March activities: Fitbit trail, bike rides, spring skiing

By Marie Forgione

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Welcome to nature!

Watching Norbert Asprion run, you wouldn’t guess his feet create works of art. The chemical engineer from Ludwigshafen, Germany, drives about 50 km per week and plots routes on a mobile app to create detailed animal shapes. And they are adorable. “The good thing is that so many people love animals,” he wrote in an email. “And it’s nice to make them smile in these strange times.”

Indeed, Norbert’s creatures are a marvel to see on his cell phone. It started when his friend Marcus asked him to draw a route in the shape of a pig. Then Marcus’ son asked him to create a “sausage dog”. And he did too. He even created a unicorn for a young girl who had undergone cancer treatments.

How is it?

“For planning and navigation I use an app for hiking, running and biking called komoot, “he explained.” It has very detailed maps all over the world, with even little paths in the backyards of houses. I look on the map first. [to see] if I can find a characteristic detail of an animal. Maybe it’s like looking up in the sky, sometimes we see something in the clouds. When I then see something, say, the head of the turtle, then I look to see if the rest is okay too. Sometimes it is not easy. You need to be flexible and not focus on just one [shape] if you want to run around town. It helps to imagine different views, from the side or from the front.

He searches for drawings on Google for ideas on how to build the shape. Then he loads the navigation onto his mobile app to create the creatures on the map as he runs, using the oral instructions as a guide. “I should also take a look at the map if in doubt,” he wrote, adding that the Adidas running app “makes the best designs, in my opinion.” Norbert created 36 animals mapped in Ludwigshafen, five more nearby, and the pig, in Mannheim, for a total of 42.

Does he plan to do more? “Not that far. I decided to take a creative break,” he said. And then there’s this reason to stop: “42 is the number related to the question of the meaning of life, for those who know British author Douglas Adams and ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. “

I found stories about others running artists in Britain. Does anyone in Los Angeles have any shareable animal routes that runners can do on their own? Drop me a note at [email protected]

3 things to do this week

Make history with Handlebar Bike Tours.

(Sidney Gonzales)

1. Take a bike ride and learn about the pioneer women of LA. It’s Women’s History Month! LA history meets cycling on in-person city tours. Bike tours on the handlebars, a woman-owned business since 2017, introduces you to 19th-century black entrepreneur and philanthropist Biddy Mason and pioneering lawyer Clara Shortridge Foltz. “We are incorporating women’s history into our Historic Core and Skyline tours,” wrote company founder and English teacher Jennifer Nutting in an email. Tours cost $ 45, last approximately 2.5 hours, and are limited to eight participants. Learn more here.

An illustration of various butterflies

The Butterfly Pavilion in LA is about to open.

(Photo illustration by Micah Fluellen / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)

2. Observe the butterflies up close at the Butterfly Pavilion in LA. The LA Natural History Museum will open its seasonal butterfly pavilion on March 18. Inside, you’ll see new species for 2021: the iridescent blue morpho, Mexican blue wings, and a mottled gray and white called the cracker for the sounds it makes. Where do butterflies come from? Some are native, some are purchased from a supplier in Costa Rica. Both types of butterflies are hand reared from pupae in rooms with controlled temperature, lighting and humidity.

Then all types – neon green and black malachite, painted ladies and anise swallowtail – are released into the lodge, where they usually live for about two weeks. Do not try to touch them or put one on your finger; you can hurt them. “It can be completely silent inside,” said Forest Urban (yes, that’s his real name), responsible for the collections of living invertebrates at the museum. “You don’t even realize that there are hundreds of butterflies circling around your head.”

While you won’t see California monarchs indoors, you will find them outdoors on a walk through the surrounding natural gardens. The museum remains closed due to the pandemic, but the pavilion will open from 9:40 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday until September 6. Pandemic rules require visitors to purchase tickets in advance ($ 6 for entry and $ 6 for parking); no more than 10 people are allowed in the butterfly room at a time. More info here.

Western gulls nest on Anacapa Island.

Western gulls nest on Anacapa Island.

(Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times)

3. Find out what’s new in Channel Islands National Park. The boats go from Ventura to Channel Islands National Park, but what is there to do when you arrive? Park Superintendent Ethan McKinley will talk about what’s happening on the islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Barbara) and current proposals for new hikes and camping option. Juliana Matos, the park’s biosecurity manager, will discuss the best ways to protect the islands’ fragile ecosystem from invasive species. Join the free Zoom webinar from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on March 18 by register here. It’s free and hosted by the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.

Cool gear

Vim & Vigr Purple Reign Socks.

Vim & Vigr Purple Reign Socks.

(Vim & Vigor)

See what fell in time for Women’s History Month. Montana-based sock manufacturer Vim & Vigr ran an online competition for a design that would honor runners, cyclists and hikers who want to show their true colors. The stunning artwork by artist Emma Covill was selected for the Limited Edition Purple Reign Socks. They are made of 58% cotton, 42% nylon and 10% elastane (latex free, for allergy sufferers). A portion of the proceeds goes to a female leadership program at the University of Montana. $ 36; order here.

The essential

Preparing to climb to the top of Mount Whitney?  We have advice.

Preparing to climb to the top of Mount Whitney? We have advice.

(Mary Forgione / Los Angeles Times)

Time is running out for hikers looking to apply for a permit to get to the 14,505-foot summit of Mount Whitney in the Southern Sierra near Lone Pine. Take your choice of day hike – covering the full 22 miles, 6,000 feet of gain in a single day – or backpacking and staying overnight. My colleague Rachel Schnalzer completed the hike in one day last year and shares what you need to know for a successful summit. Start by applying for a permit before March 15 (Click here for more details; permits are required from May to October). Then follow his suggested training schedule to prepare for the route in the summer. Full story here.

Social moment

Edgar McGregor

Edgar McGregor, keeping nature clean.

(Edgar McGregor)

Edgar McGregor thinks a lot about the planet. The 20-year-old, who identifies as autistic, has been picking up trash on popular Eaton Canyon trails for 592 consecutive days. “I guess the real reason is because I don’t know how to express yourself other than this may be our last chance to prove to future generations that we are better than this,” he tweeted on Monday. He documented his progress @edgarrmcgregor on Twitter and intends to move on to other areas in need of help.

Collecting McGregor’s garbage is no small feat. Forestry officials say they remove more than 10 tons of trash a week from the nearby San Gabriel Canyon in the Angeles National Forest. To make his point, McGregor also posted this: “I think about the year 2100 more than I should. There’s a real chance I’m still here. There is a real chance that I will be able to meet my great-grandchildren. I wonder what I’m going to tell them about the climate crisis… I wonder if I’m going to tell them “We did it !! or “I’m so sorry …”


Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows Ski Resort.

Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows Ski Resort.

(Brandon Skinner / Squaw Valley / Alpes Meadows)

Do you feel like you’ve missed skiing this winter? We still have time. California ski resorts offer lift tickets on weekdays. Those who visit Mammoth Mountain Monday through Friday will find two-day adult lift tickets cost $ 199 (instead of the usual $ 337). Save more if you stay overnight too. Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows offers a reduced rate Pack of 4 midweek – four days of weekday skiing – for $ 389, or $ 97.25 per day, about 40% off regular prices. Monte Rosa in Nevada, near Lake Tahoe, offers lift tickets for $ 105 on weekdays instead of $ 145 on weekends. Conditions are good and more snow may be on the way. No walk-in tickets due to the pandemic; buy in advance online. And if you have FOMO, note that Celestial and North Star plan to stay open until April 18; Kirkwood, until April 11.

The Borrego Palm Canyon Trail in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, shown here in 2019.

The Borrego Palm Canyon Trail in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, shown here in 2019.

(Howard Lipin / San Diego Union-Tribune)

What’s going on with the wildflowers in the desert? After modest predictions earlier in the season, it looks like a late-season “blowout” may be happening in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in northern San Diego County. A rainstorm last week brought just under a quarter of an inch of rain Wednesday afternoon, enough to fuel a few flowers in three to six weeks. It won’t be a super bloom, but it could add color in late March or early April. Read the full story here.

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Click to view the web version of this newsletter and share it with others, and sign up to have it sent weekly to your inbox. I am Marie Forgione, and I write The Wild. I’ve been exploring the trails and the great outdoors of Southern California for four decades.

Marie Forgione

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