Yesterday morning, Friends of Garrapata, the volunteers who work tirelessly to keep Garrapata State Park wild and graffiti free, and its trails in usable condition, posted the above graphic to their Facebook page with the following text:
Please stay clear of the Peak Trail until October.
While environmentally destructive backcountry marijuana grows are indeed a serious problem – that could be solved overnight by legalization – and it’s certainly worth being cautious while traveling off trail in places that might be attractive to growers, this post stands out as strange for several reasons.
First, a marijuana grow anywhere in the vicinity of the Peak Trail seems extremely unlikely. It’s a heavily travelled, short, dead-end trail segment along an open, grassy ridge. There’s nowhere to hide a marijuana grow on the ridge and no water to keep a grow alive. While the Peak Trail could certainly be used as a small part of much longer route to a grow further back in the hills, those so using it would also have to use the Rocky Ridge Trail, and this warning is specific to the Peak Trail alone.
Next, it’s highly unlikely that marijuana growers would booby-trap a popular hiking trail, since that would guarantee their quick discovery.
Finally, if the people who created this graphic know of a threat specific to a single short trail segment, why haven’t they called the Sheriff’s tip line themselves, and why hasn’t the Sheriff already eliminated the problem? That would seem to be a much more real world solution than simply ceding the trail to the growers until October.
As one commenter put it:
Weird, if they know they are growing why don’t they bust them?
So is this just “plain and simple fear-mongering,” as another commenter put it? Is it a clever plot by Friends of Garrapata to scare away the hordes of visitors who are overrunning and damaging the place? Or what? Friends of Garrapata have yet to respond to the many questions being asked in the comments.
Let’s just hope that one thing it doesn’t have to do with is a hike that a group of friends, who happen to be young and Latino, took at Garrapata State Park last Saturday. Their reaction to the post has been an outpouring of emojis crying with laughter and sarcastic comments like:
Tambien andamos en las drogas!! (We also walk in the drugs)
Lol omg!!!!! Now this!!!! Lol no pues wow hhahah
ohhh dammm fuk it hay que entrarle al negocio (We need to get into the business)
Please let’s hope it can quickly be confirmed that the whole thing isn’t the result of someone seeing these young people or some other group “hiking while Mexican,” and jumping to the conclusion that there must be a drug growing operation in the vicinity.
There is an unfortunate history of this type of thing. The Forest Service’s infamous request that forest users report to law enforcement anyone eating tortillas, drinking Tecate, listening to Mexican music, or speaking Spanish, comes to mind.
But whatever the origin of the post, and whatever the intent, like a stone thrown in a pond, the ripples spread ever outward. The post has been shared nearly fifty times so far and the story grows in the retelling. Take the repost by Discover Central California, which bills itself as a “Local/Travel Website.” Their commentary beings:
As wonderful as is California’s Central Coast, there is no place that is heaven on earth. Bad things happen here, and one of those bad things is that cartels smuggle drugs by water as well as grow them here on public and private land that is not their own.
This post is a “heads up” about the Garrapata State Park in the Big Sur area.
These growers use chemicals that are banned for use in this country and leave the growing area blighted. The sad fact is that many of the persons cultivating this crop are pressed into service under duress, with their families in Mexico as collateral.
Wow. All that along the Peak Trail. Who knew?