The LA National Forest sits right behind Pasadena, so I’ve been doing a lot of hiking lately. On Sunday, I went hiking with a friend and her family. We went to Switzer falls, a waterfall in the mountains. It was a great hike, especially since it was shady and followed a river (it was pretty hot!).
Anyway, it was a really nice morning hike!
Then, on Monday, I went hiking again! This time it was a really quick hike up Echo Mountain (you can get there really easily from campus - Avery had a frosh hike there last year and I’ve biked there). We wanted to watch the fireworks from there. We left campus around 6 and hiked up. I was so suprised when we reached the summit! It was still an hour before the fireworks, but there were already a ton of people:
I saw so many techers, too. A bunch of different houses had groups up here, and there were a ton of grad students as well. We could see the fireworks from all of LA, even to the beaches - it was so pretty! All the (city) lights were flickering, and it looked very serene - a grad student explained that it was the different temperature layers in the air (because it had been a hot July 4th weekend!) mixing and distorting the light. My roommate told me after that the same occurs over a fire - I’ll need to pay more attention next time!
So to be honest I don’t really have pictures of the fireworks for you. They were too far away and it wasn’t dark enough. I guess it’s something your going to have to come to Tech for and experience yourself! We watched fireworks for a good hour and a half, the Rose Bowl ones being the most impressive - they even shot smiley-faces into the air! [prank idea for next year: make the smiley faces say Caltech]. Heading down was really interesting - I came up with a large group, but we ended up losing each other so I hiked down with two other people. None of us were drivers, so instead of trying to find one of them, we decided to take the bus. One small problem: the bus left at a mile from the trailhead every hour. Going down the mountain was amazing - at all the turns, you could see the long chain of flashlights winding its way down the mountain. The problem with being in a chain was that the hike down was pretty slow. We got to the bottom around eight minutes before the bus was supposed to leave.
Gulp gulp. We decided to book it down to the bus stop, and took off. I think the drivers going by us thought we were crazy or something. Two of us had backpacks, and they were doing the waterbottle clonk clonk slush thing. Still, we got to the bus-stop intersection, and saw the bus - starting its motor on the other side of the street!!! Luckily it was our turn to cross so we made it! Just barely! We were totally sweaty and probably pretty smellly at this point, but mostly happy to have caught the bus!
Watching the fireworks from Echo mountain was really pretty and I highly recommend it for anyone in the area around any firework time! I hope you all had a nice holiday, too.
Whenever I tell someone that Caltech has an undergraduate population of less than one thousand people, their first reaction is disbelief. “Really?” they exclaim. “You must know everyone! How can you get a real college experience with so few undergrads?”
One of the most exciting aspects of college life is the freedom that students enjoy when living on their own. When most students think about college life, one of the first things that comes to mind is Greek life, with the many sororities and fraternities on campuses across the country. While Caltech does not have Greek life, per se, we do have a unique housing system, similar to that of Hogwarts. There are eight houses and one residence on campus: Avery, Blacker, Dabney, Fleming, Lloyd, Page, Ricketts, Ruddock, and the Bechtel Residence. Each of the houses has its own unique culture, character, and traditions. I am a member of Ruddock House!
This past year was so different than most of us could have ever imagined. Living in “the virtual school year” posed a plethora of challenges, but at the same time, it opened the door to new possibilities. As a society, we learned how to better operate in a virtual world, and as individuals, we had time for new endeavors. For myself, this meant taking the leap of faith to move away from home and live with some fellow Techers. While I had already had the experience of moving away from home and coming to live in the Caltech houses, this was quite different. Instead of living in organized student residences with hundreds of other students, a meal plan, and tons of support resources, I was about to go live with just 5 other people (some of which I did not know super well) and we had to find and manage our own housing, food, and necessities.