Every weekend is a good weekend to be outdoors, but this one is particularly good if you're close to any of the following happenings:
Anniversary of Mount St. Helens eruption. The peak blew 32 years ago today, lowering its elevation from 9,677 feet to a high point of 8,365 feet on the south crater rim, which I visited on a busy climbing day last Sunday. Below is a view of the mountain's south face I photographed on May 13.
Starting on Tuesday, climbing permits ($22) are now restricted to 100 per day through Oct. 31, and most permits for weekend permits are already claimed. For nonclimbers, a secondary westside visitor center closed since 2007 has just reopened as the Mount St. Helens Science and Learning Center at Coldwater. The volcanic monument's main visitor center and observatory at Johnston Ridge is also open.
Check out an interesting timelapse of annual satellite images that show how the landscape around St. Helens has regenerated since the eruption.
Trail Days: The 26th annual celebration of long-distance hiking on the Appalachian Trail opens today in Damascus, Va., and runs through Sunday. I have yet to attend, but from free gear repair stations to bluegrass music to an annual hiker parade, apparently it's one happenin' trail hootenanny.
Big Parade LA: Speaking of hiker parades, one that covers roughly 35 miles over 2 days begins in downtown Los Angeles at the Angel's Flight Stairway Saturday (May 19) and finishes near the Hollywood sign on Sunday (May 20).
The free parade includes a kids' loop, an art walk, an architecture loop and a public showing of Laurel and Hardy's The Music Box on Saturday night, since Sunday's 16-mile parade segment begins at the Music Box Stairs in the city's Silverlake district.
The event's website people can wander in or drop out of the parade at their discretion. As a fan of urban adventure in Southern California's entertaining topography, I imagine this would be a really fun excursion.
Annular solar eclipse and astronomy festivals in national parks: An "annular" solar eclipse, which creates a ring-of-fire appearance for the sun as the moon blocks all but a corona-like portion of the sun's perimeter, will occur May 20, with the best viewing opportunities in the United States available in southwestern states.
For Big Parade LA hikers, the Griffith Observatory (not far from the Hollywood sign) will offer a viewing event, as detailed in this Los Angeles Times report. It also offers a handy eclipse timetable for Soutnern California cities, plus a few Western landmarks.
This explanation from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada, Calif., explains what is involved in an annular eclipse:
As noted in The REI Blog last week, 125 parks and monuments will offer good to very good viewing perspectives to observe the ring-of-fire effect, 6 that will offer a viewing angle that will show the moon almost perfectly centered in front of the sun: Zion, Redwood, Lassen, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and 2 national monuments, Canyon de Chelly and Petroglyph (near Albuquerque).
Several parks are hosting eclipse festivals, many in association with astronomy clubs. The 12th annual Bryce Canyon Astronomy Festival began Thursday (May 17) and runs through Sunday (May 20), culminating with the eclipse.
Bryce Canyon's festival brochure points out the need for eye safety during an eclipse: Viewing an eclipse requires many precautions to ensure safety. Never look directly at an eclipse without proper eye protection. All sunglasses are inadequate and unsafe. Seek out specific eclipse-viewing eye protection. Do not view an eclipse through binoculars, telescopes or cameras unless they are equipped with solar filters specifically designed for this purpose.
For people with a fresh-air point of view, the weekend kicked off today with Bike to Work Day. To everyone who pedaled to work, nice goin'.