First time getting to the South Yuba this year and for this long weekend romp I took along Arturo, Carlos and Tikka.
the way in – Day 1
Arturo, Tikka, and I drove out from SF and met up with Carlos outside of Nevada City and then we caravanned down to the river, across the scary wooden bridge, and up the dirt road to the South Yuba campsite parking lot and the South Yuba trailhead. We hit the trail around 10:30, so we still had a few hours before the hottest part of the day set in, but the temperature was already easily pushing 80. About a mile and a quarter in, I realized I hadn’t checked if the passenger door was locked – typically an automatic reaction. When I asked Arturo if he had locked it, he couldn’t remember. Not wanting to leave my car for 3 days with the door unlocked, Tikka and I turned around and retraced the trail. The door was, in fact, unlocked, so I’m happy we didn’t give in to the temptation to count on luck and continue. However, by the time we turned back around to start the trail again, it was already 11:15 and I knew I had to hurry if I wanted to avoid getting too hot on the way in. Tikka and I made it in about an hour and 35 minutes. Easy peasy.
Unlike all the other times we’d been here before, this weekend it seemed we were far from the only group with a South Yuba plan. After passing one large group of folks at the big pool near the Humbug Creek inlet and seeing a tent in the little beach spot where I made camp in 2012, I began to worry if the campsite might already be claimed. As I was approaching it, Carlos came up the trail to meet me. He and Arturo had met another group of folks who were planning on using that site, so they had pressed on a little bit further down the trail and found another spot. It was a little high above the water with no super easy path down, and based on our previous experience, Carlos and I were worried we might get carried off by a swarm of mosquitoes there. So we agreed to have a dip, eat some lunch, and then set out in search of another site.
Carlos was tasked with providing lunch for Saturday and he certainly lived up to his promise to bring a surprise dish. When I came back up the hill from having a swim and filtering some water, he had laid out a spread of freshly made chilaquiles, complete with avocados and eggs! Needless to say, it was a delicious meal to dig into after a swim and the morning’s hike. Great job, Carlos!
Before lunch, Arturo had hiked up the trail as it climbed up away from the primitive camp. He’d searched for another good campsite, but the trail just led too far up away from the river. His reconnaissance wasn’t for naught, though. From the higher vantage point, he spotted what looked to be a wide, deep pool upstream. We got back in the water and walked downstream, though, to see if we could spot a good site from the river. What we found was the wide beach just upstream from the spot where I’d camped last year. It seemed as good as any, so we retrieved our packs and set camp there. There was a bit of a pool in the river near the beach and Tikka had a blast running into the water chasing tossed stones. It was the first time she actually got in deep enough to have to swim (without being forced)!
We woke up early and had our breakfast on the beach. The sun hadn’t quite made it over the ridge to the northeast of us, so the air was still cool. Once we lost the shade, though, the day heated up. We spent the morning questing up the river toward the pool Arturo had spotted. Even with her practice the day before, Tikka still hadn’t mustered the courage to do much swimming. After helping her cross a few times, I left her to skirt the edge with Arturo and scramble over the rocks. We eventually came upon the pool Arturo had seen. It turned out to be the same pool that Carlos and I discovered last year. Even with the lower water line this year, it was still plenty deep to do a few cliff jumps into the deepest part…although neither Arturo nor Carlos agreed with me. After having our fun there, we trekked back down the river toward camp. I had to lifeguard-swim tikka across some of the wider areas, but she was a champ about it.
Sadly, after lunch on the shore, Carlos had to take off. He didn’t have the luxury of having Monday off and had to get back for work. After he left, I lounged on a rock in the middle of the river and read a bit to the sounds of Arturo shifting big rocks a little further down the river, and Tikka hung out inside the tent and took a nap. Later, Arturo and I worked on some river engineering and built a bit of a stone dam that directed the river through a swift, narrow area.
As the day wore on, it was soon time for dinner, relaxing, then bed.
the way out
We got up, ate up, and packed up all before 9:00. We said our goodbyes to the riverside campsite and scrambled up the hill back toward the trail. We made good time back toward the trailhead and we were bouncing down the dirt road by 11:00. Once again, another great trip to the South Yuba!