Gold in Them Thar Hills: Trinity Lake Day 1

Beth rowing on Trinity Lake
To Trinity and Beyond...
Continuing our quest to explore new bodies of water in rowing shells, we found ourselves back in Northern California. After our great experience rowing on Shasta Lake, and with a blob of high pressure pushing the jet stream north, we knew we had a window of auspicious rowing weather. We looked at the map, and said: "wow, look at that lake right next to the Trinity Alps." I found a place that rented cabins right on the lake, checked the lake water level (this is a man-made reservoir), took care of loose ends at home, and decided this was another golden opportunity.

Trinity Lake is located directly east of Shasta Lake and almost directly south from Ashland as the crow flies. If you were, in fact, a crow, the only major road you would fly over is Hwy 96, a part of which is officially called the Bigfoot Highway. Way to milk that one. We chose to drive south on I5 and then the most direct route from Yreka, which turns out to be a scenic byway in its entirety.  Hwy 3 travels along both the Scott and Trinity rivers, both in prime gold mining country, and one of the things you notice along both rivers is the acres and acres of massive cobble furrow; it looks like some tilling machine plowed these melon-sized rocks up and redistributed them in a semi-orderly fashion. These are apparently hydraulic mining tailings created by the massive "monitor" water hoses. Between 1850 and 1950, miners apparently pulled out 1,750,000 ounces of gold from the gravel along the Trinity river.

Part of our route overlapped the Oregon-California trail. It's hard to imagine the horse-drawn wagons climbing this rather steep 5400' pass. This road is apparently either seasonally open (i.e., not in winter) or "not plowed evening, weekends or holidays," depending on what source you read. We were glad to find it open. The Pacific Crest Trail (from Canada to Mexico) crosses here too (you can spy the sign over my right arm).

Scott Mt Summit on the way to Trinity Lake
I had backpacked in the Trinity Alps around 2000, but hadn't been back since. A friend and I had rafted on the Trinity river, but I had never been to Trinity Lake. So many adventures, so little time. It's amazing to me that this is almost in our backyard and we've spent so little time here.

We arrived in just 2.5 hours and were surprised to see snow along the road to the lake. And yet, the ambient temperature was well into the 50s and clearly getting warmer. We rigged up and dressed down. All of us started in shorts. I rowed in a tank top. I think we were all stunned by the beauty of both the lake and the nearby Trinity Alps, and by our good fortune. It's a hard knock life for us...

Warm rowing on glassy Trinity Lake

Maas Miles
I had mapped out a route of what I thought would be about 33 kilometers along the longest arm of the lake. This arm is about 19 miles long. We rowed and rowed and rowed and hadn't arrived at our turn-around point (Trinity Center), when it occurred to me that maybe I hadn't converted the map miles into kilometers. Oops. (We did have a GPS and Stroke Coaches, so we knew how far we had come.) Our route ended up being a little over 40 kilometers, which in a Maas is quite a ways, especially in January.

Quite tired, we left our boats in slings near the boat ramp and drove the few hundred yards to our lodging. The manager, Sharon, told us that we were the only ones staying in the cabins and she had upgraded the three of us to an 8-person cabin. Cool! Unfortunately, the water heater hadn't been turned on, so the showers were...Cold!

After a beer and the requisite time to allow the minor inebriation to wear off (good God, from one beer?!), we drove the 15-miles to the nearby town of Weaverville. I mention this because the town is worth the trip and so is La Grange, the restaurant that Sharon had suggested. The La Grange is located in an historic 1850s brick building, with a bar from Montana (which made an appearance in some movie). The atmosphere is excellent and the food was delectable, though I suspect wet cardboard and sawdust might have tasted good after that many burned calories.

Year of the Rabbit Soon
After dinner, the three of us walked around town to see some of the gold rush artifacts like a huge monitor nozzle (about 20 feet long). When gold mining began here in the 1850s, many of the early miners were Chinese and there is still a Chinese presence here.

"The Heathen Chinese Prospecting" (California State Parks photo)

The Weaverville Joss House is apparently the oldest continuously used Taoist temple in California. It was closed for the evening, but we could see it from the outside.

Weaverville Joss House (California State Parks photo)

As we walked around, we noticed that there were displays of fireworks in some of the store windows and then we read that it is almost Chinese New Year (next week on Feb 5th?). Gung Hi Fat Choi!

1 comment:

Lisbet said...

I am officially jealous. Great adventure! Would be fun to join you two sometime!