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Squaw Valley to Foresthill, CA

This chapter comes to you from the Foresthill Public Library.

July 21, Monday
Resting at John & Helen's cabin in the morning, we biked the 4 miles to Squaw Valley where we met John Fazel, the California ADT Coordinator. He followed us back to the cabin and we reviewed the route through California with him. Then we said good-bye to John and Helen who would be taking our bikes with them to their home in Auburn. John Fazel took us to the laundromat and we went out to lunch before he dropped us off at the Squaw Valley Ski Area gondola. Then we cheated. Yes, for the first time on this trip, we actually rode in a motorized vehicle to High Camp which avoided a 3 mile climb of about 2,000 vertical feet. The gondola ride was cheaper after 5 pm so we waited for the $5 rates and passed the time by using the marketing department's computer to post our journal. The views from the gondola were grand and Squaw Valley looks like a really challenging ski area. The 1960 Winter Olympics were held here. After getting off the gondola, we climbed a mile to Emigrant Pass (elev. 8,700 ft) and then hiked an additional 2 1/2 miles, joining up with the Pacific Crest Trail and heading south. We saw several people on the short section of the PCT we were on. We camped in a grove of huge pine trees near Whiskey Creek.

8 miles biked, 3 1/2 miles hiked, 500' elev. gain, 1 mile by gondola

July 22, Tuesday
We began by descending to Whiskey Creek Camp. The remains of a log cabin, shed, and stone oven were still standing, causing us to wonder who had lived there and what their lives were like. Most of the rest of the day was spent in the Granite Chief Wilderness, hiking first over a rugged pass and then into the Picayune Valley with giant incense cedar, pine, and fir trees. The terrain was can only be described as extremely rugged. The canyons appear steeper and the peaks seem sharper than the ones we saw in Colorado. The only hikers we met today were a college class out for a field trip to study an ancient Indian culture which lived in this valley 2000 years ago and left petroglyphs of the their presence. We camped at Lewis Campground, across the road from the American River. We stopped first and took a great swim before setting up camp and cooking dinner.

16 miles hiked, 1200 ft elev. gain

July 23, Wednesday
The ADT uses the Western States Trail to cross the Sierra Nevada. In June, a 24 hour 100 mile Endurance Run (footrace) goes from Squaw Valley to Auburn on this trail. John Fazel, the California ADT Coordinator runs this event most every year. In mid-July, the 100 mile Tevis Cup Ride for horses is run using first the Tevis Cup Trail, then the Western States Trail. Our hike this morning followed the shoreline of French Meadows Reservoir before ascending up the ridge where we intersected with the Tevis Trail. Since the Tevis Cup ride was held last Saturday and Sunday, it really simplifies our route finding. We merely had to follow the yellow ribbons, occasional arrows made with lime, and dozens of horse hoof prints. It also made for some dusty conditions in places, but for the most part, the trail is excellent.

We crossed Duncan Canyon and Little Duncan Canyon and arrived at beautiful Robinson Flat. This is the site of an old Forest Service Guard Station built in 1927 and a small campground is located here. We continue to be amazed by the huge pine, fir, and cedar trees all along our route. We sometimes stop and stare up at them much like the proverbial country hicks who visit NewYork City and stare up at the tall buildings. We had intended to camp at Robinson Flat, a distance of only 10 miles, but the sky was overcast and it was quite cool so we decided to hike another 8 miles to Deep Canyon where we camped.

18 miles hiked

July 24, Thursday
The Western States Trail was on gravel roads for several miles this morning and we passed a couple of logging crews on the road to Last Chance Mine. We asked how they were cutting trees because we couldn't hear any chainsaws. They said they use a big hydraulic powered saw mounted on a machine. After passing Last Chance, we started our 1,600 foot descent into the canyon of the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River. At the bottom by 9:30 am, we were pleased to see a suspension bridge and a fine pool of water to swim in. Bill quickly took advantage of the opportunity and was happy as a clam in the river. The 1,600 foot climb out of the canyon was a bit of a struggle but we were up on top again within an hour. We passed the old mining town of Deadwood, checked out the cemetery, and began our 2,200 foot descent into El Dorado Canyon for 3.8 miles. The trail down this canyon was much gentler and on a better grade than the previous one. Again, at the bottom, we were greeted with a footbridge and another wonderful river and pool. As we have been hiking in very dry dusty conditions for the past 3 days, these beautiful rivers seem like a miracle to us. As a bonus, we even found some flat tentsites — home for the night. It seems odd that we are the only persons using this fine trail since turning off from the Pacific Crest Trail. We feel like this forest, these rivers, and campsites are our private domain as there is nobody else around.

15.7 miles hiked, 2000 ft elev. gain

July 25, Friday
Fourteen miles of the Western States Trail is really the Michigan Bluff — Last Chance Trail. This trail was built in 1850 and was used by gold miners to reach their claims in Deadwood and Last Chance. It was a big shortcut over the previous route used. The guy who built it charged 25 cents per person, creating perhaps the first toll trail and probably one of very few toll trails in the country. Anyway, he did a nice job building the trail as the switchbacks are well built and the stone cribbing is still intact in many places. This morning, we climbed 2000 feet out of El Dorado Canyon to Michigan Bluff, an old mining community, now populated with summer cabins and permanent residences.

After crossing Volcano Canyon, we came into the town of Foresthill for a much anticipated day off. This has been a strenuous section of backpacking and we've been "on the go" for the past 10 days. We stayed at the Forest House Hotel, a restored old hotel. We have been enjoying the effects of a reported tropical storm down in Mexico somewhere that has provided us with three days of overcast skies with cool temperatures. It is said to be very unusual for this area at this time of year. The cloud cover dissipated today and we got a taste of the heat which is more typical. All in all, we feel we have covered the 110 miles from Carson City to Foresthill in good style. Even with the very rugged terrain, we seldom fall behind our standard pace of two miles per hour and most of the time we have done 2 1/2 mph.

11 miles hiked, 2400 feet gain

© Copyright, William & Laurel Foot, 1997, Lynchburg, VA.
The Happy Feet

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