This Sunday I decided I had to get up into the mountains, and took advantage of an invitation to work on the Hite Cove trail with a group of local volunteers. For those of you who don't know, Hite Cove Trail runs along the South Fork of the Merced from Savage's Trading Post up to Hite Cove itself, where there are some relics of the gold mining era, and then continues as a rough route all the way up to Wawona.
Savage's by the way, has an interesting role in the history of Yosemite. It was originally a trading post owned by Mr. Savage, who enjoyed a relatively comfortable relationship with the local native Americans. Then things got ugly, he got killed, they got attacked and confined....well, it wasn't the best part of our local California history. But it was important.
The Hite Cove trail is most popular during the spring, when the wildflowers can be simply stunning. But this time of year, it has a very different character, particularly after the huge Ferguson Fire raced through this area. The hope is that the fire will open the door to a particularly large wildflower explosion this spring, and we'd like the trail in good condition when that happens.
At the same time, the fire opened up the tree cover so that there are more views along the canyon, and the geology in particular is more apparent.
As has always been the case, I really enjoyed meeting the trail volunteers and working with them. They have a deep appreciation for the whole region and lots of stories to tell about their own experiences as well as those of others who've hiked here. It was a good day, and we got a lot done on the trail.
Cool! I wouldn't mind working on that project myself, and it's low-enough elevation to do it even in winter. I've been wanting to hike that area for years. It's famous for flowers. That's the South Fork of the Merced, right? There is also a trail or route in the area that has sounded very interesting to me for years, starts from Yosemite on the Alder Creek Trail on Wawona Rd, goes to Bishop Creek and, at least at one time, you could continue on down into the canyon to the river and make your way down to the Hite Cove area, I believe. I've never been on it, I read a bit about it in Shaeffer's hiking guide to Yosemite and by doing some bits of internet research. I think there use to be a road to Yosemite through there way back. I'm wondering if that area (upstream from Hite Cove) burned and got brushy and the trails are pretty much lost. Going there has been on my back-of-the-mind bucket list for years.
After last month's work day on the Hite Cove Trail, I spent Friday joining some of that same work crew on the Savage Lundy Trail, which also gives access to the South Fork of the Merced River below Yosemite. It was a beautiful day, bright and sunny, and we were able get a lot of the fire debris off the trail for the first couple of miles. The trail is currently closed to all traffic, and the fire damage was pretty comprehensive in this area.
What was most impressive to me were the huge holes where large trees had not only burned to the ground, but also left myriad tunnels snaking underground where the roots burned up below the soil. Some of these were directly under the trail, and we had some fun filling them in to prevent future hikers from falling into the depths of hell...
Early the day some of the ground was frozen, so that added to the fun, as well. But we did get to see a part of the Merced that many people don't visit, and saw all kinds of refuse, some of it old enough to be classified as historic, along the now exposed trail.
At the same time, it was nice to see a few shoots of green coming up out of the soil, often from the roots of manzanita bushes that had burnt totally down to the ground. Slowly the forest will come back..