Martin Ward (Trail Lead)
Gary and Mary Deardorff
Ron and Pat Dow
Jim Grass – Prospective
Dave Cowell – Prospective
From Martin Ward:
Had a great day today. The team made short work of the big tree across Pat Yore Flat road. The big saws pieced up the trunk, which was then winched off the trail. Small saws limbed the trunk for access. Some additional smaller stuff was cleaned up on the way there.
Lunch on the Bowman Lake overlook. The Brian led the group on a wander while I headed down the hill. My alternator seemed to not be charging. It cycled on for a while on the way home, so there were no real problems. Thanks to Don for following me out.
Observations by Dave Cowell:
The “Graniteville Loop”, led by Martin and Brian, was a fun afternoon excursion through the Tahoe NF on mostly forest service roads. Starting up the Gaston grade from Washington we turned off on FR 50. The challenge of the day was to clear a large fir tree blocking FR50-12. The group split up at the 50, 50-12 split and Brian led one group on the upper road while Martin led the other on the lower road so that both could be cleared. The groups met at the downed tree which was expeditiously removed. Beyond FR50 the group took the Meadow Lake Road over to another logging road, FR343-48 which hooked up with FR522-32 which took us back to Graniteville. From Graniteville we went down the North Bloomfield-Graniteville road to FR522-18 where we visited the old Spanish Mine diggings and finally took some power line service trails back to the Gaston grade and Washington.
There were no winch hills or OHV trails taken which made for an enjoyable stress free tour of one of the most used “off road” areas of the forest. (Washington has a campground and is known to have a number of bike riders, quad runners and other OHV people who base there.) FR50 had been recently graded and graveled and until the logging turnoff was easy going. After that the road was simply rough but not really 4WD material. After the join-up of the group at the down tree the road went to Pat Yore Flat where we took a lunch break and enjoyed the view of Canyon creek and Bowman lake. It was here that Martin discovered he had electrical problems and had to head home. He and his escort went back to Washington and when last heard from saw no problems for the rest of the day.
Brian proceeded to lead and as he’s intimately familiar with those woods wanted to show us the area. We proceeded up FR50 to the Meadow Lake road (this was the original stage road to Meadow lake and Summit City where we hold the Sierra Trek) past the Marsh Mill site and then down the opposite side of the mountain towards Graniteville. We crossed the upper end of Poorman creek and briefly skirted the bluff above the Middle Yuba. It was here that we spotted the original Eureka Lake ditch. That 1853 ditch came from Faucherie lake around Bowman (which wasn’t there then) and crossed just above Weaver lake. From below Weaver it went around the mountain and originally had a 1400 ft long, 126 ft high flume before going into Eureka lake, which is now Graniteville. Eureka lake was the hub for water servicing all the hydraulic mines all the way to North San Juan and French Coral.
From Graniteville Brian turned off of the main road onto FR522-18 which went down to the Spanish Mine site. After a short but breath-taking climb up a steep (“Use low gear 4WD on this one.”) section of mine tailings we had a stop for the view of the South Yuba canyon. We were on the level with the Alpha-Omega overlook on the other side of the canyon and could see the glint of the tourist cars parked there. From there we went down the hill to the mine adit which was at one time a 1200 ft shaft into the mountain. There are actually two mine entrances and we pretty well drove over the shaft following a power line down the hill. This road sees a lot of traffic and showed severe rutting and wear. We passed motorcycle riders and other 4WD vehicles coming up from below. Crossing Poorman creek again we returned to the same spot we’d stopped to air-down on the Gaston grade, thus completing our loop. Proceeding down the grade everyone re-inflated and headed home.