July 15, 2022 Comments Off on Holey Meadow
The lady pulled her minivan over to the side of the road and motioned me to stop. “Have you seen some dogs?” she asked.
“No. What kind of dogs?”
“A German Shepherd and a Newfoundland. They got out of the tent last night while we were asleep. They’ve got their leashes on.”
“Where are you camped?”
“Corral Creek,” she said, mispronouncing it “coral.”
I pointed down the steep embankment to the river’s edge. “You won’t find them down there. City dogs won’t get through this kind of underbrush, especially with leashes. You’d best head back to your campsite. Did you check next door at SoCal Camping?”
“It’s a giant campground right next to you. Lots of pets, trash, and people. Your dogs are probably there, getting breakfast. If they did go along the river, that’s the direction they would have gone. Flat and easy and lots of garbage.”
“Thank you!” she said, and sped off.
I felt really bad for her. Having a couple of lost dogs, when you don’t have kids, is just like losing your children. A mile later I passed her campground. She came running out. “Thank you so much!” she shouted. “They were waiting for us when we got back!”
I laughed and waved. Dogs like a second breakfast, too.
I’d left at a quarter to six, headed for Holey Meadow, about 75 miles, 6,000 feet, and six hours of riding, round trip. The climbing is steady and steep after you leave the Kern River, a 12-mile grind up to Parker Pass, then a short drop down the Western Divide Highway and a quick left into Holey Meadow.
Last year’s fire torched the mountains all the way from Johnsondale way past Holey Meadow, up into the Sequoia National Park. All along the climb, the roadside was burned to a crisp. What used to be a final two miles of big trees and cool shade was now a scorched graveyard of giant standing matchsticks. I didn’t know what I’d find at Holey Meadow, one of the prettiest little spots in the area, but I figured it would be charred, too.
Down the trail to the campground I slammed my 23mm road tires against a sharp stone but they didn’t puncture. The campground and meadow were untouched by the fire. Better put, the fire crews had specifically fought to save it, because the perimeter was blackened and dead. The meadow itself was green and lush, and the tall trees in the campground were just as tall and just as green as they’d always been.
I think the reason they saved the campground is because it has one giant sequoia on it. Either that, or they wanted to protect the toilets. With the Forest Service, you can’t ever be sure.
Given the fact that it’s peak season, and there’s been a massive post-covid camping boom, the campground was pretty clean, only a little bit of trash and an abandoned frying pan with tongs that looked like they’d played starring roles in a spectacular dinner failure.
I crossed the meadow, which was blooming with wildflowers. The summer cattle hadn’t come in to trample and eat everything and shit everywhere yet. The quiet and solitude were thick enough to taste. Getting there I hadn’t been passed by five cars.
I sat at a picnic bench and munched nuts. My water bottle was still filled with spring water from farther down the road, but I’d need a refill on the way back. The morning air was long gone and it was going to be hot the whole way home once I’d dropped out of the cool altitudes.
Religion isn’t my thing, but maybe they misnamed this place. Maybe they should have called it “Holy Meadow” instead.