The Griffith Observatory. Such an iconic image. So many times I’ve seen it portrayed in movies and now I’ve seen it in real life. The landscape was arid, the air was cool and windy. It was a perfect day for a long hike but I was not in perfect condition for a long hike. It was my second day in a row of not eating very much because I was traveling and preparing to travel and simply did not take the time to care for myself. I thought I was invincible. I thought it would be fine and I would shed some of the extra weight that has gathered around my midsection these past 15 months.
I was feeling great as we walked up to the observatory and looked at the scale model of the solar system in the landscaping. The building was still closed because of Covid. I appreciated the beauty of the forms in the architecture. We filled our water bottles and started out on the trail to the highest point. We took pictures with the Hollywood sign in the background.
This was my first hike outside Minnesota in a long time. It did my heart good to see people of all ages and skin tones using the trails. The trails were busy, but not too crowded. There were lots of dogs, too. Throughout the time I was in L.A. I noticed many people had dogs with them. I also noticed that most people seemed relaxed and kind. Coincidence?
Up on “Dante’s View” we rested a bit and took in the view. City as far as you can see. We knew the ocean was out there somewhere, but not visible because of the smog. There was always a haze in the air. The sun was muted but we still needed sunscreen. The spot I missed on my shoulder got red. I was somewhat concerned about the pollution but still wanted to hike.
Next we made our way to the Hollywood sign by going around to the north. At one point the way forward was a bit unclear but our blue dot on our hiking app was still on the trail so we kept going. It was narrow with vegetation close to the edges. I was a little concerned about the possibility of snakes. Let me know in the comments if that concern was justified. Everything was fine until I noticed that I was feeling like I needed to rest. At the next bit of shade I said, “Let’s rest here a bit”. A minute later, “I need to sit for a minute”. A minute later, “Huh. I guess I am going to need to sit a bit longer”. and then, “Do either of you have any food with you?” All we had was some Mentos. “When we get back to the main trail, I’ll rest more there while you two go to the sign and back.” But I was not going to be walking anywhere for awhile. When I stood up I had to sit right back down again. I was lightheaded and had tunnel vision. At that point I was concerned about how I was going to avoid needing medical attention. Luckily both of my hiking companions were very patient. After a couple Mentos mints, more water, and 10 minutes of sitting in the shade, I was able to walk to the next patch of shade. I think it helped that I focused on my breathing, not on questions that start with “What will I do if…” We rested at each patch of shade all the way to the Hollywood sign. By the time we got there I felt normal again. The rest of the hike was enjoyable and free from crisis. Near the bottom of the hill is a grassy place with picnic tables and a water filling station that was like an oasis in the desert. We appreciated it very much!
When we returned to the car we had hiked 9.7 miles (15.6 km). Normally we would have kept walking until we got to an even 10 miles, but on this day we decided that 9.7 was just fine.
What are your experiences of Griffith Park? How about other areas to hike in the Los Angeles area?
Have you ever had a close call while out hiking? How did you find a way forward?