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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Stevens Trail - A Friday off With Wildflowers

Since Kathleen took a day off of work last Friday, we decided to explore Stevens Trail
in the nearby foothills, near Colfax,CA.The trail actually starts on the edge of town nearest Interstate 80. You drive until the road becomes gravel, and that’s the trailhead.

But first some observations about Colfax. What is Colfax. This is a question whose answer changes from year to year. When I first visited Colfax in about 2000 or so, the towns visible character was influenced by weed-hippies who had recently been priced out of the Grass Valley area I the 1990s. We visited a coffee shop, talked with the owner, and while discussing here extensive collection of framed photos of Burning Man,we were invited to join her at her camp that year. Although the juggling and twirling culture sounds attractive, sharing the hot desert with a bunch of hippies into group sex and no showers doesn’t ring my bell. . We visited the same storefront in 2006 to find the coffee shop boasting a new owner, and full Mc Wives taking a break form driving their McSUVs Between their McMansions and the nearest good McMalls, in the Eastern Suburban Sacamento. The were really whining about the long drive to get to a decent store. I refrained from saying, ’They make houses in Sacramento, COW, so what’s your problem!.’ In any event, Colfax has become suburban hell in the middle of nowhere.

The first segment of the hike was downward sloping very well maintained trail through some woods. Unfortunately about ½ mile of the trail followed below the interstate and was a little noisy. Just a few steps out, I found a small frog in this small pond at the bottom of a small waterfall. This waterfall almost certainly dries up in late May.

The forest floor was covered with a lush carpet of poison oak.

Do not use this plant for toilet paper, in fact, if you see some of these when you feel the urge to go relieve yourself off trail, you had better hold it for a while. This stuff makes poison ivy look alike aloe vera.

Mr.Good Judgment Hiker always remembers that the shape and color of poison oak varies. Sometimes the leafs are redder and the plants are leggier than in this picture.

The wooded trail took us back up over the rim of the canyon, and we could see the river a long way down.

This part of the walk was full of spring wildflowers. We saw lots of poppies bromeliads, and unidentified species. I am not attempting to identify anything,because I would probably get it wrong. Look and enjoy.

At the end of our 4.5 mile hike, we stopped at a small rapids for lunch and the opportunity to stick our feet in the cold aerated water. Look across the river and note the big pile of rocks and the eroded slope to its left. That’s probably the handywork of some 19th century fortune seekers.

Speaking of the gold rush, we passed a couple of small old mine shafts dug directly from the trail into the hills. You can see a picture of one from here.

I didn’t find it interesting enough to bother taking a picture. What is interesting is that this cave is directly off of an edge path that is 18 inches wide at its best. The drop down to the river is several hundred feet. I have no idea how or where the miners processed their ore.

After lunch, the walk was all uphill, that’s the problem with hiking in canyons. The walk back was tough enough,with the temperatures in the 80’s, that we had to stop for A&W Root Beer Float. It was good.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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I must enjoy shouting into a vacuum, but I think about getting my act together one of these days. My mom says I am very handsome and intelligent.

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