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Stories by Mike Humfreville

Cattle Tracks    ( Posted November 9, 2005 )

Beyond Gecko's there exists a road that leads south to San Raphael, as Zac would know, and then San Francisquito. But we were headed for the south end of Bahia de Los Angeles to visit new friends staying and looking there for a place to lease. We took a fork in the road heading east.

As the narrow path to Rincon and La Mona is influenced by tides and rainstorms there are many roads leading there. As the tides rise you can take the high road, as someone has named it. During lower tides you can choose between perhaps a dozen different routes. Unless you live there it can be confusing and lead to deep sand or a dead end where it's difficult to turn around. Sometimes the tidal water seeps across a small berm of the beach and dampens the muddy sand or a rain at the south end produces enough water, needed by the surrounding dusty desert, that you can become stuck in the muck. Not a happy moment as there is no one to help for miles.

I have traveled these paths for many years and I am still a relative novice and constantly wonder which route is the best. Yesterday we were coming home from the south end after visiting our friends there. Several days before I had made a bad decision and ended up having to turn around. On the present trip I was being more careful and trying to learn the most direct route.

As I stared at the various choices I noticed cattle tracks in a heavily used narrow pathway heading in an east-west direction. It took me only a moment to realize that on almost a daily basis the cattle headed out in the morning from the old Diaz cattle ranch to forage for the day's comestibles only to return nightly to the ranch. They are creatures of habit for sure. Aren't we all?

While the cattle's route was most likely the safest and most direct, there was no road leading in that direction. All the roads wound off into the desert in other directions. I knew the cattle were programmed and knew the best way. I was not, nor were the other humans whose routes I was following.

Evolution had programmed the cattle, or Intelligent Design if you prefer. It gave me cause to wonder if humans, with so much brain power, have to work harder to understand some fundamental truths then what we think of as animals less than human. These animals accomplish many basic tasks without any conscious thought because of evolution. I was obliged to look at the various routes home and wonder.

Maybe I'm not so smart after all.

Copyright 2003-2006 Mike Humfreville

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