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Harrison Serenity Ranch is named after Nate Harrison, the first Black slave to own land west of the Mississippi River.
Harrison Serenity Ranch is named after Nate Harrison, the first Black slave to own land west of the Mississippi River. Photo via Facebook/Harrison Serenity Ranch
Columns Soul on Fire

Discovering the magic of Harrison Serenity Ranch

So there I was, enjoying the sounds of a drum circle at my spiritual center in Fallbrook to celebrate the Solstice. The lady heading up this group, Vicky Morgan, spoke of gatherings on her property called the Harrison Serenity Ranch. Of course, my radar went up to hear more about a magical “glampsite” atop Palomar Mountain.

Talks of gatherings, retreats, and special events of the spiritual nature ensued. Now I was all ears. I approached the nice lady and told her I would love to make the trek up the mountain to check out what she was up to and possibly do a column since this is Soul on Fire, North County’s Quest for Enlightenment, after all.

With the COVID shutdown, I wasn’t venturing out to many new places for the readership lately, but not this last Sunday. I was looking for enlightenment to share.

It was crystal clear and sunny right after the rains — a perfect day for a drive on a New Year’s weekend. Everything was green and lush, and the air was fresh in a way that made you grateful to be alive. I got my roommate to come along for the adventure up Highway 76 without knowing where we were going exactly. This is the quest part.

GPS was set for Harrison Serenity Ranch; we headed up the hill from Fallbrook, stopping first at a roadside stand for some fresh oranges, local honey, avos, and persimmons, already enjoying the beginning of a whimsical road trip. As we went further east, the green on the rolling hills was as vibrant as I’ve ever seen. The sycamore trees and oaks adorned the winding country road. Enchanting.

We turned down a gravel road with fragrant orange groves on either side, only about 7 more miles to our destination. Except the 7 miles were a steep winding grade now unpaved and washed away by the rains with incredible gaping gorges and a sheer drop. Gulp.

Not sure if I was even on the right road, I called Vicky, and she assured me to keep going. I told her I was in a Prius, and she laughed and said that Maseratis have been on this road, so on we went.

Fragrant sage and wildflowers were abundant along the trail turned roadway, and we stopped to forage some in-between hairpin turns and deep divots. The adventure was just beginning.

Finding our way to the top to the entrance gate of the ranch property, we caught a glimpse of a gentle doe nibbling on the fresh grass. The “glampsite” has a teepee, and several Bell Tents set up, some overlooking the great expanse of what can only be described as heaven on earth. One such glamper, Ren, there for the weekend and a regular to the campsite confided, “It’s a magical place to come to get away and clear my head … and get out of the hustle of the city to get recentered.” Duly noted.

The view and the vantage points from this parcel are the definition of spectacular, with panoramic views south to San Diego city landscape, down to the entire Pauma Valley, and west to the ocean, all the way to Catalina. The ocean was shining in a bright golden hue and the whole property pulsed with its own breath — a kind of music between the sacred oak, pine, and sycamore trees. Mystical.

We found ourselves spellbound in the middle of a forest with a super hip and funky lodge house, barn, and some other makeshift structures on the property. The space is used for weddings, retreats, festivals, and spiritual gatherings of all kinds. Music and drumming is a favorite pastime on the land since the owner, Vicky Morgan, heads up the San Diego Women’s Drumming Circle group. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Shadow, the Armenian mountain dog that patrols the property. A faithful spirit animal.

But there is so much more to be found here! According to the San Diego History Center, this land has a rich history spanning 10,000 years. It is currently conducting archeological digs and research to preserve the important history that lives here. They have already come up with over 50,000 artifacts currently on display at their exhibit in Balboa Park.

You see, Nate Harrison was the first black slave to own land west of the Mississippi and the first black man to own property in San Diego. Granted by the Luiseño Indian tribe for him to homestead, Harrison was the first non-native to cohabitate this side of Palomar Mountain in the 1800s.

Born into slavery in Kentucky, he died a legend at 100 years old, and Ms. Vicky aims to memorialize this fascinating human with the Nate Harrison Foundation that will bring educational tourism to the site.

Plans for adding two 50-foot yurts are in the works, along with her yoga deck, sweat lodge, stable with goats and chickens, outdoor showers and kitchen area, amphitheater, and improvements to the existing structures and stunning lookout deck.

“There is sacred geometry here and one of the world’s most powerful vortexes,” states Morgan. “Nate Harrison built his cabin at the 33.333 latitudes and longitude ley line. It’s no mistake that we have ‘visitors,’ and there is definite angelic healing energy in this space for people to come and experience. There is something sacred here, and I am just the steward called to preserve and share this amazing gift with the community.”

The indigenous people of this bountiful valley also gave Harrison an aquifer, and he was able to claim water rights for his land. The aquifer is full of magic artesian water for the visitors. It is historic in that Nate would offer his water to weary travelers on horseback or buggy making the trek up the mountain. This 67-acre property sits at about 3,600 elevation, and the top of the mountain sits a little over 6,000 feet. It would take days for travelers to make this trek.

The Harrison Serenity Ranch is a gift to San Diego County because of the efforts of Morgan, who humbly considers herself a custodian and steward rather than a landowner. In return, she walks in the celestial realm that Harrison must have enjoyed amid the majestic oak and fragrant pine. The stunning boulder formations look out for miles to the vast valley below and the mesmerizing galaxies above with the expansive sea in the middle.

If you are very quiet, one can feel the power of the vortexed ley lines and the wonder that must have been experienced for the hundred years Harrison was alive on this mountain. His spirit and memory will indeed be preserved under the care and direction of Morgan.

I’m just scratching the surface here, so go to www.harrisonserenityranch.com and give Vicky a call or text to arrange a guided walk around the property. Plan a stay and breathe the fresh air, drink the magical artesian water and stargaze like no other after taking in a spectacular sunset from this enchanted forest in our own backyard. You won’t come back the same.

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