September 2, 2002, Part 1
Following in the Footsteps of the Pobladores

This isn't a hike, it's a walk. And it's a once-a-year organized event. So it's a little different than what I intend to post under the hiking category of Southern California Outings. Then again, the annual Labor Day Pobladores Walk isn't just ANY walk. It's a recreation of a trek undertaken from the San Gabriel Mission to the site of a new pueblo on September 4, 1781. It's a chance to follow the footsteps of the 44 humble, self-reliant and multicultural recruits drummed up by the Spanish government to settle what would be called Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles.
 
This walk always starts at 6 in the morning on Labor Day. I assume that Labor Day works well because it increases the turnout and prevents us latter-day pobladores from having to share the road with morning rush hour traffic. Given that it's expected to be about 100 degrees today, no one seems to be complaining about the early start.

This year there was no commemorative t-shirt, a regrettable loss. In the walk's previous years, the t-shirt has been a big hit.

However, the organizers have laid in for a big supply of bottled water, which will also be available at various points on the 8.6-mile route.

The pre-walk festivities always includes a few words from T. Willard Hunter (the man who founded the walk many years ago) and a priest from the mission, who blesses us with holy water. Both are charming. Things can go downhill a bit after that, though, when various and sundry local politicians just have to say a few words. In this instance, with the temperature rising by the minute, I think most highly of those politicos who say the least.

T. Willard Hunter, founder of the walk, is the white-haired gentleman with the bolo tie.

Anyhow, we are soon underway. The mission bells ring as we leave.

 

We get a police escort and are allowed to walk in the street, so long as we stay in the right lane. Soon we enter Alhambra. This is probably a good time for me to look at the route slip.
My wife and I fall in behind some of the walk's leaders: two women representing the decendants of the pobladores, a man dressed as a Spanish soldier and two flag-bearers.
The first six miles of the walk go quick. It hasn't gotten really hot yet and the pace is surprisingly fast.
While I am vaguely aware that some Spaniards came to the New World looking for El Dorado, I don't think they actually came in AN Eldorado.

These young women, I believe, were the queen and princesses of the mission festival.

A little over six miles into the walk, we reach one of L.A.'s great city parks,  Lincoln Park.
The group gathers here, takes a short rest and gets some water.

[PART 2: We're Goin' Downtown]