LAKE CLEMENTINE LOOP December 10, 2005

Rather morose after having to cancel from a DPS trip this weekend, I sought to use my charged up, digital camera batteries on this local, light hike. Making my arrangements to move, better, I left home by about Noon to head eastbound on Interstate 80. So many cars on the road!

Coming to the parking along the Old Foresthill Road, I readied my pack and took off by 12:53 p.m. The Lake Clementine Trail heads up river along the North Fork of the American, and a few mountain bikers passed by. The river water appears a bit cloudy, contrasting with the Middle Fork. I was enjoying doing more hiking so close to home. I would most likely have put another 1,400 miles on my car, going to the desert.

Some electronic component had maybe been hurled from the Foresthill Bridge, sitting along the trail. I noted some sprouting grasses, and a bit of fall color remaining. The dirt trail was damp, with a bit of muddy spots here and there. A small puddle appeared in places, but all were easily circumvented. Soon coming to the pavement on the far side of this trail, I walked up the dam access road. There seemed to be new, less obstructed, views of Lake Clementine, through the brush. Limestone Hill appeared in the distance.

Coming then to the upper access for the Culvert Trail, I headed right and up through the cut chaparral. Very few cyclists passed by. One would not wish to be hiking here with a lot of users on wheels, since there are blind curves and a narrow single track. Bikes can get up to perhaps 15 mph on the downhills and straightaways.

The oak trees were nice to hike past. The tunnel was not too muddy, and it is dark inside. The trail is much drier on the south facing slopes, headed down to the Confluence Trail. On the Mammoth Bar access road, I partook of the facility, near the pay station beyond the gate. With plenty of sunshine, I slowed my pace and drank water, then my fruit soda.

The rays of the sun lit up the canyon, and I could make out the Quarry on the other side. All in shadow, I tried for a few photos. The river water was much clearer, being the Middle Fork. Maybe being more, or less, of a wild river? Other hikers enjoyed the fine weather. I sat, sunning myself, on a rock, when a mountain biker chose to ride up next to me, where I hadn't imagined a trail ran. He took the rocks very nicely, twice, and I asked if I was blocking his way. He shortly went off, and I continued down the single track.

As much as a music player would be nice, it impedes the sounds of approaching bikes. I heard no number of birds, or the sound of wildlife. Only the roar of the river, and the rumble of traffic on the highways nearby.

I shot movies of the rapids in shadow, near the bottom of this hike. The river is flowing nicely, and I had seen a kayak atop a passing vehicle. But too cold, to me, to think of doing that, now.

My total round trip time, over about 6 miles with 1,000' gain, came to almost exactly three hours. I shot nearly 120 images and clips. My round trip drive was about 78 miles. I had gassed up, at 2.179, back when leaving town.

There was some late afternoon light to shoot some of Auburn, but I have done that many a time. Not hungry, I endured the traffic slowdowns to get home in time to watch the evening news.

No ticks, but clouds of gnats. No lizards, snakes, many birds, or any deer.

Another hike tomorrow, in this fine weather, would be nice. But I am out of ops to get some gain, so close to town. Maybe just another train ride out to the upper Parkway?