April 11, 2009 I hiked along a western section of the San Joaquin
River Trail (SJRT) to the McKenzie Table Mountain Preserve with Fred
Schreiber. It was a long hike that took us most of the day and we
traveled through extraordinarily beautiful Sierra foothill settings.
The adventure began when we met in the morning at the entrance of McKenzie Preserve where Fred dropped off his vehicle. We then traveled together in my vehicle to the Finegold Day Use Area at the end of Sky Harbor Road at Millerton Lake (see Google Map) where we found the trail head. The plan was to hike back to the McKenzie Preserve entrance where we would pick up Fred's truck and then drive back to my vehicle. This was a new experience for me because I'd only done loop style and out and back hiking. When the day was done, we had hiked 12.9 miles with a total ascent of 2693 feet (maximum elevation 1893 feet).
The morning temperature was in the 60's and it eventually warmed up to the low 70's by afternoon. We had intermittent cloud cover the whole day which made for some incredible vistas and great opportunities to take pictures. At the begining of the hike the hills surrounding Millerton Lake were shrouded in mist. It reminded me of the evapotranspiration you would see in a tropical jungle. There was still an abundance of wild flowers, but the grasses in some locations were starting to dry out.
Fred and I adjusted our hiking boots, donned our backs and set off. The trail from Finegold climbs the north side of Pin Cushion Mountain which is a remnant of the chain of table mountains that follow Millerton Lake and the San Joaquin River.