JULY 2010

I was shocked and tremendously saddened to discover that one of my favorite places in Southern California, Poopout Meadow along the South Forks Trail in the San Bernardino Mts, was almost totally destroyed by an avalanche that occurred sometime during the winter of 2009-2010. What had once been a lovely and intimate meadow, perched on a slope below the flume and watered by it, a meadow that most people hiking on the South Fork Trail barely even suspected the existence of, now lies open, its protective barrier of pines smashed and splintered, and its grassy expanses littered with uprooted and broken trees. The section of the flume trail that passes this area is now extremely difficult to navigate without climbing over a tangled jumble of trunks and branches. On three days I passed by this area without even recognizing that it was Poopout Meadow, so totally unrecognizable is it compared to what it used to be. There is still one fairly limited section of the meadow that is undisturbed and patches of grass and flowers amidst the debris but one would never guess looking at it that it had once been a meadow. The pictures below show something of what it used to look like and what it looks like now, and just as I wished after the fire above Sierra Madre that devastated the Mt. Wilson Trail to have taken more pictures of the trail, so I wish now I had taken more pictures of the meadow. But whereas a couple of years later the fire damage is almost no longer noticeable, it will be many decades if not centuries before these trees, some of which are 3' and 4' in diameter, decompose and Poopout is a meadow again, and we must rely on pictures to remember it in its sylvan glory.

UPDATE: The above is the bad news, and such was my initial impression. The good news is that a subsequent, more extensive visit to Poopout Meadow, combined with an attempt to recreate the pictures displayed below as 'Before,' revealed that a good deal of the upper part of the meadow is still intact, albeit with some scattered trees and branches lying around. The bottom line is that the scenes photographed in 2008 are not that much changed and I am greatly heartened by that. The meadow should continue to produce many beautiful and some rare or uncommon wildflowers. And we must remember that it was a natural event, and nature has its own agenda.

BEFORE (2008)

Some rare plants of Poopout Meadow (Clockwise from upper left, Gentianopsis simplex,
Gentianella amarella ssp. acuta, Polemonium occidentale ssp. occidentale, Actea rubra)

AFTER (2010)

The South Forks Trail crossing the devastated area above the meadow

Looking up to the top of the ridge where the avalanche began


Copyright © 2010 by Michael L. Charters.
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