STEVENS TRAIL 18X April 29, 2006

Having to cancel a trip with a new, potential partner, I decided to do a hike, anyway, this Saturday. The Stevens Trail is a favorite of mine, but it has lots of poison oak. The sensitive and allergic can come into frequent and close contact, with the nasty little shrub growing on both sides of the narrow footpath. Having heard so many horror stories about unaware hikers getting rashes or severe reactions, it was better to let that day go.

To be a bit cooler, this weekend, I motored eastbound along Interstate 80. Arriving at the well signed, BLM trailhead, I was able to secure a parking spot, quickly. Most hikers will want to start their hike in the cooler morning, although then they come out at a warm part of the day. I began my hike at 1:45 p.m. It wasn't too warm, but the hike starts downhill into the North Fork of the American River Canyon.

Passing many hikers coming out, I made good time. I enjoyed doing my photography, and the trail was a wildflower garden. I've seen it with more poppies, but many other species grew in the greenery along the trail. I shortly stripped down to a single layer, and stopped for pictures as I saw them. The river was quite the sight. Usually the North Fork is more serene, in winter. However, the spring runoff is impressive, and worth seeing, here.

I snapped photos of a clump of poppies with the North Fork below in the distance. Not the perfect shot, but it will have to do. I kept notes on my time, and came to the only muddy spot on this trail, today, just before the use trail down to the river rocks. Continuing for now, I quickly came to the end of the trail. The side creek was high, and I declined to jump it. Other hikers got across, but I turned back. Not much to see, further along.

Taking the side trail down to my favorite rocks along the river, I snapped a few photos of their polished nature. The sun glinted off them harshly, and I tried several angles. I took movie clips of the rapid waters, and did pans of the flowing river. I spent till 4 p.m., here, then started out. The winds had come up, making it cooler. I suppose the delta breeze kicks up the mountain breezes, and I sure felt fine. A single tracker pedaled down the trail, then passed me going back up. A few other hikers were coming down in the later part of the day. I shot a few more photos as I saw them, with the light still pretty harsh. Thunderheads were building up elsewhere over the Sierra, and I had glimpsed them as I looked up canyon.

I was shortly back to the familiar landmarks, and took my time. The hike was now in shade, and was pleasant enough. I came out to the parking lot by 5:40 p.m. Most cars were gone. I stopped at a fast food place for drink and slight food, then whizzed back west on the Interstate.

The hike is 9 miles round trip, with about 1,000' gain. I snapped about 141 images and movie clips, using about $10 worth of gas, now at 3.099. The refresh break cost me a bit over $2, and there were no other costs. My pants were warm, and shorts would have been better. My hike strategy should now be for heat, and I will seek cooler temperatures. Morning, or higher elevations.

All hikers today were pleasant, moving aside, or gracious enough to allow for me moving aside, on the narrow trail. This is not a hike for one to take people not used to heights. There are what some might call narrow ledges, and you can fall terribly if you lose your balance or misstep.

There were plenty of flying bugs, but I noticed only a few mosquitoes, all about the main creek to cross. They weren't the highly aggressive type. Didn't see any ticks, at all. The creeks all were running, and so many wildflowers were blooming. The area is recovering from the past fire, and soon, aside from the burned, dead, gnarled oaks, and other trees, all may look about the same. It seems, now, to be till next late fall, or winter, that I will return to this trail.