It’s getting dark pretty early. Here’s how to stay active outdoors in Pacific standard time
Editor’s note: The Wild is all about featuring a variety of exciting voices from SoCal’s outdoors scene. For the next several weeks, that voice will belong to Times staff writer Lila Seidman. A native Angeleno who joined the Times in 2020, she’s investigated mental health policy and jumped on breaking news, and is excited to write about the outdoors in her home state. She loves trail running in the mountains near her Tujunga home and revels in the continuous realization that Los Angeles always has more to offer.
Another quick note: There will be no Wild newsletter next week in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. Look for us to land in your inbox again on Nov. 30.
It’s the least wonderful time of the year — at least for many who favor late-in-the-day recreation.
Earlier this month, for reasons no one can seem to keep straight, time snapped back an hour. Just like that, we lost an hour of precious daylight and were delivered to the relative darkness of standard time. (It’s 5:45 p.m. as I write this newsletter and it’s pitch black outside.)
Even prior to the rollback, the shortening days following the summer solstice reduced my window to run or walk outside after a long day clacking on the keyboard. It’s particularly tricky to maneuver on trails once all the sunlight’s drained away. While I’ve long wished to be able to spring out of bed at 5 a.m. and get my jog on before the work day starts, 34 years of life has taught me I’m not a morning person.
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It’s not just casual weekday outings that are affected. An all-day slog in the mountains can be hampered by an early sunset. An alpine start in the darkness benefits from knowing daylight will come, but motivation often dissipates once night sets in.
Of course, not everyone shares this view. Hundreds responded to a survey my Times colleague Ryan Fonseca conducted to source readers’ opinions on the time change — a testament to how much passion the debate inspires. And most respondents expressed a firm desire to stay in the current standard time, calling daylight savings “illogical,” “archaic” and “insane.” Meanwhile, I prefer to describe it as “wonderful” and “warm.”
Even California legislators can’t make up their mind. Golden State voters in 2018 approved a ballot measure that gives lawmakers the ability to tinker with daylight saving time — including extending it year-round. But a proposed 2019 bill to do away with the bi-annual clock change died in committee. Another bill pushing for year-round daylight saving time withered three years later.
If California legislators did vote to stick to daylight saving time, it would still require an amendment to federal rules. And so far the U.S. Congress similarly hasn’t acted, despite efforts by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and others. States can choose to stay in standard time without the need for congressional action. (If there’s protracted gridlock over a clock change, no wonder political collaboration is absent in more pressing matters.)
So it seems we’re stuck in the temporal pingpong game for at least the near future — and potentially much longer. But, lovers of the outdoors and long days don’t have to throw up their arms in defeat. While conditions might not be ideal for after-work warriors like myself, there are ways to stay active throughout the truncated winter daylight.
One of the reasons I’m plugging away at this text long after the 5 p.m. hour is because I decided to strike out for a short trail run earlier than usual. I knew darkness was uncomfortably near and preferred to tackle loose gravel — irritatingly common on California mountainsides — during daylight. So I opted to extend my work day and take an afternoon break.
If your schedule isn’t flexible enough to move things around to allow for an earlier outdoor call time, there are other options.
Stick to well-lit areas, such as city streets or parks with ample light fixtures. For once, light pollution is your friend! When I’m not able to break away early enough to run under full sun, I generally avoid areas where it would be difficult to see the ground. Tripping over a rock or colliding with a bush is not fun.
If it’s getting dark, choose a path you know well. Sometimes I begin a trail run late in the day and end up returning in the dark. When I think that will be the case, I pick an area I’ve been before and have some feel for. Muscle memory can help prevent you from getting lost.
Pack a headlamp. A head torch won’t provide visibility on par with the sun, but it can light the immediate path in front of you. This can be a lifesaver if you find yourself hiking sans daylight. Pro tip: Make sure the batteries are working or charged before heading out.
Dress in layers. Yes, it can get cold in L.A. The warmth you feel while powering your way to a hilltop dissipates once you stop moving. It’s a big relief to have a jacket or beanie on hand when the chill sets in. This is particularly important if you’re hiking in wilderness or high elevation areas where temperatures plummet at night and weather conditions change on a dime.
Try a treadmill. Once upon a time, I turned to the treadmill when it wasn’t feasible to run outside because it was too cold or too late. I promise I won’t judge you if you opt for this.
3 things to do
1. People do walk in L.A. Well, at least once a year. Hundreds of Angelenos are expected to join the upcoming 18th annual Great Los Angeles Walk for a 15-mile loop that begins and ends in Griffith Park. Walkers will meet at 9 a.m. on Nov.18 at the bear statue in the park at 5413 Los Feliz Blvd. The group will then pass through a variety of iconic L.A. neighborhoods, including Hollywood, the Fairfax District and Koreatown. Journalist and blogger Michael Schneider cooked up the first great walk in 2006 to celebrate 10 years in the City of Angels. Drawing inspiration from Kevin Roderick’s “Wilshire Boulevard: Grand Concourse of Los Angeles,” he decided to walk the entire length of the main east-west artery. The walk has since become a yearly tradition held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, making it a great way to earn some advance eating karma. Remember: It’s not a race; it’s a walk. Organizers recommend participants take their time and get to know their city and maybe even each other. More details at greatlawalk.com.
2. Bird with the best of ‘em. A three-day birding tour set for Dec. 1 through 3 will take avian enthusiasts on a journey that will span mountains, (Salton) sea and desert. Two expert birders will lead the class — organized by the Anza-Borrego Foundation — to top-notch bird-watching sites they’ve identified in diverse landscapes. The duo will also be discussing ecology, conservation and taxonomy of birds spotted. Fly, don’t walk, to registration because organizers say the tour will sell out. Tickets are $200 for non-members, $175 for members and $100 for students. For more info, visit theabf.org.
3. Marvel at majestic cetaceans at a newly minted Whale Heritage Area. The Santa Barbara Channel recently became the ninth location across the globe to earn the designation that recognizes places that support whales and demonstrate their importance. Whale watching tour operators based in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Oxnard provide an opportunity to spot the behemoths — from a boat — in their natural habitat. Winter and spring are considered the best seasons to spot the creatures, including gray whales that pass through the Channel Islands area twice during their annual migration. Learn more at sbwhaleheritage.org.
Intuitively, seeking to define a spiritual “vortex” seems a tall order. The amorphousness of the concept doesn’t stop millions from flocking to Sedona, Ariz. each year to experience its world-famous energy concentrations. While the droves translate to hefty tourist dollars, it also leads to congestion that has exasperated some locals who wish most visitors would stay home.
My colleague Deborah Netburn — no stranger to the metaphysical as The Times’ faith and spirituality reporter — recently launched into a full-body exploration of what a vortex is, trekking to Sedona to commune with ineffable forces and speak to energy pilgrims.
While vortexes are often referred to as specific locations — rocks or other formations associated with a certain type of potent energy — some spiritual authorities are now preaching a more expansive understanding. Pete A. Sanders Jr., a founding board member of the Sedona Metaphysical Spiritual Assn. and author of “Scientific Vortex Information,” considers a vortex a tool of sorts, telling Netburn, “‘vortex’ is a simplified one-word label for a place that makes it easier to do prayer, mind-body healing, meditation, tapping higher consciousness, or oneness with the infinite.”
Angelenos don’t need to cross state lines to access a vortex, according to Sanders. The Hollywood Hills, Griffith Observatory, San Gabriel Mountains and Santa Monica Mountains are all vortexes in the San Fernando Valley native’s book. Is there a vortex in your backyard?
If you live in Los Angeles, you’ve probably heard a stretch of the 10 Freeway was shut down “indefinitely” — as a public safety alert put it — due to substantial damage sustained from a blaze early Saturday. The critical downtown L.A. traffic artery is closed in both directions from Alameda Street to Santa Fe Avenue for the next three to five weeks.
Cue carmageddon. Roughly 300,000 vehicles travel through that freeway corridor daily, reports my colleague Nathan Solis. Drivers who brave the area must maneuver through detours, but commuters have another option: public transportation.
While there’s nothing good about the closure, it could offer an excuse to ditch the car and hop onto a train, bus or light rail. Who knows, you might see the city in a new way, meet a fellow commuter on a similar schedule or enjoy reading a book while you hurtle through space.
Buses and train lines will continue to operate normally amid the closure, according to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, better known as Metro.
Transit officials recommend various routes depending on where commuters are coming from:
- Metro’s E Line train provides east-west travel between East L.A. and Santa Monica, offering an alternative to the 10 Freeway.
- The J Line bus runs between El Monte, downtown L.A. and San Pedro. It serves as an alternative to the 10 and 110 freeways.
- For those traveling from the San Gabriel Valley and/or Inland Empire, Foothill Transit’s Silver Streak runs between Claremont and downtown L.A. Lines 490, 493, 495, 498, 499 and 699 also service downtown.
- Commuters from the San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, Orange and Ventura counties and the Inland Empire can access downtown through Metrolink’s regional trains.
For more information, including fare prices, parking options, maps and updates, visit Metro’s the Source.
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