“Sube conmigo, amor americano, Besa conmigo las piedras secretas.” – Pablo Neruda
First of all, it’s only fair to mention that most reasonable adults consider wandering off the trails in the Santa Lucias to be ill-advised. Guidebooks invariably warn against off trail travel. The Sierra Club guide notes that “canyons tend to be steep and narrow” with “rocky cirques and waterfalls which can be hazardous to climb around.” The Schaffer Guide complains that “the vegetation – particularly the chaparral, which dominates the landscape – is in most places so dense that most routes are practically impossible.” Mr. Schaffer says following streams is “tedious,” and relates an adventure in which he used up two hours in traveling half a mile.
The guidebooks are right. Mile for mile it’s easier to hike on a trail than to squeeze through brush or rock hop down a stream. Yet, tediousness is in the mind of the sufferer. Some think finding their own way is less tedious than plodding down a dusty trail seeing the same thin slice of the wilderness that every other visitor sees. In fact, many of the most spectacular and memorable spots lie far from any trail and are enjoyed only by the off trail traveler.
A waterfall can be a dangerous obstacle to some and a cause for celebration to others. The hiker thrashing in brush, feet not even touching the ground, is experiencing an intimacy and involvement with the landscape not found on any trail. Too slow? Well isn’t quality of experience, not speed of travel what we go to the Wilderness for?
So stop reading about it on the Internet already and get out there and do it.
Here, to whet your appetite, are some far from the beaten track scenes …
Not just another pretty waterfall. A hot spring flows from the wall on the right hand side and freefalls into the pool. Stand in the cold water admiring the falls and get a hot shower at the same time. Is this a great planet, or what?
BTW, You won’t have to wait in line. As you’ve probably guessed, this cozy locale is many a difficult mile from the nearest trail.
The steep, crumbling ramparts of the Double Cone’s southern slopes can be a serious impediment to human travel
Following creeks can be a great way to get around, but some are pretty steep
The 3rd “Circular” Pool
“Cakewalk” cross-country travel along lower Lost Valley Creek
Rime ice coats a tree on the rim of the Window
Steelhead summer over in a secluded stream
Falls on Ventana Creek
In the sticks
No need to filter this water
Lupine blooming on the Double Cone’s south face
Falls on Zig Zag Creek