Calif. Beach Murders Put Laid-Back Drifter Culture on Edge


For decades now, the coastal route running north from San Francisco to the Canadian border has been among the last stretches of welcoming road for the nation’s wanderers, a series of highways and byways where raising a thumb will still get you a ride, eventually, often from someone who lives along the way and perhaps once did some hitchhiking themselves. But since two young river guides from a Christian camp were shot in their sleeping bags on a remote, no-camping beach here last month, the long-standing your-business-is-your-business ethos has wavered, the serene atmosphere turned tense, reports the Los Angeles Times. Helicopters with night-vision and thermal-imaging equipment buzz the cliffs and beaches. Park rangers knock down the driftwood-and-kelp huts passed on from one transient to the next. Rides, hitchhikers say, are much harder to come by.

And still, no one has yet figured out who executed Lindsay Cutshall, 22, and her fiance, Jason Allen, 26, or why. The killer did not molest the couple, stole nothing and left little evidence behind, police say. North of the Golden Gate Bridge, past the hilltop homes of Sausalito, California Highway 1 becomes the main artery of Pacific Coast transient traffic. Atop jagged basalt cliffs, through dense tangles of eucalyptus, redwoods and coastal ferns, the highway – which merges with U.S. 101 farther north – wends its way along one of the least developed and most dramatic coastlines in the United States. The route marked the northern migration of San Francisco’s hippie culture in the late 1960s and early ’70s, and along much of the way the purest ideals of the times have endured.


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