Mountain marvels, moos and missteps…

A week at our small cabin in Fish Camp just outside Yosemite National Park’s southern entrance is always relaxing but never dull. With daytime temps hovering in the high 70s and dipping down to the fifties at night, it is a cool respite from the Central Valley’s summer heat.

We get up early to enjoy the sunrise on the back deck, eat simply and play play lots of gin rummy and Yahtzee. Our good friends Barb and Rod D., along with their sweet pup Penny, came up to hang out with us and grill on July 4th. No fireworks for us here in this very fire prone forest region.

The cabin’s Little Free Library, finally set in its ground sleeve on our last visit, seems to be doing a good business–not many books I put in there remain and I’m getting an idea of what my summer neighbors read from what they’ve left behind in exchange. At our Volunteer Firefighters Association annual potluck I got suggestions for more kids books and a nightlight. I’m on the book quest but a flashlight hanging from a cord may be the best I can do for lighting!

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The LFF is painted and roofed to match the cabin

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We took a walk up the road to visit a friend and found these beautiful blooms on the banks of Big Creek where Hwy. 41 crosses the small flow of water. The large shrubs reminded me of the deciduous native azaleas we often saw in the North Georgia mountains. In almost full shade the bright green leaves and white blooms glowed. A little post-walk research leads me to believe they are Rhododendron occidentale, commonly called the western azalea and the only native azalea west of the Rocky Mountains. This colony was very fragrant.

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These are “also seens” on our walk–nothing has changed since my last mountain wildflower post–I still don’t know the names of any of these. I’m hoping this huge seed puffball is something fabulous as they were everywhere!

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Just in case you believe this mountain life is totally carefree and so that Dave doesn’t get out of practice…

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A shower inside is never supposed to create mini geyser outside! The oldest of our leach lines for the septic tank was clearly blocked. Fortunately, we have a second line and had only to turn the valve to remedy the problem. With the call to our septic man made, Dave digs out the tank cap in preparation for both leach lines to be cleaned out next week.

ENOUGH WORK…NOW FOR THE MOOS!

The Bohna family cattle drive has been a part of local mountain history since 1959. Three generations of the family, now led by horsewoman Diane Bohna, and the cowhands of the Three Bar Ranch in Raymond, CA spend about three days each late spring or early summer moving more their 300+ head herd to the high country near Quartz Mountain for the summer. On their way to those grassy meadows at 8700′ elevation the herd crosses Highway 41 in Fish Camp to the delight of summer visitors. The crossing takes about 20 minutes and traffic on this highway leading to Yosemite is closed by California Highway Patrol in both directions. The intersection of that highway and Summit Road which leads to our cabin is a perfect viewing spot for all the action which usually takes place around Fathers Day–possibly the late winter in the high country is the cause for this later time frame for the drive.

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Beautiful vista as we await the arrival of the Three Bar Ranch herd
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The first cowboys and one of several herding dogs

About mid-photo on the right you can see the end of a narrow dirt trail coming down from the hills–this is where the herd will emerge, single file. Fifteen minutes or so earlier a rider had come through giving spectators a 20 minutes to arrival heads-up and asking that everyone stay as still and as quiet as possible to avoid spooking the herd. We will really only be a little more than a single traffic lane away from the animals.

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Another pair of riders and a cloud of dust mark the herd moving onto the highway
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The hands guide the first animals across the highway to the northbound lane and very narrow shoulder
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You can see the ranch’s three bar brand identifying the herd
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We are very quiet and it is remarkably orderly

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This traffic sign (there is a large construction project just ahead) is alarming for many of the animals and causes a little panicky scuffle to break out. The shoulder drops off here and their attempts to go around the sign that way are a little sketchy but a cowboy gently encourages them and all is well.

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This young girl, complete with cowboy hat and a remarkable amount of photographic equipment, told our little group of two dozen spectators that she was a photojournalist for a French magazine. Not everyday you meet a French photojournalist in Fish Camp, whose population sign reads 500 but I think is actually about 60.

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Looking to the north as the herd continues to where it will turn west off the road into a meadow
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Down the bank in a cloud of dust–you can see additional spectators on the construction barriers ahead
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The drag riders at the end of the herd
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Being last means being in a cloud of dust the whole ride

This rider pulled down her kerchief as she passed us and spoke to the photojournalist in French so maybe that is a clue to the story in the making.

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The last rider and canine co-worker make sure no one gets left behind as the herd moves off the highway into a meadow below
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Before the traffic is released to I crossed the highway and got a view of the herd and its people getting settled down back in a more natural setting
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From here the drive will continue on up the mountain until they reach that sweet summer grass of the high country

So that no idyllic mountain day ends unblemished…on my sprint back across the highway (OK 67 year old sprint) an audible pop and searing pain in my right calf signals that the party may be over. We (Dave) packed up and returned to Fresno and after having made my ER visit, I’m now awaiting the Ortho surgeon consult…happy trails!

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Mountain marvels, moos and missteps…

  1. Rhody’s last name is ‘Occidentale’! I might use it when he gets into trouble, “Rhododendron Occidentale!”, but because he is a terrier, he doesn’t care.

    Like

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