We hiked out from the lower trailhead a few miles and back. I was quite surprised at how much different the area was from last year. When I was there in mid-November, there was plenty of water in all the creeks and the fall colors were just peaking. Now, the creeks along the way were completely dry and the Sycamores have already dropped about half of their leaves. It doesn't look as if there will be much of a show this season. I suppose our exceptionally hot, dry summer has taken it's toll. We turned around just before Tony Ranch, so I can't vouch for the water situation there.
The trail is really overgrown all along where the creek used to be
. It doesn't appear that anyone has been out here in a while. We didn't see a single human or any evidence of other visitors all day. We did see a deer, a coyote, a turtle (thirsty, I bet)
and the biggest load of bear scat I've ever seen. The diameter of this specimen means there's a pretty big boy out there somewhere! We saw the typical scat piles all over the place, but the size of this one sent an uncharacteristic chill up my spine. Yikes.
I was so startled, I forgot to take a picture. There wasn't any fur or bits of clothing in it (ha, ha),
but this boy is getting plenty to eat besides just Manzanita.
The mine seems to be operating with a skeleton crew, but the pumps were running and all the little satellite stations were buzzing, so something's still going on there. The roads were somewhat less user-friendly and much rougher than what I reported last year. On the drive out, we did see several huge dump trucks doing site hauling in what looks like a new start-up area west of the pit. ~ sigh! ~
The mine is killing that place.
* I still haven't replaced my prematurely deceased camera, so I'm using a really old one for these photos here.