2021 Rambler Hikes
Hikes 2017 Rambler
Hikes 2018 Rambler
2021 Page 1
Lewis Eaton Trail
San Joaquin Gorge
(by Wes and Dick)
Ramblers are rolling along, brave and strong. On August 17 seven of
us traveled in two vehicles to Courtright
Reservoir. The group
included three of the original four Ramblers, Wes Thiessen, Dick
Estel, and Carolyn Amicone, making her first hike since February
2019. Two more of the group have at least a dozen Rambler hikes
under their belts - Sue Wirt and Allen Ward. Newer members were Jeff
Adolph, making his third appearance, and Keith Sohm on his second
outing with us.
of us are experienced and enthusiastic hikers and campers, and most
have hiked at Courtright several times. The exception was Allen,
making his first visit to the area.
email summary that he sends after every hike covered the day very
well, so I'll let him take over for the rest of this report (or at
least most of it).
with low water, Courtright's beauty is amazing
Ramblers: Keith, Jeff, Wes, Carolyn, Dick, Allen and Sue
Yesterday seven Ramblers traveled to Courtright Reservoir with the goal of hiking along the shore of this beautiful body of water. In the past, our hikes had followed a jeep trail on the
east side of the reservoir to a granite rock formation. This time we wanted to see water and decided to try something different. If
seven is the perfect number, then this group was just the right size.
We had received directions from Dick's grandson regarding a pathway to the shoreline. One of our members, Jeff, had spent much time in this area and suggested we follow the Cliff Lake
Trail to a cove from which we could walk along the shore. We agreed to follow his hike plan. So into the deep forest we hiked with smiles on our
caught some of us coming down the trail - Jeff...
But the trail was longer and more difficult than we had anticipated. Several of us hiked ahead to catch a glimpse of the
"cove". Unfortunately the ongoing drought had depleted the water level to such a great extent there was no cove. All we could see was dry grass and tree stumps where once clear water lapped a sandy beach.
We hiked back to the main group with our report. We all decided to turn around and simply enjoy the lush forest. And we had the added joy of sharing Carolyn's birthday and extending blessings to her. She returned to the Ramblers after
a long absence due to health issues. Happily, these have been
just west of the dam
There's a place where the trail goes through a swampy area, and
becomes a boardwalk. Of course, there was no moisture in that place
this time, and bypassing the boardwalk on an informal dirt path, we
noted that an even older section of boardwalk was rotting back into
the soil parallel to the official route.
on a recently repaired section of the newer boardwalk
boardwalk is returning to the earth
is a campground and a private development near the trailhead. While
the rest of us were straggling back to the parking area or resting
in the shade, Wes decided to go directly to the lake through the
private land. a distance of about a mile. We will not discuss what
happened on this exploration, but if you know Wes, ask him to tell
you about his adventures with Mike and Buddy.
enjoyed our lunch at the parking area, then drove east across the
dam so that first-time visitor Allen could see the steep
gorge below the lake, the array
of domes, and the Dusy-Ershim
this brief excursion, we turned back and returned to our valley
homes. In addition to 100+ temperatures, we are experiencing smoky
skies from forest fires in northern California. Fortunately, the
8,000 foot elevation of Courtright was above the smoke. Maybe we
should look into moving to that private development by the lake,
winter snow be damned.
Estel, August 2021
in the Sierra, and the smoke drifting throughout the area, kept the
Ramblers off the trails in September and October, but on November 1
we finally managed a short, fairly easy hike on the Lewis
S. Eaton Trail, which parallels the San Joaquin River just north
of Fresno. There is a parking lot for the trail at the corner of
Friant Road and Copper Avenue. Traffic lights allow hikers to safely
cross both these busy streets to the trail.
you turn left, to the west, the trail eventually leads to Woodward
Park, the largest in Fresno County at 300 acres. The trail to
the east, which was our route, winds down the bluffs to the upper
edge of the river's wide flood plain, and goes about a mile to the Hallowell
Center for River Studies. Between the trail and the river there
is a series of ponds, left from gravel mining. Usually they harbor
an array of water birds - ducks, geese, egrets, and others. Due to
the drought this past year most of the ponds are dry.
group included six Ramblers who have been on previous hikes, and one
first-time hiker, Suzie Tellier, a friend of Sue's.
Adolph, Dick Estel, Keith Sohm, Ardyss
Webster, Allen Ward, Sue Wirt
took only the two photos above, but there is a good sampling from
previous hikes here
we arrived at the River Center, we were disappointed to see that the
pond next to it had been reduced to a mud puddle about six feet in
diameter. In the past we have seen turtles, night herons, gulls, and
ducks of every description on this pond. Hopefully this winter's
rains will restore it.
wandered around the Center, which has an old farmhouse from the
early 20th Century, two barns (one old, one contemporary),
restrooms, and storage sheds. The farm house and the gift shop were
not open, but we took advantage of benches provided here and there,
and spent at least a half hour there before starting back.
top things off, we enjoyed lunch at the Ark
Mediterranean Grill in a nearby shopping center.
Estel, November 2021
our final hike of 2021 on December 7, the Ramblers went to a
familiar place, The San
Joaquin River Gorge Recreation Area. We've hiked here at least
eight times, and as long as our bodies hold out, we will do so
reports provide plenty of information
on the features of the area, so we'll just deal with the events of
this hike, such as they are. First, a few words from Wes:
happy Ramblers traveled to the San Joaquin River Gorge for a
two-mile round trip hike to the iconic bridge spanning the river.
When the hike started it was cold and foggy but when it ended it was
warm and sunny. The hills were winter green with a few trees and
bushes still carrying leaves of yellow and red. I hesitate to call
it a hike. We followed the advice of John Muir and
"sauntered" along the way, stopping frequently to enjoy
scenic vistas and the changing flora. We noted the abundance of
Miner's Lettuce but decided not to eat thereof.
"happy seven" included Wes, Dick, Carolyn, Jackie, Allen,
Sue and Susie. We left the San Joaquin Valley floor under high fog,
hoping that the sun would break through up in the foothills. We had
some misty views for about half the hike, but ended it in full
skies over the San Joaquin River
trail starts its final drop into the gorge
cool even when sunny, the weather was pretty much just right for a
hike at this elevation in late fall. On the way down to the river we
enjoyed the sight of yellow and orange leaves on the wild grape
vines, and the new grass and annual plants, giving promise of a nice
wildflower display on future hikes.
grape vines climb high into a dead pine
annual plants have a good start, surrounding a mushroom.
we have sometimes gone a short distance beyond the bridge, everyone
was ready for a rest and happy to make that our turnaround point.
gang on the bridge: Sue Wirt, Dick Estel, Susie Tellier,
Allen Ward, Jackie Taggart, Wes Thiessen, Carolyn Amicone
bridge was built in the late 1970's
was a special outing in several ways. Wes had gone through a
procedure in October to deal with some heart issues, and had just
been given the green light to resume normal activities. We all
wondered if Wes had disclosed to his doctor just what his
"normal" activities are (in addition to hikes, they
include long bike rides in the valley and foothills).
had not been able to join us very often for the last two years or
so, but made it in August and this month. And Susie was enjoying
just her second outing with the group.
top of all this, Velasco's,
the Mexican restaurant in Prather that has been our lunch stop on
many hikes, was finally open, and we could enjoy our favorite spicy
dishes for the first time in over two years.
January we will begin our ninth year of Ramblers hikes. If you are
within driving distance and can hike about two miles, consider
Estel, December 2021