July 05, 2012

A Pyrotechnic Payoff to an Independence Day Hike

Ever since childhood, my number one priority for the Fourth of July was getting to see fireworks. I could always and can always forego the barbecue, as long as I get a good view of the pyrotechnics.

Two years ago, I found a perch in the foothills from which to spectate the Rose Bowl fireworks during a housesitting trip to LA. Last year, I skipped my hometown fireworks and watched them in San Diego instead.

This year, between my new part-time work schedule and my last two French classes, I couldn't travel, but although I'd known for some time that I would be staying in town, I had no plan.

I was invited to one pool party, but as a true Angeleno, I kept holding out for a better offer - one that did not come.

And so, left to my own devices, alone on a holiday with unpredictable closures of bars, restaurants, museums and what-have-you, I fell back on a reliable source of entertainment and positivity: hiking.

But it was no ordinary hike: it would lead me to the helipad in Griffith Park, a scenic overlook from which to view fireworks from Dodger Stadium as well as from the various surrounding municipalities.

The hike began from a trailhead off of the Merry Go Round's parking Lot #1...

...and took us up past the Fern Canyon Trail Amphitheatre... a stone bridge...

...leading us farther up to reveal stunning views of the still-lit valley below.

Most of our walk was relatively shadowy even at the start, before sundown...

...until we reached a high enough elevation to benefit from some Magic Hour glow, in which we cast our own shadows.

We passed the Five Points intersection of five different trails, now facing the setting sun...

...until we reached the helipad - which is used as part of a number of film shoots - just off Vista del Valle Drive. It wasn't far from where we parked, but it was high enough to attract our hiking group as well as a number of other spectators, night hikers and trailrunners (and one wolf-like dog) for the fireworks.

As I sat on the edge of the helipad, drinking contraband champagne brought and shared by a fellow hiker, nibbling on blueberries I'd brought and shared, I declared, "This was a good idea."

And so together, we watched a steady stream of fireworks both sanctioned and prohibited, choreographed and erratic, distant and near, scattered throughout the panoramic skyline of the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. When it was time to go, we walked back down to our cars in the dark, the sound of more eruptions and explosions bubbling, cracking, and booming all around us.

Related Reading:
Living Like a Local
Photo Essay: Saturday, In the (Ball)Park
Photo Essay: Rainy Fireworks
A Quick Step Away from My Life

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