Return to Ghost Mountain

We are preparing to revisit the area near Ghost Mountain where we enjoy the quietude of non-hook-up camping while savoring the yipping of  coyotes under the starry Anza-Borrego desert night skies.  As you may recall, this is the area where I saw strange lights in the sky last fall that I investigated with the help our our vertical thrusters. This is also the area where I spotted a possible UFO while on a hike up Ghost Mountain last spring with Rich and Sadira.

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Although the above “UFO” is actually a lenticular cloud formation, what lies below the sky on this mountain is just as fascinating.  It is Yaquitepec, the home site of the Marshal South family experiment in primitive living from 1930 to 1947.

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One year ago, writer and photographer,  Bert Gildart, and his wife, Janie, also hiked up here, explored the ruins of Yaquitepec, and he recounted Marshal South’s story, and reflected on the “Lessons From Yaquitepec“.  I also contemplated the story while sitting on Marshal South’s melting adobe walls…

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and peering eastward out of the door that he and his family passed through for over 15 years.

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In 1946 Marshal South’s wife, Tanya, took their three children and left the mountain and Marshal.  In 1948 Marshal died of heart failure in nearby Julian, CA, where he had obtained supplies to build Yaquitepec, collected his mail, and mailed in his 102 monthly articles to Desert Magazine (which were praised by Wally Byam and documented in the article, “Marshal South & Wally Byam – Parallel Roads, Different Destinations”, pages 36 to 39, in the Fall 2008 issue of Airstream Life).  Marshal had also painted a frieze on the walls of the Julian Library and befriended, the librarian, Myrtle Botts (who was at Marshal’s side when he died). The exact location of Marshal South’s unmarked grave on the hill in the Julian Cemetery had been lost for years.  David Lewis, a 4th generation Julian resident, civil engineering designer, and historian of the Julian Cemetery, determined the site of Marshal’s grave, based on information in a letter written by Myrtle Botts. (1)  (Last year David Lewis wrote, Last Known Address – The History of the Julian Cemetery, published by Headstone Publishing, and he curiously left out any mention of Marshal South in his book).

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In 2005, Marshal’s son, Rider, placed a headstone on his father’s grave.

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Marshal’s grave marker bears the sacred symbol of the House of the Sun – “that of a sun, an eagle and a cactus – carrying thus, in symbology, the truth of the upward passage of men’s souls from the thorny bitterness of earth to the higher realms of light.”(2)

Marshal wrote:

Let my House be a house of Love and Understanding.  Let the pillars thereof be the mountains and the trees and its pavement be the wide earth.  Let its roof be the arch of the sky, and its music the songs of the birds and of the wind and of the harps of the rain.  Let its lights be the lights of the sun and the moon, and of the glow of the everlasting stars.  Let Fellowship and Peace and Brotherhood dwell therein.  Of man and of every creature.  And I, the Spirit, shall dwell in that House, and walk beneath its arches, and bless it, from Everlasting to Everlasting. (3)

Note 1: Page 38,  “Marshal South and the Ghost Mountain Chronicles – An Experiment in Primitive Living“, edited and with a forward by Diana Lindsay and with an introduction by Rider and Lucile South, 2005, Sunbelt Publications, San Diego, California, ISBN: 0-932653-66-9.

Notes 2 & 3: The quotes in the above two paragraphs are provided with the kind permission of Diana Lindsay and Sunbelt Publications from pages 28, 29 and 30, “Marshal South and the Ghost Mountain Chronicles – An Experiment in Primitive Living“, edited and with a forward by Diana Lindsay and with an introduction by Rider and Lucile South, 2005, Sunbelt Publications, San Diego, California, ISBN: 0-932653-66-9.

Note 4:  The newly released DVD of John McDonald‘s full length and uncensored documentary, The Ghost Mountain Experiment, is now available and previewed here.