Cambrian: Opinion

It’s an uphill battle when you’re bogged down up a hill

The upper bog area.
The upper bog area. Special to The Cambrian

Sticky, ooey, gooey, sucky mud. Can’t drive through it; can’t drive around it. Thus, we have a number of neighbors here in Cambria’s backcountry who have been trapped at home since early February.

After this year’s epic rains, the Central Coast has experienced all sorts of mayhem. On the upper portion of San Simeon Creek Road, we have had our own little soap opera. Two huge trees knocked down two other huge trees across the road from each other, essentially blocking all traffic up and down the road from about half a mile above where we live.

After the chain saws were cranked up and the trees were moved out of the way, we discovered that Camp Spring had sprung to life right in the middle of the road, turning a stretch of it into a huge bog. Blocked by the trees and then the mud, above-the-bog residents started getting desperate to get to town for food and other supplies.

My brother-in-law Jim decided to gamble on the mud but his large truck got so stuck that my husband, John, had to pull it out with our Jeep. That chewed up the road even more. Once word got out, other drivers decided that, no matter how badly they needed milk and dog food, it would be wise to avoid trying to cross the now-40-foot bog our neighbor Judith Grace has christened, Big Muddy.

The general life lesson that we’re all in this together is especially true for people living in such a remote location as we do. Neighbors helping neighbors is the norm. Once our uphill neighbors started needing food, downhill neighbors Debby Mix and Judith Grace started shopping, cooking and ferrying food to the “shut-ins” by walking care packages through the woods beside Big Muddy.

Neighbors Bill Flemion and Byron Haanen tried to come to the rescue with a small, bobcat-style tractor to clean up the bog and got the tractor horribly stuck in the mud. It was decided that fixing Big Muddy was going to have to wait until things dry out, which will be when? In the meantime, Bill and Byron have been able to fix a minor mud hole below our house, aptly named by Judith, Little Muddy. Our vehicles used to have to tiptoe around that mess, but now it is beautiful, dry and smooth. Thank you, gentlemen!

Because walking around Big Muddy became so difficult, neighbor Doc Miller built a little boardwalk along the side of the bog so people wanting to cross would have firm, clean footing on which to do so. It is a backcountry work of art that has made it possible for folks to walk back and forth across the bog without becoming mired in the boot-sucking mud.

While we’re waiting for Mother Nature to dry things out, we have set up an informal car service. Our stranded neighbors can drive their vehicles to the top of the bog, walk across Doc’s boardwalk, borrow a vehicle from below-the-bog neighbors or dedicated town friends, and get to town to take care of business.

Bill Flemion has gone a step beyond and parked his truck just below Big Muddy so neighbors can use it whenever they need to. Pretty darned generous, I’d say. It takes a little bit of coordination with the up-the-hill gang so that everyone isn’t trying to use the truck on the same day, but we’re pretty good at that up here. All for one and one for all.

Mountain Musings appears the second Thursday of each month and is special to The Cambrian. Email Marcia Rhoades at