From Highway 49, Glory Hole Recreation District at New Mellones, a free hike was advertised for New Years Day, rain or shine. You can see people warmly dressed as we strangers met at the entrance station and introduced ourselves.
Dogs are allowed on the trails. We met two bikers and we saw evidence of horses using the trails. Walkers are asked to give way to horses, but we didn’t meet any.
Ranger Josh, guided the group and pointed out the growth patterns of this type of forest and explained in some detail the various flora and fauna.
At the beginning of the Angels Creek Trail, the forest has a mixture of digger pines, black oak, live oak and thick underbrush. Ranger Josh admitted the underbrush is a fire hazard with chemise and buck brush.
I was impressed by the girth of this giant manzanita specimen and the lichens and bright, green moss growing on it. Ranger Josh noted that the east side of the hills get most of the water. He told us that manzanita burns very hot and can burn up your stove, actually melt it if you use enough of it.
Angels Creek is low, in tune with the current drought situation. The trail is a 2.5 mile hike.
I looked at just about every mushroom, hoping to find a “buckskin”. (Not it’s scientific name.) The old Italians knew their mushrooms and would pick up large delicious mushrooms under manzanita habitat. I didn’t find a one. Deer feed on these, as do various insects.
I didn’t get many pictures of the hikers. Strung out in a line, it is hard to capture everyone. The trail is narrow in most places. Looking back and forth I believe we had about 30 people on the hike. The Calaveras side of the Recreation Area has seven trails of different lengths and are rated easy, moderate, challenging and so on. This trail is moderate.
When guided, Ranger Josh makes many stops and he even played a couple games with us. He formed us into a walking caterpillar, eyes closed, to just walk and tune your ears, nose and senses to the trail. If you are a lone hiker, you get the sense of quiet that being in a natural forest gives you.
The sun didn’t come out during our 3 hour hike. This tree, etched against the overcast made a nice contrast, with the west side of the hill in the distance showing meadows; more barren than the brushy east hillside.
At the end of the trail was a pretty view of the lake with an island showing that isn’t visible when the water level is normal. Drought conditions persist here in California though the recent rains are encouraging. The Calaveras side has seven trails and the Tuolumne County, Tuttletown Recreation area also has seven trails. Senior Citizens, with their pass can enter the hiking trails free at anytime of year. For most, there is a day use charge.
This was my first excursion with a new social singles group and I got to meet the seven people at the end of the hike. Cindy is the key organizer and can be reached at this phone number if you are interested in joining. I didn’t ask permission to print her phone number, (no addresses are given), but her number was published in the newspaper ad for this hike, so here goes. 209-559-8517. The only qualification, you must be 50 or older. We picked up two new members at this event.