After spending most of the last couple months in Death Valley and the Sierras, we plan to spend the next few weeks in the foothills. On the east side of the Sierras, the mountains drop steeply to the valleys below, creating dramatic scenery like we saw in Lone Pine. On the west side of the range, the mountains rise very gradually from the floor of California's central valley to the peaks and valleys of Yosemite, Kings Canyon and the rest of the range. Between roughly 1,000 and 2,500 feet above sea level is the foothills, which was ground zero for the gold rush of 1849 and contains many interesting old towns and historical sites from that era. It is also a very beautiful area of grasslands, oaks and ponderosa pines. Fron 1991 to 1996, we lived in the foothills in a little town called Meadow Vista, near Auburn. We are going to spend a week in Auburn visiting long lost friends and half a week in Grass Valley at the annual bluegrass festival there, California's largest.
But first, we stopped in Columbia, a gold rush town that has been preserved as a state park. Columbia is also a jumping off point to drive back up into the mountains to the Clark Fork area where Lynnae used to camp with her family as a kid. We spent a nice few days here.
|Main Street Columbia|
|Relics of the past are everywhere around here|
The Sonora Pass area of the Sierras is a very beautiful part of the range and includes the Emigrant Wilderness. The Stanislaus River is the main waterway, and one branch of it is the Clark Fork River where Lynnae spent many summers camping. We tried to find the campground they frequented, but came up empty. It was still a great day trip and a very beautiful area.
|Donnell Lake on the Stanislaus|
|It turned out to be a good fishing day on the Clark Fork|
|Kennedy Meadows is a jumping off place for backpacking and horse pack trips into the Emigrant Wilderness. Also rumored to have ice cream.|
|Kennedy Meadows itself|
|One of the creeks feeding the Stanislaus from the high country|
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