Nestled in remote hills 1,300 feet above the Big Sur, California coastline, the New Camaldoli Hermitage has been a popular retreat for world-weary visitors in need of solitude since it was founded in 1958. That changed in early 2017 after a series of powerful winter storms called ‘atmospheric rivers’ – which climate scientists predict will worsen if climate change accelerates – dumped over 100 inches of rain on coastal California, stirring up landslides and damaging bridges along the famous Highway 1. One especially massive slide on May 21st added 13 acres of land to the California coastline and is expected to keep the southern route closed for at least one year. Now cut off from the outside world, a small handful of monks and staff persist at the Hermitage, carrying on in their austere lifestyles devoted to prayer and contemplation while depending on regular food drops from helicopters and rationed propane. The monastery has been unable to receive the stream of visitors they normally depend on for income and have started a GoFundMe to help raise money to survive. The damage has cost the monastery an estimated $300,000 since hospitality is their main source of income.
ZUMA Press Launches this week: zReportage: “Trapped In Isolation” Photography by @ Elijah Hurwitz.