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BCHC Mid Valley Unit

Horse Meadow Trail Clearing

We cleared 9.5 miles of trail in the Horse Meadow area of the Emigrant Wilderness Area, in Stanislaus Nationall Forest, on August 17 - 21, 2009. We caught some monster trout, too.
Photos mostly by Michael King.
You may jump to the newsletter article below the pictures.

[This is the first page of pictures. You may also jump to Page 2.]

Carl Perry, monster trout Carl Perry, past president of the Mid Valley Unit, and the fish we called "Moby Trout". Carl is a couple of inches over six feet tall, so you can tell this monster would feed a family of four, with some left over for the cat. Anyone can catch a fish like this. All you have to do is walk or ride into a lake 20 - 30 miles from the trailhead, use the skills you've acquired over 40 years of camping and fishing, and be very, very lucky.

Downed tree blocking the trail
Downed tree blocking the trail


Tony Moules
Tony Moules and his trusty cross-cut saw
[Ed. note - Forest Service rules forbid the use of engines within a wilderness area, no matter what size or for what purpose. So, we go in on horseback, not ATVs, and we clear huge logs with equally huge saws and a lot of muscle power, not with chain saws.]


Michael King and Tony Moules tackling a downed tree
Michael King and Tony Moules tackling a downed tree


Downed tree no longer blocking the trail
Downed tree no longer blocking the trail


Michael King and friends
Michael King and friends


Michel King and mining remains
Michel King and mining remains


Dennis Wetherington on a crosscut saw
Dennis Wetherington on a crosscut saw


Michael King, Tony Moules and Dennis Serpa
Michael King, Tony Moules and Dennis Serpa


Dennis Serpa, Carl Perry and Tony Moules
Dennis Serpa, Carl Perry and Tony Moules
[Ed Note: Sawing from the bottom up, with the saw held upside-down, prevents the cut from binding the saw when the tree starts to sag.]


Riding in to Snow Lake
Riding in to Snow Lake


Snow Lake, a gem in the high Sierra
Snow Lake, a gem in the high Sierra


Old mining equipment junk pile
Old mining equipment junk pile


This is the first page of pictures. On the second page we catch some monster trout. Newsletter article below.

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Horse Meadow Trail Clearing Project

by Michael King

From August 17 to August 21, 2009 a Mid Valley BCHC trail crew was in the Horse Meadow area of the Emigrant Wilderness clearing downed trees, rocks and brush from trails. The crew consisted of 7 Mid Valley Unit members: Dennis Serpa, Carl Perry, Julie Perry, Tony Moules, Steve Tucker, Dennis Wetherington and myself. We were accompanied by Emigrant Wilderness Supervisor, Adam Barnett and USFS intern, Charlie Elverson from Iowa, who walked in on foot.

We assembled at the 6,400-foot elevation, Kennedy Meadows trailhead near Sonora Pass on Monday the 17th. The main group headed out at 9:00 am sharp on the 16-mile trip to Horse Meadow, near the Yosemite park boundary. It did not take long to get into the traveling rhythm and we made steady progress to Sheep Camp, where we stopped to have lunch and give the stock and ourselves a short break.

After we downed our groceries, it was back to riding. The trail to Horse Meadow tops out on Mosquito pass, elevation 9,370 feet, which is a 2,970-foot climb from Kennedy Meadow or nearly 5.5 degree grade over the 10 and 1/2 miles to the pass. After the steep, bone-jarring decent from Maxwell Lake, we made Horse Meadow at about 3:30 pm. With everyone being pretty tired, we turned in early after dinner so as to be rested for the next day's work.

After breakfast, the trail/road toward Snow Lake was the first in our sights. This trail is actually the remainder of a WWII era dirt road that penetrates the Emigrant Wilderness beginning at Leavitt Lake on the eastern side of the Sierra crest. At that time, the nation was in need of tungsten, an important metal for alloying steel. With few domestic supplies and due to the world situation, it was in great demand. The Cherry Creek Tungsten Mine (which is the terminus of the road) is situated further west down the canyon toward Huckleberry Lake. Interestingly, although the mine is entirely within the wilderness, it is still privately owned. Sources state that it was last worked circa 1967. Another mine from the same era was located at Snow Lake and was called the Montezuma Mine. Both have remnants of mining machinery left behind, especially the Cherry Creek Mine.

It wasn't long before we found our first project. With everyone raring to get a turn at that crosscut saw, we made quick work of the first log. All in all, the obstacles we encountered were not too bad as we worked along ... until the last tree of the day!

An immense tree once stood along the trail. The problem was that said tree was no longer standing and the pot licker was now laying lengthwise in the trail. Oh no, this is a bad one! With a steep bank uphill, and the trees growing on the downhill, there was little opportunity to roll cut log sections off the trail. Also, given the size of the tree, it was looking to require multiple cuts on a very large trunk.

No one thought much of my half jesting idea to just burn it where it lay, so we set about hatching out a plan "B". After some careful analysis, and given the width of the old roadbed, we only needed to make one cut. We were then able to move the log to one side of the trail using a come-along assisted by a bunch of strong guys on rock bars. After a bit of limb cleaning and rock pitching, the trail was moved over a few feet and is now very passable. Whew!

Now that we were so close, a group of us rode on up to look at Snow Lake and its small dam, built in the 1930's. This 3 to 4 foot high rock and mortar dam considerably enlarges the surface area of the lake. Also at the lake are the remains of that long-ago tungsten mine. While we were exploring, the rest of the crew headed back to start the supper doings.

The next day we turned the other direction and worked out the trail toward Huckleberry Lake. We encountered more downed trees than the previous day but they were generally not so large as that last rascal. In addition to the tree cutting and removal, Adam Barnett and Charlie spent considerable time ferreting out backcountry trash that was later hauled out by the mules. The entire trail is now cleared from Snow Lake to near the dam at Huckleberry Lake.

On Thursday, with that pesky work behind us, we seized the opportunity to go fishing in a couple of the nearby lakes. Carl brought along his 2-man boat, which proved to be great fun and valuable in catching those elusive fish. Dennis Wetherington also brought a boat, but it was definitely a one-man operation.

After catching a very nice jag of fish, we bushwhacked our way out a very overgrown and un-maintained trail to Snow Lake and returned to our camp that way. Boy-howdy those fresh fish were tasty that night! Along with the regular planned meal and Dutch oven desert we were very well fed! Kudos to the cooks all around!

With the end of our trip at hand, we had one final adventure. Some of the stock decided to try being mountain goats on departure morning. It took a while to locate them high up on the mountainside, "hiding". The look of innocence as I approached was typical: "Oh, were you looking for us?" As if they didn't know! This little episode delayed our planned 9 am departure to 11:30 am, but we still made good time and reached the trailhead at 6:30 in the evening.

We cleared 29 downed trees and a lot of brush from 9 and 1/2 miles of trail. Between this project and a similar one last year, We have cleared approximately 30 miles of wilderness trail.

Many people contributed a great deal to the success of this trip and deserve a special thank you. Dennis Serpa, Carl Perry, Julie Perry and Tony Moules provided pack stock to haul in our personal gear as well as the tools and supplies needed to do the work. Dennis Serpa provided an extra saddle-horse for me, and hand tools and saws. Julie Perry deserves very special thanks for meal planning, purchasing and preparation of food.

And finally, thanks to everyone for the muscle energy expended sawing logs and moving those logs and rocks! The camaraderie while working made the entire trip more fun than "work" and I know everyone had a very good time. We are all looking forward to next year.

This is the first page of pictures. On the second page we catch some monster trout.

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