the Double Cone Register | The Journal of the Ventana Wilderness Alliance | Vol IX No 2 Summer 2006

"Down the coast" is a saying in Monterey that attracts the stranger's attention. It is of a far, sad land, with a veil upon it which is not pierced by explanations. If anything is down the coast, that is all that need be said of it. You hear that Down the Coast is a place of pine-trees and fog; and that there are two divisions of it: First, where there is a road, and second, where there is no road. The first is the introduction, so to speak, but the second is the "real thing," and certainly not meant for fat people.

L. Maynard Dixon, Two Pictures of an Unknown Bit of the Monterey Coast, 1897

In his astute observation and description with regard to the Big Sur coast, Maynard Dixon, perhaps without even knowing it, put forth one of the earliest and most universally understandable of arguments for the preservation of America's remaining roadless landscape: where the road ends, "the real thing" begins. One can begin to approach the essence of wilderness by road, and perhaps catch a distant introductory glimpse of the priceless beauty and tonic redemption it has to offer. But to truly experience and appreciate the keen reality of wilderness, of primal landscape as it all was prior to civilization, one must park the car (or in Dixon's case, the wagon) and set forth by foot or horseback. Only then does the real wilderness adventure begin.

This issue of the DCR is dedicated to the republication of three nineteenth-century articles from the Overland Monthly, each one recounting an early adventure in one way or another through the Big Sur backcountry — what we now know and cherish as the Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness Areas. A close reading of these classic accounts will reward the reader with countless fascinating glimpses into history, be it Mary White's traverse of the Carrizo and Gamboa trails, Kate Sieghold's recollection of the hunters' brush-busting cross country trek to Lost Valley, Harold Fairbanks' ride along the Buckeye trail, or Dixon's visit to Partington Ridge and Big Creek and riding range with the local vaqueros. Some of the place-names have changed and some have not, which makes it that much more interesting. Might we suggest you have your maps close at hand while you read, and we hope you enjoy these intriguing accounts of early Santa Lucia wilderness adventure.

The Double Cone Register (formerly the Double Cone Quarterly) is published at irregular intervals by the Ventana Wilderness Alliance and can be perused free of charge by all who steer their browsers to the DCR Issue Index at

Co-Editor, Miscellaneous and Sundry: Boon Hughey
Co-Editor, History & Botany: David Rogers
Webmonkey & Co-Editor, Maps & Trails: Phil Williamson

All articles, photographs, and artwork are copyright ©2006 by their creators.
All rights reserved.


Three Articles from the
Overland Monthly


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