Plascott Ridge One hundred miles South of Big Sur
written from journal entries from an eighteen year old young man in search of himself:
“The mass of men lead quiet lives of desperation, why should we be in such desperate haste as to succeed in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps this is because he hears the sound of a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.” Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
I foremost went into the wilderness, to leave the social academia, of the world I grew up in, and lived in, behind me.
I withdrew from all the I knew, was taught, and learned, to find and to seek a new teacher, a teacher of which I could trust, a teacher who would not betray me and hopefully give to me, a sustenance of which then, at that time I did not possess. I could not affect to attain any true purpose to my life on my own.
At the age of eighteen years I found myself in a paradox of conflicting emotions, beliefs, and intellectual experience.
The absurdity I saw in the thoughts and ideas of the world, and its contradiction in terms, was infecting, any and all, ambitions within me.
Within the inconsistency of the world I perceived I experienced a world of which I was now, determined, and driven to leave and to leave for my very sanity.
The pervasive onslaught of the insidious feeling of emptiness, of which, I was invasively consume was now attacking me, and was, judged by my peers, to be that of insignificance.
The futility of my existence, of which I was now experiencing, I felt then that I had truly became alone, for I did not belong to this world i.e. the world of mankind and more importantly the world of my peers.
I was overwhelmed and incapacitated with a feeling of such deep trepidation and dread that it overshadowed and consumed the very essence, behind the reason, for my very survival.
For this reason, I so I elected to force myself, into the depths of the wilderness, to consistently and without fail to be faced with the realities of the basics for survival, such as the simple necessities of warmth, food, water, and shelter.
After my experience of eight months of living in the wilderness, I found, among other necessitates of human survival, at least; my survival…that I needed more than the simplicities of those common edifices of continued existence. I found (much to my surprise) that I needed to love and be loved and that this would outweigh all other principalities of existence.
However, even initially, to simply survive was the least of my quest. My desire to live, had been stricken from my life, for many reasons, I simply had no desire, or reason to live. The world I left behind me, took these essential desires from me, and took them from me, with intense brutality.
As a result, I had no choice, but to leave, to seek, to find, something, anything of value and substance. In the sustenance to which I sought, there had to be purpose, and for me, this purpose, because of my past, had to be altruistic in nature.
At first I had to cleanse myself of the value systems and influences which were instilled within me, first by my parents, then by the influences of a world created by mankind, which seemed, to me, at the time, to be in stark contrast to that of nature. Even the ticking clock from the movement of the constellations’, in the starlit heavens above me, did not seem to coincide with the creations of mankind.
However, it was, in the wilderness where I first began to find solace and peace to a definitive and natural order, within the world of natural creation, which was, to me, accurately and definitively abstract to that of mankind’s creations. So with these existential beliefs foremost on my mind I went…
Up on the Ridge
(A non-fictional journal account of a young man in search of himself by living alone in the wilderness)
By CEREY E. RUNYON
Journal entry South of Big Sur, Plaskott Ridge, March 17, 1978 4:00 to 4:30 A.M. according to the Pleiades
Today I found a new location for my base camp; it was perfect…located within one eighth of a mile from this new camp there is a natural spring bubbling up from beneath the bedrock.
Within fifty feet of my new camp, there is the largest dead Manzanita bush, which I shall, from now on, refer to it, as that of a ‘Manzanita Tree, because of its massive size, This Manzanita was the biggest I had ever seen, the base of which was better than three feet in diameter.
A few days ago, I realized I had a new friend…An Eagle, of a nearly extinct species, of which I had learned, before I left society that they were being raised and re-leased about 60 miles north of my location, on Plasscot Ridge above, the Prewitt River one hundred or so miles South of Big Sur, California… At first, the eagle would seem to follow me when I went forging then it seemed I to follow him. Perhaps this is a result of ‘cabin fever’ of being lonely and needing a friend, well, at least the idea amuses me.
However I strongly feel, and am convinced that he (the eagle) led me here to this place, to live.
I sat on the ridge, in the meadow, on the hill to gaze at the stars this evening for hours, observing their movements. I had read, before my departure that one could tell time by looking at the movement and placement of the Pleiades, so, by this method, I retired to my sleeping tent at about between 4:15 and 4:30 A.M, Now I will go to sleep with my 30/30 Winchester and double barreled shot gun, for comfort, beside me. I am having a problem with a female mountain lion breaking into my other tent where I keep my food. “Never sleep with your food supply” I was warned by an old ‘sourdough’ years before.
Journal Entry, South of Big Sur, Plaskott Ridge, March 18, 1978, approx 8:00-8:30 A: M
A couple of hours after the sun rose, when the bright yellow light, first appeared, illuminating the uppermost branches of the stunning ‘Live Oak’ tree I was camped under, my new friend awoke me with his screeching. He was a young Golden Eagle who had yet to find a mate. “I have an alarm clock!” I exclaimed to myself. “Wow!” I Thought to myself “Who needs clocks?” “I can tell time by the stars and the sun, and I have, a friend who wakes me up in the morning!”
“I know he wants to show me something, but I want to go back to sleep” I whine to myself. As I continue to romance the idea of having a friendship with a Golden eagle. I must be losing my mind, me; friends with an Eagle, Sure!
The Eagle keeps circling overhead, screeching; “Wake up!”
“OK!” I yell up at the Eagle flying in the sky, as I finish writing, then after I put my leather bound journal away, I grabbed my guns and headed out of the tent.
I left the tent, and after perching my weapons, leaning them against a small pine tree, I notice that ‘my friend’ has landed on a quite large dead branch directly over my tent…. “Is he trying to tell me something?” I ask myself.
“That branch certainly looks dangerous” I realize, inspecting it more closely.
“I am going to have to move my tent or climb that tree and remove that dead widow maker.”
I was camped approximately five or six miles from the nearest ‘forest service road’ I was located on the western slope of the mountain, where, a few hundred feet from my base camp, was a gentle sloping hill and mountain meadow. I had a clear view of the Pacific Ocean about fifteen miles ‘as the eagle flies’ in the distance looking west. The Pacific Ocean was often blanketed by a thick layer of clouds. I often had the feeling that I could walk down the mountain and walk on the clouds. ‘My Friend’ The Eagle would dive, down through the blanket of clouds and then rise high above them, he seemed as if he was playing, but I am sure he was hunting.
Journal Entry shortly before dark, Plaskott Ridge, South of Big Sur California March 23, 1978
Today I meditated for the longest time, yet only an hour or two seemed to pass…I was meditating on a flower follow the path of the sun, first opening in the morning the flower opening to the East then closing when the sun went down, The flower was then pointed in the westerly direction.….I watched this little flower all day!
Something, is happening with my awareness of time, I could say that it is slowing down, yet I could say that it is speeding up…I was shocked to realize that I meditated the entire day away watching this simple flower…I am besieged with an odd feeling of experiencing eternity, by somehow being entirely engulfed, and within the present.
Journal Entry South of Big Sur, March 30th 1978
I had to kill three quail today with my 4/10. I do not like killing things. I got pretty scratched up chasing them through the thick, sharp Manzanita brush.
When I got back to camp I built a fire outside of the tent I then heated some water on my camp fire, then after letting the water cool to about one hundred eighty degree, I put the three birds in for a few moments, I then pulled them out to pluck the feathers…I was so hungry I even thought about eating the feathers, at least the thought crossed my mind…I remembered my Father passing on the Native American knowledge (as I have Native American blood in me) about killing animals, the blessings and everything, including “not wasting” anything, yet still, killing bothered me.
I have been thinking about the ‘loneliness’ that I felt before I came here. A wound of which was cut so deep that within me that I could not live within the world anymore…A wound that the “world” nor anyone could heal…I didn’t know too much about God, but it seems to me that he has led me here, on a quest of self discovery.
If I survive here in the wilderness and then decide to return to the world, I hope that I find something here, in nature, that will give something to contribute to the world, and people who suffer…but as of now I am content to stay here, forever. I do not see anything in the world for me to go back to.
That was taken, when God took the two most important people in my life. I see significance in my life from the suffering of losing my family…It has instilled within me into the depths to the core of my being at first a great sadness but as I go deeper I find within me, a great sense of compassion, and empathy for others who suffer, and as well…it has set me upon this quest, to find something of sustenance, of which is greater than anything I can see in the world;, a world of which I realize that I know so little about but I need a reason and a purpose to live. I need something that transcends death; the deaths of my Father, and my brother. Something that transcends anything materialistic, for everything here breaks, dies and eventually lays waste to dust. I need something more, by which to live. Sometimes I feel as if I am a sword, burning hot, in the forge of God only to be fashioned into a tool of his benevolence, but for some reason this is beginning to make me angry, angry at such a God…who would play the role of the marionette influencing my life. Before I left, I researched allot of Viking lore and Egyptian mythology. I make my own journals and I stitch Egyptian hieroglyphs and Viking runic symbols into their bindings…hidden meanings of things that are mystical to me. But this God of Valhalla and the Gods of the Egyptian underworld, I feel as if they have asked too much of me.
I love life…I don’t want to die, but I am not afraid, here…I am not afraid in this wilderness. However the world of ‘Mankind’ does scare me. The atrocities, of mankind…I want no-part of that world.
(Every thirty days or so I hike down the mountain to the Pacific Coast highway to hitchhike to Santa Cruz to get my scholarship check for supplies which consist mostly of beans, rice, flour, salt, sugar, coffee, flour, salted pork and fish and other simple staples, so I am not forced to hunt often…and when I have to kill animals this bothers me. So I only kill when I have to, and this is not often. May times I have eaten the ‘grubs’ or bug larva, digging them out from the bark rotten tree, as gross as it sounds I much preferred this to killing animals, and they really didn’t taste that bad…I would mix them in a salad, Spring was at hand and there was an abundance of green vegetation to eat)
Journal Entry, approx 8:00 A.M. April 3, 1978 South of Big Sur, Plaskott Ridge
It has been raining for the past couple of days, and I have been overwhelmed with a great sadness these past couple of days, thinking about my Brother, my Dad, my Mother and the ‘girl’ I left behind.. But I have not the luxury for depression, for any carelessness out here could mean my death.
I went for a long hike today and when I returned to my ‘Alaskan’ canvas tent and upon entering I instantly felt the cold, and with an intense feeling of anxiety, I opened the door of the small wood burning stove, to behold only a small layer of ashes within. The fire was quite nearly dead, and this immediately terrified me, for several reasons, One: my matches were wet, Two: it was getting dark Three: I could not find my flint and steel kit containing the small shavings of magnesium and punk. Four I was wet and cold! Five: All of the wood in the tent was damp, because the tent (being made from canvas) would sweat when it was cold and wet outside while stoking a hot fire from within…
Thank God, I forged some pine pitch wood out of the forest nearly a week ago and I had split it into little pieces which were lying next to the stove…After opening the door to the stove and beholding the ashes I poked around to see if maybe there was any hot coals left, much to my relief there was, barely, but not enough that I was convinced that I could get a fire going. I quickly un-sheathed my Buck knife at my side and hurriedly shaved away some tiny shavings of the pitch wood, after carefully laying them on the now exposed coals, three one half inch coals to be precise, I began to blow…but I was blowing too hard, and the coals were going out! I calmed myself down, prayed and blew gently…and poof…the worry of a hypothermic death was dramatically over.
This experience instantly brought me out of self pity and my depression.
This is a non-fictional account of a young man in search of himself.
There are a few more hundre entries to these journals.
I just have not had the inspiration to publish them.