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Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

The Moon is Waxing Gibbous (99% of Full)



Re: More Sequoia Road Walking

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More Sequoia Road Walking
February 14, 2017 03:39PM
While the higher elevations of Sequoia continue to be under record-deep snow, we took advantage of the winter temperatures to tick off more low-elevation trails in the park.

The sky was clear and the temperatures just about perfect for hiking as we departed from the little-used North Fork trailhead. Only a few hundred steps into the hike, we came to the first junction with a "TQX" side expedition to Yucca Flat.

This area had long ago been cleared for various settlers and ranchers, and some signs of this previous development remained: a stone wall that would rival any from the "old world", some roads, and a buried pipe that carried water from Yucca Creek.

A smooth rock revealed evidence of even earlier habitation: mortar holes.

After checking out the Yucca Flat area, we returned to the "main" trail and began a gentle ascent. The terrain was definitely more like our local East Bay hills than the High Sierra, but the winter rains at least brought the normally brown grasses to life.

Our trail was really an old fire road constructed by the CCC. Midway up the initial climb were a few buried bunkers that had been used to store explosives.

Eventually the modest climb eased, and since it was around noon, we stopped and enjoyed lunch.

Near us an odd pipe rose out of the ground, evidence of some unknown, buried water system?

In Monkey Island, this would turn off the waterfall. I can't remember what would happen in Myst...

Unlike the Old Colony Mill Road trail, the North Fork road trail had little poison oak and was comparatively open. We had talked to a few kayakers at the trailhead; apparently the trail is used as an approach to a put-in spot and they maintain the trail. We saw evidence of recently cut branches that made travel much more pleasant.

The remaining climb from our lunch spot until where we thought we'd end up was only a few hundred feet, so the grade was very gentle. Most of the hills around us were either open grass or dense underbrush, but in a few places the bedrock was exposed.

We eventually reached the first significant side stream which had a nice set of cascades over open granite.

The kayakers we had met at the trailhead had said there was a nice section of granite about a half mile past Burnt Point Creek. We were also surprised to have encountered a few day hikers heading back; they had mentioned a side trail that went down to the river. Thus, while there were several nice flat campsites on the old road, we continued up river looking for better camping. Burnt Point Creek had a series of pretty cascades and pools, but they were hard to access from the trail, and there didn't appear to be any decent camping near them, so we continued on.

The main river too had nice cascades and granite water slides, but these were also inaccessible from the main trail.

Farther up river, we reached another small cascade and water slide that we later would learn is a popular put-in spot for kayakers. A steep grassy slope mostly free of the dense brush encountered elsewhere made it at least somewhat accessible from the trail. Since it was a steep drop down, and since we didn't see any obvious flat camping areas, we continued up river.

Another half mile or so led us to a significant side trail that descended to the river. It was somewhat brush-choked, but clearly got some occasional use. Unfortunately, there wasn't any decent camping along the swollen river as well, so we returned to the trail. We headed a bit farther up it, but it was getting late and we hadn't crossed a stream in awhile, so we eventually decided to head back down and camp somewhere on the road/trail, preferably near a stream.

A few drops of water fell on us as we retraced our steps, but we eventually reached a small stream that descended a series of small cascades.

The road was flat and grassy here--perfect for camping.

After a good--and warm--night's rest, we woke up the next morning, prepared breakfast, and packed up. As we were packing a trail runner passed our camp. We had encountered four more people than we had expected to on the trail. The overcast from the previous afternoon and evening persisted all morning as we hiked out.

We checked out a few somewhat promising paths that might lead down to the river, but none were worth the bushwhacking effort to push all the way to it, so instead we made due with views from high up on the trail.

The trail's gentle downhill grade made for a pleasant stroll back to the car.

From the top of the final drop back down to Yucca Flat, we could see the Old Colony Road trail climbing up the back side of Ash Peaks Ridge. Given how much less brush and poison oak was on the exposed, south-facing slopes, it's surprising that road was constructed on the shaded north side of the ridge.

Near the trailhead we checked out an odd cement platform.

There was no counterpart on the other side of the creek, so it was doubtful it was an old bridge footing. Mystery unsolved, we returned to the car.

We had staged another car just inside the park for another TrailQuest segment--the Shepherd Saddle road. JKW wasn't feeling up to this road walk/TQX segment and agreed to pick us up on the other side of the road. Almost immediately after we left the main road the Pink one pointed out a strange disturbed section of ground, where it seemed some one, or some thing, had dug a shallow hole into the ground very recently.

The road was quite rutted from the recent rains at the beginning, but as we gradually climbed towards the saddle the surface became better.

We soon enough left the lower portions where it seems like everyone who owns a 4x4 had to forge their own road and were soon walking through much more wild terrain.

A gate marked the otherwise uneventful entry into Sequoia National Park.

The map had indicated we would pass a small water tank, and indeed we did. There were no signs of dwellings nearby; perhaps it was for possible use during a fire?

The terrain near the saddle had a pleasant wild feel to it, and we started to get views of the snow covered peaks to the east.

A gate and fence marked the saddle itself. At first it wasn't clear why there was a fence here, far from the park boundary. But soon it became apparent that the east side of the road is used for horse and mule pasture by the park service.

The descent towards the entrance station was not nearly as nice as the climb had been. The road was covered with horse manure, and as we descended we entered the administrative area of the park.

Early on, we passed by several horses (or mules or donkeys or ...)

Just past a rather worn camp, a pleasant little waterfall provided a nice change in scenery.

We then passed the firing range, upper helispot, fire training ground, slash pile...

...culvert and dumpster storage grounds...

...explosives storage...

... corals with horse on wrong side of gate...

...lower helisport, fake-stonework-used-for-new-road-guardrails testing area...

...dilapidated maintenance yard, and the recreation center, before we reached JKW waiting for us at the bottom.

As it is, JKW had spent some time in the museum in Three Rivers, where she learned about some recent goings-on. At least we knew what the disturbed ground we had passed by was all about.

The North Fork side of the Shepherd Saddle road was a nice enough stroll, but the Ash Mountains side isn't recommended unless you like to know where the park hides all of its excess, well, everything.

Another enjoyable weekend, and a few more TrailQuest miles ticked off the very long list!
Re: More Sequoia Road Walking
February 15, 2017 06:05AM
Thanks for posting. Apparently the horses in California are smarter than those back east....they can read (WHOA sign) smiling smiley
Re: More Sequoia Road Walking
February 16, 2017 04:28PM
A few points:

1) That was the first WHOA sign I've ever seen.
2) You mention trail runners. I once saw a Youtube clip featuring a trail running club
in Yosemite. They ran from Tenaya Lake to Clouds Rest, downhill to Nevada Fall,
up the Panorama Trail to Glacier Pt., and down the Pohono Trail to Tunnel View.
Obviously, beer guts are not allowed in that club.
3) I always enjoy pictures of man made objects (concrete pillars, boundary markers,
derelict water tanks, etc) They are proof that man was there, and the forest has since
swallowed them up .Even far flung footbridges, miles from a road, tell a tale of massive
effort needed to deliver their parts to that location and then be built.

Cool stuff.
Re: More Sequoia Road Walking
February 17, 2017 03:42AM
Whoa to the whoa sign and the disturbed ground finding...
avatar Re: More Sequoia Road Walking
February 17, 2017 07:10AM
Good tymes... smiling smiley


Chick-on is looking at you!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/17/2017 07:10AM by chick-on.
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