Last week, inspired by a book I'm reading called Imperial by William T. Vollmann, I decided to explore the Santa Ana River, the main river in Orange County. On my first hike, I began at Angel Stadium and made it to the Riverview Golf Course. Today, I took the bus to the intersection of Harbor Blvd. and Warner Ave., which is (I think) in Fountain Valley. My goal was to hike as far south along the river as I could before I got too hot or tired. I made it to Adams Ave. in Huntington Beach, before I started getting light-headed from the heat. As with my first adventure, I took pictures along my route, as a kind of photo-essay. Here's what I saw...
Here's the view from Warner Ave. looking south along the Santa Ana River. As you can see, at this point the river is mainly a concrete gulch with a trickle of greenish water flowing (mysteriously) north! This mystery will be solved a bit further downriver.
Here's a hint as to the origin of the greenish water flowing north in a river that should be flowing south, toward the ocean.
On my first Santa Ana River journey, I noticed that there were lots of homeless "tent camps" located beneath freeway overpasses, right in the riverbed. I didn't see any of those along this stretch of the river, but I did see this lone homeless man sleeping on the concrete.
Continuing on, I encountered these ominous-looking pipes ready to spew God-knows-what right onto the homeless man, and into the Santa Ana River.
There were signs warning people to keep out of the dangerous three inch-deep green water.
This brave cyclist threw caution to the wind and rode headlong into the mighty Santa Ana River.
The freeway overpasses offered both shade from the oppressive heat and interesting geometric shapes.
Someone had thrown a television off the overpass and into the river.
Horrible-looking factories lined the riverside, offering various interesting smells.
At a certain point, the river's edge became flanked by high chain-link fence.
What's that up on the right?
Why, it's the Orange County Sanitation District Plant No. 1, which (along with Plant No. 2 in Huntington Beach) is the third-largest wastewater (i.e. sewage) treatment facility west of the Mississippi! So THAT's what that smell is. And here, the mystery of the northbound green water is solved. It is runoff from Plant No. 1.
Here are some more shots I took of Plant No. 1.
Just past Plant No. 1 was a power plant/nursery that looked like something out of The X-Files.
Up ahead, I saw green in the riverbed! And then, as if someone had literally drawn a line in the sand, the river changed from brown to green.
And then, as if by magic, the Santa Ana River was full of green plants. I have no idea why. But here are some photos to prove it.
As much as I wanted to press on, and follow this greenery to the ocean, I was getting light-headed from the heat (and maybe industrial fumes). I had this fear that I would pass out on the trail, and no one would find me. I would die beside this river, like so many other living things had. So, I exited the Santa Ana River Trail at Adams Avenue in Huntington Beach and wearily made my way to a shopping center oasis, where I got some pizza, and then took two different buses back home.
I shall return, O mighty Santa Ana River!