It’s only natural

It’s only natural

When nature is your guide, it’s an easy trail to the perfect outdoor wedding

By Chuck Graham 02/22/2007

You run into all sorts of folks on the summit of Mount Whitney in the eastern Sierras, the tallest peak in the contiguous United States.

Most are clad in the typical outdoor apparel from Patagonia, REI, The North Face and so on. The hut at the mountain’s summit, fortified by granite and a tin roof, offers cover for overnighters or people in distress.

However, on one warm September day, the hut served as a changing room for a bride and groom. As onlookers watched, the bright-eyed couple in their 50s exited the hut, having donned a tux and wedding gown and, with preacher in tow, said their I dos. They then promptly danced their first dance in their well-soiled hiking boots on the summit overlooking the expanse of the Owens Valley — with the biggest smiles on their faces.

My wife, Lori, and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary a year ago last October. We were fortunate to be married overlooking one of the favorite surf spots where I grew up, and with a vast nature reserve serving as a breathtaking backdrop. It was a magical moment in an unforgettable fall setting.

If you and your spouse-to-be can’t decide on a typical venue, you might consider getting hitched in one of Ventura County’s numerous outdoor areas. With little or no cost, you can make a quick hike to a secluded and favorite spot with stupendous views, take a deep breath of fresh air, and smell the refreshing scent of chaparral while taking the big plunge surrounded in nature. Here are a few locales to consider when all else is booked. And with the stress level rising, why not let nature be your guide?

Sespe Wilderness

Drive to the top of Highway 33 and make a right on Rose Valley Road. Follow it down to the new and improved Lions Camp. No longer a campground, it’s now a newly renovated parking area. Your potential wedding venue is visible while driving down Rose Valley Road. The white rocks of Piedras Blancas can’t be missed, and are only about a 20-to 30- minute

moderate hike from the parking area. Simply follow the trail over two or three creek crossings and up to the rocks. If you’re lucky, you may find your own kiss tank, or naturally occurring pool.

The beach

Ventura County has scores of beaches to choose from. Your early morning stroll or your favorite place to catch a sunset could make for an ideal wedding site. I can’t think of a better background noise than waves crashing on the sand.

Santa Monica Mountains

Ventura County’s other mountain range runs along the Pacific Coast Highway, but its west end is one of the most scenic spots in the county. As you’re driving alongside the wetlands inside Point Mugu Air Force Base and before Mugu Rock, look on your left for a dirt parking area, the trailhead and the switchbacks that lead up to the top of the mountain. The trail is ensconced in coastal sage scrub, native coreopsis and yucca. On a clear day, Anacapa and Santa Cruz islands are easily visible. Another nice backdrop for a wedding.

Channel Islands National Park

Catch an Island Packers boat out of the Ventura or Channel Islands harbors, where the most obvious and accessible islands are Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands. On Anacapa, the nicest spot is Inspiration Point, which overlooks middle and west Anacapa Island, and, on a clear day, the southeast end of Santa Cruz. On Santa Cruz, get dropped off at Scorpion Anchorage and take the moderately easy trail to Cavern Point with fantastic views of the rest of Santa Cruz to the west and Anacapa to the southeast.

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