For this week’s Lens-Artists challenge, Donna of Wind Kisses challenges us to share photos showcasing what “over the hill” means to us. As a landscape and nature photographer, I immediately think of hills, mountains, and trails winding over, in between, and around them. If I am able to, I prefer to hike trails that provide vistas from the tops of them.
My husband and I are still working on our 52-week hiking challenge. I’ve shared hikes from weeks 1-5 here and weeks 6 and 7 here. For week 8, we visited our friends in boiling-hot Las Vegas, where it is wise to get up before sunrise and be at the trailhead as early as possible. We found a beautiful, yet steep, trail just outside of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area before the crowds filed in (although, who would be crazy enough to hike any later in the day in 115 degree weather, I am not sure). This trail, Gene’s Trail, does go on for miles overlooking Las Vegas to the east and Red Rock Canyon to the west and eventually takes you into the Red Rock area, but we only hiked 2 miles at sunrise. If you are thinking these hills look similar to the ones from my hike in Utah, that is because they are part of the same chain of volcanoes that dot the landscape all the way down into Arizona.
Week 9 provided a different challenge, looking for a trail in the city. We crossed over the blue Coronado Bridge in San Diego, California, and hiked 2.33 miles of the paved path that extends from Coronado south towards Imperial Beach. From the path, you can see the Coronado Bride, which makes me think of a man-made “hill”. There are bay views, but I could not get too close, as some of the area is fenced off by the Navy or is designated as a restoration area.
There are definitely more trails “over the hill” in Irvine, California. While I love visiting San Diego, I enjoy more natural settings, like the trail at Bommer Canyon in Irvine, California. For week 10, we hiked 2.5 miles across a beautiful meadow and up towards a ridge where the fog was coming over the hill from the ocean. The canyon was peaceful and full of birds and rabbits early in the morning. I will be going back there in the early spring, when the brown hills turn green and become covered with yellow mustard seed plants.
The Newport Coast is adjacent to Irvine and Bommer Canyon. If you’re in great shape, you could connect from the Bommer Canyon trail over the hill to the backside of Crystal Cove. I chose the easier route and drove over to the trailhead at the top of Newport Coast, just on the other side of the Bommer Canyon hills, for week 11’s hike. I managed 2.76 miles of the No Name Ridge Trail, which is very steep and descends into Crystal Cove State Park. If you end up at the bottom of these “hills”, you better be prepared to climb back up the seven or eight miles to your car or catch a ride back. This ridge trail proves that not all hills are the same, as I felt like I was going to die on the trail while my husband kept saying “it’s just over this next hill.” I also believe that hiking shoes (and not regular running shoes) were in order for the steepness of these hills. As a bonus, I was able to see the sunrise over distant mountains in the east and then out to the Pacific Ocean in the west.
There are more challenges than just the weather or being in a city when it comes to hiking. My husband and I were in Oahu, Hawaii, celebrating our 30th anniversary earlier this month. When it came time (you need reservations) to make it up this iconic hill at Diamond Head, we were exhausted from snorkeling and walking 15,000 steps per day. We drove up to a vista and took pictures of Diamond Head, since we have hiked it before. And as it turns out, I was able to get shots from different angles, including from the shoreline. To my surprise, Diamond Head is brown this time of year. It is a stark contrast to the green hills we saw during a visit in the winter.
Feeling “over the hill”, I opted to “hike” around Waikiki instead. For week 12’s hike, I sauntered around the Fort DeRussy Beach Park path for 1.2 miles. This is what happens when one overdoes it on a trip, but I was content with my camera and being surrounded by Hawaii’s nature, especially as the early morning light filtered through the vast tree canopy.
Nothing like a long trip to paradise, but I needed a small recovery hike when I returned. For week 13, I decided a short, 1.03 mile hike into a canyon, rather than over the hills, was the best option. Thankfully, it was foggy and peaceful on this morning hike at Oakmont Park in Redlands, California.
Hiking over, around, or in between hills helps me keep in touch with nature. Driving to the tops of hills for a better view makes me happy too. I like having the option of either one, particularly on the days I am feeling over the hill. My favorite is always getting over a hill and finding that sweeping vista on the other side.
Hope everyone is having a peaceful start to their week. Aloha!