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Foresthill to Fair Oaks, CA
This chapter comes to you from the home of Clay and Heather Taft of Fair Oaks, CA. We realize its only been four days since we posted Chapter 30, but when we have access to a computer, we like to take advantage of it.

July 26, Saturday
Foresthill is a wonderful town in which to take a day of rest. The people are friendly and it has the feel of a community that is forging a new identity for itself as a tourist destination. We really enjoyed our two nights at the Forest House and the excellent meals they served. The library let us use its computer to post our journal yesterday. When we stopped in the hardware store, we met Larry Jordan. Larry was excited about our trip and quickly called a local reporter, Jim Linsdau, to interview us. He later sent George, the store owner, to our hotel to meet us, and even later he brought over a Western States Trail Ride Officials Hat for one of us to wear. We met a number of other people, all of whom were friendly and eager to discuss their town's heritage with us. It seems when traveling by hiking or biking, we are able to get to know the places we visit in a much more intimate way than when traveling by car. America, Up Close and Personal!

July 27, Sunday
Today we got back on the Western States Trail and followed it mostly downhill to the American River. The terrain continues to be of steep deep canyons but the trail is well constructed and marked. The American River is a very clear and cold river that is growing in size as we follow it downstream. Not since following the Arkansas River for 480 miles back in the Plains states will we follow a river system for so long. There were a number of rafts on the river today. The Ruck-A-Chucky Rapids are a particularly thrilling ride. As we descended to 800 feet elevation, the sun became hot and intense in the midafternoon but it can be very comfortable in shaded areas.

Although we saw no hikers on the trail, when we got down to the river we saw a number of people panning for gold. This seems to be a really big recreational pursuit in this part of the country. We saw people using everything from a simple ridged pan to a hydraulic pump and SCUBA gear. The word is that this is an especially good year for finding gold due to all the extra snowmelt and rain which scoured the mountain slopes and changed the shape of the river bottoms.

We camped at Ruck-A-Chucky State Park Campground and met Sharon and Dean. They offered us cold sodas and snacks which we readily gobbled up. It is fun meeting and talking to people again after having been rather isolated in the backcountry. We also ran into a woman from Lynchburg (didn't get her name) whose stepfather is Jim Lusk who worked at Framatome, where Bill used to work.

While laying in our tent tonight after dinner, Bill heard a rattle beside his ear. We got a flashlight out in time to see an eighteen inch rattlesnake, just three inches from the tent, slither over our boots and head over to the picnic table. This is the first poisonous snake we have seen on the entire trip. We'll be very careful when getting up in the middle of the night!!

16 miles hiked

July 28, Monday
Our route included 10 miles of roadwalk today so we were able to make good time into the town of Auburn. We felt rather victorious as we were finishing our last long backpacking section of 140 miles. Our bikes were waiting for us at John and Helen's when we arrived. Showers, laundry, and an afternoon nap were welcome luxuries. We went to Old Town Auburn for a good Mexican dinner. We boxed up our backpacks and got them ready to ship to Pacifica, our next stop. Then, we spent a couple of hours on John and Helen's deck, along with Ashley, their granddaughter, talking and watching the gorgeous sunset over the Sacramento Valley and the Coastal Range. It was spectacular. One thing about backpacking is that we almost always camp in river valleys or canyons where we have access to water and shelter from thunderstorms. For this reason, we seldom see sunsets, so tonight was a special occasion.

16 miles hiked, 1600 feet elevation gained

July 29, Tuesday
We had only a short distance to go today so there was no need to hurry to get on the road. We left John and Helen's by 10 am and rode down the Auburn-Folsom Road to Folsom Lake where we picked up the American River Trail at Granite Bay. At the south end of the lake, the trail becomes a well used paved bike path which was a joy to ride. We imagined we could hear Johnny Cash singing as we passed Folsom Prison! We noticed that even in the hot weather, we are able to keep reasonably cool on our bikes as long as we are going level or down hill. We stopped in Fair Oaks where Clay and Heather Taft had offered us a place to stay. They are the couple who have a cabin up on the Truckee River next to John and Helen Power's place. Clay is a triathlon athlete who knows the triails and bicycle friendly roads in the area well. He gave us some good suggestions that we will probably take. We enjoyed the wonderful dinner that he and daughter, Whitney, prepared. We also met other friends of theirs who are interested in our journey.

29.4 miles, 11.3 mph, 2 hours 34 minutes

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

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