AUBURN STATE RECREATION AREA TRAILS January 22, 2005
Escaping the fog of the Central Valley, again, I motored east up Interstate 80 to this foothill destination. Parking along the river highway on the Old Foresthill Road, just past its intersection with Highway 49, I started my first hike at 10:30 a.m.
The river was flowing nicely, and the Lake Clementine Trail made for good level walking. There are a few rapids, offering a small challenge to boaters. Passing under the huge Foresthill Bridge, I pondered slightly about the scenic beauty of this part of the canyon.
I somewhat wrote in favor of canyon preservation, decades ago, doing my Sierra Club duty, maybe helping for stopping the construction of Auburn Dam. This boondoggle took maybe a billion dollars of taxpayers' money to be eventually halted by Congress. As there are dam safety issues, and other solutions to flood control and water storage, it seemed like a bad choice for inundation, forever, too.
I soon reached the Lake Clementine road, all paved, and walked uphill to a view of the Clementine dam. They now discourage parking at this end of this North Fork, Canyon trail. A sign reads, 1.4 miles to the Culvert Trail. Enjoying the exercise, I stopped for a rest and drink, at this next, moderately used trailhead.
Mostly mountain bikers zoomed or pedaled by. I guess this is part of a classic loop, with fast speeds attained, going down either side of this trail loop. A few hikers were enjoying the canyon, at a far slower pace.
At the highpoint of this loop, the Culvert Trail then descends down the north side of the Middle Fork, American River, canyon. The sun dried up much of the trail, with some muddy spots, but all easily passed around. Someone had built some ramps on the trail for daring leaps. New work since my last visit! These guys go pretty fast down the trail, although you can hear them coming, and step out of their way. It's probably a good idea to get out of the way of downhill bikers, although the rules state for yielding to hikers.
The inside of the Culvert Trail tunnel is pretty muddy, and I had to shout to avoid being hit, possibly, by a fast approaching biker. It's easy to slip when most all is dark. I then enjoyed walking down the sunny south-facing side, and was mildly astonished that more ramps were built, with a steep, banked, hairpin turn, too. Lower down, close to the end of the Confluence Trail, a ramp offers a chance for a big jump across a 7' deep, erosion gully, maybe 8' wide. If you miscalculate on this one, it will hurt!
I hiked down a side trail to the river for a good look at the rapids there. No boaters today, but I like white water for pictures and movie clips.
Back to my car, I shortly motored off to cross over the river and come to the primitive parking for the Quarry Trail. This is one trail I hadn't done. Beginning my second hike at 1:45 p.m., I chose this trail since it looked dry enough, and was pretty flat. I assumed the trail to Cool was probably pretty muddy, guessing from my last visit.
Waving a "hi" to other hikers, I soon came to the end of this level trail. A dirt road leads up right, and I had to ask about where it went. In a quarter mile and 200 feet of gain, one comes to the Quarry. Wow! I never knew this existed! It is a spectacular vertical area, with cliffs and mossy green vegetation. Like an Asian mountain watercolor, with crags and greenery!
I wondered if rock climbing was done here, but saw no traces of climbers. Looks dangerous, with unstable rocks, by the debris. It is like a surreal Yosemite in miniature. I waited till the sunlight faded from the tops of the cliffs, to provide more even lighting. All in shadow, I snapped my own photo many times. I have little idea how much of these cliffs were natural, as it looked even designed, for scenic beauty. Kudos to the State Park System!
I noticed some near vertical tracks in red dirt, from bikers liking virtual free-falls. Auburn may well be the next Moab, Utah, for mountain biking fun. I explained to one resting biker, that when I had a bike, someone often let the air out of my tires. Frustrating when you daily biked to work, and biked home for lunch! Otherwise, I might still have another form of recreation, besides peak climbing and hiking.
Back to my car, I drove back north on CA 49, then went to a fast food place to rest, drink some soda, and munch down a sandwich. Then, it was time for magic hour in Auburn!
Walking up and down Lincoln Way, I enjoyed snapping many photos with my back-up digital camera, my main camera's batteries now depleted. No use to hurry back to the fog! Wishing I had enough cash or company to enjoy one of the many fine-looking eateries, I'll save those for a culinary adventure, should someone wish to dine up here, sometime.
I drove over to see Old Auburn, too, and snapped images of the electric lights, in the dusk of the evening. Not too many tourists, today. A quiet little town, tonight.
I had hiked about 8 miles with 1,200' gain. I shot over 260 images and movie clips. I stayed warm with three top layers, and my long bottoms under my newly fixed, organic cotton jeans. I am now fine for pants, for years, hopefully, thanks to my well-done repairs, and last visit to Reno. I used an old pair of hiking boots, expecting getting caked-up with mud, from somewhere. No big problem, since these boots stayed clean enough. Winter, too, is a nice time to hike here, with no bugs or ticks. There's lots of users to help, in event of a freak accident. Being a park, hours are from dawn to dusk.
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