Since remote mountain residents and their regular visitors understand there’s no gas station, no grocery store and no hardware center just down the road, most have adopted a Boy Scout-type approach. Self-sufficiency coupled with preparedness is essential when you stay or play in secluded areas of our magnificent Pacific coastlands.
And most people who breathe in these Santa Lucia Mountains like it that way. They thrive on the independence. They willingly drip their own sweat and blood on the land in order to explore these wooded canyons and take in the ridge-top views. They also accept the risks that accompany the isolation.
That being said, when there’s an emergency, or when things get overwhelming, even the handiest and the hardiest have been known to bear the ego’s discomfort and ask for assistance. That’s when the folks who live out in the middle of this heaven on earth call on one another, as well as outside agencies.
It’s not always easy to find helping hands this far from town. That’s why people who care enough to assist, no matter the challenge, are such a blessing. Neighbors, regardless the mileage between them, are often the first to arrive when something urgent comes up. It matters not that they may differ politically, spiritually or intellectually. They cross property lines to lend a hand without hidden agendas. They’re there to be supportive.
Many incidents over the decades have required more than the help of a generous neighbor or friend. Just ask AAA. They know their way here — many thanks, guys.
The California Department of Forestry, now Cal Fire, has come to the rescue numerous times in these mountains. Cal Fire engine crews, heavy equipment operators, water tenders, convict crews and air attack — you rock!
Lightning strikes have sparked fires in these woodlands. Earthquakes have rattled the bones of our homes. Mudslides and fallen trees have prevented ingress and egress. Chainsaw accidents, heart attacks and rattlesnake bites have threatened lives.
Nevertheless, mountain citizens stay loyal to their rural existences. Some stay because it’s passed on in their blood. Others stay because it gets in their blood. I stay because I belong to the mountain, not the other way around. Still, I have to acknowledge the fact that life is much nicer up here because of the many good people who have offered help and given it with both hands.
Michele Oksen (over email@example.com) lives in Cambria’s mountain community in the Santa Lucia range.