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reation area. The Santa Monica Mountains protection and rec- reation movement had taken hold and the “Go-Go Years” began for land acquisition and trail-building. We’re now on Dead Horse Trail, the first trail constructed specifically for the Backbone Trail. It’s time to introduce a once-in-a-generation person, as some have said. Ron Webster, now 82, built an astonishing 31 miles of trail over a period of  trail is a glimpse into the wilderness. Second, a trail should lie lightly on the land. His trails are narrow and designed to offer intimacy with nature. Along this 14-mile stretch in the Backbone journey, we smell bay laurel forests, see fossils, climb down rocky chasms, and cross boulder fields. For many miles, he had the help of youth conservation


corps. A journalist hiked the Backbone earlier this year and reflected that a lot of the Backbone Trail was built by youth of color. While those youth gained useful skills and had the opportunity to contemplate the meaning of wildlands in their lives, users of those trails remained mostly white until recent changing demographics began bringing more people of color to the trails, as well. We’re high up on Mesa Peak Motorway now, part of a


network of fire roads built in the 1920s and ’30s to fight wild- land fires in the Santa Monica Mountains. Behold the ocean and the landscape studded with rocks jutting out of the chap- arral. Within the 360-degree views you’ll see encroaching sub- divisions. The Backbone Trail story would not be complete without noting “what could have been.” Perhaps no other unit in the National Park System sees so routinely the colli- sion of the philosophical extremes of the individual’s pursuit of happiness versus the greater community good.


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