October 06, 2023

Photo Essay: Pumpkin Rock, Under the Cloak of Fog

Not all my adventures are winners. But sometimes that makes for great content to fall under the umbrella of "Avoiding Regret."

Take my recent hike to Pumpkin Rock in Norco, for instance. 

I'd wanted to put together a short video of it for pre-Halloween programming for my SoCal Wanderer video series I've been producing for KCET since the end of 2022.

But when we got there early in the morning a couple of weeks ago, it was completely fogged in.

"Ugh, it's ruined!" I complained. "You can't even f-ing see it!" That was when we were still down below.

My coworker and I decided to do the hike anyway and see what we could see. Maybe the mist would clear by the time we got up there. 

As we trudged up the hill—which was steeper than I remembered from my last hike there, back in 2016—we decided that the scene was pretty spooky and maybe we could make something out of it.
But as we inched closer to Pumpkin Rock, the atmospheric conditions were changing before our very eyes...

..and suddenly the urgency was that we wanted the fog not to lift before we actually got to the giant orange boulder on top of the hill.

We rushed our way there—well, as much as we could, given the eroded, slippery trail and the dramatic elevation change—and by the time we got the blasted boulder in our sights, my spirits once again fell. 

Dear ol' Skelly Jack was in bad shape. Really bad shape. 

He'd been graffitied before—but now, he's in desperate need of a new paint job, after various vandalism efforts had been scrubbed clean or patched over.

What a sad mess. 

The rest of the trail is pretty graffitied up, too—but there's a certain whimsy about how many different kinds of pumpkins the vandals have decided to paint on the different sizes and shapes of rocks that you find along the hike. 
As we returned the way we'd come—and the sun really started to come out, heating up our cool, damp morning—I wondered how it was possible that our hike had been uphill both ways.
And I feared that we'd done the hike for nothing—worse yet, rushing through it, because I had to get back to LA for a doctor's appointment in Santa Monica that afternoon (which explained our super-early start). I didn't know if we'd even be able to squeeze a video out of the footage we'd shot. 

You can watch the end result in the player above. What do you think?

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