September 13, 2013
Total distance: 5 miles
Driving along the winding Sierra Scenic Byway through Madera County, two friends and I were very near the exact center of California. Our adventure today was to hike up to Lion Point in the Sierra National Forest.
I parked along the forest service road at an elevation of about 4,000 feet, where signs informed us that cutting firewood is allowed only if you have a permit. We met the Friday group of Sierra Hiking Seniors at the trailhead. Eighteen hikers showed up out of hundreds who are in the group. I met new people, recognized a few friendly faces from last week’s hike and even remembered some of their names.
We set out as one and remained bunched up until people found their stride hiking up the 600 foot incline. Spur trails headed off in different directions making it confusing for those who lagged behind. The route was dusty. Rocks and ruts cluttered the road. A cattle grid lay across one section but no cows were seen. However, several animal tracks and scat of bear, racoon, deer and mountain lion were found in the soft dirt. Manzanita and mountain misery lined the way, the latter giving off a pungent scent. Oak trees dripping with mistletoe and towering pines blocked the sunlight until we reached a clearing at the top of Lion Point.
There, we had a distant view of the Minarets located in the Ansel Adams Wilderness.
We saw nearby Musick Mountain, and a vast expanse of wilderness towards Fresno County. We didn’t linger long at the top of Lion Point, enough to see the views, then turned around and walked down the slope back to the cars.
Part of the group’s charm is the socializing that takes place when the hike is completed. As usual, the leaders brought out a table full of food and drinks. People set up lawn chairs in the shade and relaxed for a while. My trio had a ninety minute drive home and things to do, so after having a quick snack and receiving instructions for the next group hike, we bid an early farewell.