Thursday, July 24, 2014

Anza Expedition Summary (also places, people and things of interest in SJ Valley)

Bautista Canyon, San Jacinto Valley & Mystic Lake

A couple of real quick links from my first two Main posts as mere reminders and then to my final post:
(Part 1) Juan Bautista de Anza's Journal sheds light on a past Extinct Ecosystem
(Anza Expedition Part II) The Valley that was, but isn't any longer
Map image:  Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail Guide

This was to be my final and last post on the Anza Expedition which for me the story closes at the Santa Ana Riverside at Mount Rubidoux. But I've had to break it down into smaller sub-subjects as there was just too much to consider and the side points were pertinent to the overall picture of the expedition. That's the curse of knowing the area so well and I still have told the half of it. Beyond the point where Anza comes to the Santa Ana River at Mount Rubidoux in Riverside California, I really have vague knowledge of the natural world beyond that point which has mostly been swallowed up by human development. So I'll merely offer some recap here and add some interesting facts about San Jacinto Valley's history, places and people I've enjoyed meeting down there in my own historical past. So again, some recap of what I've already written about.

Once you enter onto the valley floor from Bautista Canyon's mouth, the area prior to agricultural development would have been more like a Bajada or Alluvial fan. It's interesting that ONLY Fray Pedro Font made mention of the Bautista Creek splitting into separate and distinct two river channels as it emerged from the mouth of Bautista Canyon where he described the waters eventually disappearing into the sand a ways down stream. This to me would indicate that the first trip took the more historical westerly route of the stream and the year after they took the Bautista Wash route more to the north where this water seemed to disappear under the sand and gravel. That would make sense if it were a newer stream which for unknown natural causes was created by flood water debris creating a diversion and siphoning off some of the water from the main original historical channel. Therefore the second Trek's camp would be on the eastern side of Park Hill.
"After about four leagues the canyon becomes wider and the water of the arroyo, which at the end divides into two branches to open out into the Valley of San Joseph [San Jacinto Valley], is lost in the sand."
The present Bautista Creek from the Flood Control Dam is a very deep concrete flood channel which has been routed north towards the San Jacinto River channel. This channel no doubt most likely followed a more westerly pathway in the old channel with meanders northwest on just the east side of Park Hill. The second channel may have even made a more direct western route along present day Stetson Ave on the south side of Hemet. What ever the situation in the past, the present man made concrete channel was likely created to allow the many human agricultural endeavors for the exploitation of the landscape for various Orchard enterprises which are mostly gone now. In any event, I wrote about this here:
Old Bautista Creek Channel East and West side
Image: Jay Beiler

Cahuilla Reservation looking north at Mount Jacinto
and Cahuilla Mountain on the left hand side.
It is also extremely interesting to take special note that the elevation gradient from Hemet to the town of Winchester and points west like Menifee and Sun City is only a mere inch or more. At least this is how it was explained to me by one of the city maintenance people. In any event, this valley has always had drainage issues. Not that this is a bad thing in a wildlife natural world sense, but for human infrastructure and commercial pursuits it's always been a problem. It can and will flood instantly even during a localized heavy summer monsoon thunderstorm event in July/August. This is important for everyone to understand the personal observation written down by the Spanish eye witnesses a few hundred years ago. Because from the very point at which they emerged from the mouth of Bautista Canyon, the first thing that impressed all journal writers was the heavy abundance of wildflowers everywhere just as they had experienced up in Anza valley when traveling through what is now Cahuilla Indian Reservation. Hemet Valley itself was often most likely one large continuous massive vernal pool from it's central and western edge all the way to Winchester and perhaps beyond. I actually found an image below which in an impressive illustrative way depicts almost identically the geography of flat valleys accompanied by pyramid shaped hills or saddle back boulder strewn small hills of this San Jacinto - Hemet Valley region. Notice the landscape in this picture below with slow moving flood meandering water courses which branch off into numerous landscape tributaries to create Vernal Pools ?

Golconda, NV / Humboldt River at flood stage on 6/9/2005
This is my second deviation from this main post. The reason I am veering off track here is to illustrate the beauty that both Juan Bautista de Anza, Francisco Garcès and Fray Pedro Font all expressed about the massive wildflowers displays which seemed to deeply touch their hearts. Most people who have seen such display of wildflowers even on small scales can of course relate. Sadly most of this is gone forever as development has encroached and continues to do so. Please follow this link for a deeper picture of the reality of wildflower strewn Vernal Pool wetlands: 
The Vernal Pools of South and Western Hemet (Anza Expedition extra) 
Okay, I am veering off here again to create a separate post which can be more detailed in proving just what these men actually saw of the what, why and how of it's existence. Please follow this link for a deeper appreciation of the geography of the valley and other water feature tributaries which will make that long gone historical massive riparian ecosystem a reality for you that Anza, Font, Garcès and others on the expedition wrote so highly and praiseworthy about. Also take note of the comparison Anza finally makes of the Santa Ana River looking exactly like the San Jacinto River Valley. That reality back then no longer exists:
The San Jacinto River Valley that Juan Bautista de Anza saw 
Here is an entirely different post written strictly about the present San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge and what is left of the wetlands they described. I'll also follow the river bed down to Elsinore and through Temescal Canyon, something the explorer's did not do. The main purpose in my veering off course here and following the riparian system which these men did not follow have more to do with wildlife & ecosystem purposes only. The possibilities of Southern California's Steelhead Trout actually living and existing in the upper reaches of the San Jacinto River habitat and evidence for the California Grizzly Bear presence in the area as mentioned by one of the members of the Expedition:
San Jacinto River Wildlife Refuge & the wetlands potential beyond to Corona 
Finally as with anything I write, I'm interested in lessons learned and if there are anything we can come away with as far as practical applications to be used in habitat restoration, urban landscape or just your small garden.  
Anza's Dairy & the Lessons Learned
Fast Forwarding to the present with places and people I enjoy
Address: 1977 S Hewitt, San Jacinto Ca
Tel: (951) 658 2426
This past June 2014, my wife and I stopped in the San Jacinto/Hemet valley on our way to visit and stay with friends in Phelan California. I decided to revisit some of my most favourite places and the people who live and work there. First stop was the Savala Fruit Market located north of Park Hill on S. Hewitt. When I lived in western Riverside County back in the 80s & 90s, I often stopped here specifically for their Apricots. Hemet valley was a one time a major Apricot producer in times past and in fact when I first moved to Idyllwild, eastern Hemet Valley to Valle Vista still had many major Apricot Orchards. It was sad to see them plowed up and the land used for housing. Savala Ranch is the last hold out and shrinking fast. Their ranch of course is smack in the middle of development country. C&R Farms [the largest grower of Watermelons, Pumpkins, Squashes and Gourds in the Valley] had a large field of watermelons on the west side of the Savala Ranch when we visited.

Savala Ranch Fruit Stand, San Jacinto California
Fernado and Ofelia Savala started the 16 acre Apricot Orchard and Fruit Stand I believe some time back in the 1960s. Fernando came from Mexico in 1940 as an Apricot picker and later enlisted in the Army during World War II, and during this time married his wife Ofelia. Their son now runs the Ranch and told me his father has since died and mother only comes out occasionally when she has the energy. The northern end of the Farm has had it's beautiful Apricot Orchard removed as the water is now scarce and expensive. They can no longer flood irrigate as in times past and use only drip irrigation under the trees on the south side of the Apricot Farm on Hewitt. It makes me sad, as the apricots were far smaller than in times past when they flood irrigated. The trees themselves are of the older larger standard antique variety, which means more potential for deeper root infrastructure if it gets trained properly. I almost wish I could spend a year there and help them turn things around with what I know and understand about deep pipe irrigation (Article Here) . I'm sure the water rates from the municipal water company are outrageous. One wonders how long they will be able to hold out. 

photo Mine

photo Mine
The apricots were very very small by comparison to the old days. In the old days they sold them fresh, but also dried the majority out in the sun behind the sheds. As anyone knows, apricots do not have much of a shelf life and drying is preferable for many. Below here is a picture of some old wood built Ice cooled Boxcars which were later replaced by the common refrigerated unit cars like those of the Pacific Fruit Express cars seen for years. The Savala Ranch has the same two, but at one time these boxcars could be seen everywhere on all the valley farms which were bought up cheap by farmers for storage sheds.

image Mine: old block ice cooled fruit boxcars
The photo below is not mine, but apparently from a Savala Family member's photobucket collection. The uncanny thing here is the photo of the grandmother Ofelia is exactly the way I remember her, as opposed to present. The other uncanny thing is that long extended baby blue Ford Econoline Van looks exactly like mine when I stopped by during the middle 1990s and picked up produce for resale. This was the same Van I used in distributing bread for Dudley's Bakery out of Santa Ysabel. Hmmm, maybe Fernando Jr can help me out here, any idea of the date this was taken ? BTW, it should be noted that the Savala Family has always tried to practice organic farming. Here is their Facebook page:

Image Lady Daniela

Savala Ranch Photos
image Mine
Little Pantry Cafe (formerly Hamby's Cafe)

  • 980 N State St
  • Hemet, California 92543
+1 951-929-0908
This location and cafe was originally called Hamby's Cafe. It is now called "Little Pantry Cafe" and has much the same character and atmosphere as before. My favourite food here was breakfast (which they served all day), but sometimes I stopped in the evening for dinner when I drove home from work on my way to Idyllwild where I moved in 1981. What can I say, I was single back then and had money for eating out a lot. I was first introduced to Hamby's by Marvin Lindholm, who now lives in Lake Arrowhead, California. I use to order Hamby's "Lumber Jack Breakfast" which by name causes you to imagine a breakfast fit for only a Paul Bunyan. True to the name, one could rarely finish it. As a side point to my article on the Anza Expedition, just a few meters north of this cafe on State Street, the geography slopes down sharply revealing the old San Jacinto Flood plain and ancient river valley, though I highly doubt any resident or traveler ever gives it any mind. You can actually follow the entire floodplain edge if you know where to look when driving both east and west. The line is very distinct and obvious. Still, from that vantage point one could stand here and imagine the lush scenery Anza, Font, Garcès and others witnessed as the area's first European explorers.

image Mine
This place is basically the same, with the exception of the name and owner. In the above photo, you'll notice the entrance into a larger room. In the early days the Cafe stopped there at the wall. Hamby's owner later remodeled and made the place much larger. Most regulars in the old days would stand in line waiting to get in, morning or night. My wife and I definitely enjoyed the breakfast we had and it was almost identical as I remembered it. It's the kind of food you can tell is made from scratch like all older Cafes of days gone by. The taste test is whether the gravy in their "biscuits n' gravy" taste like wall paper paste or loaded pan drippings from the bacon and sausage. *smile*
 Bats put on a nightly show from under the Bautista Flood Channel bridge at Fairview  in Valle Vista south of  Hwy 74 (Florida Ave)

Image: Press Enterprise - Bat Colony under Bautista Creek Flood Channel bridge - Valle Vista
 Admittedly, Hemet and San Jacinto have never been on most outsider's list of places to go and things to see, but there are some refreshing off the beaten track things to experience if you've got the time. Here is the article link below: 
Here is the updated article on the Bats of Valle Vista in what is known as the Fairview Bat Bridge in Hemet California by Bob Pratte of Press Enterprise on June 24, 2014: 
by Bob Pratte: VALLE VISTA: Sundown show at The Bat Bridge 
(951) 845-1217
38021 US Highway 60
BeaumontCA 92223-1680
Our last stop on the way to Phelan was this well known tourist spot called Dowling Fruit Orchards at the interchange of Hwy 60 & Interstate 10. This was actually one of my customers when I distributed gourmet bread & some produce to western Riverside county clients like Hadleys, Tom's Farms and Rancho Fruit Market in Temecula. The Fruit Stand was only a small part of the larger fruit orchards which once existed to the east and south of the stand which is right on Hwy 60. All manner of tourist, locals and large number of Truckers stop here. It's owned and run by John Dowling who I did run into and had fun catching up on what's been going on in both our lives. I was happy to see his dad was still alive, but of course I already knew his mum had died. But it's very much like the other tourist places referenced above but with more of a Mom n' Pop flavour about it. Below I've got some other reading references about the history of San Jacinto Valley.
I also remember the account about the scene named "Massacre Canyon" which is actually Portreo Creek just north of Gilman Springs Rd. Two tribes of Native Americans [Soboba & Pechenga] had a bloody battle here up this canyon. I've heard two accounts, but the main one is about the Chia Seed version. I'll post below here my article on lessons learned about Bajadas or Alluvial Floodplains, where I reference the early 1980s El Nino event flooding which created a lush dense triangular shaped riparian forest from out of the mouth of this canyon all the way to the San Jacinto River. Only a medium percentage of this large sized remnant of those trees exist to this day. This is one of the main tributaries Fray Pedro Font wrote about which he insisted helped fill and maintain Mystic Lake to the west.
Massacre Canyon: The Chia Seed version
Lessons Learned from the Bajada (Alluvial Fans)
 Also, don't forget the USGS Historical Topographic Map Explorer, which I just clicked on an old 1904 Southern California Topographical Survey map. It listed Eden Hot Springs which I had forgotten about halfway between Hwy 79 (Lamb's Canyon) and the old original hwy out of SJ Valley, Jack Rabbit Trail. The older map also shows the long gone railway spur from Perris ending at Lakeview, most folks never have known about this spur. It was mostly a real estate scheme for selling land. You'll understand the name if you've ever taken the trek between Gilman Springs Rd and Hey 60. It is paved, but older pavement and very twisting winding narrow roadway. All along the drop offs along the Canyon edges is the old original wooden guard rail and some Route 66 era steel type guard railing. In Anza, Cahuilla Reservation is spelled Coahulia. Just some interesting side points. well worth bookmarking. enjoy. 
image by Tom Grubbe (2011)

Looking south towards Mystic Lake and San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge with the community of Lakeview in the far distance long Jack Rabbit Trail.

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