A very nice reflection in the Los Angeles Times, after visiting four potential national monuments in California, which remind us again, of how utterly beautiful the state we are blessed to call home—when we can forget how it has been governed for the past several years-really is.
“My aha! moment came after Andy Steele told me to close my eyes and grope a tree.
“Steele, a retired forest ranger and naturalist at Grand Targhee Resort in Wyoming, then had me eat a few pine needles and kneel in the snow to see whether a squirrel caused the micro tracks. It was a veritable John Muir experience.
“As an avid outdoorsman, I always knew there was beauty in nature's details. That's not necessarily a strength for me — I'm more a big-picture guy — but now I was embarking on a trip that required that perspective Steele introduced me to that day in Wyoming.
“I spent a month crisscrossing California, exploring four natural landscapes identified as potential national monuments.
“My journey took me to the Bodie Hills, northeast of Lee Vining; Berryessa-Snow Mountain, an hour north of San Francisco; an expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, which straddles the California- Oregon border near the Klamath River; and Modoc Plateau, tucked in California's upper-eastern corner.
“California is blessed with an abundance of natural — and obvious — beauty. It's easy enough to see and get to Yosemite, Death Valley or Joshua Tree. They're so accessible, in fact, that nearly 6 million people explored those national parks in 2009.
“The four California places I visited were a bigger challenge to reach. Their remoteness meant I would drive hundreds of miles across deserted rutted roads and rely on my instincts to navigate in the absence of any signs.”