Thursday’s hike was a double header, starting from the Sepulveda Basin, where the 101 Freeway has occasionally been flooded by the LA River, and ending at the spectacular Great Wall of LA along the Tujunga Wash.
The Sepulveda Basin, near the 101 freeway, is protected from flooding for the most part by a series of dams and a wildlife reserve. On this day, the wildlife lake teemed with cormorants, white pelicans, egrets, coots and a heron. A turkey vulture was also spotted.
Four miles away, the tributary Tujunga Wash is still concrete encased. In the l970’s, artist Judy Baca was given the opportunity to beautify the stark concrete wall. She recruited local artists, went to Cuernavaca to study techniques by Mexican muralist David Siqueros and by l974 had conceptualized a mural that would depict “The History of California,” telling the stories of all the different people who have inhabited Los Angeles. Completed in l984, it was the largest mural in the world , also important because it depicted for the first time many events such as the forced deportation of the braceros and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
It made for a pleasant walk along the half-mile mural, googling obscure events, such as the riot in Chinatown. At the same time, I was disappointed that the wash is hemmed in by a green chain link fence. I had imagined walking the wash, examining details in the mural, photographing my companions at interesting spots. Still it is an impressive piece of art, one that invites return visits and much contemplation.