In just a matter of days, Glenn and I will stand atop our bikes beside the calm stretch of water where the Los Angeles River meets the ocean, about to start the LA River Trek. On our left, the black hull of the Queen Mary will censor the sky. Lorikeets from the Aquarium of the Pacific will puncture the air with their bright calls. Crackling loudspeakers of Harbor Breeze Cruises will remember yesterday’s whales. We will look out past this shining world from beneath our helmets, bags on our back, faces pointing inland. Ahead of us will stretch 52 miles of the Los Angeles River, and the tributaries beyond. And we will start to ride.
Why are we spending a full week to bike and hike up the Los Angeles Watershed?
We are following the Los Angeles River because I spent half a lifetime ignoring it.
Because beauty flows like water, reimagining barriers.
Because change emerges when preconceptions disappear.
Because there is a creature called the unarmored threespine stickleback.
Because I do not know my own mountains.
Because the history of a city is the history of its soil.
Because the future of California will be written in water.
Because nature is honest.
Because the river exists.
Because water writes its own story.
We are biking up the Los Angeles River because I am unwilling to accept that entire communities can be ignored, or that natural history can be forgotten. We are hiking out into the mountain tributaries because every moment downstream exists within a larger story.
I want to let that story tell itself.
Here are the chapters:
February 5: Bike from Long Beach to Downtown LA, through the riverside communities of Long Beach, Compton, Paramount, Lynwood, South Gate, Bell Gardens, Bell, Cudahy, Maywood, Commerce, and Vernon. Stay in Frogtown.
February 6: Walk and bike from Downtown Los Angeles to Griffith Park, through Chinatown, Elysian Park and Valley, Atwater Village, Glendale, and Burbank. Stay in Silver Lake.
February 7: Bike from Griffith Park to Bell Canyon, through Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Reseda, Winnetka, Canoga Park, and Bell Canyon. End with sunset at Elscorpion Park.
February 8: Hike along Tujunga. Camp nearby.
February 9: Hike along Tujunga. Camp nearby.
February 10: Hike along Arroyo Seco. Camp nearby.
February 11: Hike along Arroyo Seco. Camp nearby.
Each morning at 9 am, when internet availability permits, I will post a blog entry describing the previous day’s trek. In the meantime, keep an eye on our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds, which I will be updating throughout the day.
It’s time we learned the story of the water that created Los Angeles.