2019 Rambler Hikes Page 1

The Ramblers are Carolyn Amicone, Julie Hornback, Wes Thiessen, Don McClellan, Sue Wirt, Elsa Sweeney, Ardyss Webster, and Dick Estel, former colleagues at the Fresno County Department of Social Services, and former CDF firefighter Allen Ward. Every month or so we get together for a short hike, good conversation, and lunch.

Photos         Related Links         More Travel Reports          2017 Hikes         2018 Hikes

Jensen Ranch Trail           Pohonichi Trail at Hensley


Jensen Ranch Trail

The largest contingent of Ramblers and guests in history assembled on January 23 for our first hike of 2019 and enjoyed cool, sunny weather in the San Joaquin River bottom. Wes sent out his usual post-hike summary:

We started the new year with the largest hike group ever: Ten strong! We welcomed three new members including Marlene Pascua, Gloria Bishop Jackson, and her friend Berdie Beier. With so much rain and snow in the foothills, we chose to walk three and a half miles along the paths of Jensen Ranch adjacent to Woodward Park. The grass of these fields has turned deep green giving us hope for a good wildflower season to come. The mighty San Joaquin River looked to be a weak stream which one could almost walk across. Marlene needed to leave the group early. It was fun to watch her "powerhouse" up the bluffs taking a shortcut to her car. We were briefly joined by a posse of Fresno City Police Officers training on horseback. They stopped for a chat and "photo op.. They were a nice corps of guys and gals. We thanked them for their service. We finished a beautiful morning with a lunch break at La Kebrada where we enjoyed tasty Mexican dishes. 

By the way, I've designated Dick Estel as the Pied Piper of hiking. He plays a happy tune about the joys of hiking and we all fall in line behind him (ha!). I can't wait to find what trails he will next have us explore. Nature has no limits and neither do the Ramblers. 

A quiet section of the San Joaquin River Some of Fresno's finest, on a training ride

In addition to the three potential new Ramblers mentioned above, this hike brought together Elsa Sweeney, Ardyss Webster, Sue Wirt, Allen Ward, Wes Thiessen, myself (Dick Estel) and my daughter Teri Liddle, who had a couple of weeks off from work.

We were treated to several wildlife sightings, including egrets, hawks and rabbits. Only the usually elusive raptor sat for a photo. We also had a great view east across the river bottom of the Sierra Nevada, which currently has 100% of normal snow pack, holding out the promise of some relief from a number of dry years.

Beyond that, Wes pretty much said everything that needs to be said, and our photos each provide an additional thousand words.

-- Dick Estel, January 2019

This redtail hawk flew in and landed as we watched  There's plenty of snow on the distant Sierra


FRONT: Berdie Beier, Gloria Jackson, Sue Wirt, Dick Estel; BACK: Ardyss Webster, Elsa Sweeney, Allen Ward, Teri Liddle Dick takes over the camera so Wes can be in the photo
More Jensen Ranch Photos
Pohonichi Trail at Hensley Reservoir

After our gang of 10 last month, the Ramblers count was down to four, just like when we first started. We were delighted to welcome Carolyn back, after an absence of 13 months. Two others were also "originals," Wes and Dick, with Allen rounding out the group.

We met at the Park and Ride at Highways 145 and 41 north of Fresno, and took my Honda to nearby Hensley Reservoir, located on the Fresno River, only 35 miles from my house. We've hiked here several times, and I've written about camping and hiking trips before, so I'll spare you the repetitious details.

There was a cool breeze much of the time, with a mix of sun and clouds, but the continuous up and down hiking keep us warm. The foothills are bright green with new grass, and the lake is filling up.

Wes follows a game trail back from a search for the perfect view The winter sun glistens off Hensley Reservoir

The predominant trees in the are are the blue oaks, with their striking gnarly branches. A recent cold storm brought snow down to below 2,000 feet, and we could see snowy mountains and ridges not too far away.

The trail winds through blue oak woodland Deadwood Mountain, west of Highway 41 and just south of Oakhurst

As always, Wes brought new drama to our "Wes on the rock" photo. We made a few short excursions off the trail, looking for the perfect view of lake, hills and mountains, although we saw more than enough beauty right from the trail

One giant step for Wes... Could any human match nature's landscaping efforts?

Wes provided his usual post-hike summary via email

What a day! We woke to freezing temperatures. But the Ramblers would not be denied. Four of us met to hike the green hills of Hensley Lake in Madera County. Our hike started near 10 o'clock with sunshine and moderate climate. Although it was a one-mile hike, the trail took us up and down over various hills for a very good workout. The hill country was so lush green that "The Sound of Music" could have been preformed at this very site. On the hilltops, we could see the snow capped mountains of the Sierras in the distance. Our hike was filled with beautiful sights and great conversation. We were so happy that Carolyn Amicone had rejoined the Ramblers with her bubbly personality. She was a great asset on this hike.

A typical scene along the trail The Ramblers: Allen Ward, Carolyn Amicone, Dick Estel and Wes Thiessen

After returning to the trailhead, we drove about a half mile into the campground and walked up a paved service road to the highest hill in that area, looking for more vistas. As it turned out, clouds covered most of the snowy foothills to the northwest, and the view from where we parked was more than adequate.

We finished our outing with a visit to the Axis Coffee Bar and Eatery, a brand new place in Tesoro Viejo, a brand new residential development on the east side of Highway 41 about five miles north of the San Joaquin River in Madera County. They had a limited sandwich menu, but the service and the food were both excellent, and we will no doubt be returning.

Although our numbers were small, our enjoyment was great, made even more so by the realization that May will mark five years of Rambler hikes.

--Dick Estel, February 2019

More Pohonichi Trail Photos









Photos (Click to enlarge; pictures open in new window) 
Jensen Ranch Hike          Pohonichi Trail
Jensen Ranch Hike
The Ramblers start down to the river bottom from the main trail along the bluffs We couldn't tell if this tree has leaves, seeds or flowers A big bunch of mistletoe
View across the Jensen Ranch territory We say goodbye to Marlene as she heads up the bluff Even the horses wore badges
Pohonichi Trail at Hensley Reservoir
The snowy vista from Hidden View Campground Hawk nests in a blue oak A more sedate example of "Wes on the Rock"
Related Links
Jensen River Ranch Woodward Park La Kebrada
Axis Coffee Bar & Eatery Hensley Reservoir Fresno River
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Updated February 10, 2019