Title: June 14, 2017 - Wawona Meadow Loop
Hike Info : Description : Trail Lessons : Background : Extra Photo's : Animals : Flowers and Plants
Trail head:Wawona Hotel Parking Lot
Trail: Wawona Meadow Loop
Distance: 4.70 miles
Start Time: 11:56
End Time: 4:00
Moving Time: 2:24 (1.96 mph)
Elevation Rise: 547'
Maximum Elevation: 4,260'GPS Tracks
|Gary the one-eyed pontificator|
I am a one-eyed hiker on this hike, like I was two weeks ago. But instead of just Sherri and I, we have 15 other people with us as Sherri have organized a meetup hike to Wawona Meadow. We start off, with Rose driving, from the Corner Bakery in Fresno at 8:30 with a stop in Oakhurst at Starbucks. After leaving Oakhurst, is when things started to slow down. There was a long line going into Fish Camp because of some construction going on. Then clearing that there was a little bit of a wait to get into the park as well. All in all we were waiting around for about an hour. By the time we got to Wawona, it was about 11:15.
|Gary giving background|
We rounded everybody up, except for one lady who we miss connections because of the traffic. We had 17 people with us including Sherri and I. Sherri is the one who is organizing this hike so she gets too to do the instructions. I on the other hand get to do more of the historical background to this area. Sherri calls with my chance to pontificate.
This is the same hike which Sherri and I did on May 30th, so there's really not too much difference in the actual write up. That is except for the 15 other people who are walking today. Also there is an assortment of different flowers. Having Rose along helps us identify all these other flowers which we normally would look at it and say isn't that nice. We saw columbine, ferns, and lots of misc other flowers.
|Smoke from the prescribed burn|
There was a prescribed burn going on but it was being shut down due to rain and snow a couple days ago. But we can still see the smoke way up on the top of the hill. We did not smell any smoke where we are at. But there are fire hose is at the end of the meadow where we take a break and have lunch. Our gang then asked a foolish question, not that the question was foolish, but that I might not know it, and that was why do they do prescribed burns? This gives me another chance to pontificate. Poor people.
After our lunch break at the end of the meadow, we continue on the east side of the meadow. This is an easy hike and it is a hike where people are able to experience walking in outdoors for the first time in a safe environment. So we do not move very fast, which is OK with me. When we cross Highway 41 come to the Wawona Hotel. We step inside look at all the historic photos.
After spending about 15 minutes inside the hotel we go over to the visitor center or what is known as Hills Studio. We look inside there and then go on down to the Pioneer Village. But we do not really stop in the village but go through the village until we hit the stables. On the other side of the stables is the paved road over to the Redwoods. We climb the hill on the other side of the stable and visit the Wawona Cemetery.
Of course, this gives me another opportunity to pontificate. So I talk about the people who were buried in the cemetery which there is very few named people there. Most of the graves are unmarked with a few unknowns.
|Wawona Tour Wagon|
After the cemetery we go down to the Pioneer Historical Village. By this time we all are ready to go back home so we just stopped by a few buildings. Even here I pontificate. Such as a house similar to George Anderson's. I ask do they know who George Anderson is? I mentioned his connection to Half Dome and the Mist Trail.
We go back to the cars afterwards feeling pretty well content most of the cars leave and just go directly back to Fresno but there is eight of us that stop at El Cid’s in Oakhurst. We enjoy ourselves there and it looks like we will probably see many of them on another hike. By the time we get back to Fresno it is around 7:00.
|Mt Savage and Wawona Meadow|
Prescribed Burn. The Smokey the Bear web site talks about three reasons to do a prescribe burn. Prescribed fires help reduce the catastrophic damage of wildfire on our lands and surrounding communities by:
- Safely reducing excessive amounts of brush, shrubs and trees
- Encouraging the new growth of native vegetation
- Maintaining the many plant and animal species whose habitats depend on periodic fire
Notes. Below are the notes I took from Shirley Sargent’s Wawona Yesterdays
- The Nutchu Tribe called it: Pallahchun: A good place to stop
- White people thought Wawona meant Big Trees, but it really meant Evening Primrose
- Common name was Clark's Station
- Also called Big Trees Station
Wawona, which was private property surrounded by State and National Park lands, became Army headquarters. From there troopers patrolled extensively, exploring, building trails and mapping the rough scenic terrains California re-ceded the Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley to the nation in 1905, but coherent, truly progressive administration was not possible until 1916 when civilian rangers succeeded Uncle Som’s soldiers on a year-round basis.
Beginning of our trail is a road called Chowchilla Mountain Road from Mariposa. Sometimes called the Raymond Road.
J. Smeaton Chase wrote in Yosemite Trails that the “Wawona Meadows themselves might be called the Sleepy Hollow of the West. It is the most peaceful place that I know in America, and comes near being the most idyllic spot I have seen anywhere . . . Here is unbroken meadow, green as heaven, a mile long, wing knee-high with all delicious grasses and threaded with brooklets of crystal water. It is surrounded with a rail-fence that rambles in and out and around about and hither and thither in that sauntering way that makes a rail-fence such a companionable thing . . .
- 1st guardian of Yosemite in 1864
- Came to Wawona to die because of lung disease in 1856. 43 years later is passed away.
- Homesteaded 160 acres. Opened Clark's station which soon became a popular place to stop on the way to the Valley.
- Three brothers and a whole lot of family and extended family
- Made hotel into a resort, complete with tennis courts, ice making lake (Stella), golf course (1923), swimming pool, and airway (1925). Self sustaining with an orchard and fields. Raised hogs and cattle.
- Bought hotel from Clark. Fire took it down and in 1885 this hotel was built with several additional buildings.
- Since 1934 the area has been managed by the park service and its vendors
Army camp where the current Wawona campground is. Army also built an arboretum trail on the other side of the river.
“After on experience of nearly 40 years, and having never known another such all-round reinsman as George Monroe. Just as there are the greatest of soldiers and sailors, artists and mechanics at times, so there are greater stage drivers than their fellows and George Monroe was the greatest of all. He was a wonder in every way. He had names for all his horses, and they all knew their name. Sometimes he spoke sharply to one or more of them, but generally he addressed them pleasantly. He seldom never used a whip, except to crack it over their heads.”
Hill’s most famous painting “Driving the Last Spike,” had nothing to do with Yosemite, but pictures the driving of the last spike to unite the transcontinental railway at Promontory, Utah, in 1869. Not even painters were safe from politics, Hill found to his dismay long before he finished the huge painting.
Pioneer Village and Covered Bridge
For 103 years the covered bridge has spanned the South Fork of the Merced River at Wawona. From 1857 when Galen Clark built it, “it existed a simple, open structure (see cut) until 1875 when the Washburn brothers rebuilt it as a covered bridge reminiscent of their native Vermont. It carried all traffic—foot, horse, stage and car—until 1931 when modern concrete bridge on the new Wawona road replaced it.[”]
After its back was broken by the damaging floods of 1955, the covered bridge was restored authentically and painstakingly, even to using square nails, 75 by the National Park Service under its ambitious Mission 66 program.
It stands now as the only covered bridge left in any National Park and one of the few in the West. It is used daily by horses and visitors as the central feature of the Pioneer Yosemite History Center. On the south side of the river in the old wagon shop are historical exhibits showing the transportation used by early pioneers. On the north side is a collection of authentic, historic buildings, furnished to show the type of housing the pioneers had—including the fieldstone jail.
Wawona’s Boot Hill lies on the low hill a tenth of a mile north of the Pioneer Center, behind and above the stables. There are two parts to this rude, unremembered graveyard, both surrounded by neat, brown fences. Their are no memories or markers for the smaller plot, just pine-needled ground and the mysterious fence.
When ranger-naturalist Jack F. Fry began putting frustrating weeks interviewing old-timers and searching Mariposa County records, he couldn’t “find enough people to fill the graves that were obviously there.” After checking “various accounts of who is buried there, I have too many people for the graves!” 56
Three of the graves have wooden markers. Nathan B. Phillips (see Pike), H. R. Sargent and John L. Yates are so remembered. Reportedly, Sargent was either a carpenter or a stage driver who died in 1878 or 1879. 42 Yates was an Army private, stationed at Camp A. E. Wood, who drowned August 2, 1905, in the Merced River trying to save Mary Garrigan who drowned too. 57
Presumably, Bush-head Tom (see Indians) is buried in one of the unmarked graves, as are two suicide victims and possibly John Hammond and Homer or Jim Snedecker. 42
It is hoped that some of the confusion and mystery that mark this graveyard’s history may be cleared up by readers of this brief account so that the occupants may rest in remembered peace.
Pike was the town character of Wawona in the 1890’s. He had long, yellowish hair, a mustache and a chin-enveloping beard of the same yellowish hue. Customarily, he wore boots, Levis, a heavy blue shirt with white buttons and a brood, white cowboy hat. Phillips drank heavily, swore frequently and had a unique, gruff whispering voice. Then questioned as to how he had lost his voice, was a husky, offhand, “telling lies to the tourists.” His “lies” were repeated, even in 1882 San Francisco newspaper, by and to appreciative listeners. There was the one about a bear that chased Pike up a pine tree and out on a limb. At the top of his damaged vocal chords, Pike whispered fiercely, “Get back you fool or we’ll both be killed.”