Friday, February 09, 2007

Night Hiking

I'm finally feeling better after nearly three weeks of flu. I haven't shivered like that since I was a child. But, back to nearly as good as new and grateful for it, last night I went on a night hike in Griffith Park with my friend Valerie.

We'd done it once before, thanks to the Sierra Club, which attracts dozens of people three times a week to various level hikes through the scrubby hills of the park. It is eerie and delightful to wander through the black and gray world of the wild, right next to the 5 freeway. On overcast nights, the lights of the city bounce off the overhanging clouds with an alien orange glow, providing more than enough light to wander up and down the dirt roads and trails. Clear, moonless nights are dark and require both a level of focus and a trust in your group to find the pitfalls and scare off the predators for you. Is that a rock or a rattlesnake? Well, that elderly lady with the walking stick stepped on it and it didn't bite her. Must be safe.

Strange rustles in the fallen leaves hit your ears just that much sharper when you can't see very far. Once, hiking above a picnic area, we looked down and saw two coyotes playing tag amongst the wooden tables and garbage cans. They romped through our territory while we pushed further into theirs.

Last night we tried a level three hike, which is moderately difficult and lead up a trail apparently called AnkleBreaker. Hmm. The guide, a hearty man in his sixties who left us in the dust, explained that it was much tougher going down AnkleBreaker than going up. But we were treated to a spectacular view of Los Angeles, a conversation with fellow hikers that revealed a new place in Silver Lake to go wine tasting, and yet another coyote, this one making quite a racket near the parking lot. Not the sort of stealth you'd expect from these supposedly crafty canines.

It's exhilarating to wander through the center of a town and feel close to the wild. If you're in LA, you can check out this hike and other fabulous Sierra Club outings, most of them free, at:

No comments: