Stories I have written

A paystreak to remember

Adventures of a neophyte dredger at Slate Creek

Panner searches for gold

An encounter with the big cat

Prospecting trip to Little Secret

Boating prospect trip

Hiking with Wilson

Hiking with Wilson

Dale and I had been waiting months to try out the new but incomplete trail from Salmon Falls Bridge to HWY 49 above the South Fork of the American River. Our idea was to be able to get further up river without hiking up and back over all the rocks. Having made several BLM calls to get an idea of the trail and its route, we were ready to go New Year's weekend. Even though I was at the end of a 2-week cold I was ready to tackle the hike and Dale was also very eager.

We set out at 9AM and found the trail in the manzanita, the trail not being readied at the beginning for an easy hike but doable. We really enjoyed the oak woodlands in the beginning and after about forty minutes we both were looking around a meadow and all of a sudden a very strange sight appeared next to an oak about forty feet from us. To me the figure appeared to be a fully camoed sniper ready to attack us! We called out to him and it turned out to be one of my neighbors who is an avid hunter and he was just seeing what might appear in the forest while he was hiding. He knew the area very well and told us how to get to the river from the trail. After about two and one-half hours of hiking we finally made it to the river, about one mile above Webber Creek. Now, the real hiking started, as this area of the river and all of the way downriver is very rugged with billions of very large rocks and ledges to climb in order to get anywhere. We prospected for about an hour while making our way downriver and found very little gold. We began to realize that we had made some distance down river and it seemed best to continue all the way to the bridge rather than backtrack on the path from whence we had come.

We then decided that we had better get hiking and forget the prospecting, as it seemed that we had a very long ways to go. Dale found a basketball on the shore and threw it in the river. We named it "Wilson" and it became a game to try to beat it down river and this also took our minds off of the difficulty we were having making any headway back to the Jeep. Wilson got stuck several times in the rapids and Dale would hit Wilson with a rock to get him unstuck. We had to scale some very hard areas, passing our packs to each other at times. We lost track of Wilson for a while and along came a canoer who said he got Wilson out of a tough area and he was on his way. This gave us some well-needed inspiration and we knew we could make it if Wilson could.

Unfortunately after a spell, a large group of kayackers came by and one of the girls was holding Wilson in her lap. Wilson seemed very pleased at this point. Suddenly Wilson was hopelessly being tossed back and forth between the boaters. It seems as though Wilson had made a decision to hitch-hike to the bridge and, by cheating at the game, he left us behind. Our destination became a mirage in the distance, and I told Dale frequently that the very far corner ahead of us on the river seemed to be familiar and very close to our destination. This would constantly not become true and we just trudged on knowing that we had better get back before dark. Finally we could see the bridge and it was dark when we got back to the Jeep after about 4 hours of constant hiking downriver.

We never saw our beloved friend Wilson again. He will be missed.