05-24-08 - 4

The South Yuba BLM Camp turned out to be really perfect. It's not exactly far from civilization, it's cabin country all around there, and Nevada City / Grass Valley has turned into a big suburban nasty town, but the camp is tucked back enough that you can feel all alone. There was hardly anyone else there, and the sites are well separated and the foliage is dense so we couldn't even see our neighbors, which is a wonderful treat. It was perfectly silent at night. I imagine that on a week day away from Memorial day you might be the only person there.

It's about a mile hike down to the river from camp, which is a good thing because it means nobody is at the river. If you scamper about 500 feet upstream from the access point there are some nice swimming holes, and you have privacy so you can get naked and freeze your balls off in the snow melt water. It's a nice mix of pines and deciduous trees with plenty of understory.

The major well known swimming holes (such as Edward's Crossing, Bridgeport, Purdon Crossing) are crowded with locals who park and walk the few feet to the water. But like everywhere, if you just hike a mile from the parking you can be all alone. People are lame and lazy, and that's to my advantage. I'm guessing that if you do the trail from Malakoff Diggins down Humbug Creek to that river access it's probably deserted there as well since that's like a 4 mile hike. (btw Malakoff Diggins is a really good name for a hobbit).

The next day we went down to Bridgeport on the way out to take a different route. We passed an original Wells Fargo office from 1857 when this was gold country. There's lots of cool old gold-rush historical crap around here if you're into that. The river at Bridgeport is much hotter and drier, it's brown grassland a lot like San Luis Obispo, or so much of California. It's also more crowded with people there, including some loud mobs of local teenagers.

We did get to watch two youngsters have sex. The trail along the river is high above the water with occasional access paths. The couple was lying on the sand at river's edge and we were on the trail above hiking along. I saw the somewhat chubby bikini clad girl crawl on top of him and bend over his swim trunks; her head started bobbing up and down. I wasn't sure what was going on so I stopped to have a look and watched as she sat up, still straddling him, and scooted up to align their hips. She started bouncing up and down while gyrating her hips like a tilted spinning top, making her jiggly butt bounce vigorously. And then it was over just as it was getting interesting.

The town of Wildwood is one of the more bizarre things I've ever seen. It's in the middle of fucking nowhere, right next to the town of "Rough and Ready" (which pretty much described my condition when we passed there). It's like 20 miles from the freeway and 50 miles from Sacramento, with huge open spaces in between, and yet it's built like a suburb. There are rows of tract houses packed together, and there's a fucking gated community with a guard. WTF - who exactly are you guarding from? I guess there is like one row of older houses inhabited but the actual country people who used to live out here before this bizarre development got built, so the gate is to make damn sure they never come in.

Even though it's really good, it's not exactly my camping-swimming fantasy. I kind of suspect that fantasy cannot be fulfilled in the Sierra Nevada, since all the remote hike-in streams are snow melt and really only great swimming maybe 1 week out of the year at the end of August. South Cal has the warmer weather, but it's so dry there are basically zero swimmable rivers in the whole of Southern California outside of the Sierra. (I've been to the exceptions : Red Rock, China Hole, Big Sur River, Arroyo Seco). I think maybe somewhere in Northern Cal is actually a better bet, because it gets so much more rain up there, you can find rivers outside of the high mountains. Maybe somewhere in the Shasta-Lassen area, or in the Mendocino Forest area (that's not the same as the Mendocino coast).

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