May 14, 2020
TITLE: HIKING THROUGH HISTORY: Hiking is a wonderful way to get some exercise, reduce stress and enjoy all the natural history our mountains have to offer. There are over 500 miles of hiking opportunities and over 100 established trails spread across the San Bernardino Mountains, each one unique. There are easy trails such as half-mile Heaps Peak Arboretum, where you can observe dozens of varieties of flora. The popular Heart Rock Trail leads you to a breathtaking geological wonder. With the recent lifting of restrictions on hiking and other forms of outdoor recreation it’s a great time to revisit a column that was published a couple years back about a trail rich with history. Just north of Highway 173 and Grass Valley Road, above the community of Lake Arrowhead, the Metate Trail is an enjoyable, family-friendly hike that will bring you to some impressive relics from our state’s Native American past. Metates were used by the Serrano Indians who lived a nomadic existence in these mountains for some 5,000 years. The grinding holes pictured in this week’s image were carved into large slabs of bedrock and are called “mortars.” Serrano women used “manos” (or “pestles”) to grind acorns, pinon nuts and other grain. The Serrano came to this area every spring because of the plentiful acorn crop and mild climate. To make acorn flour was a multi-step process which involved first soaking the acorns to remove their skin, then grinding them into a flour. This was then made into a meal and leached with boiling water to remove the bitterness. The resulting mush was further processed into “Wiiwish” which could then be served. The Serrano call themselves the Yuhaviatam which means “people of the pines.” After a century of brutal hardships and skirmishes with militia, tribal leader Santos Manuel led the remaining Yuhaviatam down the mountain in the late 1860’s to safety. The reservation bearing his name was established in 1891. By Ken Brafman, Image from Ken Brafman Collection.