Thursday, 2 March 2017

Across the Sierra Nevada

Tuesday 25th October   The Pony Express trail used to roughly follow the route of the present Highway 50 down the valley of the South Fork American River through the Sierra Nevada in California.  When US50 achieved Highway status in the late 1900s, improvements destroyed the old trail, and it was not until the Pony Express trail gained heritage status as a National Historic Trail that efforts were made to create an alternative route along the canyon.   There is now a fabulous foot and mountain bike trail clinging along the hillside above the valley all the way from Johnson Pass/Echo Summit to the Brockliss Bridge near Pollock Pines.  The following link from a mountain bike website shows the trail as far as Kyburz...
https://www.mtbproject.com/trail/1559208/pony-express-trail-xp-and-lovers-leap-trail

Scrambling up the hillside through the rocks in Huckleberry Canyon...
A rocky path...
 
The view is across the South Fork American River valley to Pyramid Creek...
Lady with local landmark Lovers' Leap in the background...
This section of the trail was like a stony riverbed and we hobbled down to Strawberry Lodge which was the next Pony Express station.  Although the distance from Echo Summit to Strawberry Lodge is only about seven miles as the crow flies, we took about five hours to pick our way along the steep hillside between rocks and trees, but in time to meet up with former NPEA President Jim Swigart at around midday.....
 
.......and of course it was a must to have a bite to eat there.  The current lodge actually incorporates the old building, although it was moved from its original site about 1000ft further east during realignment of the highway.  The name derives from a Mr Berry who ran the station for a period from 1859 and who apparently fed straw in place of hay. On the first eastward run of the Pony Express service when the Sierra Nevada was under snow, Bolivar Roberts left from here with a string of mules to help rider Warren Upson get through - the mules being able to pack down a path through the drifts.
Jim rode with me over the next section to near the site of Webster's station at Kyburz.....
...regaling me with stories of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake.  

Lucy met us near the former site of the Pony Express station at Webster's Sugar Loaf House, below Sugar Loaf Mountain to the west of Kyburz where there was a camp site and even a little corral, though I opted for our usual one.
The first part of the trail the next day Wednesday 26th October was along a very narrow pretty track clinging round the base of Sugar Loaf Mountain ....
Parts of it had been blocked by recent tree falls...
 ../ but we managed to scramble round somehow.
 Looking back to Sugar Loaf Mountain....
We eventually came out onto Weber Mill road, a good earth track winding westwards.  But then we came to this topsy turvy notice, warning of roadworks ahead.....
..and for the next few miles Lady and I were dodging enormous trucks dumping gravel for a new tarmac surface. By the time I had negotiated them and another section of winding trail I realised it was pushing it to reach my intended destination of the Brockliss Bridge (of which more later). Jim had kindly offered to put Lady and I up at his house in Pollock Pines which was not far away, so I gratefully accepted, while Lucy drove back to her home near Sacramento for a couple of days .

1 comment:

  1. Seems like it was a hiking adventure. Loved the pictures and horses seemed very familiar of the place and the entire trail. If possible share more information related to trail, if it is safe for everyone to go or not.

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