I met up with camk24, a gal I met on backpacker.com, on Saturday night and I offered her my spare bedroom so she could crash. She had just spent a couple of days in Joshua Tree with DesertDweller and Tarbubble (2 other bp.com folks) and then drove over here so she could meet me and go see the big trees On Sunday morning we got up and packed up and headed out in my little truck up to Mountain Home State Forest. This is a beautiful area this time of year as the dogwoods have all turned red and the ferns and other understory shrubs have turned gold (see WindWalker's fall reflection pics!) It's also a relatively unknown area - locals know about it and go there but not many tourists know it's there. It's just south of Sequoia National Park but has a separate entrance up a long steep narrow winding road...
The weather was mild and the sky was blue and we only passed one other car and a couple of Forest Service guys clearing some underbrush. I narrated the changing vegetation as we drove up the road from oak woodland to sequoia grove. When we got to the Mountain Home Grove Camk24 was awed; she had never before seen the giant sequoias and was impressed We drove past the Oliver Twist Tree and many unnamed trees on our way to the Hidden Falls Trailhead.
The trail from Hidden Falls northward is a beautiful one. You basically hike parallel to the river (the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Tule River) for about 3 miles, then cross it, then hike parallel on the other side for a couple more miles. The River runs between Moses and Maggie Mountains and this time of year is not running very high but has many delightful little waterfalls and swimming holes. For most of the hike you are within the Middle Tule Grove or what some just consider an extension of the Mountain Home Grove. As a side note, if it were considered part of the same grove it would probably be larger than the Redwood Mountain Grove and thus be the largest!
We had only hiked a quarter mile or so when we passed a rock on which there was an ominous note written... "I'm watching you from that tree" with an arrow pointing into the deep dark old growth woods. "Which tree and who's watching?" we wondered? Oh well, despite the warning we pressed on.
We found the perfect spot to eat lunch at Redwood Crossing and here a dog came along and snuck up behind camk24 and scared her! She shrieked and I thought she had fallen in the river or something, lol! The dog's owner then went by on his horse and he was leading a couple more. A little while later the rest of the pack train came along, some hunters dressed in camo (it was the last day of deer season). Then we saw two hunters hiking out. These were the only people we saw on the trip.
We found a great campsite a few miles in near Long Meadow which is just over the border into the Golden Trout Wilderness and decided to set up camp and dayhike further up. If we had more daylight we might've tried to press on to Summit Lake which is just over the border of Sequoia NP, but evening comes quick to that deep canyon so we didn't get too far before deciding to turn back. We did however see some great views of the higher country and some neat huge old red fir trees.
That night we made a small campfire and made dinner and had a good conversation. I slept pretty well with the sounds of the river in the background. Sometimes, though, I swear I heard something splashing in the water! And once I heard a bear wearing flip flops flip flop past my tent. Oh, wait, that was just camk24
We got up around 8:00 am and sunlight still had not reached our camp but was lighting up the steep dramatic cliffs of Moses Mountain. We made good time hiking out and so on the way home I took camk24 by the Hercules Tree, a giant sequoia that a man carved a 12' by 12' by 12' room in back near the turn of the century, and the Methuselah Tree, #27.
When we got back to town I took camk24 to El Nuevo which has very yummy Mexican food! Then we went back to my house and got cleaned up then camk24 was off to LA - she's flying home this morning.
I really enjoyed this short autumn overnighter and I'm glad I got to meet camk24!
More pics here http://www.tarol.com/longmeadow.html
The mountains are calling and I must go. ~ John Muir ~ www.tarol.com