San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

Sharp ridges and steep valleys fortify this wilderness from further encroachment by the sprawling cities of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Lancaster, and so many others. The valleys are of sparse shrub, the ridges hold pine, fir, and a few late blooming wildflowers.


"5 September 2017,

Into the traffic, and the San Gabriel Mountains, chaparral thin but present, Mojave yucca in great number, joshua tree in the lowlands. This place is an island, a bastion amongst the metropolitan ocean that beats upon the foothills. Power lines run criss-cross through it. Not the charming wooden ones, these great scaffolded metallic things fiercely crackle and sputter. Trash piles cluttered a forest service road. I found a plastic bottle rolling slowly rolling downhill, knocked loose by some errant gust of wind. A metal trash can stood upright nearby, empty. The chaparral thickened as I drove, a canyon holding bulbous granite outcroppings and a dry streamed. A lake on my map in reality is a shrubby flat, now dry. Were these homes on the cliff edge overlooking the land once lakefront properties? What lakefront or otherwise pristine views will be relative wastelands in a hundred years time? All this is the human impact, scattered as leaves amongst the hillsides. The roads, power lines and trash are dimmed and hidden in the soft light of sunset."


"7 September, 2017,

There are few stars above me, though elevation and a cloudless sky make for a clear night. The stars are earthbound here. They hold less inspiration and wonder for me when pinned such, as I know their source. I'm camped on a saddle, a portion of the ridge road that affords me a view north and south, roughly. The cities that encircle me were shrouded before, but their shining lights pierce upwards, reminding me of that which lies below. I am atop a sanctuary, though the slow upward creep of development churns on. People used to live in these mountains. This is where the water might be found, where the birds and flowers cluster in the heat of summer. Maybe not on such high ridges but down lower, in canyons, foothills. This is what some may call progress. We ought leave this place now to the birds and the flowers, the pine, the manzanita, though we climb the foothills and mountains with little regard for those that came before, nor those yet to come."