Week 184: L.A. River Bowtie Parcel

August 18, 2019

L.A. Walks: The Grittiest L.A. River Path You've Never Heard Of, 2.24 miles

Charles Fleming wasn’t lying when he called this hike 'gritty' in the May 10, 2019, L.A. Times. It started slow but, as promised, the surrounding environment was fascinating. A mix of natural beauty on the L.A. River; remnants of 19th-century L.A. history on the trail; and contemporary L.A. public art tucked throughout. Plus, Fleming suggested this hike may be a good one to practice "plogging." Huh? Plogging: the combination of "jogging" (in our case, walking) and "picking up litter" that began in 2016 in Sweden and recently made the April 2019 cover of Oprah Magazine. Good citizens that care about the environment? Count Barbara and me in. We brought a trash bag and made ourselves useful, picking up plastic and garbage as we circled Bowtie Parcel. California State Parks purchased the 18-acres in 2003, and created an urban, outdoor art-space from land that, back in 1911, belonged to Taylor Yard, the former Southern Pacific RR SoCal HQ, maintenance facility, and switching station. Though Taylor Yard closed in 1985, some foundational relics remain, like parts of RR tracks, cement foundations, the skeleton of a RR turntable, and the mysterious circle of cement block circle at our turn back point. (Based on the quantity of empty red Solo cups, potato chip bags, and burnt fireworks tubes, that circle is now a fireworks-campfire-late night local drinking hole.) The Bowtie land flora includes dwarf palms, cacti, and wild grasses, and the park borders a truly gorgeous section of the Glendale Narrows part of the L.A. River between the Verdugo and Santa Monica Mountains. A key location for river revitalization, the riverbed is "soft-bottom" (naturalized, not concrete) and the revitalization team created a beautiful stopover for wildlife traveling this section of the Pacific Flyway. Geese, a statuesque heron, ravens, and egrets posed in the river, on rocks, and along the concrete embankment. On land, thanks to curating by Clockshop, several permanent art sculptures and structures pop-up along the trail, making for an eclectic, urban park experience. We hiked, took in the land art, stopped to gaze at the birds on/in the water, climbed one or two cement remnants, and talked about history while picking up trash. By the halfway turnaround our bag was filled, and, oddly enough, taking turns hauling a 15-lb. bag of trash back to the car not only doubled our morning exercise, but the bend, stretch, squat, and carry made the hike more fun! 

“Leave only footprints, take only memories.” ~Chief Seattle.

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