Friday, July 6, 2012

Cardiac Hill: Auburn State Recreation Area

Friday, July 6th

About 3 miles, but what a 3 miles! 1000 feet down, then turn around and 1000 feet up.

I decided, in advance of a backpack trip I had scheduled next weekend, to try out a Foothill Hikers (a Meetup group) early morning 'stroll' in the Auburn State Recreation Area. I'm glad I did, both because I determined that my whiplash recovery, although coming along wonderfully, is not quite far enough along to allow for a weekend of backpacking, and, of course, I got to check out a heck of a hill.

4 humans and 2 canines set off down a paved road, then down some gravel road, then on a little more paved road, then more gravel, until we could scramble down to the edge of the American River.

I sat on a rock, eating fresh cherries, and wondering if I was out of my mind. It was a lot of down.

Time to head back before it got too hot. Up up up up we went.

This is one of those trails that has switchbacks, but they are still quite steep. I was way way way in the back, managing to maintain a pace that kept me breathing deeply, but not quite gasping.

The dogs had jingles on. I could hear the dogs apparently directly over my head (they were just 3 switchbacks farther up than I). I could crane my neck upwards and see one of our party walking, seemingly, on the side of a hill. I knew if I could see one more switchback I'd see the rest of the group. The dogs kept jingling along.

I stopped taking pictures once we started up Cardiac Hill, because I was too busy sweating and panting and sweating and panting to bother getting the camera out.

Not panting, breathing heavily, that's it.

This trail has gotten a lot of use and in some places is so worn down or eroded that the sides of the trail are hip-high. Many rocks and tree roots to clamber over. Lots of poison oak. We neither saw nor heard any rattlers. I think I saw some fox scat.

Finally, we came up to basically parking-lot-elevation and followed an aqueduct back to the parking lot.

I knew I would be challenged by this hill, so I traveled light: water, firstaid, compass in a butt-pack; UnderArmor shirt, spandex exercise shorts, widebrimmed hat, and walking sticks. I also dug out my LOUD gaiters.

I'm glad I did because the trail was predictably dusty and the gaiters keep some dust out of my ventilated (ie: mesh) trailshoes and also keep out pebbles. And there were no ticks found on those blinding white shins!

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