My daughter, Christa, who is visiting my oldest daughter Anna in Sonora, Calif., emailed us about a bike race she saw. Stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California began in Sonora. Christa told us that it would be coming through Azusa on Saturday. My wife and I thought it would be fun to walk the half mile from our house to Sierra Madre Blvd. to watch the cyclists swoosh by. And it was. Then after watching the telecast of the race, I thought it would be fun to see the ending, live. I had also been pondering experiencing the annular solar eclipse from Griffith Observatory. So with the race in the morning and the eclipse in the evening, it seemed ideal to spend a few hours at my office in Echo Park (halfway between downtown and Griffith. But the first order of business for the day was a real hike.
5:45 a.m. - Begin hike. It’s a crisp 55 degrees. I stroll up the woodsy path enjoying the quite stillness of the morning. A coyote stops to observe me. Birds sing. The month of May in Glendora means brodiaea time...namely, Brodiaea filifolia, the endangered thread-leaved brodiaea. My first stop is the brodiaea reserve and I was glad there were at least a few of blooms of the small purple flower amidst a sea of dead grass. I continue up the trail. Glendora and the San Gabriel Valley lay sleeping below me. Marine layer mutes the views. I’m delighted to find a passion flower (Passiflora spp.) in bloom. Soon the first rays of sun land on the ridges. It’s amazingly peaceful here. There is a lot in bloom but I don’t spend much time in taking pictures. At 6:18 I step into the sun at the junction of Colby-Dalton Trail as the yellow ball of light emerges from the eastern ridgeline.
8:08 - End hike. The matilija poppies beg to be photographed...I comply. What a thoroughly enjoyable time of solitude and bathing in the natural beauty of this splendid trail and the freshness of a spring morning.
Amgen Bike Race
I cross the street and walk one block to Hill Street to see them on the rebound. Five minutes later, here comes the racers again! Swoosh! I walk four blocks south on Hill to 11th just in time to watch the riders pass again and take a right turn. Now a five-block walk west takes me to 11th and Figueroa where the real action is. A huge crowd, cameras, loud speakers, music, VIP boxes, awards stage, Staples Center, LA Livewhat a spectacle! Now this feels like a world-class sporting event!
I drive back to Echo Park, have some lunch, and spend some time working in the office. I know the eclipse starts at 5:24 and ends at 7:42, so I figure I’d leave for Griffith Park about 4:30.
Griffith Park Solar Eclipse
I watch the delight of children as they form a grid of overlaid fingers to cast a patch of dots on the wall. One guy uses binoculars to project a strikingly clear image of the eclipse. Someone is using something to project a crescent on the shady side off the tubular elevator structure. Some have the cardboard “Solarama” viewers sold by the observatory. One little girl has her head in a box. A welder’s mask is the choice of another. Some are using sunglasses as camera lens filter.
I wander onto the rooftop to get a bird’s eye view of the sea of humanity on the great lawn. At 6:37 a voice comes over the loud speaker announcing that we are about one minute from maximum eclipse. The crowd lets out a cheer. It’s hard to image another place on planet earth better to experience an astronomical event than right here at LA’s historic Griffith Observatory. I go back inside to get another view from the solar telescope.
Well, I’ve had enough excitement for the day. At 7:26 I leave on the main trial south. Lots of people leaving. I take pictures of the setting sun. I don’t recall if I ever been on a sunrise hike and sunset hike on the same day. I enjoy a pleasant walk down the southern route West Observatory Trail to Fern Dell.
7:50 - End hike at car.
Epilog - What an amazing day! A sunrise hike experiencing solitude and the beauty of nature. An urban hike experiencing a deserted downtown LA and the exhilaration of a world-class sporting event. And a sunset hike to an iconic landmark for a remarkable shared experience with thousands of Angelinos viewing an astronomical phenomenon.
See Hiking Griffith Park at Dan's Hiking Pages
(includes links to my other blog posts for hiking in Griffith Park)
See Colby Trail Hike Description at Dan's Hiking Pages
See Ferndell to Griffith Observatory via West Observatory Trail
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