Hollywood hike and long drive

I wake up before the alarm clock around 3.15am. I slept well, even though it was a short night again. I freshen myself up and get dressed and pack a small backpack for the hike. I bring my camera’s as well, because I plan to take some beautiful pictures of the Los Angeles skyline from the mountain. With my headlamp on I start climbing the hiking trail. It’s very exciting to hike in the dark and I’m glad that I still have plenty of time before sunrise. Last year when I did this, it was a race against the clock and I actually had to run parts of the hike to be at the Hollywood sign before sunrise. Not this time. It’s still dark when I arrive at the first lookout point, wisdom tree. I’ve seen this tree quite a few times in the past years and I love the view over the city from this point. For as long as I know there has been an American flag waving at this point, the finishing touch to this view. After taking some pictures and sitting down for a while, I continue the hike to the Hollywood sign. It starts to get light now and the hike gets easier. I know these paths very well and enjoy hiking here again. With about 20 minutes left til sunrise I arrive at the sign and take a bunch of selfies and pictures of the view. Then I sit down and enjoy the moment. It’s pretty quiet outside, just a few birds here and there. Slowly, but surely the sunlight starts appearing from behind the mountains and finally the sun comes up. I love this moment. I take quite a few more pictures before another guy shows up and then some more people. It’s getting too crowded for me, so that’s my signal to continue hiking. I take the long detour around the back of the mountain. That path is a more challenging hike, but it gives great views of the movie studios. I realize again that one of the things I love about hiking is that it really takes you in the moment, especially when the trail is harder. Every time my mind wanders to work or the rest of the roadtrip in the coming weeks, the trail demands my attention. Sliding rocks under my hiking boots require my focus and attention.
The hike back is a bit longer than I remembered from last year, but I’m also pleased with how well I’m doing after having slept an average of about 5 hours in the past few nights. Hiking on this mountain is so great, because you have different views of the city after every corner. The hike is 7 kilometers / 4.3 miles in total and around 8am I arrive back at my car. That’s the nice thing of getting up so early, you can do a lot and then still have a whole day ahead of you. I’m not completely sure yet what to do today, but I know that I first want breakfast. I drive to Beachwood Cafe, a nice place with good food in the heart of Hollywood. I sit down and order a healthy avocado toast and finish writing yesterday’s story and the start this blog.
I’m thinking about what to do next. Part of me feels like staying here in Hollywood, but I’ve planned to be with a friend in Colorado in a few days and that’s still a long drive. Also, I’d like to hike in Sedona, Arizona this weekend, so I decide to start driving that way. It’s a little over 500 miles (800 kilometers) to get there and the Waze app says it’s 7.30 hours driving. The drive from California to Arizona is not very exciting, because it mainly goes through the desert. While driving I see the temperature go up to 108 degrees Fahrenheit / 42 degrees celsius. When I stop in the late afternoon for a lunchbreak I feel how hot that is. I don’t stay outside for too long, but decide to eat lunch inside my car where it’s more comfortable with the AC on. The drive of today turns out to become an endurance test. It’s funny how even on vacation I tend to push myself to the limit. I keep driving til it’s dark and put the music and the air conditioning on high to stay awake. The last part I just keep driving behind a truck, because that’s so much easier. Finally around 9.30pm I arrive at the wild camping spot that I know from last year, just outside Sedona. There is only one RV and another car and I park mine next to them. I’m very tired now, but happy that I’ve made it in one day. I’ve driving about 540 miles today. It was a long one, but now that I’m here I can go on an early morning hike that has been on my list for a long time.

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