"You never saw such a landscape! I did not imagine it was possible... like a dreamland, somewhere, not real... imagine: only a trail for a hundred miles, bordering the ocean, but suspended above it a thousand feet, clinging halfway up the side of the sea-wall, and that wall at an incredible angle of forty-five degrees, a green wall of grass and canyons with oaks, redwoods, pines, madroņos, blue jays, quail, deer, and to one side the blue ocean stretching away to China, and over all that an intense blue sky with eagles and vultures floating about... and nobody, no humans there, solitude, solitude, for miles and miles - why! in one place I walked thirty miles between one ranch and the next! - what a wilderness, what beauty, it's a dreamland, you must go there..."
|Jaime de Angulo, from The Old Coyote of Big Sur by Gui de Angulo|
the Santa Lucia Mountains
Test Your Topographic Know-How
Old Girard Trail
North Fork Camp
Summer Solstice '99
Spring Equinox '99
Winter Solstice '98
Fall Equinox '98
Summer Solstice '98
Winter's ample rains have finally tapered off, leaving a cleanly rinsed yet decidedly charred landscape over much of the Ventana country. The final fires of the last millenium burned hard in places, but the spring season is now working its quiet magic and raising the Pheonix, as it were. Vigorous crown-sprouts already ring the blackened bases of oak, madrone, manzanita and bay, while sprouting seeds of the fleeting fire-followers are pushing skyward through ashen crust, having patiently awaited their cue for decades.
That the manic drama of the fall fires was an epic event is certain. But equally epic, in its own right, is the subtly powerful rejuvenation of landscape that is going on in the Ventana even as you read these lines. The natural cycle is beginning again, as it has done countless times in the past, and we who are tuned in to the pulse of this wonderful Wilderness have before us an opportunity to observe the process from step one. The only thing lacking, at least as of the time of this writing, is legal access to the backcountry. We can only hope that the closure is lifted soon, so that those of us who care can walk in and enjoy this rare opportunity without having to break the law.
Please enjoy this Spring Solstice issue of the Double Cone Quarterly at your leisure and, if you feel so inclined, let us know your thoughts.
Enjoy the Season,
McWay Creek by Jack Ellwanger, © 2000
The Double-Cone Quarterly is published four times a year, on the equinoxes and solstices, by the Ventana Wilderness Alliance and can be obtained free of charge by anyone with an internet connection who steers their browser to http://www.ventanawild.org/news/news.html.