Whoa. I heard the bass in my face as drove into Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook the night of our full moon hike. There was a graduation party that was winding down in our reception hall. Juan from National Parks was in true ranger form outside our visitor center with near 100 people gathering to see this once a year phenomenon, the super moon. The only time of year when the moon, on it’s elliptical orbit, is closest to earth, appearing to be very big. He did a great job of corralling the large group as Diana the intern and I swept up the rear. We stopped just short of the over look for some straight up moon talk. He spoke about the sun and moon’s daily cycle and how most animals are more active at night, when the moon comes out. He had the kids hold up pictures of owls as he talked about the barn own, great horned owl and the great gray owl. He even whipped out owl pellets and took them apart and showed us the contents in his hand. Dedicated Diana held the contents of the owl pellets in her hand for the whole length of our hike, not knowing what to do with the thing.
We then made our way out to the over look to see the moon rise over the hill. He talked more about what makes a super moon (full and close to earth), how far it is from earth (30 earths away) and the perigee (closest orbit) and apogee (farthest orbit). As it did rise, a tiny sliver and bright cloud emerged in the sky.
The over look was a buzz with camera tripods and the biggest crowd I’ve yet seen. Everyone bum rushed the east side of the overlook to get their shot. Someone even sparked up a bowl and the smell of pot started to waft it’s way around. We all watched as this golden ball grew in the sky. I heard a little girl say ‘it doesn’t look any bigger than it normally does’, and I silently agreed. We all clapped as the moon made it’s final push to roundness. Anti-climatic as it may have been.
Once again, it was great to see the community come out for this event. There was a whole family there with 5 of their 9 kids. I made them line up from youngest to oldest, Von Trapp Family style. Juan had a great technique which I’ll probably steal. He’d ask the group a question and get a generic response and then elaborate on the answer. For instance, he’d ask the group why an owl has so many soft, dense feathers and someone would say to keep warm and then he’d say I thinking I’m hearing you say to help muffle the sound they make as they catch their prey. It was a great hike, I had people shake my hand and thank me for volunteering and a girl even asked how she can volunteer too. Success at the over look in the light of the super moon!