Speaking of Trailblazing

The Dunhams blazed the American River Canyon Trails yesterday. We live on the edge of a beautiful canyon and state park. The middle fork of the American River is a few short, steep, dusty miles from our front door. The canyon is full of trails, and home to two annual endurance marathons: the Tevis Cup and Western States. Both are 100 mile marathons, the former for horses, the latter for runners, that begin in the Sierras and end here in Auburn (which is why Auburn is the World's Endurance Capital). We covered only about 1.5 miles of this arduous trail to get down to the river. Thankfully we ran into some neighbors down at the river and had some help piggybacking the kids out when the climb home got steep.

The American River Canyon has been the subject of a hot local debate for several decades: to dam or not to dam. Several so-called conservative, God-fearing politicians have lobbied for a dam in the name of flood control and energy generation. Unfortunately, the dam could only serve one of these purposes. 30 or so years ago, homes were demolished, trees were clear-cut, granite was blasted and the river was diverted. Fortunately, the dam construction came to a halt (I don't exactly remember why) and the canyon is slowly recovering.

Although I wrote a 20 page paper in college supporting the conservation of the American River Canyon, yesterday was the first time I set foot in the river. I've crossed the river on bridges, seen it from a distance on several trails, but never swam in it. I have to say, there is nothing like swimming in a natural body of water, especially when it's moving. Swimming pools can't hold a candle to such natural, organic majesty. It may be a while before we make the strenuous trek to the river again, but I will never forget the sensation of the clear, clean current.

We got home around dinner time, had a picnic on the living room floor, and walked a few blocks to view fireworks. The power went out sometime during the fireworks, so we walked home without the hindrance of street lights. The kids and I agreed that nighttime is much better without artificial lighting. Street lights are to night as pools are to swimming. There was even a bear spotted a block from our house. Life is good in the wild west.


  1. AnonymousJuly 05, 2007

    I've always wanted to see the river elow the bridge. Now you've done it, we will too!
    Alway enjoy your post's.

  2. Good times at the Rio grande! Them kids were some serious troopers.

  3. Just found out why the dam construction was halted:
    "Construction was halted for a series of seismic studies, and ultimately, was never restarted. The studies did confirm similar faults under the Auburn site, making the thin arch design inappropriate. There really are no physical problems for which an engineering solution cannot be found, provided you have enough money ... Unfortunately, a redesigned dam that would be seismically safe was way beyond even the Federal budget, and so, economics is really what killed the Auburn Dam."

  4. I loved watering holes in Mass. Now we only have a pool. I much prefer creeks, rivers, holes. THAT is quite a hole! What fun.


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