Given easy access to our beloved North Central Sierras, we have many choices. Especially here in the foothills and lower elevations of hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands, we can enjoy short drives to crisp, angelically white snow or stay nearby "below the snowline, and above the fog." Either way, at the end of an outing, hot coco, tea, coffee, or even toddies are only minutes away.
But, I confess, at times having a bowl of ice snow with milk and Mexican vanilla, sitting in front of my wood stove, is close enough to the cold stuff.
After my heart attack nearly 35-years ago and with my long, long-continuing limitations with my ticker, I avoid exertion in really cold temperatures. Nowadays, I'm a snow-shoes kinda guy. Slow.
But on spring, sunshiny days when extraordinarily blue skies make the corn snow sparkle, outings in unbelievably silent forests make my heart race, in a good way.
I earned a pace maker as I noticed that even in summers, climbing our steep trails I was having difficulty sucking in enough air. I went into the hospital thinking one of my medications was the problem, but after further testing, I was told my heart's electrical wiring had not one, but two, short circuits. The next day my bionic assistant was implanted.
After renewing my hiking regime for a few weeks, I suspected the original settings didn't account for an active life style at elevations ranging from a base in the foothills to the top of the Sierras. I will be doing some medical tune-ups over the next couple of weeks. I'm hoping cardiologists can tweak the control knob on my new fangled pacer. Dr. Mallery has arranged to have the "factory representative fine tune" my gizmo next week.
Fixable or not, I have to listen to my heart. I'm not ready to accept the implication that I'm getting old. Older – maybe.
First, where are dandy places to hike in the winter months?
I'll be updating and expanding www.SierraOutdoorRecreation.com to include the places I enjoyed last winter, many of which I'll visit again this year. In the following list, I've gathered my favorite locations for enjoying wintry weather here in our backyard. Also, several places lie in front yards west of Grass Valley, Nevada City, Auburn, Placerville and Jackson – all at lower elevations and none with white-picket fences.
Several lie below 1000 feet elevation and almost never see snow. Still, locations sitting up to 3, even 4,000 feet, are snow free in all but the coldest periods. Over the next 2-3 months, I thought, I'd share them with our readers using easy updates in the blog. Many hikes you've done already, but I suspect not many have done many of my favorites.
Using the "Comments" function, my hope is that you'll also share some of your own favorites as well as updates on current situations: snow elevations, road conditions, stream crossings, et al.
Drop by again. Over the next few months, listed not in my order of favorites of winter hikes but simply north to south, let's visit:
- lower elevations of the North and South Yuba River canyon lands,
- Spenceville Wildlife Area – about a dozen trails, not only the waterfalls,
- the lower end of Highway 20 corridor, and not just the Pioneer Trail'
- Empire Mine State Historical Park, including the "back country"
- Hidden Falls Regional Park, Placer County's new beauty
- many of the nearly 50 trails in the Auburn Recreation Area,
- Georgetown's Rock Creek and Slate Mountains,
- South Fork of the American River canyon below Coloma,
- Jenkinson Lake and Fleming Meadows,
- Rails and Trails of Caldor,
- Gold Note,
- and not only our most southern river canyon in SOR.com's backyard, but one of our best: Salt Springs Reservoir at the bottom of the Mokelumne Wilderness.