March 16, 2013
Hite Cove Trail
Total distance: 4.5 miles
It felt wonderful to be out hiking again after hibernating at home all winter. Today’s walk in the sun was a blessing. It lifted my spirits and reddened my scalp since I forgot my hat at home.
On our first spring hike of the year, Mary Elizabeth and I walked the narrow path up and down the hills above the south fork of the Merced River. We could hear the water as it scurried along scouring the boulders smooth.
It was evident by the number of photographers on the trail that word is out: the flowers are here!
Even though it’s not yet spring, many varieties of wildflowers flanked the trail offering a kaleidoscope of colors.
But the poppies were the stars of the show. This year’s colorful exhibition is early, possibly due to the warm weather.
A slight breeze cooled us and the echo of a woodpecker’s knock could be heard in the distance. The tread was loose as the trail rose above the river hugging the hillside. There were some spots where the drop-off was sheer.
The walk to the cove–an abandoned mining settlement–was 4 1/2 miles. We meandered along descending rough and jagged steps until we reached the water’s edge, then turned back. Our only goal was to see the flowers which were prevalent during the first two miles of trail.
After the hike, we headed down the road to Briceburg Canyon, walked over the wooden bridge and down to the sandy beach of the north fork of the Merced River. There on the bank we panned for gold. Although panning is the simplest way to extract gold, it is a pain in the neck (the knees and the back as well). We spent two hours digging, sifting, then swishing watery sand around our pans to no avail. “Prospector” Mary caught a few shiny specks, but the jury is out on whether or not it was Fool’s Gold–pyrite.
We had fun panning for the precious metal, and laughed when Mary fell into the cold water. (Two weeks ago it was not a laughing matter when she fell backwards, hit her head on a rock and ended up in the emergency room.)
Today was a picturesque start to what I hope will be an invigorating hiking season. Until next time…