It was summer, really, early yet. Everything a month ahead – the lupin mostly gone, and the tribs dried up weeks earlier than last year. The Wagon Cave Plains golden instead of green.

Still yet, May is so sweet to visit the Indians. Just oceanside of Fort Hunter Ligget, its an easy drive in fording the San Antonio and a few creeks for fun in a 2WD will get you to Memorial Camp and near the headwaters of the Arroyo Seco.? A 4WD will get you a few miles further to Escondido Camp along the Arroyo Seco Indians road and you’ll feel like you are in the heart of the wilderness – canyons all around, Santa Lucia peak above, fish in the cool creek flowing through desert-like slopes above.? Or, you can do dispersed camping on the Wagon Cave Plains numbered roads – just get a campfire permit if you want a fire or a stove.? Be sure to drive the speed limit through the Fort – they are sticklers!

Second year in a row we came for the Ventana Wilderness Alliance‘s Spring Gathering. Last year we celebrated the official adoption of the Milpitas Special Interest Area, planning for management of the unique wilderness, cultural and historical heritage here.? This time we heard from and appreciated all the stewardship programs and volunteers. We learned that in the ’70s this wilderness had 7 full time rangers with mules and gear to keep the trails clear.? A “small government” movement combined with a devastating fire that obliterated trails was enough to put the wilderness back to itself for many decades, limiting access.? Now the forest service and VWA volunteers are working together to re-open access.? It was great to appreciate all those volunteer rangers and trail workers in person!

A few pics from the visit below. Full set of pics and more of the story here.


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Lois meander’s Santa Lucia Peak’s foothills on a warm Friday night

Starry night out in the freshest of air, sweet dawn chorus all around

Breakfast spot on the Arroyo Seco near Escondido camp

Touring the Wagon Cave – cool out of the sun!

…which made it a great millnery long before wagons ever arrived.

Quick scramble above the caves for an amazing view over the Plains.

A dip here at 8:15 AM and 3:30 PM tells you its summer here already..(Swimming hole on the Arroyo Seco trail, left turn past Memorial Camp at the South Monterey County Sportsman’s Club)