Coast to Cactus: The Canyoneer Trail Guide to San Diego Outdoors, by Diana Lindsay (Sunbelt Publications, Inc., San Diego, California, 2016, 595 pages).
Book Review by Dennis Moore
In the end, we will conserve only what we love
We will love only what we understand,
We will understand only what we are taught.
- Baba Dioum, Senegalese Conservationist
March 3, 2017 (San Diego) - The beauty and splendor of outdoor life in San Diego County is exemplified in this book by Diana Lindsay, managing editor of Sunbelt Publications; Coast to Cactus: The Canyoneer Trail Guide to San Diego Outdoors. Along with Paula Knoll and Terri Varnell, of the editing team of this groundbreaking book, it is an indispensable guide for hikers and all others interested in the outdoors of this beautiful area called San Diego County.
Having once lived in San Diego for several years, this book makes me appreciate it even more. Many of the sights and scenes in this book, such as Ocean Beach, I took full advantage of and marveled at its beauty.
I recall the countless times when I would put my bike on a bus and travel out to Ocean Beach, and once there. I would ride around on my bike sometimes from Pacific Beach to Mission Beach, soaking up the ambience of a truly breathtaking view. Many times I would park my bike on the Ocean Beach pier, described as the longest pier on the west coast, and gaze out into the ocean, sometimes watching whales, and other times the artistry and precision of the many surfers. Other times I would sit in the restaurant at the midpoint of this Ocean Beach pier and order a meal, while sitting some 30 feet above the ocean below, gazing out at the many exhilarating sights to be seen. These sights would include the many species of plants, birds, mammals, including their common and scientific names and the habitats in which they are encountered referenced in this book.
Diana Lindsay and her editorial team has done a tremendous service to San Diego and its surrounding communities with this well-written and informative book. What it is going to do is draw many more people from all over the world to this jewel of a community – that I once called home. Yes, I miss it, and all that it has to offer! For now, all I can do is peruse this book by Lindsay and her team, and reminisce.
This book has been described as “Your Natural Hiking Companion” possibly due to the numerous maps and hiking trails throughout. This book is actually far more than a hiking guide to the best of San Diego County outdoors. It is a trail guide designed to teach appreciation and understanding for San Diego County, classified by Conservation International as one of the 35 biodiversity hotspots in the world. It is like having a trail naturalist – a “Virtual Canyoneer” – with you who will introduce habitats and species, as well as cultural and geographical features found on each exploration. It is written by the Canyoneers – citizen scientists trained by the San Diego Natural History Museum. Key features:
- More than 250 hike options in full detail with all the information you need, including GPS directions to the trailhead, habitats encountered, and natural features of the area.
- Descriptions of over 500 different species of plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, and invertebrates including their common and scientific names and the habitats in which they are encountered.
- Complements the San Diego Natural History Museum’s exhibition entitled Coast to Cactus in Southern California. Visit theNAT to learn more or visit sdnat.org/explore.
- An easy-to-understand organization of the San Diego region by four natural areas that include coast, inland, mountain, and desert, each separated by major routes of travel or geographic boundaries.
Typical of what Lindsay and her editorial team is attempting to convey, and which resonates with me and possibly every other reader of this informative and insightful book, is this passage in it: “Mast Park and Mast Park West are trail segments along the San Diego River Trail, a regional multi-use trail that will someday make it possible to trek from Ocean Beach to the mountains near Julian. Each trail segment has its own management jurisdiction and works with the nonprofit San Diego River Park Foundation and the State of California’s San Diego River Conservancy for the common goal of preserving riparian habitat and completing this contiguous regional trail of over 50 miles.”
Although Ocean Beach is referenced only once in this book, I feel compelled to take a bit of editorial license by accentuating the positive and major aspects of this area of San Diego, as it encapsulates what Coast to Coast: The Canyoneer Trail Guide to San Diego Outdoors is all about. The attached video of the area is a prime example. Click link to view here.
The picture of the “View toward La Jolla Shores and cliffs” on page 35 of this book, brings back a lot of memories, as it is perhaps the most picturesque area in all of San Diego County. I actually traveled on a local bus countless times and marveled at the view. This panoramic view of La Jolla Shores and cliffs should be on a picture postcard, accentuating the nature and beauty of San Diego County.
As an example of hiking and biking opportunities in the book, Lindsay and her editorial team points out in regard to the “Eagle Rock” area: “The trail to the Eagle Rock formation passes by huge old live oaks and what may be San Diego’s oldest and largest sugar bush. From March to May there can be fields of wildflowers. It is also an opportunity to hike a little over a 3-mile segment of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), named a National Scenic Trail by Congress in 1968. The trail stretches 2627 miles from Mexico to the Canadian border.”
This is an indispensable book and the ultimate source for anyone interested in nature and the outdoors of San Diego County – a book that I highly recommend.
Dennis Moore has been the Associate Editor of the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor of SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine, as well as a freelance contributor to Eurweb based out of Los Angeles. Mr. Moore can be contacted at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.