In 1776, while American patriots fought for their independence from England, Spanish Lt. Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza led more than 240 men, women and children, 695 horses and mules, 385 Texas Longhorn bulls and cows, some 1,800 miles to establish a settlement at San Francisco Bay. These families were the first colonists to come overland across the frontier of New Spain into present-day California. The trail was an attempt to ease the course of Spanish colonization of California by establishing a major land route north for many to follow.
The 1,210-mile Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, which extends from Nogales on the U.S.-Mexican border in Arizona through the California desert and coastal areas in Southern California, the Central Coast to San Francisco, was designated a National Historic Trail in 1990 and a National Millennium trail in 1999 and part of the National Park Service unit.
In 2005, Caltrans began posting signs on roads that overlap with the trail route, so that people can follow the trail. The path taken by Lt. Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza is today on lands that are in private hands, on government military bases, or in some places accessible only to automobiles and inaccessible to pedestrians and equestrians.
Over the years the Mules have followed the Juan Bautista De Anza Historic Trail during our migratory journey and visited the sites along the trail such as the Presidio in San Francisco, Mission San Francisco de Asis, the Vicente Martinez adobe at the John Muir Historic Site in Martinez, Mission San Antonio de Padua, Mission San Luis Obispo, Mission San Gabriel, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Bautista Canyon in Hemet, and Anza-Borrego Desert.
Yesterday, January 2, 2020, the Mules walked the Old Stage Road historic route from San Juan Bautista to Salinas. The night before we stopped to rest for the night near the trailhead. In the morning, we met Kelly who stopped to greet the mules. After we ate breakfast and packed up, we headed for the Old Stage Road trailhead a hundred yards away.
While on the trail, we met Keith and Thais, but forgot to get their photo. They sent us the following e-mail following our meeting:
We first heard about you 2 years ago when we were at Buck’s in Woodside and read the article about your adventures. We had no idea that we would meet you today on the De Anza Trail near San Juan Bautista. It was a thrill to for us to see all 3 of the mules walking the trail as we were sitting there eating lunch. Thank you for stopping to chat with us briefly on your journey. We also hike for the same reason you walk – to keep that machinery of the brain in good working order. Thanks for that reminder. Safe travels, always.Keith and Thais
After reading this email, found it incredible that Keith and Thais remembered reading about the Mules from Buck’s Woodside menu which the Mules stopped to visit in the Fall 2015 after we met the owner Jamis who invited us to his equestrian friendly restaurant with a hitching post out front. Buck’s sent us a copy of the Winter 2015 menu that the Mules were featured.
We continued our journey on the Anza Trail until we reached Salinas where we spent the night.
Where we spent the night in Salinas. This morning, we packed up and continuing South on the endless journey of the Nation, the Three Mules Nation.