John Vonderlin: The Chutist (1)

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The Chutist, Part One

Story/Photos by John Vonderlin

Email John ([email protected])

Hi June,

Our attempt during the extreme low tide (minus 1.4) a few days ago to probe northward from the former site of Gordon’s Chute into “The Forbidding Zone,” was a failure. We had hoped the combo of the low tide, nicely placed in the late afternoon, along with the presence of all the sand, not yet drawn into deeper waters by the winter’s waves, might provide us a virtual Camino Real northward below the cliffs, perhaps, right up to Martin’s Beach.

Realistically, I was just planning to use my little wooden ladder, a throwaway from some child’s bunk bed, to climb back onto Gordon’s Chute’s base rock after sliding down from it for a quick foray into the next cove, with its giant sea cave. Unfortunately,.the moderately large surf, spawned by a Pacific storm, that though driven far north by the developing High Pressure Center presently warming us, was still able to send its killjoy missionaries to squash my hopes, as I saw at first glance. Still, failure can breed success and having to halt, and go no further, on the base rock of Gordon’s Chute, made me give my newest Chicken’s Roost, a thrice over. A “Chute shoot” developed.

But before I can photographically bolster my rationale for allowing reticence to decide whether I should take a chance in the name of exploration, let’s get there first.

These first five photos are of the creek trail to Tunitas Beach. With the onset of substantial rain, it will washout, leaving only the slippery, steep trail straight down from the Highway 1 pulloff available.

After parking on Tunitas Creek Road just east of Highway 1, you head south along a dark, shady trail, beside and in a small concrete drainage ditch. The path gets steeper downhill, then cuts westward under the bridge. There you will be confronted by the angry guardian of Tunitas,

If you are brave enough to continue, you’ll soon have to pass the first test:: “The Log Walk.” Though only slightly longer then ten feet, the log walk is particularly treacherous because of the thinness of the log, the sliminess of the nearby mud that will be coating the bottom of your shoes, and the green scum that failure will coat you with.

The added trap of the seemingly substantial log parallel, alongside the main trunk, apparently available in case you should start to lose your balance, actually offers a long-to-be-recounted-with much-laughter, even if not photographically-captured, humiliation event.

From there it’s the Inca Trail, a narrow, muddy, slippery  hand-dug trail, that offers its own opportunities to put a damper on your beach visit memories, if you’re not paying attention.

Passing through that, you wind your way through almost a tropical forest.

During the winter some ambitious souls will hack a path leading up the hill above the flooded “Log Walk” and the washout of the “Inca Trail, allowing beach access.  Abandoned in late Spring, it is almost invisible, completely overgrown by Fall.

Continuing to hike through the riparian corridor as it emerges into the ever-widening canyon mouth, you finally see the goal ahead, Gordon’s Chute

the wave-washed end of the looming, sheer Tunitas cliffs. Next, Part 2 of “The Chutist,” or “Oh. Shoot! and the Chute Shoot.” Enjoy. John

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