Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Creek Hunting.

I was so exhausted after my Seamanship coarse at OCSC in Berkeley that when 7:00 p.m. rolled around I was seriously doubting weather I really wanted to drive out into the middle of no where in the middle of the night all to find some supposedly pristine swimming hole.  But when Emma called the tone in her voice when she said "I'm off.  You still wanna go??" had that spark, that hint that says 'this could be a really cool adventure.'  Of coarse I was down.
We packed up the trunk of her Mustang with a couple of sleeping bags, some blankets for padding and the usual swimming hole things; hammock, sun block, swim shorts/bikini, sun glasses, et cetera, et cetera, and drove off to Concord to pick up my truck.  I was excited to finally feel the evening heat that Concord is so consistent with and that San Francisco notoriously lacks.  Unfortunately my home town failed to deliver on this particular evening.  
We transfered our  gear to my truck, kissed the folks all over their faces and heading off into the night.  Our immediate destination, the Coloma Club.  Our destination for the trip however, was an area just inside the Tahoe National Forrest that contained three swimming holes; Oregon Creek, Mushroom Rock and another more populated, more poluted, more littered one that we felt no need to explore.
It was a wonderful drive up.  Our bellies full of Jack in the Box, our conversation meandering through topics yet never fully devouring them so that we might come back and have a taste again at a later time.  
There comes a point in the trip, it usually happens after I exit the 50 and turn onto North Shingle Road.  About 150 meters down the road a wave of nostalgia fills my nostrils as the aroma of dirt, ponderosa pines, the American river, and camp fires files the air.  Jesus, why did I ever give up being a river guide.  Best job ever.  
We make our way to the Coloma Club, a total roadhouse bar filled with all kinds of country.  Ten gallon hats and big belt buckles, no teeth and shaggy beards, river kids in their board shorts and dread locks, floppy Gilligan hats and wrap around sun glasses, large women, filthy men.  There is a roadhouse band playing awful rock and blues covers and a room full of filthy stinking people getting down.  I, of coarse, used to be one of those filthy, stinking people.....and I miss being one of them.  
A bunch of the old O.A.R.S. crew were there, James 'Canada' Rogers (to relieve confusion I was called San Francisco James), 'Carnage' Craig, Daniel, Dana Blanc and some girl he was chatting up, KZ, Ryan Miller and John Greiver a.k.a Groover (a groover is a portable toilet used in expedition trips) a.k.a. Little Ball of Hate.  Emma and I enjoyed one beer and a bunch of slurred, mumbled, spittle filled catching up with the old boys and girl before we split off to make our cozy bed in the back of my truck.
We pulled into the Rivers Bend  parking lot and made our way to guide town.  The lot was full so we parked in the second guide lot and made out bed.  
We slept, for the most part, like babies, or logs, or whatever else has a relatively easy time sleeping.  We were on a slight hill so I kept sliding left, towards Emma, and down or out the back of the truck.  The morning sun and a pair of woodpeckers woke us up at around 7:30 or 8:00 a.m.  We were slow at packing up and cleaning up and saying goodbye to the folks at camp but soon enough were on the road again.  
It was about an hour or so of a drive through beautiful country into the Tahoe Forrest.  The creek is just past the Middle Fork of the Yuba river.  We parked my truck in a tiny two car turn around along highway 49 and wandered down the trail.  It only takes about four minutes to get to the water from the highway granted it is a semi treacherous trail.  
What we stumbled upon was nothing short of beautiful.  We found cascading waterfalls, jumping rocks, scramble rocks, thick foliage, beautifully clear and crisp water.  We spent the better half of the day there by our selves.  It wasn't until about 2:30 or so that folks started showing up....and shedding their clothes.
We swam, we scrambled over a rock or two, we lay in the sun on the rocks reading, hugging, laughing and chatting, we read, and we chatted with the naked locals and we splashed around and played with their children.  

We decided to end the night with a sushi dinner and a movie in Concord.  It was an amazing 26 hours.  

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