EUCHRE BAR TRAIL April 4, 2004

Eager for some conditioning after a spell of inactivity, I signed up for this Sierra Club activity into the North Fork of the American River Canyon. I have done this hike many times, under the auspices of the local chapter, but my last time has been many years ago.

I met the group from Reno, NV, at the Alta Exit along Interstate 80. We car caravanned to the trailhead, crossing the main railroad tracks twice. With no crossing arms, one has to watch for fast approaching trains. They cannot brake in time, so this has the potential for a serious accident. No trains were coming by as we motored over to one of many parking spots. One can drive further, with a 4WD vehicle, but that takes away from the hike!

Our group of 14 or so started down the canyon trail by 10:35 a.m. Our route first followed a steep dirt road, with the underlying geology exposed by the road cuts. A group of kayakers pulled their plastic boats down the trail, I guess intent on enjoying a beautiful boating experience. We let them pass, and sauntered down the foot trail back and forth down the canyon slopes. In about an hour, we came to the river. A suspension bridge allowed us to cross the river easily, with nice views both up and down stream. The kayakers were putting in here.

We rested here a bit, then our leader took us up a steep trail on the south side of the river. There was a thin high cloud layer above, so the light was nice and diffuse. Great for canyon photography! The trail traverses high above the river, frustrating me that I couldn't often get a good shot of so many photogenic rapids. Many shrubs and trees blocked the views. I was told that this section is one of the most beautiful stretches of the North Fork.

Decades ago, Sierra Club outings were led to traverse this inner gorge, during lower and warmer water (summer). You could swim a quarter mile down the narrow canyon without encountering a spot to climb out. Today, we'd just hike.

Our fine leader brought us to a place where we could access the river. I enjoyed snapping photos for a panorama scene to be donated to the GBG photos and links page.

After lunch, we continued upstream. I knew further there is private property, with two guard dogs, decades ago, on the loose to chase away intruders. At a view of some old mining equipment in the river, we chose to turn around. It was about 1:55 p.m.

There are two trails headed back, at a junction. Either way will go, with the lower one to go by a mine, but we came back the same way we went.

After a short rest back at the suspension bridge, we started our climb out of the canyon. This is a steep, longish pull, but gratefully it was cool enough to be enjoyable. Some hikers went ahead to motor off as they returned to their trucks, but I stayed to chat with the leader as we waited for the last few hikers. They came by after a half hour, with some having made an exertion.

I was back to my car at 4:47 p.m., and the last of us motored off back to the freeway.

The stats were given as 11 miles, 2,000' gain. I shot over 250 images and movie clips (1.9 MB, 0:42, 320 x 240 pixels). I wore my light polyester T with lightweight bottoms under my old jeans. Carrying only one liter of water, I slaked down my other canteen once back to my car trunk.

There were a few bugs, but I never seemed to get bit. I spotted no wildlife, but we almost had the entire trail to ourselves this fine day.