Sespe Creek snakes through the heart of the Los Padres forest like a coronary artery. It starts below Oak Springs, south of Ventucopa and flows east until it smacks into the foot of the Hopper Mountain bioregion, finally emptying into the Santa Clara River after a 55 mile journey.
Last weekend, while the rest of the country celebrated the fallen war dead by burning meat over a propane fire, I met my fellow toad-huggers at the middle Sespe to conduct a survey of invasive species and take a long walk in a quiet place.
Following the creekbed from Beaver Camp to the edge of Lion Canyon isn’t exactly canyoneering but it’s not a trail hike either. About one third of the time you’re lumping your pack from boulder to boulder and another third of the time you’re slogging through decomposing plant matter in a foot or more of slow moving water. The rest of the time you’re up to your waist in cold water or you’re recovering from a stumble which, while painful, still counts as progress.
On this trip we geo-tagged one mature tamarisk bush on Rock Creek, and five seedlings along the Sespe. Such a low count was a surprise, considering the infestations we’ve seen on Piru Creek. It was also a mystery – some of the seedlings on the Sespe were upstream from the “mother” plant on Rock Creek. So what was their source?
To get an idea of how tamarisk can impact a habitat check out this Before and After featuring Ansel Adams’ documentation of Canyon de Chelly.
(Yes, we also found a mating pair of Arroyo toads – the immediate recipients of this largesse.)
Here’s the thing about suburban frontiers…too close to the suburbs. There’s some good to that. You can live and work close to nature. Problem is too many people don’t clean up after themselves.
Real Cheap Sports in Ventura is sponsoring a clean-up day at Lizard’s Mouth, as I mentioned earlier a great local spot for bouldering. Work starts 10 AM on April 18. Co-sponsored by Earthworks Climbing School. Past Lizard’s Mouth clean up events were funded by Forest Service Adventure Pass fees.
A couple of months ago I decided to read the Bible differently than before. I’ve always tried to wrestle Knowledge or Truth from the Holy Scripture. Sometimes it works. Sometimes not so much.
This time around I’m trying to read more as if I’m having a conversation with God. It’s a subtle difference. But an interesting one.
For instance, I most recently read how the Israelites left Egypt and 430 years of enslavement behind and began a new adventure in the Sinai peninsula. Their response? Ungratefulness. The same sort of whining pit of despair that I all too frequently throw myself into, face first. In Exodus 14:12 the Israelites give words to the way far too many of us live, in our horrible little suburban lives, protected and paved, walled off from the world as God created it – It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!
The thing that makes this passage interesting – startling, really – is the fact that just an hour or two before reading this section of the Bible I was listening to a recording of Edward Abbey reading from his book Desert Solitaire about a search and rescue team and what they found – a corpse in the wilderness. Here’s Abbey’s take:
Looking out on this panorama of light, space, rock and silence I am inclined to congratulate the dead man on his choice of jumping-off place; he had good taste. He had good luck – I envy him the manner of his going: to die alone, on rock under sun at the brink of the unknown, like a wolf, like a great bird, seems to me very good fortune indeed. To die in the open, under the sky, far from insolent interference of doctor and priest, before this desert vastness opening like a window onto eternity – that surely was an overwhelming stroke of rare good luck.
I have no idea on earth what God may be attempting to teach me about this matter. But when it comes to freedom, to slavery, and dying in the desert it seems that God and Mr. Abbey clearly agree. A person could do worse.