Inside the first-ever L.A. Times subscriber hike in Pasadena

On Saturday morning, more than 20 L.A. Times subscribers traveled from near and far to join me on our first-ever subscriber hike.

We met at San Pascual Stables in South Pasadena, with the hazy June gloom offering perfect hiking weather. Though our trek was only 3.2 miles, we covered a lot of ground in our 2½ hours together. As we meandered along the Arroyo Seco river basin, which was flanked by fields of yellow mustard weed, stalks of purple showy penstemon and feathery clusters of blooming matilija poppy, I offered a little history of the area as well as architectural tidbits about the three grand bridges we passed under.

We took a break at the casting pond, on the Lower Arroyo Seco Trail, for a group photo.

(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

We discussed The Times’ hiking guide and compared notes on some of the trails it covers. When we reached the Lower Arroyo Seco Habitat Restoration Project , lead ecologist Richard Lewis, from the environmental consultancy Psomas, gave a short talk about the flora and fauna there.

A woman, from the back, on a trail with a white dog

Plenty of furry companions joined our hike.

(Deborah Vankin / Los Angeles Times)

I had a chance to better get to know our subscribers and was heartened to see our participants making connections as well. Our group of about 30 relaxed into smaller groups and pairings, discussing their jobs and families. Others chatted about the role of hiking in their lives. One participant shared with me that her partner had died and that hiking helped to fill the void of that loss. Another woman confided to me how fearful she was of hiking alone and asked for safety suggestions. Some people walked solo, contemplatively.

 A man, standing on a rock, addresses hikers on the trail.

Psomas ecologist Richard Lewis, far left, gave a talk about the local flora and fauna.

(Deborah Vankin / Los Angeles Times)

I learned as much from our participants as they did from me during the event. I walked away with several story ideas. And, according to my iPhone, we got in about 8,700 steps. Not bad.

If the Arroyo Seco was the star of this particular hike, then an unexpected supporting actor emerged: my hiking vest rig. It’s actually a dog trainer’s vest that has pockets and carabiner clips galore, and I made a video about it a few weeks ago.

I was also happy to share some of the hiking accessories I stock it with, including a waterproof reporters notebook on a retractable cord, a phone tether lanyard securing my iPhone to my pocket and my collapsible water bottle.

But the most frequent question I got from nearly everyone who joined us was: Will The Times do this again?

We hope to. Stay tuned for details about upcoming subscriber hikes. Until then, check out our hiking guide. Or subscribe to our outdoors newsletter, The Wild.

Stay safe out there. And don’t forget to hydrate.

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