Sunday, May 19, 2013

Griffith Park Hike – The Los Angeles Zoo - May 19, 2013

Griffith Icon Most of my hikes in Griffith Park are on dusty trails to destinations like its peaks or an event at the observatory. But today’s hike was very different. On one hand, it did involve walking miles on wide trails, being among plants, wildlife, streams, and waterfalls, and enjoying the great outdoors. But on the other hand, the trails are paved, the plants grow in meticulously landscaped gardens, the wildlife lives in enclosures, and the water features were man made. Whether or not a day at the Los Angeles Zoo can be considered a real hike is certainly up for debate. But since it is my blog, I’ll call today’s romp in Griffith a hike!

The occasion for the day was to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. I’ve not been to the L.A. Zoo in more the 20 years, so this was a splendid opportunity to explore another dimension of our amazing Griffith Park. The party included my daughter, her friend, my wife, and me.

A couple years ago I thoroughly enjoyed reading Griffith Park: A Centennial History, by Mike Eberts. The history of Griffith Park is fascinating, as is the colorful life of its namesake, Col. Griffith J. Griffith. The Griffith Park Zoo opened in 1912 with 15 animals and was quite primitive by today’s standards. But a great city needs a great Zoo just as it needs a great park. The process of planning the new zoo took years and involved the consideration of various sites, including Elysian Park. But in the end, providence prevailed and the new, world-class Los Angeles Zoo opened its doors in Griffith Park, November 28, 1966.

We paid our admission ($17 each) and walked through the entry gate at 11 a.m. to begin our adventure. My daughter was here last year, and since today is her birthday, she led our meandering through the zoo. I was soon impressed that even if there were no animals here, the exquisite botanic gardens could thoroughly entertain me for the day.

Here are some photo highlights of our day at the Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park:

Epilog - Another enjoyable adventure in my beloved Griffith Park! icon

Griffith Icon  See Hiking Griffith Park at Dan's Hiking Pages (includes links to my other blog posts for hiking in Griffith Park)

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Fish Canyon Plants Hike - May 10, 2013

Dan Simpson at Fish Canyon Falls See Fish Canyon Falls Hike Description at Dan's Hiking Pages

For years I’ve appreciated Michael Charters and his excellent website, And I’ve exchanged emails with Michael occasionally and enjoy his field trip photo galleries. Recently he decided to focus his botanizing on the San Gabriels and that occasioned the two of us hooking up for a hike in Fish Canyon.

Fish Canyon trail
Over the years Fish Canyon has been a nearby laboratory for me to learn about plants as I’ve been able to observe their behavior throughout the seasons. And I have had the opportunity to be on Fish Canyon Trail with such botanical gurus as Bob Muns, Cliff and Gabby McLean, and Bill Hogshead. So I was delighted to spend a day with Michael Charters in Fish Canyon, photographing plants, enjoying good conversation, and soaking in the beauty of the canyon. And we had the canyon virtually to ourselves! I made special arrangements with the folks at Vulcan Materials to gain access through their quarry. We hiked it on a Friday, so we encountered only one party of two for the whole day (it sure beats being with the hundreds who will be on the trail with the Vulcan access day).

Fish Canyon Trail
Michael and I met at 8 a.m. at the front gate of Vulcan’s Azusa Rock. The security guard assisted us through quarry to the beginning of the trail. It rained earlier in the week and yesterday, so everything was fresh. It took us four and a half hours to meander the two miles to Fish Canyon Falls. The falls where flowing a little better than when I was here a month ago, no doubt the results of recent rains. I thoroughly enjoyed Michael’s company and gleaned much from him about plants. We finished our day at 3:30.

Here are some select images from my camera, displayed in the order they were photographed. To view Michael Charters’ photos of the day, visit his Field Trip Photo Gallery Fish Canyon Falls May 2013.

Coffee fern, Pellaea andromedifolia, Fish Canyon Trail
Coffee fern (Pellaea andromedifolia)

Coffee berry, Rhamnus californica, Fish Canyon Trail
Coffee berry (Rhamnus californica)

Coast live oak,Quercus agrifolia, Fish Canyon Trail
Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia)

Wild cucumber, Marah macrocarpus
Wild cucumber (Marah macrocarpus)

Wild morning glory, Calystegia macrostegia
Fig tree (Ficus carica)

Yucca (Yucca whipplei)

Yucca (Yucca whipplei)

Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri)

Botta’s clarkia (Clarkia bottae) This was the most common bloom for the day.

Wild morning glory (Calystegia macrostegia)

Heart-leaved penstemon, Keckiella cordifolia
Heart-leaved penstemon (Keckiella cordifolia)

California thistle, Cirsium occidentale
California thistle (Cirsium occidentale)

Sugar bush (Rhus ovata)

Common yarrow, Achillea millefolium
Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) with butterfly

Virgin’s bower, Clematis lasiantha
Virgin’s bower / Pipestems (Clematis lasiantha)

Prickly-pear cactus,Opuntia littoralis
Prickly-pear cactus (Opuntia littoralis)

Maidenhair fern, Adiantum capillus-veneris
Maidenhair fern Adiantum capillus-veneris) At Darlin’ Donna Falls

Himalayan blackberry, Rubus discolor
Himalayan blackberry (Rubus discolor)

Himalayan blackberry (Rubus discolor)

San Gabriel Mountains liveforever,Dudleya densiflora
San Gabriel Mountains liveforever (Dudleya densiflora)

Trash at Fish Canyon Falls
San Gabriel Mountains liveforever (Dudleya densiflora)

Human garbage (trashia stupidoushumanoid)

For a more complete photo gallery featuring 68 species of plants and a newt, visit Michael Charters’ Field Trip Photo Gallery Fish Canyon Falls May 2013.

Fish Canyon Trail
Epilog - What an outstanding day in my beloved Fish Canyon. I think of my early years hiking the San Gabriels and being overwhelmed by the botanic diversity...virtually every plant was unknown to me. Now I walk along the trail and greet many plants by their names and have such a sense of familiarity and appreciation for nature. And to keep me humble, I so value the botanical expertise of people like Michael Charters and his amazing knowledge and his unselfish efforts to share his knowledge with others. icon

See Fish Canyon Falls Hike Description at Dan's Hiking Pages

Plants See Fish Canyon Trail Plant Guide (April 2011) (PDF)

Plants See Plants and Wildflowers in the San Gabriel Mountains at Dan's Hiking Pages (including links to my other blog posts for plants in Fish Canyon)

See Michael Charters’ Field Trip Photo Gallery Fish Canyon May 10, 2013

NEXT > Fish Canyon Falls Farewell Tour - March 22, 2014
PREVIOUS > Fish Canyon Falls Hike - April 6, 2013