I love combining a hike with participating in a significant event. And Griffith Observatory has hosted some winners: Its 75th anniversary, solar eclipse, Venus transit. And today it was one of the sites for watching the Space Shuttle Endeavor make its final flight to its museum home in Los Angeles. It was scheduled to fly over Malibu Beach, Getty Center, Los Angeles City Hall, Science Center, Universal Studios, Hollywood Sign, Griffith Observatory, JPL, Disneyland, Boeing, USS Iowa, and land at LAX. For me, the obvious site choice to view the historic flight is my beloved Griffith Observatory.
9:42 - Begin hike up Trail #11, East Observatory Trial. It’s been a few years since I’ve been on this trail so I’m eager to re-walk it. The climb starts steeply. The forecast is for a hot day and it’s already getting warm. There’s lots of people on the trail. Soon the views south reveal a very hazy horizon. I pass a lot of folks who are probably not used to climbing mountains. I’m feeling an excitement as I think about experiencing the shuttle flyover with a throng of people.
The summit of Mt. Hollywood to the north is crowded with sightseers as streams of more ant-like people climb its steep trails.
The shuttle banks west and disappears into the haze again but only for a minute. Now out of view it does a u-turn and begins to come back. The excitement grows again. The flight now passes to the south side of the observatory. I struggle to find it in my screen. I really need a SLR! I hope that I got a good picture. I get one last shot as the shuttle passes behind the huge copper dome.
I walk back to the front lawn toward the trail and get another shot as the flight fades into the eastern haze, I think it’s on way to NASA’s JPL in Pasadena. No need to linger; I’ve got to get to work.
12:35 - Trail end at Boy Scout Road. This place is again bustling with cars and people. I’m glad I’m not stuck in the traffic jam. A 12-minute walk down Vermont delivers me back to Los Feliz Blvd where I catch an east-bound Metro 180 and head to work in Echo Park.
Epilog - What an extraordinary day! There is something about a shared experience that makes an event like this even more special. The retired shuttle fleet marks an end of an era. Today I think about my dad, Edwin Simpson, who retired from the U.S. Air Force after 21 years of military service followed by a career in aerospace. He died in 2000. He would have loved being here today. Well, maybe he was looking down on it. Thanks dad for giving me a love and appreciation for machines that fly.
View Photo Album of Hike - 80 photos
See Hiking Griffith Park at Dan's Hiking Pages
(includes links to my other blog posts for hiking in Griffith Park)
See Griffith Observatory via East Observatory Trail (#11) hike description on Dan's Hiking Pages
(Detailed trail guide including driving directions, recommended season, map, notes, links, and photos)
NEXT > Beacon Hill, Glendale Peak and Bee Rock - November 21, 2012
PREVIOUS > Chapel, Bell, Hollywood, and Bronson - February 24, 2012