Auburn upriver 2020-05

This was my most ambitious bike and hike trip to date. I rode up to Auburn on mostly on Roseville Rd and old Highway 40. Pretty easy until the last stretch from Newcastle up to Auburn, which was steep, at least for me. My bike trip back was via Folsom, mostly downhill, and longer.

I stashed my bike at Auburn Staging Area, the end of the Western States Trail and end of the Tevis Cup equestrian ride and Western States 100 trail run, and the end of American Discovery Trail segment CA-4, which I mostly follows. From Auburn, the trail drops into the North Fork American River canyon and crosses the Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge (“no hands bridge”) to the confluence of the Middle Fork and North Fork. From the confluence, the ADT gradually climbs out of the canyon, using various trails including part of the Foresthill Loop Trail. I deviated somewhat and used the highest trail in the OHV sacrifice area, which being closed to vehicles on Fridays, was actually a much better route. From Drivers Flat, the road descends to Ruck-a-Chucky campground on the Middle Fork. This is also where the Western States Trail rejoins, having diverged at the railroad bridge.

A very wide old road follows the river upstream past several rapids and then Ruck-a-Chucky Falls, a Class IV+ rapid. I assume this must have been a mining road of some sort, who else spends so much money for such a ridiculously wide road? Past there, where a road comes down from above at Ford Bar, the trail continues upstream, with a steep up and then down, and then more close to riverside hiking. About two miles past Ford Bar the trail becomes very little used. With both the trail ride and run cancelled for this year, I expect that low use will continue until next year, the blackberry bushes and grasses taking over. Eventually the trail starts the long climb out of the canyon towards Foresthill. I ran out of energy, and time, in the hot afternoon, and decided not to attempt the whole distance, so headed back down and camped near Ruck-a-Chucky.

Middle Fork American River, late afternoon reflection

Walking back out at Drivers Flat road, I decided to go to the north side of the ridge on the Foresthill Loop Trail. It was quite busy with mountain bikers and some hikers early on, but use faded away with the distance or the heat. I took a side trail which connects to the road down to Clementine Dam. The dam is interesting, the water sheds directly over the face of the dam, by design. Not sure I’ve seen one of those before. Along the road, and the trail which branches off of it and follows the North Fork to the confluence, there were an increasing number of people, in the hundreds, and when I reached the confluence, people in the thousands, all packed together on the edges of the rivers. Ack! I hadn’t intended to hike further, but the felt pressure of people not distancing and not wearing face masks pushed me onward toward Auburn. It was not until late in the day, coming up to Robie Point, that the crowds thinned out.

I camped a bit down into the SRA, under a madrone tree, watched the spectacular sunset, and had a night full of stars.

I think I’ve about reached the limit of these bike and hike trips. The further I have to bike to get close to the backcountry, the less is seems worthwhile to be in the backcountry. With traffic back to nearly normal in the outlying areas of Placer and El Dorado counties, it is not pleasant riding. And I can’t practically carry more than four days worth of food in my daypack (which I’m using instead of regular backpack because it is hard to ride with backpack), even with good weather not requiring any more than the basics. I so wish that transit and trains were available for non-essential travel so I could again get to deeper backcountry spots.

Photos on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/albums/72157714467310986

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