Clueless in Big Sur, 4/20/15

i want to start a new column, so-to-speak. Stories, preferably humorous, Or made so … About our clueless visitors. I’ll start, but send me any experiences you wish to share, and, if they have a point, but use humor to make it, I will publish … With credit or anonymously, as you prefer. Send your contribution to

I’ve noticed that Saturday night the wilderness visitors are a bit stranger than those who come on Friday night. I am at a loss to explain the difference.

This past Saturday, late afternoon, early evening, I came upon several cars heading up Plaskett. One, a Subaru Outback didn’t want to pull over, so I rode his tail up Plaskett. From Gary’s driveway  until the bull frog, this guy wouldn’t pull over. Finally, a wide spot, and I was able to pass. I watched him in the rear view mirror, but he held back. I gave him no more thought. I needed to pee, but there were campers at all my usual spots, so I waited until I got to my gate. 

As I opened my Jeep door and went to get out, I was suddenly surrounded by 3 guys from the Subaru Outback. They were startled by my gate, and wanted to get through. “We have to get through, we are meeting friends at Prewitt Ridge camp.” Really? Demanding I let them through? Oh, yeah, like that’s going to work. “No, you can’t go through.” “But, our GPS sent us this way.”  “I don’t care if your mother sent you this way. You cant come through. Now, turn around, go down to the highway and go up Nacimiento. Goodbye.”

Clueless in Big Sur.

Rain Totals & Dirt Road Report

First, so none of you panic, I have had no reports of any problems on Highway One, thus the “dirt” in my title. A couple of yahoos showed up at my place a bit ago, on foot. They had gotten themselves stuck in a “ditch” in the middle of the road. I sent an email to Sherry Tune about this. I have been literally begging the USFS to grade this road for YEARS! Last time it was graded was the Plaskett II fire of 2000. These yahoos are really lucky that Rock Knocker just happened to stop by my place today, or they would be outta luck. My neighbor’s car is in the shop, and Rock Knocker is giving him a ride on Monday to go pick it up, and I won’t go out when conditions on Plaskett are this bad, so I would have lent them my phone to call 805-927-HELP, Cambria AAA, who is the only one who will come up here, and it is damn expensive!

On to rain totals, my gauge read .9 this morning, which is all that I recorded for yesterday’s downpour. I have doubts about the accuracy of that reading, however. Debbie, in Big Sur Valley, reports just under 1.5 inches for that neck of our neighborhood.

Warmer, drier weather supposedly on the way for this next week.

Community Gathering, Patrols, and fires

Late this afternoon, I left the heat of the mountain for a sweet community gathering sponsored by John Handy of TreeBones. He roasted two pigs, had a band, and everyone brought something. It was so good to see so many of my neighbors. Neighbors here live miles from each other. Gatherings are the only way we get to see each other, sometimes.

Our host, John Handy …

The band …

the roasted pigs.

On the way home, I found one F&G ranger (he said there was another, whom I did not see), and one LPNF ranger patrolling Plaskett. So many hunters were up here, I suspect this was the last weekend of this portion of the season. I am just astounded, frankly, that Plaskett is getting all this attention. AND, I am extremely grateful. I cannot explain my relief at seeing firefighters and rangers making this effort this time of the year. Just a presence helps to discourage so much of the behavior I’ve been watching build over the last few years. Thank you, guys.

When I got home, I found a voice mail from Kelly O’Brien, reporter from KUSP who lives in Jamesburg, of a wildland fire that broke out in Carmel Valley, 6 miles up Robinson Canyon Rd. from CV Rd. She left the message at 5:45 pm, and I did not pick it up until 7:30 pm. The CHP opened Robinson Canyon Rd. back up (it had been closed for 2 hours) at 8:11 pm this evening, so that probably indicates this fire is controlled.

There were a number of small fires that started in various places on the central coast, including one on Apple Pie Ridge in Big Sur. So far, they have all been picked up fast, including the local one.

Given the temps and the low humidity, our firefighters are doing an incredible job. Our thanks can never be enough.

Kate goes ballistic – campfire @ front gate & Rave Party at Prewitt

Got a couple stories to tell, one with photos. It is a story about life in this wilderness I call home, and it is not easy. It is a story of campfires when the temperatures are in the 90’s next to highly ignitable vegetation at a time when the news has carried stories of wildfires up and down the state. Two stories — one day. The day starts with one, detours, and ends where it began.

I got a call this afternoon from Geri.”Hey, Kate. There’s a Rave Party at Prewitt Camp this weekend. Can you see Prewitt Camp?”

“Oh, yeah, Geri. It’s straight across from me. I’ll keep an eye on it tonight for campfires. I can see them for miles up here.”

“Cool. Thanks.”

I went to Cambria to send something for work, and was enjoying the coolness of the coast. I stopped to see Lynne at the campground. It was full, she was stressed, and I knew Plaskett and other spots around here would be stressed. I got my camera out.

All up the road there were trucks. Seemed to me mostly hunters, but I took photos of all the license numbers, just in case. I love that I can do that. I used to write them down, but sometimes I can be dyslexic with numbers. Plus, cameras date and time stamp them.

I am almost home, long past the “No Trespassing” signs, coming around a corner, when I see a truck parked in the turn-out just before my gate. That’s my property. Oh, boy, I think, I’ve got to have a talk with this yay-hoos. You know how many signs they drove by?? No less than eight. EIGHT.

Then, I see it. FIRE!! They had a campfire!! OMG!! I screeched in there, jumped out of the car, as only a one-legged 60 year-old crone can, WITH camera, and started simultaneously yelling and snapping photos. The fire is behind that blue chair.

“What the HELL do you think you are doing?? Put that thing OUT!! NOW!!”

“Hey, lady, calm down. Don’t get upset.”

“Don’t get upset? Have you lost your fucking minds? There are NO campfires in the forest right now. PUT IT OUT!! NOW!!”

“Okay, okay, just calm down, will you??”


“Calm down?? I am not going to calm down until you put that OUT!! There are signs posted NO CAMPFIRES!”


“Yeah, well, I have selective seeing. We will put it out.”

“Yes, you will and I won’t leave until you do.”

“We did a good job of creating the fire ring. We were careful, see?”

“You see those manzanita bushes? They are full of flammable oil.”

“Manzanita?? Isn’t that Madrone?”

“No. It is manzanita. And see that Ponderosa Pine right next to you? That goes up like a roman candle.” The shaved head giggles. They’ve been drinking, and smoking pot, it seems.

“They have campfires in the campground, right? Why not up here?”

Duh … how many reasons do you want?


“Now that we are putting it out, can we still camp here?”


“Well, can we come to your house?”

“No, go down past the ‘No Trespassing’ signs and camp where you want. No fires, though. Do you have a propane camp stove? Those are allowed.”

“Is that one of those things you get at Big 5?” they said, giggling.

“Then I guess it is a cold dinner for you tonight.”

Now, on to the Prewitt Rave Party….

Shortly after I got home, I heard the sound of the drums. They sounded as if they were right below me, but I already knew about the Rave Party, so I figured it was them, and the echos reached across the canyon to sound so close. The dogs went OFF! Trespassers — noisy trespassers, they seemed to say. I let them bark, I had groceries to carry in, lights to turn on, and things to do, one of which was to call the head Law Enforcement guy for the LPNF and let him know about the Cayucos yay-hoos.

After my story, he told me about the Rave Party.

“Yeah, I heard about that.” I said. “I will be keeping an eye out, that’s for sure.”

“Good,” he said. “Over 200 people are expected, and the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office has been notified. They’ve been told no fires, so if you see one, call it in.”

“You want me to call 911?”

“Yes, please.”

The drums stopped within 10 minutes or so, but my 2d male dog would not shut up. He heard them, even if I could not. I watched, all throughout the preparation of this post, as more and more headlights showed themselves coming out on the ridge. At 10:00 pm, they were still coming. I look for campfires and see none. I see lights. I use my binoculars, if there is any question, and I know that I will watch until I get sleepy.

The USFS Fire Station in Hunter-Liggett is on alert, just in case, the MCSO is on alert, the scanners are all aware of the potential for a dangerous situation.

Should I go and check on the Cayucas yay-hoos before I go to bed? Is this even in my job description? I guess it is, if I live up here at the Top ‘o the World.

That’s it for tonight, ladies and gentlemen. I must work this weekend, but I will be checking on our temporary inhabitants for the next couple of days. Boy, I sure cannot wait for Labor Day. Hopefully, things will quiet down.

8/7/09 Updates on local conditions

Ponderosa Fire 100% contained as of 7 am. Roads were all still closed as of 9 pm last night, including Plaskett, but that does not stop people. I counted 8 separate campsites, some with 4-5 cars in them. And that’s just on Plaskett. I called the USFS law enforcement.

Hunting season opens tomorrow morning, so I am sure it will be crazy tonight and tomorrow. I always dread these opening season days. The worse of being human comes out in most people — the blood lust, the inconsiderateness, the stupidity of the alcoholic stupor, to name just three.

Added from Cal-Fire from Friday, 8/7/09: “Ponderosa CA-LPF-2563 Fire remains at 458 acres, and is 100% contained. Large de-mobilization that started yesterday will continue through this morning. Fire activity is minimal with some smoldering fuels within the containment lines. Mop-up is continuing as is patrolling in all divisions.”

Fire Restrictions

I did not get an “official” notice from the USFS, but signs were posted down here in the Silver Peak Wilderness Area today. It has been incredibly hot, very low humidity, so I am not surprised.

And now, for tonight’s sunset:
That’s the long view. Here’s the close up:
Have a blessed week, everyone!