08/02/2019 at 11:17 am #3145
A group of seven of us hiked the John’s Meadow Trail to the campground just beyond Forsee Creek yesterday and we were surprised that the area bore no resemblance to an actual meadow. Several individuals had mentioned in their trip reports that they weren’t aware they had reached the meadow so prior to the hike I plotted the coordinates (link below) on my GPS.
As we crossed Forsee Creek it became clear that the coordinates on my GPS did not correspond to the location of the campground so I simply assumed the coordinates were incorrect. When we reached the high point after climbing out of the canyon formed by the creek on the return trip, we looked back toward the creek crossing and noticed what appeared to be a very green meadow just east of Forsee Creek and above the location where the trail crosses the creek. Curiously, the location of the ‘meadow’ appeared to be in agreement with the GPS coordinates. The above link shows the location of the meadow, according to the GPS coordinates, so it makes me think that was the actual meadow we saw from the height of land on the way back to the trailhead.
Has anyone done any off-trail exploring and come across this green expanse of land along Forsee Creek?
08/05/2019 at 8:04 am #3147
I’ve read people’s speculations on where johns meadow is actually located. you’re correct that it’s not where the camping area is. where it actually is is a good mystery. i have read that it’s above the camp along forsee creek where you put your pin, but with no context other than the assertion that that’s the location of the meadow.
There’s an old newspaper article i’ll try to find that talks about the guy johns meadow is named after taking people up forsee creek from hwy 38 on a fishing trip. i went up the creek from 38 not long ago to see if one could get to johns meadow from 38 via the creek. one cannot, at least not without technical climbing. about 400 feet below johns meadow, we had to scramble up and out of the canyon bottom to continue.
If you go past the camping area westward, cross the creek, and start up the trail that connects to the san bernardino peak trail, there’s a sizable meadow, complete with lots of corn lilies and other meadow greenery below the trail on the tributary of forsee creek that you crossed after camp. I’ve wondered if maybe this is johns meadow? i’d be curious to see some historic evidence of it’s actual location…it’s not been johns meadow for that long. the meadow’s namesake lived until the 70s or 80s, i believe. let me see if i can find that article…
08/05/2019 at 11:44 am #3148
Thanks for the informative response Chris! We did venture as far as the second creek crossing but at that time the actual location of John’s Meadow was not on my mind. I’ve stood on quite a few false summits in my life but I have to think this is my first experience with a “false meadow.”
If you can find it, I look forward to reading the article pertaining to the history of the area.
08/05/2019 at 11:50 am #3149
Thanks for the informative response Chris! We did go as far as the second creek crossing but at the time the actual location of John’s Meadow was not on my mind. I’ve stood on quite a few false summits in my life but I believe this is my first experience with a “false meadow.”
If you can find the article, it will be interesting to learn about the history and possible location of the meadow.
08/05/2019 at 12:05 pm #3150
Well, it’s not exactly the article, but if you expand the OCR text link at this page you can read an article from the September 18, 1973 edition of the Redlands Daily Facts. I suppose you could swing by the library and see the article itself, or start a trial subscription to the service on that page. Here’s some of the relevant text. Interestingly, it sound like in 1973, you had to scramble up forsee creek to get to it, as there’s no mention of the johns meadow trail. what the author describes doing in this piece sounds a lot like what i did a few weeks ago, even including crossing a giant cedar that formed a bridge across the creek. From the article:
“When my friend Don Bauer, the head ranger, sent me the new Forest Service map of our mountains I knew that I had to make a pilgrimage. Printed on the north slope of the Mt. San Bernardino massif were two new words: “John’s Meadow.” “Thus a new ‘official name’ has been born,” Don explained. “This is the first one to be approved for a feature of the San Gorgonio Wilderness since the enactment of the Wilderness Act in 1964.” “John” was John B. Surr— San Bernardino attorney, Redlands resident, and a mountain-loving man. While climbing Mt. San Bernardino by the Forsee creek ridge trail on October 6, 1971 with Dr. Gordon Witter of Redlands and Al Spencer of Camp Angelus, he died of a heart attack. His meadow, “John’s Meadow,” is not on that trail but, rather, approximately two miles west. Sunday morning Gordon and I drove up Route 38 to Forsee creek—24 miles from Redlands and four miles beyond Camp Angelus. Descending from the road to the canyon bottom we were walking through great clumps of red monkey flowers. Almost instantly the canyon shut in on either side and this was the true Forsee creek— a deep, narrow chute for the waters draining the central and westerly summits of Mt. San Bernardino. (That peak is the great pyramid that dominates the eastern skyline of Redlands.) We picked our way through waist-high currant thickets, climbed over dozens of logs that lie like jackstraws across the stream, and frequently climbed up on the steep sides because there was no other way. Where a great cedar log fell across the bottom, forming a high, natural bridge, we passed a yellow, backpacker’s tent. A smiling young man, bare from the waist up, and with shoulder length hair, emerged to chat for a minute. The bot’tom grew steadily steeper until the canyon made a sharp turn. Ahead of us was a waterfall about 20 feet high, and beyond, another of perhaps 40 feet. From there on we- scrambled up and along the canyon sides, finally mounting a high ridge. Suddenly Gordon said: “There is John’s Meadow.” We were looking across Forsee creek at the junction of its west fork. There was a bench between the two forks, openly forested with Jeffrey pine, white fir and incense cedar. The meadow is not flat and grassy, but is on the slope between the bench and the creek. The wet ground is covered with rank growth- waist high grass, ferns, yarrow and some passe lupine. On the bench we found two places where people had camped this summer. One party, we judged from the sleeping bag sites, might have had a dozen people in it. If they climbed the 1,200 feet of rise up Forsee creek they had quite a scramble. But they may have hiked cross country, following a “track” which is indicated on the Defenders map of the San Gorgonio Wilderness area. “How did John’s Meadow gets its name?” “Well,” Gordon explained, “it started as a sort of a joke. John took a bunch of us from Camp Angelus on a hike one day a number of years ago. Fran (Mrs. Surr) and Newt Williams were in the party and they weren’t used to hard going. “Fran and Newt were getting bushed and John kept telling them about this meadow that was just ahead… a little ways . . . just over the ridge … a thousand feet more.” By the time they reached the meadow, the credibility of the guide was at low ebb. Ever after when the hike was recalled, Newt would grin, and with mock scorn allude to “John’s Meadow.” When John died on Mt. San Bernardino, his son, John V. Surr of Washington D.C. took to the idea of making “John’s Meadow” official. Since John B. Surr had played an influential role in establishing the Wilderness.-and keeping it that way in the face of attack, Don Bauer and others joined the movement. The U.S. Board of Geographic Names made it official. So there it is—an intimate bit of meadow and benchland . . a tiny Shangri La of the mountains, a reward for those who are willing to climb “just over the ridge … a thousand feet more.””
08/05/2019 at 1:20 pm #3151
Also, from another page of that paper:
NEW PLACENAME Arrow near center points to Johns Memorializing the late John Surr of the name was made official by the Board of Geographic It appears for the first time on this new edition of the Forest Service map of the San Bernardino National Todays Grain of Salt explains JOHNS Located at the junction of Forsee creek and its West Branch this area includes the real meadow growth on the highlighted bank just right of a bench between the creeks where back packers West branch enters picture at right Central ridge of San Bernardino is seen in FORSEE FALLS Johns Meadow elevation feet is reached by a twohour climb from Route four miles east of Camp The Forsee creek route is rocky and Nearing the meadow the canyon throats down and creek drops in a series of Gordon Witter scouts a climbable Facts photos by Frank
So it looks like i’ll need to pop by the library to see what might be in there…sounds like there’s a map or diagram.
Also, this from John’s daughter.
I’ll post here if i find anything more.
08/05/2019 at 3:10 pm #3152MikeHParticipant
Great stuff, Chris!
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