25 Jun 2013
As most of you know, this past Sunday was the long anticipated SuperMoon! Mr. Moon was set to be 30% brighter and hang 14% closer to the earth, so we set out to find a way to get even closer to this phenomenon.
We started our search on MeetUp, a site where people, with similar interests, create activities for old and new friends alike to join. We’ve used this for rock climbing, a celebrity writing group, an entrepreneurship group, raw cooking classes and hiking! It’s very much “the more, the merrier” mindset.
We happened to stumble up this awesome looking group called SoCal Happy Hour Backpacking who had scheduled a special hike to the top of Echo Mountain for Saturday night’s SuperMoon. This group has been hiking to Echo Mountain EVERY Wednesday night for the past 5 years! We had never been before and people were bringing food and drinks to celebrate with the moon on the summit, we were so in.
At 5:45pm we arrived to the trailhead and parked along Loma Alta, which has unrestricted parking until 10pm, you can also park on Monterosa or Marango (off of Loma Alta) for completely unrestricted parking. Just be careful not to park on Lake, parking is only until 8pm and they will ticket.
Once we parked, we walked up to the gnarly wrought iron gates of the old Cobb Estate, which is known to be haunted, where Lake and Loma Alta meet. We walked through the gates and up the paved road until we saw a sign that read “Trail” and pointed to the right to the epic Sam Merrill Trail. We passed a water fountain on our left and found, what we thought was, our MeetUp group, though we were confused about the fact that we happened to be the only non-Koreans… this was not the group I thought we had signed up with, but when I asked if they were with MeetUp they responded with such great excitement and herded us into their photo, so we happily joined.
As we continued along the edge of the canyon, we were in direct sight of the setting sun, though it was the day after Summer Solstic, the longest day of the year, so the sun wasn’t going to bed anytime soon. We were able to see sweeping views of the Los Flores Canyon and could even see downtown LA in the distance. We ran into another group of hikers and soon discovered that they were in fact our Happy Hour clan! There were apparently many MeetUp groups who had come to hike Echo Mountain for the SuperMoon.
The 2.6 mile trail ascended 1400 feet in elevation before we reached the top. We were both beat by the time we summated; earlier that morning, Drew had played a 3-hour roller hockey game in Santa Monica and I ran up to the peak of Mount Hollywood and back! Needless to say we were relieved when we had reached a sign that pointed to Echo Mountain. Do note that this sign is worn out a bit and the trail continues along the left to a number of other outstanding peaks, make sure to take the trail to the right that leads to the ruins of the old railroad and “White City” resort. As we made our way to the summit we passed signs that pointed to where things used to be, “Former Ballroom” one sign read. It was really neat to imagine what once took place where we now stood.
As we kept walking through the blooming flowers and rusted remains, we came upon a happy group of people who had set up camp along the picturesque ledge of Echo Mountain, on the foundation of the once prestigious resort. They had 8 bottles of wine lined up on the steps, a glorious spread of hummus, cheeses, salami, veggies, fruits, quinoa with avocado (omg), and it does not even come close to ending there. Lee, the organizer of the group, made 2 coolers full of Jello shots, strawberry daiquiri and sugar-free cherry, we hadn’t had those since college! Someone else had hiked up with a bag of dry ice, 3 cartons of ice cream and sugar cones! They were not messing around, these guys are pros.
Things to bring when hiking Echo Mountain:
A lot of water
Food and drinks to share with others and celebrate at the peak
Blanket to sit on
Layers of clothing so you can keep warm once the sun goes down
Citronella candles or bug spray
Along with the delicious food and drinks, the people were absolutely wonderful. They told us stories of past Echo Mountain hikes, and other epic trails in the area. We all sat in awe as we watched the sun sink below the horizon. By 8:15 we were lit by nothing but a few citronella candles and the giant, glowing moon. That SuperMoon was unlike any moon I had ever seen, not only was it bigger and brighter, but it was golden… it glowed like it knew it was something special.
Being aware that our parking was unrestricted until 10pm, by 8:45 we had packed up our gear, strapped on our headlamps, grabbed a few new friends and made our way back down the mountain. Once we were back at the base we looked up to see all the different groups of people with their flashlights and headlamps as they traveled down the winding path through the trees with that giant moon hanging above. What a night, I guess you could say it was a “super” night.