Mt. Adeline (Savage on the maps)

Diane M. was up there not too long ago and was stalked and snarled at by a mountain lion (not the first time).  Last time I was up there, I found some fresh bear droppings.  There aren’t any trails up Mt. Adeline; one person commented that he seems to take a different route every time he climbs it.  One must pick one’s way through steep, trackless fields of “Mountain Misery” (a local shrub), deep thickets of manzanita, granite boulders slippery with inches buildup of pine needles... and for what? 

I guess you just have to like that sort of thing.  Mt. Adeline was re-named after the guy who led the Mariposa Battalion into Yosemite (via the Wawona area) to subjugate the Southern Miwok natives, called “Ahwahneechee.”  If you’ve read Lafayette Bunnell’s account of their mission, you may agree that the moniker “Savage” was, this time, aptly placed. In his diary, circa 1908, Clarence Washburn (owner/manger of the Wawona Hotel) referred to climbing "...Mt. Adeline (Savage on the maps)..."

Today, with bears and mountain lions in mind, I headed up the mountain. The predominant scent is of that “Mountain Misery.”  Some hate the smell; I love it.  It has several names--Bear Clover, Kit Kit Dizze, chamaebatia foliolosa--one story has it that the resin from the leaves, which stickies and smells up your shoes, socks and pants, accounts for the name.  Another says the sheep herders from the last century named it “Mountain Misery” because of the damage it did to the sheep’s wool.  The “Bear Clover” name,  by one story I heard, comes from the belief that one can elude a bear by entering a patch of the stuff--the fragrance will mask your own. 

Heading up through the Kit Kit Dizze (the Indian name), I push through an overgrown ravine, am forced to the left through a grove of mixed conifers blackened by a past fire, and inevitably into the manzanita.  There’s a thick band of the stuff to plow through; its brittle twigs tear at your clothes, poke at your eyes, and the berries stick to your hair, and you emerge from the thicket looking like the end of a cartoon cat-fight. 

What is gratifying is the top.  It is most definitely the top; it looms above you, through the trees, saying there’s no further to go...and there isn’t.  The view is 360 degrees; to the west is the basin of Big Creek; north looks down the canyon of the South Fork of the Merced, including the Wawona meadow and basin; from the east flows the South Fork between Wawona Dome and Mt. Raymond (visible just to the right are the crowns of giant sequoia; South is Fresno Dome (Wamello to the native tribes) and the roofs of a hotel in Fish Camp. 

Hidden not far from the top is a little jar with a pad of paper and pencil--a guest register.  Many of the mountain peaks in Yosemite have these registers; they’re a kind of contained graffiti.  I check to see if my first entry is still there, from 1985--yep--then read the latest, and re-read past entries.  They go back to 1980--terse comments about the weather, or the girlfriend that made it up this time, or the lion or bear that accompanied them--stop and look around... nope.  I find the names of former co-workers from Wawona Hotel, including one who has passed on, who wrote “...I’ll be back, one way or the other...” 

I add my two bits, seal up the jar, and put it back into hiding.  It’s a local’s privilege, I guess, to make a difficult trek to a hidden relic that derives its value solely from its location--reading the entries anywhere else would be pointless. 

On the way down--how many times has it been--I got...off track.  Having headed south-west instead of south-east, I ended up in sight of Big Creek, and so wandered along its course awhile, then cut east toward where the road must be.  The forest is so thick that the road could be twenty yards away and invisible.  This would be a bad place to meet a timber rattlesnake, or any of the afore mentioned wild animals, but I find the road and the trip ends without undo adventure.  Now it’s down to Wawona for a dip in the river to cool off.