February 12, 2012

Photo Essay: Night Hike to Parker Mesa, At Ocean's Edge

I don't like the dark very much, but I am always compelled to do these night hikes. Maybe I'm conquering yet another fear. Or maybe I just have a really hard time turning something down.

I'd wanted to hike the Los Liones trail to Parker Mesa Overlook for a while, so I decided to join a group to hike it Saturday night under a full moon.

After all, I had nothing else planned.

After all, I need to meet more people.

But, after it all, it turns out there was no moon.

Regardless, it was a breathtaking hike, not only because of the cold wind whipping through my lungs at the top, but for the opportunity to look down on the lights of Santa Monica, the spinning red dot of the ferris wheel at the Pier.

But after the twilight beginning of the hike at the trailhead, urged on by the sound of mourning doves...

...the single-track trail that winds through the canyon...

...and the ribbons of color that illuminated the horizon peeking out through the trees in the distance...

...we couldn't see much else.

Fortunately, I had my flashlight to pick up on some trail markers...

...but mostly I hiked up to the top without it, allowing my eyes to adjust to the darkness, especially after we spilled out onto the first overlook and climbed the wide dirt fire road to the top, letting the city light glow make up for the lack of moonlight.

We didn't linger at the overlook for long, just long enough to take it all in, and to start putting layers back on now that our sweat-soaked shirts were making us lose heat.

I was anxious to get back, and led the way back down with another hiker, using our flashlights as beacons, particularly when we headed back into the canyon which had become pitch-black, and whose rocky path thereby became much more treacherous (tripping us up even when we could see it). Soon we noticed we were the only two, and we'd left the rest of the group far behind.

We stopped for a moment to listen. We didn't hear any of the chatter that had followed us up the trail, nor the metallic ching of walking sticks stabbing into dirt.

But oddly, we encountered several other hikers approaching us from the opposite direction, just starting their hikes.

And they call New York the city that never sleeps. Angelenos don't let a little darkness keep them from their trails...

Related posts:
Photo Essay: A Sunset Stroll Up Mt. Hollywood
Photo Essay: Franklin Canyon Night Hike
Photo Essay: Pico House Ghost Hunt

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