STEVENS TRAIL 15X March 9, 2003

Getting used to a routine of a Sunday afternoon light hike, I motored east on Interstate 80 to quickly come to Colfax, CA. Exiting the freeway, I took the frontage road on the south side to drive east to the signed trailhead for this Bureau of Land Management hike.

Beginning my short jaunt at 11 a.m., I noted so many cars here. I passed other hikers on their way, both down and up, and started snapping photos. I have updated or downloaded new photo software, and was anxious to practice and learn the best way to download them, then work on images for my website. Currently, I have two programs that launch when I insert my memory card into my card reader. I have to quit one right away, as I am unable to remember where the box-click command to start auto-launch was located.

High clouds were coming over, so the light was getting nice and diffuse. Descending below Cape Horn, I was to encounter even more hikers with dogs. The view down the canyon to the Pioneer Bridge was nice.

Shooting now at a higher res setting, I have come to conserve my memory. At my former settings, I would have space for hundreds of pictures, but with the default setting I chose now, I kept myself down to about 55 photos for the day.

So many other hikers today! I photographed a few flowers, with brodiaea, shooting stars, a few small poppies, and some tiny white and blue ones. In another month, it will be a flower garden, with thousands of golden poppies. I noted the ferns and gnarled trees. Some poison oak was sprouting.

After about an hour and a half, I came to the end of the trail at Secret Creek. Noting the many groups of people sunning on the river rocks, I found a spot for myself, and slung off my pack. The river was deep green, and the rocks were whitish and gray. The sky was now almost white, and it was good light for showing textures and to get good color saturation. No shadows to black out the canyon side here! I shot movie clips of the rapids, and drank some of my two liters of water.

Timing my start back at 1 p.m., I looked about to ensure I left nothing, and figured on plenty of time to do other things today. There wasn't much going on down here, and some rain was predicted for tonight.

Snapping another photo of a deep green pool, I sought to leisurely hike up out of the canyon. A group asked me if I was with "the Club." Disconcerted a bit, I figured it was a local Sierra Club group somewhere. Yes, I passed them piecemeal, and upon determining their chapter, chatted with some newer hikers. I'm sure none of them much remember the local exclusions, and before that, the magnificent efforts of so many of us to superbly uphold the creed of "explore, enjoy, and protect."

As I came back to the dirt road, I discerned one unpleasant individual, presumably the trip leader, but fortunately I was able to pass without comment, and apparently recognition. Some jeepers and a dirt biker created dust as they headed down the canyon road. Good enough users---not the imposition of sheer bad vibes that this "outdoor" group can get into!

The trail has a few, very short muddy sections, but the thick, red mud of last year was gone. Some small creeks were flowing, but certainly the North Fork of the American River wasn't getting much spring runoff yet. I wore a MW Capilene top and jeans. It was generally pleasant, with a cool breeze at times, today!

Back to the cars, my total round trip time came to three hours and fifty minutes. The stats are given as 9 miles round trip, with maybe a thousand feet gain.

As I motored west, I thought to try another hike today, but chose instead to relax at home on my computer, and have a leisurely dinner around town somewhere.