PLACER COUNTY BIG TREES AND THE NORTH FORK OF THE MIDDLE FORK TRAIL June 26, 2005
At long last, I found another partner for my little adventures. After meeting for a quick lunch, I determined that my new companion, recruited from the Net, was an O.K. hiker. This Sunday afternoon, we would go for some easy local hikes to get to know each other better.
Picking him up at a local restaurant at Noon, we carpooled up Interstate 80 expediently, to need no stops anywhere. Motoring to Foresthill, CA, we saw the USFS ranger station was open, but decided not to turn around for a quick visit. Taking the Mosquito Ridge Road, this curving highway descends into the Middle Fork of the American River canyon. The driving takes some time, and we passed some cyclists getting their workout on this mountain road.
Coming to the Placer County Big Trees trailhead, this was about a two hour drive from the downtown Sacramento area. Other hikers were out and about, and we quickly took the trail straight to the main grove. In less than five minutes, we were looking at the first big Sequoia. There are six trees in this grove, the northernmost stand of Sequoias in the Sierra Nevada. Despite the harsh light, I started snapping pictures. My companion also had a digital camera, but his had some battery problems. I recommend the Coolpix line by Nikon. You may pay a little more, but you get a little more!
We tarried not, as he had to get home early in the evening for other things to do. Back to the parking lot, I had to use the facility, with running water. Then, we motored off, back down and west on the Mosquito Ridge Road. There are a few other short trails along this precipitous, paved, two lane road, but it was already about 3 p.m.
For our second hike, I parked on the wide shoulder just east of the Circle Bridge, a curving, arch span across the North Fork of the Middle Fork. A mile long trail runs along the south side of the river, replete with rapids, deep green pools, and cliffs along the canyon.
Starting here by about 3:05 p.m., we hiked rapidly on this narrow and brushy trail. I pointed out the poison oak that lines the trail. There are steep side trails leading down to the river, but we didn't have time to enjoy those. There are still minor wildflower displays, and I shot a few close-ups. Coming to the stone foundation of an old cabin site at the end of the trail, we sat, then explored the immediate area. There is a good flat spot for setting up a tent. I saw two backpackers here, on my last visit.
Snapping more pictures of the river, we headed back, and came back to the paved road at about 4:12 p.m. The view from the nearby Circle Bridge allowed for a few more photos, then we were motoring back to Foresthill. One stop along the way gave us a distant view of the snow-capped peaks far to the east and south.
With enough time to do so, we parked at a wide shoulder, and walked back out on the Foresthill Bridge. A sign states, "California's Highest," at "730 feet." I mentioned that I like to come out from under the fog in winter, but with the cooler summer temperatures today, we enjoyed this little jaunt a bit more. Other travelers were enjoying the pedestrian walkway above the deep canyon. This bridge was used for base jumping and movie stunts, and apparently, by the available call box, people who wish to end it all, here. I read this is a bad problem.
Easily back to town, in time for my friend's evening enjoyment, I sought to view my day's photos and make my short website post.
We hiked only some 3 miles, with a few hundred feet of gain, total, if even that much. I shot some 100 digital images. Wearing my T shirt and jeans, it didn't get too warm. There were a few flying bugs, but no ticks. I carried a light pack, and used only part of a liter of water. I shared some cans of soda kept cold in my little ice chest, after the trail hikes.
The drive to the Placer Grove is 76 miles, one way. We had detoured a bit to see the small town of Foresthill, which gains some visitors, and I wished I had the time to sample the food at the Forest House Historic Hotel, back in business, now.
We agreed to stay in touch, since I like good company, and doing the local peaks, without making a solo ascent, is much better and safer. Clouds Rest, in Yosemite, is a good enough peak that I would do my 4X, in a day from town, again. He is eager to do this one. Maybe we can get some local peak climbing going, again, with perhaps more hikers to join our little contingent.
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