Sunday, January 11, 2015

Hike 2015.015.004 -- Legg Lake, Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, South El Monte, CA

Hiked Sunday, January 11. A surprisingly (for me) wet weekend meant one less hike than I planned, and even the one I took was pretty short. For both personal and weather reasons, I wound up just walking around the lakes of Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, known by locals as "Legg Lake."

From the Pomona Freeway (CA-60), exit at Rosemead Blvd, head south, then prepare to turn left almost as soon as you cross the freeway.

This is one of numerous access points to the Legg Lake Area. In addition, Whittier Narrows Recreation Area has open spaces to the west of Rosemead Blvd and a small bit north of the Pomona Freeway. But I figure this is the main area, because you can access the main lakes from this central location.

There used to be a charge to visit on weekends, but sometime ago I guess the charge was removed. I don't know if that's a Parks and Rec decision or a decision by the local county supervisor, but it's free 7 days a week now. It was, however, closed on New Year's Day. I didn't think they closed parks on holidays, but there you go.
In any event, this makes four hikes for the year, which is "on schedule" for 100 this year, although, with my work schedule, this would require walking two hikes practically every weekend, which I suspect will prove untenable (as it was this weekend). Yes, as summer approaches, I might be able to squeeze a few hikes in after work. But, practically, until I chance my work schedule substantially, fitting in 100 hikes in a year again is going to be very difficult to achieve.

On a related note, there's some possibility of a change in my work schedule in the coming weeks, but, for now, that's still a hypothetical.

In the meantime, back to the hike.

This hike has essentially no change of altitude, as it's entirely around the lakes. Improved trails for maintenance vehicles (some paved, most dirt) encircle all of the lakes, as well as take several detours around the area. I walked around all three lakes. About 7500 steps for the day, which means over three miles.
As for how do I know how many steps, well, my wife gave me a "Fitbit" for Christmas. It's basically a pedometer that stores your steps until you upload it to their website.

Today, I walked only about 12,500 steps, which is below my average. I get between 10,000 and 14,000 on normal workdays, depending on if I can fit in a walk in the evening. If I work at the Observatory after my day job, I can break 20,000, easy. That job, unlike my day job, is nearly entirely spent on my feet.
As I walked around the lakes today, I obviously had my camera. I started with a few wide shots, especially of this one set of threes and the leaves on the trail. Then I switched to my 500mm manual focus catadioptric (mirror) lens, which I haven't used in a while. The next three pictures on this post are with that one, uncropped (meaning those birds were on an island across the lake, while the egret was in flight, but still several hundred feet away at its closest approach. Partially because of the iffy focus, as well as the lack of image stabilization and the lens design, those pictures always look a little soft.
Then I switched to my 70-300mm zoom. Not as big an image versus the 500mm, but with autofocus, image stabilization, and the lens type, the images are much sharper.

One thing I like about the 70-300 is that it gives you a shallow depth of field, so you can really play with depth of field. I also like that it's a whole heck of a lot sharper than the 55-200mm Nikon I bought as part of a kit with my camera. There's just no comparison between it and my Tamron.
Scattered around the park are informa-tional signs, some of which have the birds and fish in the lake. Never really looked at the bird one before. It doesn't have nearly all of the birds that will visit the lakes, but it does have a fair selection, to get you started.

Calling it three miles for the day. Enough to count as a hike, though I would have preferred to have walked much further today. I guess if I didn't take so many pictures, I could get my mileage done quicker. But picture taking is part of what makes hiking so much fun!

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