100 Mules Walking the Los Angeles Aqueduct

A recent Sunday found me and my camera in Lone Pine (where the Real West becomes the Reel West – many movies have been filmed in the Alabama Hills behind Lone Pine). The excitement on that Sunday was the performance art project of Lauren Bon’s Metabolic Studio commemorating the link between water, mules, the Owens Valley and the City of Los Angeles. Ms. Bon (granddaughter of Walter Annenberg and daughter of Wallis Annenberg, serves as a Director of the Annenberg Foundation) noted that most Los Angeles residents don’t know that their water comes from 240 miles north in the Owens Valley. So she set her Metabolic Studio in action to have 100 mules (celebrating 100 years of water from the Owens Valley) walk the aqueduct to Los Angeles. The Inyo Register’s 100 Mules tells the whole story.

Here are the photos that tell their own story of a hot, dusty day in the Alabama Hills (one of the 27 days they’ll be traveling to get to Los Angeles).

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Lone Pine Film Museum – now celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Lone Ranger’s film premiere in Republic’s 1938 serial THE LONE RANGER.

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A couple kinds of music.

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The famous Alabama Hills – a hot hike up from Lone Pine.

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The first view of the 100 mules.

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The GPS mule!

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Yes, there were lady wranglers!

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Lots of spare equipment needed. There were extra mules that traveled in trailers in case one of the walking mules started going lame or became too tired. Every day, round corrals needed to be put up and taken down to move to the next location. There were wranglers, farriers, cooks, tent erectors, water tanks, water truck – the list goes on and on. Think wagon train without the wagons.

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The mules were ‘dressed’ before taking the place of the ailing mule in the string.

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Dolly the power mule carries a solar panel that charges radios and the cameras that were attached front and back on her.

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Get those packs off my back so I can roll in the dust.

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Sun is sinking on the other side of the mountains – but not before the mules are fed.

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The wranglers don’t eat and rest until every mule is cared for and bedded down for the night. Whew!

5 Comments

  1. What an amazing life you are having now! Super happy for you and loving the pictures and stories, since I will probably never get there. Thank you!

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    1. Thanks Diane, I’m loving being here. Just got back from spending Halloween with the four youngest grandchildren; so glad I’m not missing that. Then I get to go to all these beautiful places and take photos. I like hearing from my friends back home, thanks! Barb

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