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Ten people set out in kayaks at dawn Saturday and bobbed and splashed down a murky 1.5-mile stretch of the upper Los Angeles River, offering a paddle experience like no other.
The L.A. Conservation Corps members were on a reconnaissance mission to confirm that the route through the San Fernando Valley's Sepulveda Basin was clear of potential hazards a week before the start of the 2nd annual Paddle the Los Angeles River program.
The scenery was captivating and, for the most part, serene as the flotilla skimmed over lazy currents of water the color of chocolate milk and smelling like old socks in the hardest working wetlands in Los Angeles.
The 70-foot channel has for years operated as a flood-control channel, wildlife sanctuary and escape valve for treated waste water befouled with chemicals and trash. Now, the soft-bottom swath of weedy islands, dense brush and willows draped with fast-food wrappers, plastic bags and clothes is one of the newest summer attractions in town.
As they maneuvered past discarded shopping carts and tree stumps, egrets and hawks flushed from trees leaning over the section of river that runs between Balboa and Burbank boulevards, about 17 miles northwest of downtown. Blue herons squawked angrily at the intruders.
Anglers stared, perhaps wondering how far the riders had traveled.
On a bluff, a woman pointed curiously at the vessels, then shouted, "Watch out for the treacherous rapids just up ahead! Just kidding!"
Read more at the LATimes