I’ve Got A Date with the Hollywood Sign

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I don’t think there’s anything more classically cliché or more Los Angeles than the Hollywood Sign. As overexposed and merchandised as it has now become – there’s still something so captivating about it. Whenever I see it while running about town, it makes me smile and secretly proud to be in one of the greatest cities in the world. I don’t know how you can write a blog about life in LA without mentioning it or seeing it as up close and personal as you can. I have failed you for the last 11 months, this post should’ve come much sooner.

After assessing my spring goals where I realized that, yet again, I neglected to make time to hike the famous Hollyridge Trail, I decided it was time once and for all. What normally would’ve been something that had to be coordinated and planned with another person’s schedule in advance, became something that I told myself was going to happen that upcoming weekend and nothing was going to stop me. I would just go solo.

I was going to make a date with the Hollywood Sign…

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{insert dramatic-on-a-mission photo here.}

…and for a first date it was SPECTACULAR! It felt so good to get up early with a clear purpose, no traffic, and knowing that I was going to treat myself to a Starbucks stop for a job well done afterward. It was also really empowering to go alone (though I made sure my phone was fully charged, someone knew where I was, and I essentially followed the general direction of people so I wouldn’t get lost this first time around). I could go at a pace that was comfortable for me and stop to snap pictures without being “that” annoying blogger friend who is always stopping the action to take photos.

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What you should know:

1. Arrive early. Not only does this guarantee better parking odds, but there is virtually no shading along the trails. You don’t want to be out there at high noon. You’ll die of heat stroke.

2. Parking sucks. While free, parking can be a hassle. They do have a small lot for parking and people start parking along the driveway that heads up to the main lot as well. To make it easier to get in and out as quickly as possible, I parked at the bottom of the trail on Beachwood Drive and essentially took a “mini” hike up the hill to get to the start of the hike. Needless to say, I was already out of breath before I even hit the actual trail.

3. This is a real hike. I was surprised by the amount of people dressed like they were going for a stroll in the park. Ladies in sandals and maxi dresses were the true culprits. Clearly, these are tourists in the mindset of “oh, lets take a walk to see the Hollywood Sign.” I could feel the blisters that must be forming on these well-dressed women by just looking at them. Even worse, I saw several families pushing strollers up steady inclines looking totally miserable. This is a real hiking trail at a moderate hiking level. Dress appropriately, bring water, and leave your kids at home if they can’t walk.

4. Beware: horse poop ahead. Hollyridge shares areas of the trail with the Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables where guests can rent and ride horses. There are parts of the trail where droppings are visible and permeate the air. This doesn’t last long and I noticed it at the beginning of the hike only. The tails are really wide so it’s easy to keep an eye out and by-pass any horse poop.

5. Two views. What I learned in researching the trails was that there are ways to get both front and rear views of the sign depending on which route you take once you’re up there. For my first time up, I decided to head toward the front of the sign to make sure I got the money shot for my blog. It has been awhile since I’ve hiked and while I wanted a good work-out, I didn’t want to push it. Taking the path to see the front of the sign was perfect for me. If you make your way to the tip-top of the mountain, you can see the back of the sign and even greater panorama views of LA.  Just a note that this requires an even higher incline than I went.

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{Entrance off Beachwood Drive.}

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{Trails.}

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{Stables.}

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{Horse Riding/Poop siting.}

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{Hike art?}

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{Hello smog-filled, LA!}

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{Parking drama I noticed on the way back to my car – get there early.}

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{My reward for a job well done!}

What a great start to summer. I’m looking forward to my second date!!

Highlights

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{Instagrammed shot of the Hollywood Sign.}

The first few days of summer were full of sunshine and birds chirping here in LA – a picturesque manner in which you’d expect. Then June gloom took over for a few days (boo) …just before a heat wave that will continue well into the weekend. I’m always surprised by much the weather affects me. I know some welcome the cloudy gray skies, but this type of weather makes me want to stay indoors and watch movies all day. It produces such a lethargic energy in me that lets me know I’d probably die of depression if I lived anywhere else, and certainly limits my options during those times when I fantasize about moving to another city for a while. I’m sure I’ll start complaining shortly about how hot it is, but I’m enjoying the clear blue skies and sunshine in the meantime.

A huge highlight for me since last catching up with you, was that I finally crossed something off my bucket list that’s been there for quite awhile. On a gorgeous Saturday morning I got up early and tackled the Hollyridge Trail – the famous hiking site in the Griffith Park area for up close and personal views of the beloved Hollywood Sign. Full post to come on that amazing experience next week.

I can’t say I’m happy at how fast time seems to be going, but I am happy to bid June gloom goodbye once and for all. This was a roller coaster month for me, in retrospect. Full of good days and bad, but I’m very much looking forward to welcoming July. My summer plans are all set. The 4th is just around the corner and I’m still that girl who totally digs fireworks.

This weekend I’d like to make it a point to get out and enjoy the sunshine with perhaps a book on the beach or under a shady tree at a park. Then once I’ve had enough of nature, enjoying the air-conditioning when we go see Pedro Almodóvor’s new film, I’m So Excited.

Have a great weekend. xx

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{Enjoying Lake Balboa Park on the first day of summer.}

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{In love with my new sunnies from Free People.}

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{Taking a moment to sit in the sunshine – I don’t think there’s anything quite as spectacular as light on water.}

{Experimenting with a quick video clip which I wasn’t going to include – but thought was pretty funny because it’s so bad. I couldn’t keep a straight face and my allergies were killing me that day.

Yes, I did go to film school and should be ashamed of myself.  Yes,  these will be improved. Yes, that Rice Krispies Treat was yummy!}

Take A Hike

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, one of the best things about Southern California living is how much outdoor adventure awaits you. When the weather turns cold, you can hit Big Bear in less than 2 hours and find yourself playing in the snow and sipping cocoa. When things heat up, the beach is less than 20 minutes away for many of us for some fun in the sun while cradling an iced latte. And without much effort at all, you can enjoy sweeping city views (and much-needed exercise after sitting in traffic then at your desk 75% of the week) perched high on a mountain-top after an invigorating hike.

Last week, a colleague of mine introduced me to an amazing app to have handy on your phone called All Trails. Its aim is to help you discover hiking trails nearest you no matter where you find yourself in the U.S. Simply pull out your phone or visit their website, enter your location and sift through the over 40,000+ trails featured on the app that conveniently note the distance and how long it would take to complete. What I personally dig, is how you can search for specific outdoor needs and elements important to you – like searching for trails with lakes or waterfalls, trails that are easy or more difficult depending on your level of fitness, or looking for trails that are great to bring Fido along on. Be sure to check out the reviews, it’s like a concentrated outdoor version of Yelp to help you decide what trail is best for you.

Surprisingly, there are tons of hiking opps in LA alone (460 trails popped up when I entered zip code 90049). Admittedly, the caveat is that the popular trails are usually crowded and I’ve even seen people annoyingly gabbing on their iPhone when they should be enjoying nature!

extra_large_669bf03dcd4960899329b6e85ce0d887I’m a huge fan of the Temescal Canyon Loop Trail off Sunset Blvd. in Pacific Palisades. After a moderate hike up the mountain, you’re rewarded with the best view of Los Angeles you could ever see.

My experience with hiking in LA is not vast and as frequent as it should be. I tend to stick with the same trails. (Totally boring!) Believe it or not, I’ve never done the famous Hollyridge Trail. This 2.60 mile journey takes you as up close and personal as you’ll ever be to the beloved Hollywood Sign (legally). Naturally, this is what I’ll tackle next. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, take a hike!