the Observatory. Normally, you'd take the Golden State Freeway (I-5) to Los Feliz, head west about two miles, turn right at Hillhurst, then continue on up after you intersect Vermont, pass through a tunnel, turn left, then either park on the road or hope to find a spot in the lot.

You can also get there by taking the Hollywood Freeway (U.S. 101), exiting at Vermont and heading straight on up.

Or you could take the 101, exit at Western, go north, and turn right at Los Feliz, then make a quick left on to Ferndell Drive. You can then either find a place to park (here, you'll be near the bottom of Ferndell--the sign for the south end of Ferndell is at Black Oak Lane, the first road that comes into Ferndell from the west, north of Los Feliz), or drive on up to the Observatory via Western Canyon Road, or stop somewhere in between.

From the top, the trail you want heads down from the east side of the Observatory. Staying on the main path (and ignoring a few use or service paths near the top) will take you down to a four (or five) way intersection of trails.

I took the sharpest right turn, which begins as a sidewalk-width trail that takes you below the observatory before narrowing and running down a ridge, soon rejoining the Upper Observatory trail. From there, continue south, initially keeping Ferndell (Western Canyon Road) on your right.

As you pass through the picnic area, you can see and feel that you're in a drainage area, where rain falling on the hills around you would be guided towards. When it's not raining, those culverts are dry and not especially attractive.

Continue on downhill and the "creek bottom" narrows. Eventually, there's even water. I'm not sure where it comes from and if it's recycled, but the water slowly builds, from a trickle to a slow flow, with occasional pools and small waterfalls.

In promotional material for Griffith Park, I saw a picture of a waterfall not unlike the one at the top of this post. I was really skeptical that I would find such a thing in this park. Yet, there it is.

Yeah, the whole waterways is clearly human engineered, but the water does run and the flora is lush.

Also, despite the proximity of city streets, cars, picnickers, and wanna be Steven Spielbergs shooting their performance art in the park, the walkway along Ferndell was peaceful. There were plenty of moments where I could take my time framing a shot, then bracket around the exposure to try for the look that best matched the mood I felt as I made my way down the Dell.

I passed a large, impressive cedar tree along the way down.

After a very short walk, I was at the end. A sign said "Ferndell," and a lockable gate was behind it. This was just north of Black Oak Drive.

I headed back up, still shooting crazy amounts of photos as I did.

It's a steep climb, but, given the short distance, the incline helped make it feel like an actual hike.

Still, I wasn't very tired when I reached the top. So I continued up the steps of the Observatory. The dome housing the big 12" Zeiss refractor was open, and the setting sun gave it a soft, slightly-orange glow.

Expectant crowds were already lined up, and some may even already have viewed Jupiter by the time I got there. The sun was still up, but Jupiter's bright enough to be seen in telescope in the evening, if you know where to look.

Another large crowd hugged the west-facing parapet walls, watching the sun set.

A number of cameras were set up on tripods, and probably taking a series of photos at regular intervals. One was focused on the Griffith Observatory lettering that overlooks the front lawn. He was probably annoyed at people who wouldn't get out of his shot. But then, he was also in my shot, of the lettering, with the open Zeiss dome in the background.

Not sure if I made 3 miles, even heading up, down, and around the roof of the Observatory, and around the parking lot a few times. Close enough, though. So call it hike 16 for the year.

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