On July 4th Sam and I hiked up the hill behind our condo to watch the fireworks. The part of the trail that connects our property to the ridge line was only dug out late last year after I borrowed equipment from facilities manager and started it myself. After cutting through the first twenty feet and then raking out a path the grounds crew came with shovels and dug the rest of the trail all the way to the top. It must have been back-breaking work in the direct sun, but the manager told me they actually enjoyed it as it was different than the mundane work they’re often tasked with (cleaning up after owners that don’t know how to pick up after their pets, repairing leaky pipes, blowing leaves off the driveway, etc.) In just a few days these guys dug out a dirt trail of switchbacks and steps (not to mention the big rock border they put along it) going up a hill that climbs … I don’t know … a thousand feet?
It’s a good calf workout to get up there, but at most a ten minute journey. My parents had no trouble following me to the peak in December. It’s still seems somewhat serendipitous that (since hiking became-and still is-such a regular part of my life here) I ended up living somewhere with a hiking trail to the ridge that looks over at the bowl and Runyon Canyon on one side and the Hollywood Reservoir, the Hollywood sign, and Griffith Park Observatory on the other. Of course there is also the ease of bowl access. In the next three months we plan on walking over to see Sufjan Stevens and Sigur Ros. If you don’t live here, the Bowl can be one of the worst concert venues in the city to get in and out of. But I’ve digressed from the fireworks story…
The ridge line to the tiny peak over the Ford Theater is a longer path than the initial vertical way up, but doesn’t change elevation as rapidly. As we walked the ridge we came across one other resident who’d come up (like me) armed with a tripod and a DSLR. It’s an interesting way to meet your neighbors (our community has 173 units).
We reached the peak and settled in around 8:40pm. We were surprised to see fireworks going off from horizon to horizon. It was an incredible view, reminding me of the flight to the ziggurat in Blade Runner’s Los Angeles.
^^That’s a still from the film, not from the peak. Now that I’ve looked it up… I can tell you what we saw was far more vibrant and colorful. Too many explosions to count, all the way down to Long Beach. Some of our wealthier neighbors in the Hollywood Hills were even setting off their own (illegal) fireworks.
By 9pm as many as twenty other residents came up (my own fault for working to publicize the existence of the trail to other residents in the last six months!). That made the experience less magical, but it was still impressive (and the statements of our neighbors echoed that). During the regular fireworks our anticipation built for the main event: The Hollywood Bowl 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular with Chicago. We could actually hear and sing along to the Chicago tunes while watching the fireworks. At 9:30 the fireworks strapped to the back of the bowl went off. As we watched from across the street we all realized we had a better view of the “show” than the bowl audience. Their backs were turned to the fireworks still exploding over the rest of the Los Angeles basin from San Gabriel in the east, Long Beach in the south, and Santa Monica in the West. All that and we didn’t pay a dime for the show.
Well, except for the mortgage, of course!
I have a feeling this will be a new tradition, and the crowd is going to be bigger next year. Maybe I’ll remember to take the UV filter off my lens next year…