2022 Rambler Hikes
Hikes 2017 Rambler
Hikes 2018 Rambler
Hikes 2020 Rambler
Page 1 2022
Hunt Jackson wrote a poem, October's
Bright Blue Weather, which
O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's bright blue weather;
Ramblers enjoyed that weather on October 12 when we hiked at Wawona after
having to cancel our September outing. The sky was indeed blue and
cloudless, the weather perhaps a few degrees warmer than ideal, but
a far cry from the triple digits that baked us most of September. We
walked on the Wawona
Meadow Trail, a four-mile loop that circumnavigates the big
meadow across from the historic Wawona
Hotel. We didn't go all the
way, each of us choosing the distance that we were comfortable with.
had one of our largest-ever groups, eleven in all, and without any
discussion, divided ourselves into three groups. Don McClellan and
Dave Smith have mobility issues and sat in their folding chairs at
the trailhead, an approach any of us would have enjoyed. The
"slow group," Dick Estel, Susan Crandall, Sue Wirt and
Jackie Taggart, hiked at our own pace, and covered 2.6 miles in our
round-trip effort. The rest - Wes Thiessen, Jim Tuck, Andy Crandall,
Ardyss Webster and Carolyn Amicone, effectively covered half the
loop, logging a bit over four miles in their "out and
and Andy live in Mariposa, and met us in the hotel parking lot. The
rest of us arrived in four different vehicles. We have to walk
across the highway and a short jaunt across the golf course on the
original road to Yosemite that comes in from the west (no longer
accessible). At the trailhead we go south, parallel to the meadow,
and are immediately immersed in a forest of pine, fir, cedar, black
oak and dogwood. Views across the meadow include leaves changing
color, evergreens, and Wawona Dome.
wide, easy Wawona Loop and the surrounding forest
across the meadow with Wawona Dome on the skyline
not take my camera, having decided to "live in the
moment." This is something I learned on a backpacking trip many
years ago. I went about a quarter mile off the trail to photograph a
waterfall. As soon as I took the photo, I turned to leave, then I
realized the photo would be only a pale reflection of reality. I sat
down and enjoyed the cliffs, waterfall and creek for five or ten
minutes, then went on my way.
Wes, Susan and Andy all took photos and have been very generous in
allowing me to use them.
the place where the "slow group" stopped, there was a big
boulder. I was able to climb up and sit on the edge, and in doing
so, I discovered that it had Indian grinding holes, something I had
not noticed on any of my previous hikes here.
the other group did can only be speculated by viewing their photos.
and Dick rest on a big boulder
delights in "forest bathing"
were a bit disappointed that the dogwood leaves had not fully
changed to their fall colors, not too surprising considering how hot
it has been this summer. We did find a few that had taken on a pink
tinge. And the ferns and willows displayed a good amount of
and Ardyss in front of one of the few dogwoods with good fall colors
along the edge of the meadow are turning yellow
my group started back, the advance party was also returning and began catching up with us.
We found Don and Dave relaxing at the trailhead where we had left
them, and all returned to the parking lot. We then drove the short
distance to the Pioneer History Center, where we found picnic tables
and the covered
bridge (dating from 1879) over the South Fork of the Merced
River. We had brought our own lunches and finished off the day with
a picnic and good conversation. Most of us went inside the bridge,
observing the huge
beams that brace the structure.
Ramblers, except for Wes, who took the picture
historic Wawona Covered Bridge
keeping with long-standing tradition, we'll give Wes the final
"The Japanese practice of shinrin yoku, or Forest Bathing, is good for both physical and mental wellbeing. It is proven to reduce stress hormone production, improve feelings of happiness and free up creativity, as well as lower heart rate and blood pressure, boost the immune system and accelerate recovery from illness."
In mid October, the Ramblers enjoyed "forest bathing" on the Wawona Meadow Loop Trail. We were in a forest of
pine and dogwood trees the entire hike. Some of us sat in chairs at the trailhead while others walked on
a historic old road in Yosemite National Park. We were all in the forest and the forest was in us. In reality it wasn't a hike but a relaxing stroll.
& Wes, October 2022
our November 2022 hike the Ramblers did something completely
different. We didn't hike! Since the Ramblers have few if any rules,
our monthly activity does not have to be a hike, although at least
90 times it HAS
been a hike. In fact, hiking was part of the plan for
this outing, although a minor part.
I should start at the beginning. I grew up in rural Mariposa County,
six miles from the town of the same name. Since my parents passed I
have not had much reason to go there, but I did learn on one of my
visits that there is now a walkway along Mariposa Creek, which runs
through the main part of town parallel to Highway 140/49. My thought
was to check out this area, and then maybe visit some of the
tourist-oriented shops, and spend some time in the Mariposa
Museum and History Center. This facility has been described by
no less than the Smithsonian Institute as the "best little
museum of its size west of the Mississippi."
had only four traveling up from the valley - Ardyss, Don, Allen and
Dick. We drove to Oakhurst on Highway 41, then turned west on
Highway 49 which took us to our destination, a historic mining town dating
from about 1850. We parked at the museum, and a few minutes later
were joined by Susan and Andy, long-time Mariposa residents, who had
a drive of two minutes.
befits a town that came into being because of the California
Gold Rush, many of the exhibits relate
to mining. There is a huge collection of mining artifacts arranged
around the outside of the building, and we spent
some time looking at these. Mariposa is near the southern end of the
a vein of gold-bearing quartz that stretches from Nevada City in the
north to Oakhurst, with Highway
49 connecting the historic mining towns of the Sierra foothills.
gold out of the rock in Gold Rush days consisted mainly of crushing
the quartz ore to sand-size particles, then washing the lighter
weight material out to leave the heavier gold behind. Various
machines were involved in this process, the most dramatic being the
stamp mill. This device has two or more thousand pound weights
(stamps) each at the bottom of a metal shaft. A steam-operated cam
shaft lifts each stamp in turn and allows it to drop eight inches, 100 times per
minute, onto the ore to be crushed. The
resulting particles are washed across screens that trap heavier
material (gold) while the waste is carried off. The stamp mill
pictured was used in the Golden Key Mine at nearby Mt.
Bullion, and reassembled on the museum grounds by Harry
Odgers, a long-time miner, with the help of many volunteers. It is
operational by arrangement or at scheduled times. A similar stamp
mill still sits on the hillside above the east side of town, at the
mouth of the Mariposa Mine. This mill was operated briefly when I
was in high school, and the sound could be heard all over town.
5-stamp mill. Top of rods from
stamps visible upper left behind
of the stamp mill
and Andy are both mechanically adept, interested in how things work,
and had a good time admiring and discussing the various pieces of
equipment on display. Of course, Andy had been to the museum many
times, but it was Don's first visit.
for the Crandall's, it was the first time any of us had heard of or
seen a Wilfley Table, although its principle was immediately clear
to anyone familiar with gold prospecting methods, since it's essentially
Andy admire an early product
from Karl Benz of Mercedes-Benz fame
Wilfley Table tilts and rocks to separate gold from lighter
we made our way inside the building where we were greeted by
volunteer Adele Marks. I had met her and her late husband, Reed,
about 20 years earlier when they were the campground hosts at Nelder
Grove. She guided us around the museum, providing information about
the exhibits beyond what was written on the signs accompanying the
museum is arranged in sections that focus on various subjects. Near
the entrance is a re-creation of the Gagliardo
store from Hornitos.
Some merchandise from gold rush days was still part of the inventory
when the store closed in the middle of the 20th Century. Mrs.
Gagliardo had preserved all the receipts and other records from the
beginning and these are also part of the display.
was not feasible to take photos inside. It would also make this
report unbearably long to describe all the displays. They
include sections about the county courthouse, (in continuous use
since 1854), the lumber industry, and of course, mining. This
includes a working model of a stamp mill about two feet high. I
particularly enjoyed a newly opened section that focuses on the
Native Americans who have lived in the area for thousands of years.
Some of them were my classmates from first to twelfth grade.
also was transported back to my childhood by the sight of a massive
wood stove that had been in the courthouse. In the 1940s and maybe
early '50's, my mother helped count ballots on election night, and I
would keep warm standing by that stove while I waited.
from the historic courthouse
exploring the outside exhibits
to the Crandall's membership in the historical society, we were
allowed to enter the vault, where fragile documents and other
artifacts are stored in a state-of-the-art climate controlled room.
Like most museums, this one owns many more items than they can
display at any one time.
can't show you the exhibits, but I CAN say that if you are
ever within easy driving range, a visit to this amazing historical
treasure is well worth your time.
that creek-side hike. When we were ready to leave the museum, our only thought was
lunch, so we drove to the nearby Miner's
Roadhouse for a delicious meal. It's been one of Mariposa's
most popular restaurants for decades, previously known as Miner's
Inn, the same as the nearby motel.
lunch was over, we were all ready to return home so we said our
goodbyes to Susan and Andy, and drove south and east on Highway 49.
There was a layer of snow along two sections of this route, where
the road reaches about 3,000 feet in elevation.
had a scenic drive home, with everything
washed clean by the recent rain and a light sprinkle
that accompanied us part of the way.
Estel, November 2022
Ramblers are a fluctuating group, with the number of hikers ranging
from two to a dozen. Six or eight has been the usual number on most
recent hikes, but we were reduced to three on December 15 - Ardyss,
Jackie and Dick. Those who had something preventing them from
joining us missed a refreshing stroll in cold sunshine, with a
Millerton, green grass getting started on the hills, geese down
by the water, and, in a Rambler first, a cat. He did not actually
hike with us, but greeted us when we arrived at the parking area,
and was waiting at the trailhead when we finished our hike. He was
friendly and looked well-fed, and probably lives in one of the
Lake, shining in the sun
official trailhead greeter
hike starts at the end of Sky Harbor Road, an in and out dead end
route that starts next to the Table Mountain Casino on Friant Road
and ends at the Finegold Picnic Area. Near the end of the road is a
residential development of upscale houses with million dollar views
of the lake. It has always struck me as a dangerous place to live,
since there is only the one route in and out, unless of course you
have a boat.
than an official trail, we follow a combination of fisherman's
trails, cow paths and an old road, going down from the parking area
toward the lake, then around the north side of a ridge that divides
the main lake from a little cove. The "real" trail goes up
hill in a southerly direction from the picnic area, and
eventually ends at the San Joaquin River Gorge recreation area, a
distance of about twelve miles.
hike was not only new to both Jackie and Ardyss, neither of them
could recall ever being on the Sky Harbor Road. It's a winding
two-lane road, with almost constant views of the lake. In the right
season it's lined with wildflowers, but none were in evidence this
was a lot more water than we expected after several years of
drought. Millerton is at 60% of capacity, compared with nearby Pine
Flat at 20% and Shasta in northern California at 31%.
we first spotted the
geese they were right by the trail, but as we approached, they
slowly drifted down toward the lake. These are called Canada geese
but they seem to have found a permanent home in the Fresno area,
appearing in large numbers in parks, school yards, and the lawns
around public buildings. I think the ones we see now are 9th or 10th
generation pure American.
in the area we walked through are mostly blue oaks and bull pines,
with a few shrubs of various sorts, including one with red stems
that I don't recall seeing anywhere else. There are some bush
lupines beside the trail, but of course it's too early for them to
dead blue oak
a lot of these unknown shrubs on the hills by the trail
we finished our hike, our lunch destination was the Pizza
Factory in nearby Friant. Although Don
could not hike with us, we had made arrangements to call him when we
were close to the car so he could join us for lunch. This set off
one of those "comedy of errors" sequences that seems to
plague the Ramblers at least once a year. When I tried to call Don,
I had no service. As we drove back out Sky Harbor Road and on to
Friant Road, I stopped several times and tried to call, each time
without success. Finally, about a mile from Friant, my phone began
to emit the beeps that indicated news alerts were being received so
I stopped once more and finally reached Don. I was concerned that we
would be waiting 20 or 30 minutes for him to drive from his home
west of Highway 41. However, he informed me that he was driving down
Willow Avenue and was only a few yards from Friant Road. When we
parked at the Pizza Factory, it was less than ten seconds before Don
pulled in beside us.
enjoyed a good lunch and a wide-ranging conversation, occupying our
table for close to an hour after we finished eating. We agreed that
we had brought 2022 to a successful conclusion with this last hike
of the year.
Estel, December 2022