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Dick's Adventures of 2020 - Part 2

  
Photos        Related Links          More Travel Reports
Adventures of 2016         Adventures of 2017          Adventures of 2018          Adventures of 2019          2020 Part 1          2020 Part 3
Eaton Trail Again          San Joaquin Gorge River Trail          Edison Point          San Joaquin Gorge River Trail Again
 
Eaton Trail Again

I walked this short, easy trail with my daughter Teri, great grandsons Colton and Jack, and their Mom Brittany on January 12. On February 28 we were back again, without Brittany, but with grandsons Johnny and Mikie, Teri's mom Jackie, and several of Teri's friends - 13 lucky hikers in all. As they did in January, Colton and Jack rode their bikes, showing off their trail riding abilities on the dirt paths that have been created in the river bank along the trail.

     
Nissa, Jaden, Dila, Omni, Jackie, Colton,
Johnny, Jackie T, Jack, Mikie, Teri, Maria, Dick
The Notorious Upshaw Brothers, ready to ride
    

Omni, age 18 months, had one speed - running. He was carried on the downhill sections for safety reasons, but as soon as his feet hit the trail, he was off.

The trail ends with a loop around the pond next to the Coke Hallowell Center for River Studies. Jack and Colton left their bikes where the dirt path started, and joined Omni in exploring the big cement replica of a mouse house, which had also attracted a number of other kids.

   
Jack and other visitors at the Mouse House Omni and friends, inside the Mouse House 
      

The replica eagle's nest, complete with eggs, proved irresistible to Jack. Meanwhile, we were treated to a visit by a hawk that flew low over our group.

    
Jack helps hatch the giant eagle eggs A redtail hawk checked us out
  

This time the old farmhouse was open, and we explored that. There are displays of animal bones and skulls, stuffed animals, and replica scat from various creatures who live in the area. Jack was especially impressed with the meeting room. Yes, the meeting room. It IS impressive - it contains a beautiful table about 16 feet long, and large comfortable chairs.

As we finished our circumnavigation of the pond, we spotted three turtles, as well as a large variety of ducks. The hike back found our group scattered apart, with the younger people reaching the parking lot five minutes ahead of Jackie and I. Teri slowed down to keep us company on the final uphill stretch, which for some reason was steeper than it had been only a month earlier.

   
Western pond turtle Looking for more wildlife
    

It was the first time on this trail for many of our group, and all agreed that it was a great outing.

--Dick Estel, March 2020

More Photos

           
San Joaquin Gorge River Trail

This is one of those trails that I try to hike at least once a year or more. From the parking lot/campground at the San Joaquin Gorge you can take two major trails. The Bridge Trail goes down to the San Joaquin River and across to the Madera County side. The other goes generally west, more or less parallel to the river, but high above it. In fact, you have to hike about three miles before you have a view of the river. This trail ends at the Finegold Picnic area near Sky Harbor on Millerton Lake. Since this is a 14-mile hike, it's not one I'll ever be completing, but hikes of mile or two from either end offer plenty of foothill scenery and good exercise.

On March 3 I left home about 9:45 for the 35-mile, one-hour drive. Along the way I observed that the foothill flowers are getting a good start in some areas, while they are nearly absent in other spots.

   
Fiddlenecks near the campground Popcorn flowers along Auberry Road
    

On weekends the parking lot is often full, but on this Tuesday there were only two other cars there. There were quite a few fiddlenecks in bloom around the campground, but this has been a dry year, the flowers have had a late start, and the big patches of color on the hillsides that we hope for were absent. Virtually every flower that is typically seen in the area was blooming, but they were more in the nature of samples rather than large numbers of individual plants. One variety that did not disappoint was the brilliant pink of the redbud.

A little over a half mile down the trail there is a special spot, with a resting log, a rock with Indian grinding holes, and a venerable old blue oak with the biggest burl I've seen anywhere in the foothills. It was somewhat of a shock when I approached this area to discover that the burl tree had fallen. The trunk had broken just below the bottom of the burl, and the crash also broke off the upper trunk. The trunk showed signs of major dry rot above and below the burl.

I spent some time here, taking pictures and mourning the loss of an old friend. Then I reflected on the fact that this is the eventual fate of all living things, and was grateful that I had enjoyed many visits to the tree over the years.

   
As all living things must, this blue oak with a huge burl met its end some time in the last year (Click here and here for views of the tree still standing)
   

I continued on till I had gone a little over a mile from the trailhead. This is a natural turnaround place, since the trail starts a steep descent, meaning a steep climb on the way back if I keep going. Along this route in the past we have seen as many as ten flowing creeks, but this time the only water was in the largest one, just past the burl, and it was just a stagnant pond.

Shortly after I started the hike I was passed by two women on horseback; these were the only people I saw during my hike. A few more cars had arrived at the parking lot, but they apparently had taken the Bridge Trail.

   
Redbud along the road to the Gorge Kennedy Table and spring greenery from the trail
Squaw Leap mountain from the trail Redbud and rocks in a drainage
   

On the way home I stopped for a couple of tacos at Velasco's Mexican Restaurant in Prather, then made my way back to Clovis and the flat plains  of the  San Joaquin Valley.

--Dick Estel, March 2020

More Photos

    
Edison Point

It has not been a great year for wildflowers, but it looks like a good one, so I try to get into the foothills at least every week or two. Even with limited flowers, the grass is green, the deciduous trees are leafing out, and the birds are busy nesting and gathering food.

Heading for Edison Point on March 9, I stopped first near Winton Park, where Trimmer Springs Road meets Piedra Road. There is a big cluster of bush lupines in full bloom just west of this point, with more lupines by the park, as well as sycamore trees just leafing out.

        
A fantastic display of bush lupines
   
Sycamores with new leaves Lupines, close-up
      

The Edison Point Trail is a loop that leads off Trimmer Springs Road on the north side of Pine Flat Lake. The entire loop has some very steep spots, and a long section has been blocked by fallen trees the last few years, so when I hike there I just go the half mile or so out to the point itself, which is decorated with a giant electrical transmission tower. This part of the trail is actually a rough dirt road for servicing the transmission line. More about that later.

    
The transmission tower at Edison Point Parking lot and start of trail
   

There were quite a few flowers along the road to the trail, and moderate amounts on the trail. As usual, fiddlenecks were the most common, but there are some poppies and popcorn flowers along with other samplings. Along the trail the yellow harvest brodiaea are getting a good start, and I saw a number of the dark purple brodiaea known as blue dicks, and a few of what we call purple brodiaea, whose blooms are actually lavender-colored.

   
Fiddlenecks above Pine Flat Lake Fiddlenecks and blue oaks
   
Harvest brodiaea A scattering of poppies
    

When I got back to the parking lot I sat in my folding chair and had a snack, then started part 2 of the day's hike. This involved going up the power line service road on the opposite side of Trimmer. I've been told you can follow this all the way to Trimmer Springs, which would probably be a hike of two or three miles. Instead I went a few hundred yards, enjoying the view of the lake, and a few more flowers. Since the road was mostly uphill, I soon was ready to turn back, but decided to see what was around the next bend. It was good that I did, because what was around the bend was a small stand of the very rare white variety of shooting stars, something I've seen in only one other place. In fact, that "other place" was really just down the hill from where I was standing, next to the paved road.

 
The lake from the power line service road Rare white shooting stars
    

With the two parts of my hike, I covered a total distance of 1.74 miles, with just over an hour of actual hiking time. My hiking app records total time and moving time. Although I feel like I'm not stopping all that much, it's quite normal for the total time to be at least twice as much as my "in motion" time.

By the time you read this I will be on another hike, making four solo or family outings plus two Ramblers hikes in the first three months of the year. And there are two more Rambler hikes coming up in March!

--Dick Estel, March 2020

More Photos

    
San Joaquin Gorge River Trail Again

Only 11 days after hiking this trail, I walked it again, this time with my daughter Teri. This was supposed to be a fairly large group - at least a half dozen and probably more, but work, illness, and other factors kept everyone but the two of us away.

There was a slight possibility of rain, although the more likely forecast was "sun and clouds." We did have a few drops of rain an a occasional light mist, the kind where you feel a droplet hit your face every ten seconds or so. However, overall the clouds made it just right for hiking, and many others thought so too. The parking lot was full and we saw more bikes on the trail then ever before.

   
The clouds ranged from white and fluffy in a blue sky... ...to dark and foreboding above Squaw Leap
       

There were noticeably more flowers out than on my earlier hike, including a few additional species. We saw lots of fiddlenecks, popcorn flowers, dove lupines, redbud, and chaparral. Other blossoms out in "sample" amounts included owl clover, blue dicks, shooting stars (one single blossom), daisies, fringed remaids, birds eye gilia, and of course, filaree.

    
A mix of daisies and popcorn flowers Fiddlenecks and popcorn flowers
    

When we had hiked a little over a half mile we arrived at the now fallen Big Burl Tree. As I had done earlier in the month, we both spent some time taking photos, and enjoying the perfect resting seat provided by another long-fallen blue oak nearby.

    
Teri and Dick by a fallen hero
(Click here and here for views of the tree still standing)
The tree broke below and above the burl
       

The trail runs below the table top mountain known as Squaw Leap, which hosts redbud, lupine, oaks, shrubs and various flowers on the slope. After a number of days when the temperature in the San Joaquin Valley was in the mid-70s, the approaching storm cooled it down to where we were happy to have hooded sweatshirts, and the clouds kept us from ever feeling too warm. We went to the exact same spot where I turned back the last time, a total walk of 2.21 miles. We had an additional three minutes of  moving time, perhaps because I am now older.

    

The redbud stands out, but can you spot the buckeye and bush lupine? Yellow flowers on the slope below Squaw Leap
      

One of the things I like about going to this area several times each season is the changing crops of wild flowers. I'll be back there in less than two weeks, hoping to see Mariposa lily, baby blue eyes, yellow and purple brodiaea, mustang clover, and Chinese houses, all blossoms that are scheduled to come out a little later in the season.

--Dick Estel, March 2020

More Photos

   

 

Photos (Click to enlarge; pictures open in new window)

    

Back to Eaton Trail          San Joaquin Gorge River Trail          Edison Point          San Joaquin Gorge River Trail Again

 

Back to Eaton Trail

 
Pond along the Eaton Trail Break time Snacking in the eagle's nest
   
San Joaquin Gorge River Trail
   
About a mile from the parking lot you can take in this view across the river gorge Blue oaks bracket a tall bull pine Blue oaks wear bright green in spring
   
Fiddlenecks, the most common
wildflowers in the Sierra foothills
A close-up look Redbud makes a nice contrast
to the green along the trail
  
Edison Point
   
Exposed red rock in the hills above Winton Park A nice, full bush lupine Fishermen enjoying the peace and
quiet of the lake on a Monday
   
Blue dicks along the Edison Point trail Fiddlenecks surround a wildlife guzzler A prize winner in the  county fair's
dry plant display competition
  
San Joaquin Gorge River Trail Again
    
Where we stared our hike If you're thinking about making
coffee tables, just don't!
A patch of white and the ridge south of the trail
   
Blue dicks and popcorn flowers Another white patch of popcorn flowers A closer look
 
Related Links
   
Coke Hallowell Center for River Studies Lewis S. Eaton Trail San Joaquin River
San Joaquin River Trail San Joaquin River Gorge Special Recreation Management Area Background & History of San Joaquin Gorge Area
All San Joaquin Gorge reports San Joaquin Gorge Slide Show Dick's San Joaquin Gorge Photo Album
Velasco's Mexican Restaurant Winton Park Wildlife Guzzler
"Normal" pink shooting stars Pine Flat Reservoir Trimmer Springs Road
Edison Point San Joaquin River Gorge Special Recreation Management Area Popcorn Flowers
   
 

 

 

 

 

 
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2008
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2009
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2010
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Hensley Reservoir, Mojave Preserve 2 & 3
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   Brown Barn, Watsonville & Hobbs Grove
   
2011
Roundup 2011
Mariposa, Hensley, Table Mountain
Frog Camp 2011
Parkfield Bluegrass 2011 Frank, Pat, Dick & Ted's Excellent Adventure
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2012 
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A 3-Event Weekend
Farmer's Market, Kings River Bluegrass, Antique Fair
2012 Las Vegas CAN AM Hockey Challenge
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Finegold Trail; Bower Cave
Into Los Gatos Canyon
  
2013
Silver Stick Tournament - Canada Sierra Foothills - Winter 2013
Finegold Trailhead, Hensley Lake, San Joaquin Gorge
Death Valley - Alabama Hills - Whitney Portal Sierra Foothills - Spring 2013
San Joaquin Gorge Hike, Big Creek Drive
Parkfield Bluegrass 2013 Shaver Crossing Station & Big Creek
Lake Almanor & Caribou Crossroads Mono Hot Springs
Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival A Wedding in Duluth
Sequoia Park Hiking Roundup 2013
Kings River Bluegrass, Buena Vista Peak Hike, Hensley Lake Camp, North Fork Mono Museum, White Rock Road, Hockey in Denver
     
2014
2014 Winter Hikes
Millerton South Bay Trail, Clovis Trail, Hite's Cove Trail
San Joaquin Gorge Campout
Colorado Springs Hockey Tournament Lake Havasu Bluegrass
2014 Spring Hikes
Stockton Creek Preserve, San Joaquin River Trail, San Joaquin Gorge, Millerton Lake, Sycamore Creek, Buena Vista Peak Again
NORCAL Hockey Playoffs and Santa Cruz Visit
Greeley Hill Road Trip Parkfield Bluegrass 2014
Journey of 2014 Journey of 2014 Photos
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2014 Fall & Winter Hikes
San Joaquin River Trail South & North, Red Rock Canyon Nevada, San Joaquin South Again
California Flat Campout
Snow Day with the  Upshaw's   
 
2015
Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 2
Adventures of 2015 - February to May
(Goofy Smith Flat, Coast Redwoods & Big Sur, Pine Flat, Finegold Trail, Edison Point Trail, Nelder Grove)
Adventures of 2015 - June to December
(Lewis Creek Trail, Kaiser Pass, Kaiser Pass Again, Taft Point, Kings River Bluegrass, Shaver Logging Road, San Joaquin River Trail, Lewis S Eaton Trail, San Joaquin River Gorge, Thanksgiving at the Gorge)
Lake Tahoe & Virginia City Parkfield Bluegrass 2015
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2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 1
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Adventures of 2016 Part 4 A Pennsylvania Adventure
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Adventures of 2016 Part 7 Stargazer Rock Camp 2016
     
2017
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Adventures of 2017 Part 4 Hiking and Hockey
Adventures of 2017 Part 5 Lake Almanor
Adventures of 2017 Part 6 Northern California Redwood Hike
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Travel Blog 2017 (an experiment) Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks
  
2018
Adventures of 2018 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2018 Page 1
Adventures of 2018 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2018 Page 2
Adventures of 2018 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2018 Page 3
Adventures of 2018 Part 4 Parkfield Bluegrass 2018
Adventures of 2018 Part 5 Northern California Journey 2018
Adventures of 2018 Part 6
  
2019
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Utah National Parks Rambler Hikes 2019 Page 3
Adventures of 2019 Part 3 Parkfield Bluegrass 2019
Adventures of 2019 Part 4 Adventures of 2019 Part 5
   
2020
Adventures of 2020 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2020 Page 1
Adventures of 2020 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2020 Page 2
  
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Updated March 16, 2020