Memorial Day weekend I returned to the foothills for backpacking. I walked the American Discovery Trail from Auburn to Foresthill, which is section 4, and then to Michigan Bluff, and down into El Dorado Canyon to the bridge, part of section 3. I thought that I had previously walked all of these sections when I did the Western States Trail in July 2012, but leaving the confluence the ADT goes north of the Middle Fork American River while the Western States goes south of the river, so there was new trail for me. I was intending on doing a GPS track but a setting on my iPad that I thought would make the battery last longer in fact did quite the opposite, so my battery was gone well before reaching Foresthill. Some other time!
The hillsides were well dried out in some areas, the flowers largely gone, but in a few rocky flower gardens and moister areas flowers were still coming on. The weather was hot in the afternoons, but quite pleasant in the mornings and evenings. The snowberry shrubs were in flower along the creeks and draws, beautiful white spots among the green.
I camped at the bridge over El Dorado and discovered that there are feral cherry trees all through the area which was no doubt a homestead long ago. There are mines scattered throughout the canyons, and this trail was a main route during the mining period.
Leaving the canyon and retracing my footsteps to Michigan Bluff, I headed north towards the North Fork American River, thinking I might walk to Colfax. Indeed I did, though it was long and mostly boring walking along forest roads. The area around Sugar Pine Reservoir was a zoo of travel trailers and drunk boaters and swimmers, but by the time I got to Iowa Hill all was quiet again. I had a beer and talked to the owner of the Iowa Hill store. Amazing that such a small town has a store and restaurant when many larger towns no longer do. I camped up top, then walked down into the canyon and spend the day upstream of the Iowa Hill bridge, swimming and reading, and camped aside the river. The next morning I walked up to Colfax.
That morning I had breakfast with my friend Lea at Cafe Luna, and since the train was very late, we talked and then walked and then ate again and then talked some more. We also had dinner before the trip in Auburn, but that was not as relaxed.
I have not spend time along the North Fork, other than hiking down into the canyon south of Camp Winthers many times, but that is well east of here. The canyon is rugged enough that it would be difficult to go in and out except on trails, but there are some old trails that I think worth exploring, including the mining era main road which is now a trail.
Photos on Flickr