April 23, 2014
Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park
Total distance: 2.9 miles
This year Julia was home for her last college spring break. We spent several days together doing errands and volunteer work, watching movies, shopping for a graduation dress, and dining out. We planned to hike in Yosemite to see the dogwoods blooming; but instead brought Ginger with us and hiked at the Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park in Madera County.
This area is rich in history from the 1800’s. But what I know of the park is that it has five miles of trails; it was the home of a tuberculosis sanatorium from the early 1900’s to the late 1960’s; and a boys home until the mid-1980’s. As we hiked, I thought about all the people who came here to heal. I hope the peace of nature was able to remedy what ailed them.
It was a cool afternoon and an easy walk over rolling hills filled with wildflowers. As we warmed up, we peeled off our sweatshirts and enjoyed the cool shade of oak and pine trees. Blooming buck brush lined the soft trail.
We stepped aside to let a jogger pass. He warned us of a snake on the trail 50 yards ahead. Julia walked in front so that Ginger wouldn’t come upon it first, but by the time we reached 50 yards, it had slithered away.
We headed up a spur trail to a lookout and spied a lake below nearby.
While walking through a shady area, we saw the skull and jaw bones of an unknown wild animal lying in the dirt.
As we strolled through the lush green meadow, Julia mentioned that it would be a nice place to hold an outdoor wedding.
Eventually, we came upon the lake we saw from the top of the hill. Julia brought Ginger down to the water while I stayed above on the trail.
A pair of Canada geese paddled through the water, and a couple of fish jumped near the shore. Ginger got in and cooled her feet.
From the lake, the narrow hiking trail hooked up with the wider, rubbly walking trail where we came upon several people with dogs. Ginger did well in ignoring the canines who passed her. I was pleased with her behavior. Although it is common for Ginger and me to walk three miles daily, she was spent at the end of this hike and couldn’t wait to get into the car.
It was an unusual treat to have spent the week with my daughter. She graduates in May with a Bachelors of Liberal Studies degree then comes home for summer where she will once again work as a Ranger in Yosemite National Park. I’m looking forward to having her home again; and maybe we’ll even get in a hike or two.
WILDFLOWERS ON THE TRAIL
Besides fiddleneck, popcorn, and blue dick, here are other wildflowers that we saw on the trail. Many of these I have growing wild in my own yard: