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Day hiking fun on Sonora Pass

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With our youngest daughter in town, we headed up to our cabin near Sonora to get some cleaner air and hopefully to a little hiking.  The air in Napa has been so bad that we haven't been out much at all, on a bike or on foot.  It has been truly miserable.


Clear air here!

But we were happy to see that the air in Twain Harte was much better.  And so on Saturday we drove up towards Sonora Pass to see if it continued to improve as we went uphill.  It did.  And we took the opportunity to do something we had wanted to do for a long time.

Every time we drive along Highway 108 below the pass, we note the remnants of the old Pioneer trail that brought early immigrants into Tuolumne County over Sonora Pass.   And we've always wondered exactly where it went, and how we could follow it.  Saturday, we found out.


Parking just above the 8,000 level on the highway, we crossed the creek and clambered up the slope to the obvious traces of the old road.  From there we followed it East towards the pass, until we finally lost it in a sea of alders.  But as we climbed up above the alders to get a better view, it was clear that the old road continued through the alders and across the creek, to head up the pass underneath the existing highway. 



And then we went back downhill and followed it in the other direction for a while, until it did the same thing at that end, crossing the creek to avoid some steep granite, and getting paved over by Cal Trans. 

It was an interesting hike.  And while we didn't find any truly historic treasures, we did get a sense of how much work went into building this old road.  Some of the stonework was still visible today.  The air was clear.  The scenery was stunning.


And we got to spend some quality time outdoors with a wonderful child. 

A very good day indeed.


the rest of the photos from this trip, as well as the hike the following day, are here:

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After heading up to Sonora Pass, we decided we'd hike where the weather would be a bit warmer the next day.  And since we had fun following the old pioneer trail yesterday, today we took the West Side Trail from River's End on the Cherry Lake Road back towards the town of Tuolumne. 


This trail begins with a steep but short climb from the road up to the old railroad bed, and from there on it is almost dead flat.  There were a couple of gullies that required us to climb up and down a total of maybe fifty feet because the trestles were no longer safe, but other than that, this was a cakewalk. 


But that didn't mean it wasn't lots of fun.  We rolled along at a good pace, and covered about seven miles in our afternoon walk.  We found a nice spot for a picnic, read a few educational signs, and really enjoyed the fall colors and the cool autumn air.


This trail in the spring can be quite hot---but it also has loads of wildflowers.  In the fall it was a completely different experience.  And we saw a total of one person, a lonely mountain biker, during our three-and-a-half hours on the trail. Pretty nice.

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Recently I did a trip on the east side near the Pass.  We met sheepherders from Peru,  people working on meadows on an EPA contract, and a backcountry ranger but no tourists and no backpackers.   I like that country a lot. 

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