• Email
  • Print

Where the Tall Pines Sway

an Bernardino is not a summer resort. Though its summer, in many respects, is superior to the article handed out in Eastern and Middle-Western resorts, California has the pick of a dozen different varieties of weather to choose from, and therefore San Bernardino must be content to get along without the summer boarder's cash.

But if the city of San Bernardino cannot attract summer visitors the San Bernardino mountains, a mile above the streets, do attract them in ever increasing numbers. Under the pines that line the crest new resorts are springing up, the older ones are growing and the day is not far distant when the entire summit, from Skyland clear over to Fredalba, will be one of the biggest and most attractive summer resorts in the country.

Cozily Ensconsed Amid the Mountains Are Many Charming Resorts, Notably Bear Valley, at Seven Oaks, and Fredalba, Where Holiday Makers Combine the Acquisition of Pleasure and Health

The San Bernardino mountains are not rugged and precipitous like the Rockies; they are not austere, overpowering like the Sierra Nevada of which they are, so to speak, the tail, and a friendly tail at that. Theirs is a singular beauty, a charm born of desert on one side and of orange groves on the other, a charm composed of sweeping views of surpassing grandeur, of the murmur of the pines, of laughing waters and velvet night skies, of the peace spread by the golden haze of the setting sun over the heights, of the purple shadows filling the chasms and lurking under the pines. Even in the depths of winter when the cracking of the snow-laden limbs reverberates through the forest, the mountains are not menacing, for down below gleam the golden balls of the oranges on dripping trees, palms rustle harshly in the warm breeze of the valley's floor and the green sheen of the sprouting grain on the broad acres sends the greeting of spring to the snow-bound sojourners of the crest.

Early in May, when the strawberry and the trout are ripening, the annual exodus for the heights begins. Where the yellow road cuts deep and sharp into the dark gray chaparral the travelers trek, on foot, on horse or mule back, behind the roguish, sadly contemplative burro or on top of four-horse wagons. Whether they use the natural means of locomotion or are pulled up by the power of gasoline, settled comfortably in deep cushions, the dancing stream sings the same song, growing dimmer as the yellow road rises out of the canyon bed and daringly hangs to the side of the cleft, leaving behind the willows and the alders, the sycamores and the wild walnut. But when it comes to seeing things, the wanderer has the advantage. He can stop as often as he pleases to look out over the vast checkerboard of the valley floor, to see the naked range on the far side of the valley, the purple walls of snow-capped San Antonio to the left, the tremendous shoulder and stubbly-bearded face of Mount San Bernardino to the right, rise higher and higher as he rises, assume proportions titanic, enormous, heights undreamt of on the level floor below where the view is obstructed by the lesser peaks at the base of the giants.


Cosy Rustic Structures for the Comfort of Mountain Rest Seekers

Up and up the road winds, over broad mesas, through lanes of sagebrush and chaparral man high, up and up, flung against the precipitous wall in the zigzag curves of the whip's stinging end. At last the advance guard of the pine army on the crest flings wide its snarled arms, comes down the slope to meet the wanderer, invites him into its cool shade and spreads for him a smooth carpet of long, odorous needles. The brooks and rills, glad to meet the wanderer after the long separation, sings to him again, the hot, spicy scent of the chaparral and sage stays behind and the swaying conifers speak to him of the days gone by, of the scenes that passed in procession before them in the valleys a mile below.

Magnificent specimens are they, these pines that live on the heights. Five, six, seven feet in diameter, two hundred feet high and more, straight as arrows, crowned by storm-tossed, massive, gnarly-branches that shed needles and cones commensurate with their size, they do not crowd closely together. Sugar pine, yellow and white pine, bull pine, black pine, cedar and fir, they all are aristocrats, each one demanding his full share of elbow room and sunshine that he may develop straight and slender as becomes high-bred beings, tolerating no underbrush between except patches of gray buckthorns, thickets of light green manzanita, with masses of pink bells for blossoms, mahogany-colored bark smooth as velvet covering its tough limbs.

As the sun swings to the west and down to the sea, it lights the shiny candles on fir and pine, the bright green tips of the branches that stand out sharply against the dark background of the older foliage. And the golden flood that fills the spacious aisles between the gently swaying giants lights up the reddish bark that clothes their mighty trunks, lights it up until the landscape plays a color harmony in green and brown, with exquisite shadings and variations, the gray, blue and purple haze of the distant ranges and chains playing the bass accompaniment of nature's orchestra. Peaceful and good-natured these mountains are even to him who penetrates far into their deep canyons and timber-studded uplands. Though it is reported that in 1845, a party of Spanish vaqueros and American settlers in one day lassoed and dispatched twenty-two grizzly bears, investing the scene of the combat with the name of Big Bear Valley, though the bears in this vicinity used to be the terror of the early sheep herders, the bruins have all departed to the land where stingless honey flows eternally. Perhaps now and then, in the dead of night, the weird [sic] scream of a mountain lion, a scream like unto the shriek of a woman by friends tormented, may cause the hair of the gunless sleeper to stand on end, but mountain lions are harmless unless attacked and hard pressed. The ghostly "Ooo-hoo" of the great horned owl will often come out of the darkness among the whispering crowns, from indefinable directions, causing a little shudder to travel down the backbone; yapping coyotes will sing their wild song to evening and morning star, but neither coyote nor owl will harm a hair on the sleeper's head. Unmindful of foes, the wanderer may strike at will through the open, park-like timber unencumbered by underbrush, without tent or gun so far as the elements and ferocious animals are concerned, unless the deer season is open or unless a mess of mountain quail is to eke out the provisions he is carrying. Let him rest for the night wherever the lengthening shadows overtake him, at any one of the trout-filled streams he will encounter. No harm will befall him. Let him rake together the pine needles by the armful in the lee of a sheltering tree prone upon the ground, let him top off his aromatic bed with boughs of the cedar, spread his blankets and close his eyes in sound security. If he chances to be on the bank of a stream, the voice of the water will grow in volume as the silence of the night descends, grow and swell until it dominates the ear, fall calling to rapid. and eddy whispering to fall. He will not fear the little denizens of the woods, the little brown mice, the furtive crawlers and gnawers that steal about him, unmindful of his presence until a sudden motion of the intruder sends them scampering away. Instead, he will listen to the swish of the soft night wind as it passes to and fro, touching a needle here and there as it would a tuning fork, setting it to singing in a still, small voice, that leads imperceptibly into the land of dreams.

The Mountain Trails of San Bernardino Wander Amid Scenes of
Beauty, Wide Expanses of Tree-clad Slopes Where the Air is
Redolent With the Balm of the Woods

Should the wanderer prefer to change the workaday order of things, should he prefer to rest by day and travel when the valley lies asleep, the mountains place no obstacle in the way of his desire. The moon as she rises out of the dust laden air of the shimmering desert, a vast, un-earthly disk, blood-red, sending into the black aisles of the forest cautiously searching, softly creeping rays of silvery gray will guide his feet along the narrow trail with less danger than threatens him whose shifting load makes him steer a zigzag course over smooth asphalt pavements.

Five hundred square miles of natural park the San Bernardino mountains contain, nearly a third of a million acres of timber land covered with the greatest variety and the finest specimen of conifers of any forest in the south land, a place where women and children can live in security and comfort, where the sportsman may fill his creel with brook trout and his pan with venison, quail and small game, where the summer girl can dance and flirt and the man-weary worker lose himself far from human habitations in silent canyons and green meadows set like emeralds in wreaths of swaying pines, where the patient burro steps aside to let the snorting motor car pass on, where high and low are on an equal footing.

To the man able to support a gasoline engine on rubber-tired wheels the San Bernardino mountains offer an asylum supplied with all the comforts of civilization. In a dozen resorts he may stable his car and live as he would at home, fill his lungs with the ozone of the mountains and watch the days slip by. To the man who passes the door of the garage with averted nose, the mountain resorts offer accommodations suited to his wants, and to him who carries his own pans and pots supply depots minister with goods brought fresh from the valley almost every day.

Return to the Table of Contents