Trip Report
A Three-Hour Tour/Lower Merced River Facelift.
Saturday August 17, 2013 7:13pm
I considered just posting these photos to my thread, The Flames. I almost did; but the trash-collecting we did on this tour is what I now normally do when I'm out riding around in the Red Roadent. I blame this attitude of mine on the Yosemite Facelift experience I had last fall.

JStan and Chicken Skinner, this one's for you two bhodisattva-like figures. Let me say that I wish this attitude reflected a herd mentality among we climbers, who have such a terrible impact on the environment. But it's far from that among the mundanes, the beer-drinking fishermen, the drivers who finish their Fish Tacos and toss not just the wrappers but the whole bag, and the careless cigaret butt-tossers. Not to mention poopers-in-the-trail.

Last Sunday’s nickel tour of Merced’s Northside gave me the hots to go shoot more watery foul shots.
I was a water polo team member in my college frosh year—I sucked at shooting. I’m not close to being the photographer I would like to be—I still suck at shooting in comparison to the big guns around the Taco. And elsewhere, where the real pros hang out... Lots of love, luck, and low-branch shots, boys ‘n’ girls. :)

The idea was to go out to McConnell or Hatfield State Recreation Areas, both on El Rio de la Nuestra Senora de la Merced. I enlisted a neighbor, George, who brought his brainiac stepchild, Anitia. And we had a terrific time, according to her limited vocabulary. She is all of seven and is now enrolled in a program which lets her school at home on the computer and do a day’s homework for each day she spends online. Too cool for school never meant more to me when I heard that. Her pun meter was pegged yesterday. You never herd so many cow puns. All it took for me was to say “Smell my dairy air and the fun began.

George was the guide. He has the local knowledge, growing up north of Winton, a few miles south of the river. He’s a bit of a redneck and is brash, but he’s a good dad and he helped me out getting started with a digital camera. He and Tonya and I engage in Risk. He is interested in climbing, but I’m letting him get serious, if he will, on his own. He could be solid, but he needs mellowing, far as that goes. Two able crew and an experienced captain on another Three Hour Tour. 1:30 p.m. To 4:30 p.m., Friday. The Red Roadent/Far Niente and ten bucks worth of gas. A charged camera battery and lots of drinking water.
http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=24194

We're gonna send.  No questions.  Just do it.  The three hour tour num...
We're gonna send. No questions. Just do it. The three hour tour number two, with crew.
Credit: mouse from merced
NW from Merced on Santa Fe, through Winton, then Cressey and left on E...
NW from Merced on Santa Fe, through Winton, then Cressey and left on El Capitan Way. South on Pepper, follow the turns to McConnell. We returned on Alves, Bradbury, Lee, and Tulock to Oakdale, Amsterdam, and Hwy 59 to town.
Credit: mouse from merced
Geo, Anita, and Buddy at the start of the short hike to the river from...
Geo, Anita, and Buddy at the start of the short hike to the river from the lot, all shady and cool--it was 99 in town today!
Credit: mouse from merced
Day use is ten bucks, unless you simply want to go take a look.  Diego...
Day use is ten bucks, unless you simply want to go take a look. Diego issued a temporary pass, good till 2;30, but they never check on the way out. The pass read that it was good till 2:30, a mere half hour. We stayed nearly an hour.
Credit: mouse from merced
The trail used to have cars coming in on it, but that's past.  Geo tel...
The trail used to have cars coming in on it, but that's past. Geo tells me that there used to be little regimentation and it wasn't till '82 that it became a state-run area.
Credit: mouse from merced
the second we stopped at the river bank, a large fish jumped.  This vi...
the second we stopped at the river bank, a large fish jumped. This view looks upstream.
Credit: mouse from merced
the view downstream, with a riffle between us and the log just beyond ...
the view downstream, with a riffle between us and the log just beyond the vines on the right, as far as we wanted to go.
Credit: mouse from merced
In the water right below us were several large carp.  You definitely n...
In the water right below us were several large carp. You definitely need a fishing license here, as the staff is out for blood in those cases where anglers neglect that little item.
Credit: mouse from merced
This is as far as we came downriver, to this log, a cottonwood that Ge...
This is as far as we came downriver, to this log, a cottonwood that George claims fell after a lightning strike when HE was seven, Anita's age.
Credit: mouse from merced
Another mangled tree right beside the other downed tree.  Rhino?  Or d...
Another mangled tree right beside the other downed tree. Rhino? Or dragon? Or a foot?
Credit: mouse from merced
It's not like it appears, believe me!
It's not like it appears, believe me!
Credit: mouse from merced
Regular glasses fell out of my shirt pocket.  So call me dumb-ass.
Regular glasses fell out of my shirt pocket. So call me dumb-ass.
Credit: mouse from merced
I decided to do something about the trash, namely, CARRY IT OUT!
I decided to do something about the trash, namely, CARRY IT OUT!
Credit: mouse from merced
Nita jumped on that idea like a flea on a dog.  Sorry, Buddy.
Nita jumped on that idea like a flea on a dog. Sorry, Buddy.
Credit: mouse from merced
We were not prepped to carry trash.  The load Geo is carrying couldn't...
We were not prepped to carry trash. The load Geo is carrying couldn't fit into my pack, which was loaded with bottles and cans. Besides, the stuff was crawling with ants.
Credit: mouse from merced
Credit: mouse from merced
LEO and he means it.  He wondered what we were doing parking next to t...
LEO and he means it. He wondered what we were doing parking next to the dumpster. He got all nice (LEO nice, which is still laden with authority) when I told him we'd been picking up trash during our stay.
Credit: mouse from merced
After leaving the area we went and found a nearby field with some sort...
After leaving the area we went and found a nearby field with some sort of melon vines, Geo thought. The field looked like strawbs at first inspection. Couldn't say what the silos are part of, but there must be lots of whatever is in them.
Credit: mouse from merced
A dashing look about him.  Content to stay in the shade.
A dashing look about him. Content to stay in the shade.
Credit: mouse from merced
The dirt road leads back to the entrance station, which is in the dist...
The dirt road leads back to the entrance station, which is in the distance through the trees.
Credit: mouse from merced
I taught Anita how to set up the tripod at her level, use the lever to...
I taught Anita how to set up the tripod at her level, use the lever to move the camera, and focus the telephoto. She is enthralled by the ways of photography now. "Georgie, I love you. Will you buy me a Canon?" "I'll buy us both a cannon. How's that?
Credit: mouse from merced
Nita.  Annie.  Anita.  She likes all three names.
Nita. Annie. Anita. She likes all three names.
Credit: mouse from merced
we left the Rec Area and went past Magneson Dairy, where Robin M lived in the long ago. she was heavily-courted by Bullfrog, the guitar-playing, dog-owning member of The Flames who travelled to the Bugaboos with the Rev and myself. I remember hanging there the night we left, talking to her dad, Charlie, and watching the bombs fall on Hanoi on the nightly news. In the eighties I wnt to their place for a meeting of the local Sierra Club after a field trip to watch salmon on the Tuolumne near Le Grand.
Looking south on the BNSF to the river trestle.  The route to the Amtr...
Looking south on the BNSF to the river trestle. The route to the Amtrak station in Merced to catch the YARTS to Mariposa & the Yosemite.
Credit: mouse from merced
The Magneson dairy.
The Magneson dairy.
Credit: mouse from merced
Charlie Magneson, dairyman and member of the Sierra Club for decades.
Charlie Magneson, dairyman and member of the Sierra Club for decades.
Credit: mouse from merced
Charlie Magneson has been a Dairy Farmer in Ballico/Cressey for 54 years. A graduate of UC-Davis and a World War II Veteran, he spent 10 years as an elected official on the Ballico Cressey School Board. He has been President of the Boards of Modesto Milling and Cal-Dari, and currently serves on the Board of the Merced Farmland Open Space Trust. In 2006 he established a Conservation Easement on his farm. (Web page for the Valley Land Alliance http://www.valleylandalliance.org/about.html )

Santa Fe Avenue is on the left in this shot, and the Mag Dairy lies on the other side of that. We cruised on by there and ditched down towards the river to see could we get a shot of the Cressey Trestle Bridge. That was not possible.

So I kept on going down Campodonica Road, which was, according to Geo, the way they used to go down to the river, but the way is blocked now. This road forms a U (see map) and takes one back towards the road we'd right-turned off. In a few minutes we came upon a flock of egrets in among the Holsteins on this smaller dairy. Talk about amazed! Mo' beddah shots if I'd bothered to chek on the ISO setting. It was very bright and the white of the egrets often turns pinkish in that light, I found out.

Even I err, eventually, egregiously. Regrets. (Thank you, Mr. Updike.)

Not all business, just don't want to hit any potholes...and I'm jiving...
Not all business, just don't want to hit any potholes...and I'm jiving to Goin' Up the Country Gonna Paint My Mailbox Blue by Taj. Or maybe it's Shady Grove by QSM.
Credit: mouse from merced
Where the cows are, that's where I want to be...
Where the cows are, that's where I want to be...
Credit: mouse from merced
Shady walnut orchard.  Campodonica Rd.
Shady walnut orchard. Campodonica Rd.
Credit: mouse from merced
Country road, take me home.  Please.
Country road, take me home. Please.
Credit: mouse from merced
Holsteins and egrets.  "And the black and white shall lie down with th...
Holsteins and egrets. "And the black and white shall lie down with the solid white...and the kiddies shall enjoy their cookies and milk."--Book of the Dun Crow
Credit: mouse from merced
Egret to Elsie:  Are those spots on your hide actually called holstain...
Egret to Elsie: Are those spots on your hide actually called holstains?
Credit: mouse from merced
On
On
Credit: mouse from merced
the
the
Credit: mouse from merced
wing.
wing.
Credit: mouse from merced
Just hangin' out at the Dairy Queen.
Just hangin' out at the Dairy Queen.
Credit: mouse from merced
Speaks for itself.  Weed abatement can wait.
Speaks for itself. Weed abatement can wait.
Credit: Geo LaF
Honestly, when I look at this shot of Geo's, my back aches in sympathy...
Honestly, when I look at this shot of Geo's, my back aches in sympathy for the men who had to cut all those LWOs and stack the firewood. I bet a lot was used in fancy oak furniture, though.
Credit: Geo LaF
This is a corner of the compound of the family that owns the pasture s...
This is a corner of the compound of the family that owns the pasture shown in Geo's shot. This was Anita's shot.
Credit: mouse from merced
I needed to climb a chossy bank of shifting sand held together by foxt...
I needed to climb a chossy bank of shifting sand held together by foxtails to get this high. It was Roper Class One plus, lemme tellya. Lucky not to have been buried alive on the descent, too.
Credit: mouse from merced
Decaying American beauty.
Decaying American beauty.
Credit: mouse from merced
I fond my way over to Amsterdam Store and then pulled over at an MID canal, filled with Merced River water. This spot might be good fishing, I've always thought, though I haven't seen a soul out there trying. The land must be private, I'm almost certain. What I never expected to see ANYWHERE in the valley, though, was a Canadian swimming in the canal. Apparently they have a community out there. The Canadian Colony, like the Italian-Swiss Colony down Madera way, or Buhach Colony, like on Hwy 99 over by Atwater. Early settlers came and brought a herd mentality, raising the same crops as their neighbors, making it a communal effort raising the crops and shipping them to market.
Pastoral avec le castor mort pauvre.  Someone once told me that beaver...
Pastoral avec le castor mort pauvre. Someone once told me that beavers were no longer around in the Garden of the Sun. Blood tells the story. He was hit, bounced about ten feet, they dragged the carcass off the road, tossed the beer cans and booked.
Credit: mouse from merced
Beaver tail.
Beaver tail.
Credit: mouse from merced
It looks like good trout water.  I think this is why the beaver died. ...
It looks like good trout water. I think this is why the beaver died. He had to cross the road to get upstream because the weir blocked his way. Amsterdammed, beaver damned, Berminghammmed.
Credit: mouse from merced
That's it, folks.

Here are a few that I took out at McConnell in the oak woods.
Liking the Fungi here.
Liking the Fungi here.
Credit: mouse from merced
Foxtails and fungi.
Foxtails and fungi.
Credit: mouse from merced
Charred fallen LWO.  Patently an oak, TT.
Charred fallen LWO. Patently an oak, TT.
Credit: mouse from merced
I'll see some of you and your families at Yosemite Facelift.

Only you can prevent roadsides from looking like this.
Credit: mouse from merced

  Trip Report Views: 935
mouse from merced
About the Author
mouse from merced is a tard climber from merced, california.

Comments
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neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Aug 17, 2013 - 07:33pm PT
hey there, say, mouse... thanks for the trip report!

can't see the pics, yet, but, i will be back, graciously,
in good time... :)

god bless!
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  Aug 17, 2013 - 08:46pm PT
Oh mouse from Merced...

I moved to California in January of 1986. It rained the whole month. When it wasn't raining I was getting thoroughly schooled in Tule fog.

I did a stint of contact work at the Sharpe Army Depot south of Stockton, then went to work in Modesto. My Modesto company involved on-site tech work with retailers and that work would eventually take me to virtually every town in the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys. What towns I didn't visit for work I went to out of curiosity.

All of them.

Or close to it.

I worked close with a guy named MacNamara. His whole family hailed from Merced, his father a former base commander at Castle. He lived in Winton and I spent so many days in your neck of the woods. My work with Savemart had me down at that pea soup colored warehouse just south of town many a days. They had a tech shop in there.

I loved the Big Sandy Mush country, such an odd place for a mountaineer to love eh? The Big Sandy comes from the Chowchilla River and the remnants of the Merced formation, oddly enough. Bet you dint know that did you?

All those little towns... my former business partner used to say, about a piece of hardware that had malfunctioned beyond all repair...

"It's Gone to Denair." Lol! Instead of 'Gone to the Bahamas.' Yes we were both Jimmy Buffet fans. But that was all before I put out a hit on him. My only regret is I didn't put a higher price on his head; he got away!

All those little towns and back roads. When I see your photos it all comes back. I have traipsed the Great Valley's every corner and have lived in its sweltering heat and unrelenting fog for more than half of my life now, whoda thunk a Tennesse New Jersey boy would suffer such a fate.

I always look at your photos and TRs. We travel the same ground, you and I.

When you see Mark Tuttle, tell'm I said hey, would you. I loved his bicycle shop and always made a point of stopping in to see him.

I don't get down that way much anymore. I'me too far north and time is such a precious commodity, and well, I MISS my Valley Days.

The Big Valley. The most productive farmland in all the world and that is no sh#t. Your tours are like coming home.

Like happened to me. That day I landed in SFO? Jan. 4 of 1986? That was the first day I came HOME.

Ive been here ever since.

DMT
WBraun

climber
  Aug 17, 2013 - 08:56pm PT
This is a good one Mouse.

Yep ... you DMT travel the same roads.

And those roads are so wonderful ......
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Author's Reply  Aug 17, 2013 - 09:05pm PT
DMighty.
Gracious of you to come forth. I know you are a very private type and thanks for your commentary.

Turth is, your TR's are my ideel, Tennessee.
The Fearless.  I never missed this strip on Sundays, 'long with Snuffy...
The Fearless. I never missed this strip on Sundays, 'long with Snuffy and Li'l Abner. Daisy Mae, a roll in the hay, s'il te plait?
Credit: GI like climbing

I'll pass the hay to Mr. T.

Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 19, 2013 - 03:25pm PT
Good on ya, nice wildlife shots!!!!
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
  Aug 19, 2013 - 03:32pm PT
A great trip down the river through the heart of light...
Gene

climber
  Aug 19, 2013 - 03:35pm PT
Hey Mouse,

You DO know who/what Ballico is named after, right?

Delhi?

See you tomorrow.

g
pc

climber
  Aug 19, 2013 - 03:38pm PT
Great MfM! My first 8 years were spent just south of Fresno and I still vividly remember the scenes and smells from valley to hills. Thanks for taking me back.. Very nice TR.

pc
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Aug 19, 2013 - 03:39pm PT
Nice one, Mouse!

John
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
  Aug 19, 2013 - 03:49pm PT
love that Anita girl!
One Cool Chick

Beavers live in the most unexpected places. About 10 years ago there was a family at the upper reaches of Lexington Reservoir, just above Los Gatos on 17. Then they vanished.
Go figure.
throwpie

Trad climber
Berkeley
  Aug 19, 2013 - 04:27pm PT
Hot summer days swinging on the rope at Schafer bridge, cold 16oz Coors waiting on the bank. Sitting under the canal waterfalls at the Drop, east of Atwater. Floating through the 1500 foot irrigation tunnel south of Merced near Bear Creek. Spending all day at said creek...cool dark water and warm blackberries. Hot summer was all about Sierra runoff when living in the valley.
A5scott

Trad climber
Chicago
  Aug 19, 2013 - 04:34pm PT
hey Mouse, nice TR... I'll lok forward to seeing you again this year at facelift!

scott
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Author's Reply  Aug 19, 2013 - 09:03pm PT
Gene,
The Town of Delhi, where our boy Glen Denny lived, is named for the Delta-Highline Canal. I'll be waiting to find out about the naming of Ballico. See ya manana.

Thanks for the kind comments, all.

Wildlife is where you find it, including Gabe's Tavern.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
  Aug 19, 2013 - 09:14pm PT
And it should be pointed out... its pronounced

Del HI.

Now you know why.

There's a town in Tennessee called Santa Fe.

That's Santa FEE.

Seriously.



DMT
Gene

climber
  Aug 19, 2013 - 09:13pm PT
Ballico is from the Ballentine Cattle Company.

Manana, Mouse!

g

Edit: I thought Mr. Denny hails from Chowchilla(?). Good Valley boy either way.
LilaBiene

Trad climber
Technically...the spawning grounds of Yosemite
  Aug 25, 2013 - 06:06pm PT
You are a wonderful story-spinner...Mouse from Middle Earth...

Reminds me of reading The Boston Post Road when we were up in Maine in July this year and it just rained for days...sometimes the best vacations are those that allow for time to just read...

I'd say you're looking rather FIT there, too!

Many thanks for the Good ReadS.

:D
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Author's Reply  Aug 26, 2013 - 09:02am PT
Danke, geil. It's been a while.

Leading 5.7 yet? You got a lean disposition yourself, m'dear.

Glad you enjoyed the POST
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