Sunday, November 17, 2013

The 100 Mule Project...

I love blogging...
While checking blog friend Liz's Pasadena Adjacent blog...
I learned about the 100 Mule project.

As TheChief will tell you...I'm not big on reading the newspapers...local or otherwise...
But in my defense...there really wasn't as much attention paid to the project  up here 
as apparently there was in LA...
or so I was told by some locals in Bishop who also found out about
the "parade" by word of mouth.
To make a short story long...
I saw the project on Liz's blog...
and then she commented on mine and said the mules were going to be in a parade...
that morning!!!
Now I had just gotten up...which isn't all that easy for me to do as I tend to be a night person...
and was still a bit groggy when I checked my blog.  
Well...her comment woke me up!
I started searching the internet to find out what time the parade would be
and couldn't find a thing...except a couple of articles in October telling about the project.
So I turned around, said to Kelly, let's head to Bishop!!!
Well...I have to admit...I had to stop and get coffee on my matter how long it took!!!
We got down to Bishop around 10:15...
I went to the rodeo stadium and saw a few people parking and heading into the stadium.
But no nothin' telling me what was up...
So I pulled up along side one of the people parking who was slinging a pretty nice camera getup...
...I figured she'd know!!!
Yep...the "parade" was going to start at 11...

So I went into the stadium...Kelly had to stay in the car 'cause of the signs saying no dogs...
and I tend to follow instructions...(unlike some others who brought their dogs on in!)
I got to go right up to the mules and get some pics...

More people came in...and the mules were getting hooked up and readied for their parade...
Eventually they started circling...lining up each string of pack mules, one after the other...
It was quite a sight...
circling and circling...until everybody was in line....
then they started in...

If I had had a pencil and paper...I would have made an attempt to get everyone's names...
But I left my purse in the car and replaced it with my camera...
So I'm not sure who she was...but she was the Emcee...telling about the project...
as the mules trailed in...

 First to enter the stadium was Dolly...
the Solar Mule...
She carted this equipment the whole way...
enabling the group to post their progress to Facebook...

 It took about 15-20 minutes for all the mules to get in the stadium...
they were all decked out with American flags...

It was quite impressive...
the Mules kept circling as the Emcee spoke about the trip from Aberdeen, 
the beginning of the LA the Cascades in Sylmar, 
where the aqueduct reaches it's final destination...
The project was put on by Lauren Bon, Director of Metabolic Studio,
and granddaughter of well known philanthropist, Walter Annenburg.

"One Hundred Mules Walking the Aqueduct"
Loren described the project as a "commemorative artist action to connect 
Los Angeles to its water supply."
The trip began in mid October with the goal of arriving at the Cascades on November 5
to commemorate the first water reaching Los Angeles, 100 years ago to the day.
Loren chose to do the project with mules due to the history of mules as an integral 
part of the construction of the aqueduct as well as their historical significance
in the Owens Valley...farming, mining, construction...
Loren Bon, addressing the small crowd at Mike Boothe Stadium in Bishop, CA
 Bon originally came to the Owens Valley in 2007...
her specialty is conceptual art performances and educational efforts.
Her studio has sponsored youth employment training, 
home gardening, sustainable agriculture training,
and farmers markets.
Her primary goal has been to raise awareness of water issues 
between LA and the Owens Valley.

Each "set" of pack mules was led by their Pack Station Master...
I learned that we have a lot of pack stations here in the Eastern Sierras!!!
You can pack back into the back country for some gentlemanly camping...
and they even have pack trips to view the wild mustangs!!!

I'm not sure...but I have a feeling the big smiles on the pack leader's faces
were as much from a feeling of relief at being back home...
as being so happy that they participated in the project!!!

The event itself only lasted about 45 minutes....
The mules headed out of the stadium and went back to their "staging" area...
the crowd was invited to visit the animals and talk with the participants...
But Kelly was waiting patiently in the car and I promised to take her for some play time!!!

Yep...we found some water...
and had a lovely walk!!!
Kelly got good and dirty!!!

Linking to...

references for my research on the project are:


  1. FANTASTIC!! Well of course I had to come back after that teaser yesterday..must have been an impressive spectacle Chieftess.. j'adore the last wide shot of the whole group with the mountains in the background, excellent! Kelly so deserved that watery treat after being so patient :))

    1. It was really quite interesting! When all the mules were in the stadium, they just kept circling and circling with flags waving and the mountains behind! If I had a true wide angle lens...I might have been able to get it ALL in!!!

  2. Wow. So glad you had the coffee and took the excellent photos. And thanks to Kelly for the patience.

  3. flotte bilder og spennende historie !

  4. I put your blog post up the Face Book page "One Hundred Mules Walking the Los Angeles Aqueduct" Sure are glad you caught my comment. These are fantastic!

    1. Didn't mention this - but I knew about it because a friend of mine (who'd worked on Loren's earlier "This is not a Cornfield" project) was involved in it. She referred to it as a transformative experience - and I believe her.

    2. Thanks PA!!! I'm really glad I caught your comment that morning!!! The day before I didn't check my blog until mid afternoon!!!
      I may have spoken with her yesterday...I walked in with a woman who worked with her and had a nice chat about her experience...did not get her name...

  5. Wow, that's very cool! I'm glad you got up and made the trip! Wonderful photos!

  6. Great adventure. Love all the mules, but am especially fond of the paint.

  7. Isn't that Paint a gorgeous animal Hiker???

  8. This is so amazing! Handsome animals and a worthy project.

    Mules are quite rare to see in Indiana. I'm not sure we could muster a hundred of them. I have fond memories of a mule named Mable I once knew well in West Virginia, and of my grandfather's tales of the "ornery" mine mules he'd had to deal with there.

    1. The Chief and I rode mules up to Mosquito Lake in Sequoia, with a guide. The guide and the mules headed back down without us and we hiked back down...great way to hike!!!

  9. WOW! That's an amazing project!
    «Louis» is glad you got to see it!

    That Kelly is one fine pooch! «Louis» knows you really enjoy her companionship! :-)

    1. So am i!!! And yep...Kelly's a great companion!!! She loves a road trip with play time as its destination!!!

  10. What a day you had! Quite an experience.

  11. Now that's fun! I remember growing up, there was a farm at the back of the property, and a couple of mules were kept to keep the cows company.

    Kelly looks quite pleased to have a romp in the water!

    1. I love mules!!! They've got great personalities!!!

      Kelly was ecstatic!!!

  12. What an interesting post, and a great way to raise awareness of the water issue.

    1. Thanks Linda!!! One thing I found interesting as I was reading up on the project was that Lauren Bon found the LADWP very amenable to working with her as she had to get permits for the ability to follow the aquaduct. A contrast to the experience of the Owens Valley!!!

  13. I would definitely get choked up watching this.

  14. How cool, I learned so much. Poor Dolly, all wired up and no place to go ... at least she could get 'liked' on FB.

    1. She's on facebook...and I'm sure she's been liked a bunch!!!

  15. beautiful times. i cry easy ... but it's all good. ( :

  16. How very cool! And how wonderful that you were able to find out about the project, and take lots of fantastic photos. And even shared them with us! :)

  17. What a post! I hope it increased awareness. The Owens Valley has been forever changed, and LA ought to be grateful (and that's an understatement).

    1. It's a toss up whether LA folk pay attention to the water's taken so much for granted. And while it's definitely a drain on the Owens Valley...Owens Valley people don't realize that if LA wasn't using our water, our pristine Valley would most likely be built up end to end like the Central Valley...I kind of like it the way it is!!!

  18. Wow! Sometimes you end up where you're supposed to be to, and you were definitely meant to go to this amazing event (even if it meant getting up early). So great to see all your wonderful photos (the mules look very proud indeed) and read about the project. Amazing! Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thanks Katie!!! We certainly have a fondness for our mules here in the Owens Valley!!!

  19. Outstanding piece you have done here, Kathryn. The supporting photos are great. I will never forget that 'solar' panel gear. Flags, mountains and an amazing project - all fantastic!

  20. Dolly was quite a site!!! She kept the group "connected" so they could post about their progress!!!

  21. Great post! I'll bet a newspaper of magazine would pay you for this piece of photo-journalism.
    Great photos and narrative.