Protecting a Paradise
“This land was our church, our chapel, a place where we reunited with nature and ourselves.”
David Duveneck’s first memory of hiking to his family’s property near Mt. Pico Blanco in California was at about three-years-old when his dad plopped him in an Adirondack basket, strapped him to his back and headed into the forest with the rest of his family.
“I still remember the smell of my dad’s hair and the feel of the whiskers on his cheeks as I sat in that basket and held on to him,” David smiles wistfully. “It’s amazing how something like that sticks with you. To this day it’s a really strong memory because we enjoyed camping so much as a family.”
The land that fills David’s memories is an 80-acre hidden paradise that borders the Ventana Wilderness in the watershed of the south fork of the Little Sur River a few miles south of Monterey, California. In the early 1920’s, David’s grandfather, an avid fisherman, spent much time at a fishing lodge on the property. In 1929 he purchased the land and turned it into a private paradise for his wife and four children, journeying there by foot or horseback.
When it came time for his grandfather to pass the land on to his four adult children, only David’s father had the time and interest in carrying on the family tradition. And so he did. “As a family, we made regular treks to this property for as far back as I can remember,” recalls David. “Me, my mom and dad, sister and older brother. For years, we enjoyed camping, fishing and hiking as a family. And once a year, my dad would take each of us kids on a solo hiking trip to the property.”
“Ever since I was ten years old, this land has always been my favorite camping spot,” says Peter Duveneck, David’s brother. “There was a cabin there amongst the old growth redwoods where we would come and stay for weeks on end, an outdoor cook stove where we cooked our meals, a fishing stream where we would catch rainbow trout for dinner and a mountain to climb. At first we came as a family. Later as a teenager I came camping with my friends. It was camping at Pico Blanco where I gained an appreciation for the outdoors.”
The cabin was eventually taken down after one too many break ins, but the family continued to enjoy camping on the land in its natural state. In 1993 David’s father passed the property on to David and Peter, who shared it with their families. And when it came time to pass the torch once again, the two brothers decided to donate the land to The Wilderness Land Trust so it could be protected and enjoyed by other families for generations to come.
“We have all these communal memories of this land. We can just look at one another, mention one word and a flood of memories come back. This land was our church, our chapel, a place where we reunited with nature and ourselves,” says David. David adds that it wasn’t a difficult decision to donate the land to the Trust to give future generations a chance to enjoy it as much as they have. A chance to create memories of a beautiful mountain that can be conjured up by a simple word, smell, or the touch of a cheek.
Historic photos provided by the Duveneck family of Mt Pico Blanco near Monterey, California in the Ventana Wilderness