|Google Earth view of Green Valley, from above Euchre Bar,|
looking towards Giant Gap, with the place mark on Joe Steiner's grave
What a difference a week makes.
Last Sunday the climb out of Green Valley was a challenge. Today, it was far less so. I made the ascent of some two thousand feet slowly, for sure, but without any cramping in the legs and with no twenty-minute siesta. I attribute this to three things: the last hike conditioned the leg muscles; I had not over-exerted myself, such as when I went bushwhacking last week; and I started this hike far better hydrated, having drank about 36 oz. of water before leaving home, rather than two cups of coffee. Hydration was likely the most important factor.
My Topo! map software gives a distance of 0.83 mile for the steep section of the trail, but with switchbacks I'll give it 0.9 mile. Let's compare this steep section of Green Valley Trail with Bright Angel Trail, which connects the rim of the Grand Canyon with the Colorado River.
- Bright Angel Trail 4,380 ft
- Green Valley Trail 1,600 ft
- Bright Angel Trail 8.0 miles
- Green Valley Trail 0.9 mile
- Bright Angel Trail 10%
- Green Valley Trail 34%
Slope in Degrees
- Bright Angel Trail 05.74
- Green Valley Trail 19.67
I departed the trail head at Moody Ridge at 8:50 AM. The trail soon reached a paved road and followed it a short distance. A small pickup truck approached. The driver stopped to talk. He lived up the road, and he asked if I was prepared for the hike into the valley. Yes, I was: I had water, a GPS, a personal locator beacon, and fire making items. I carry gear I would need to face a night alone. "Do you have a snake bite kit?" Yes, I did. We talked some more. Russell Towle had been his neighbor and friend. I said that Russell was the John Muir of the North Fork American River, and he agreed. We talked for a good twenty minutes, and exchanged contact information. He said trail maintenance events are held in Russell's memory. I would like to join these. Many years ago I joined Russell for a maintenance hike he arranged on Canyon Creek Trail.
I made my way down the steep section, and reached the junction where last week I had taken the trail to the right, leading to the west side of the valley. Today I took the trail to the left. Now I was in Green Valley proper, the steep hillside behind me. The trail was obscure in many places. Few people enter this valley and the old mining trails are becoming overgrown. I passed two old water ditches, now dry as they are no longer in use for mining operations.
Soon I was at the grave of Joe Steiner. Born in 1869 in Switzerland, he spent the latter part of his life in Green Valley, working his mine and managing a property. He died in 1949. Atop his grave were two rusted gold pans, the rusted head of a shovel, a kerosene lamp, and a broken ceramic coffee mug.
|Joe Steiner's grave|
The trail led to the hotel site, a level spot with rock retaining walls. People now use it as a camp site. Someone had placed a large anvil on the corner of the site. Looking across the river, I saw other rock walls. I don't think many people go over there anymore.
|Site of the hotel|
I followed the trail westwards, passing old mining sites, rock retaining walls, and pits with iron debris. I found plastic tubing from more modern mining activity, but I think such activity is limited. I reached the site of Joe Steiner's mine. The adit had collapsed long ago.
|Site of Joe Steiner's mine|
I made my way eastwards along the river, and reached a nice spot for lunch, water and a single Clif bar. Water is more important than food on a hike, so I eat little, if at all. I sat on the slate rock outcrop and enjoyed the view of the river. I was probably the only person in the valley.
Then commenced the return hike. My going was slow on the steep section but my legs felt fine. I encountered a couple walking with their dog to the river. These were the only people I saw on the trail today. We talked a bit. They said they lived on Moody Ridge, so they were locals. Russell Towle had been their neighbor and friend. I asked them if many people hiked into Green Valley. They said no, the valley gets few visitors.
I reached the trail head parking area at 2:05 PM. My truck was the only vehicle there. Thus ended another wonderful day on the North Fork.