Claremont Insider: Expedition to Johnson's Pasture

Friday, February 15, 2008

Expedition to Johnson's Pasture

An Alliterative Adventure

The planned parking prohibition on the upper streets of Claraboya (Klar-A-boya in the indigenous language) is reminiscent of the decades-ago closure by the Chinese of the direct route through Tibet to Mount Everest, forcing climbers to make a lengthy approach through Nepal.

Now, the City of Claremont, headed by Politburo Chief Peter Sunway Yao (Chairman Yao) will likely close off the routes for the most direct ascent to Johnson's Pasture. This has the nature-loving world scrambling. How will they get to Johnson's Pasture without aerobic effort? What will happen to the formerly-clandestine moonlight hikes? Where will the founding members of the Claremont Wildlands Conservancy conduct their private and mystic rituals?

Heretofore, intrepid mountaineers would approach Johnson's Pasture via the direct-aid route up the South Wall to the South Col. The primitive road system of Klar-A-boya would provide a steep but usually-reliable path where the teams could park their Land Rovers for the final pitch to the Col.

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Now, however, mountaineers will have to establish Base Camp in the flatlands and make a long, dry approach march up the mighty Cobal, fording many rivers, before switching back and edging along the exposed and precipitous slopes hurtling to the depths of Suzanne's Couloir. After the "Long Traverse", Camp One is established on the divide between Suzanne's Couloir and Burbank Canyon.

From Camp One, a steep route grades inexorably upward ever upward to the knife-edge ridge and High Camp and a well-earned rest. Many is the climber reaching this point who has said, "I've had enough!" and turned back to comfort and safety.

But our Johnson's Pasture explorers are made of sterner stuff, and they proceed generally south along the ridge keeping the mighty East Buttress to the left, before coming out in the verdant mead of exotic grasses dotted with loden stands of non-native trees that is Johnson's Pasture.

A wonderful view is the traveler's reward. Don't forget to see Chi Cwm in the southeast corner of the pasture. While you are there, be sure to regard Worley's Waterway, tumbling downward ever downward from Johnson's Pasture to the east and south, and in season watering Thompson Creek Concrete Drainage Ditch amid a spray of debris and trash. The Geographer in our group may point out that the South Chute drains much of Johnson's Pasture along the west edge of Klar-A-boya and waters--well--it waters the same Thompson Creek Concrete Drainage Ditch but further downstream, near the corner of Webb School. These waters remain safely in concrete, adding nothing to the water table, until being deposited in the San Gabriel River above Whittier Narrows. A little of the water falling on the far west of Johnson's Pasture makes its way into Live Oak Canyon where it does its small part to enhance the water supply--of La Verne.

The fortunate wanderer may catch a glimpse at the first dagger of dawn, or as the sun softly sets, of the down- and fleece-clad she-priests of the Conservancy leading a small group to the highest hill of the Pasture. There, where the coarse grass lays down before the wind, we see a pillar of dust rise on the gray breeze and the soul of some departed solves silently into the firmament.

We quietly follow the narrow tread back to High Camp, reflecting on these many matters.

The trail down to Base Camp can normally be made by a healthy person in less than a day, and it is with a heavy heart but with keen anticipation of another trek that we leave this natural Paradise, having seen many Wonderful Things.