Last spring I started going for hikes at sunrise, on a trail at Griffith Park that provides spectacular views of Los Angeles. As a hike progressed I could watch the city lights fade and see the rising sun gleam in distant high-rise windows. The cliffs and chaparral in the Park were shadows that slowly grew more distinct in that golden light that only comes at dawn. I knew when the sun was about to crest the horizon because that is when so many birds began to sing.
These hikes quickly became my favorite pastime. I couldn’t convince friends or family that they were worth the excessively early rising, so I went by myself. I feel safe hiking solo at Griffith Park because I stick to the popular trails and there are always people around. As spring headed for summer, dawn came earlier, and I started my hikes earlier to accommodate. I assumed that the other early hikers were also there for the sunrise. But apparently they were just – early hikers, and they didn’t keep adjusting arrival time to match the sunrise. One morning I discovered I was the only one around. No cars. No other hikers. No dogwalkers. No park guys doing clean up.
I started out and the view was beautiful but I didn’t enjoy it. I became preoccupied with the darkness behind me and the hills full of critters that might be watching me. The darkness thinned but still no one else was around. I decided to return to my car until other humans materialized. As I headed back, with relief I saw a jogger approaching. We exchanged the usual good mornings and then as he passed me he asked with gusto, “Did you hear me howl?”
I had not.
“Aw-wuh!” He was disappointed but fortunately he kept going. A few minutes later, I could hear human howls echoing from deep back in the hills. Probably he was harmless but I greeted the next hikers I passed with considerable enthusiasm.
I decided the moral of this story should be go later or bring the dog and that is what I have done since.