This weekend marks the final 40 miles in a journey that began when I was running in Beachwood Canyon about two weeks after I first moved to LA. I turned a corner, did a double-take and ran backwards until my brain registered exactly what had caught my eye. Steps?
You know the rest of the story. I took the stairs and, well, it turned out to be a stairway to heaven.
For the next eight years I made finding those public staircases my job. I investigated dead ends I had located on Google Maps, got confused on twisty double-back roads and ended up in Griffith Park, and walked onto plenty of people’s patios by accident. I would orchestrate my runs, my hikes, my errands around which staircase I felt like walking up that day. I thought I discovered these magical ascents all by myself. I thought I was special!
But then I learned there were lots of other walkers just like me. And just like spotting those stairs for the first time changed the way I saw LA, knowing that other people loved those stairs, too…well, let’s just say now things are really looking up (and down, but mostly up).
On July 18 and 19, THE BIG PARADE will bring together this Walker, those other walkers, and dozens of other people who will support us Walkers and walkers along the way. But since you may not be a walker, or you might like to walk but you hear things like Angels Flight to the Hollywood sign, 2 days, 40 miles, and 135 stairways and feel like you might not have the time, inclination or kneecaps to make it the whole way, here are five easy ways to join or help.
1) Do one of the “loops.” There are several loops where the route crosses itself, delivering you back to your vehicles or public transit options. Check the timetables: Day 1, Day 2. The best loops are in Echo Park (Saturday morning, 11am, meet at Chango) and Silver Lake (Sunday morning, 8am, meet at LA Mill).
2) My house is just two blocks from the midpoint, the Music Box Steps (above), where some people will camp in a park Saturday night. The steps were made famous by the 1932 short film starring Laurel & Hardy, which you can watch online in its entirety ( it doesn’t look much like that empty hillside anymore). You can start at my house Sunday morning around 8.
3) Just do the final canyon leg to the Hollywood sign, where the landscape is as dramatic as the prices at the Beachwood Market, where you can meet us at 5:30pm Sunday. This is a fun hike to do if you’ve never gotten to the sign this way, and we’re all going to have to come back down this way anyway unless someone pays one of those Sunset Ranch horse people for a ride (not a bad idea). Alternatively, if you live in Beachwood, you could offer to drive our sorry selves down from underneath the Hollywood sign and to a place that serves Advil cocktails.
4) Drink or eat at a place along the way and throw things at us (preferably water balloons or other water-filled items). We’ll be at Chango around 11am Saturday. We’ll be at Cafe Tropical around 5pm Saturday (if you meet us here you can go to an urban farm). We’ll be at LA Mill Sunday morning around 8:30am. There are many, many more places to meet along the way, just check the timetables: Day 1, Day 2.
5) Spread the word to anyone—including yourself—who lives along the route to acknowledge us or give us something as we pass! We like water, water balloons, hoses, infinity pools, cold Budweisers and bathrooms (in that order). But you could also just happen to be blasting “Walk This Way” and we would be thrilled. Get creative! Seriously, if you know of something cool along the way—and I do mean cool—let me know.
And because I can’t be a walker without being a writer, I will be doing the Twittering at @BIGPARADELA this weekend. So if you really want to know what’s up, just check in there. Lots more tips, and FAQ and information can be found on the website. All the stairways are numbered and segments color-coded on the route maps so you’ll always be able to locate us on or between staircases. But I do hope to see you on the stairs!