Story by John Vonderlin
Email John: [email protected]
(Photos: Upper right, Arch Rock. At left: Shot from the clifftops about a half mile north of the Scott Beach bridge. Courtesy John Vonderlin.)
I was in a quandary, as to which, of the myriad of metaphors for lack of early success to use, to describe my second attempt to reach “Acid Beach.”
Anything worth having is worth working for,” was a contender, but since in my mind, work is being paid for doing things you don’t want to do, that metaphor didn’t seem right. After considering a handful of others, I settled on the accurately descriptive, but not future predictive,
“So Close, Yet So Far.”
(Photo: ) So Close, Yet So Far” shot from my turnaround spot, Chicken’s Roost. Courtesy John Vonderlin.)
And I was close, like a prisoner staring out at freedom from his cell’s barred window.
After a mile- and- half of beach walking, clambering over numerous algae-slickened rocks, splashing through shallow water between waves in a number of spots, losing Meg, my quest partner’s companionship, at one treacherous spot, requiring me to crush a number of barnacles and mussels while sidling along the cliff to keep from swimming, a stomach-scraping to-my-limit muscle-up from a slippery toehold onto a sheer 8 foot wall’s top, and finally hand and toe-holding my way up a 20 foot cliff to the top of a promontory projecting into deep water, I was stopped.
(Photo: That’s Meg waving good-bye at her turnback spot. I was able to clamber along the slimy cliff along the path indicated by the white dots thanks to the traction barnacles and mussels provided. Sorry guys, I know your life is tough enough as it is. Courtesy John Vonderlin.)
Oh, I probably could have inched along the slimy, narrow, littered with scree ledge under the cliff, rising above me without falling into the unknown depths of the surf waiting below. But, I wasn’t sure I could climb back up when I returned.
Staring at my route forward I was assaulted by other doubts. Could I protect my camera during a fall? Or, after landing in the steep-sided inlet roiling with surging waves? And what about the two other tough spots ahead, still between me and my destination, that I had judged the most impassable when looking at the large photo files on California Coastal Records Project website?
Would descending from the cliff I was standing on just put me between a rock and a hard spot? What if I injured myself? Meg would never get past the muscle-up spot or on top of this cliff I was vacillating on, even if she finally got worried enough when I didn’t return and managed to traverse the area that had stopped her a quarter mile back.