The highway doesn't look like it has much traffic at all in that picture, but since the cars were zooming by at 70 miles per hour or more, I really needed it to have absolutely no traffic before I could feel sure we could cross safely. I walked Boston quite a distance along the side of the highway, both because I was waiting for a break in traffic, and because I was looking for a straighter stretch of highway so I could get a better view of oncoming traffic. This was my least favorite part of the walk, because the cars were zooming by five feet away from us, and I've never wrapped a dog's leash so tightly around my arm before in my life. Boston is not the most well-behaved dog in the world, and I was very worried that she might try to bolt out into traffic or something. But she behaved herself, and eventually we successfully crossed the highway.
You can sort of see in the picture above that the opposite side of the highway is bordered by a levee. That levee is taller than it looks in the photograph; it's about 25 feet high. Boston and I were lucky in that once we did manage to cross the highway, we coincidentally happened to be right at the spot where a gravel path was carved into the side of the levee, leading us up it. A group of people in an ATV were at the top of the path, waiting to drive down the path while Boston and I climbed up. When we reached the top, there was a rusty metal building off to the left, and then flat grassland in the direction of the river.
Well, flat grassland and an ancient orange car at the bottom of a ditch.
At some point in the last 160 years or so, people evidently piled boulders up in various areas around here. There are no boulders at all except when there are sudden patches of nothing but boulders, all of them approximately the same size. I have no idea why they're piled like this.
Here's another patch of boulders.
And another. I quite like this view; I think it captures the strangely parklike aspect of most of the completely unmaintained lands around here. Our climate just naturally produces flat grassy expanses punctuated here and there by trees. Apparently, when people of European descent first arrived in California, they marveled at how much of the Sacramento Valley looked as if it had already been landscaped into formal parks.
In addition to piling masses of rocks here and there, people at some point in history created a long rock border around this area. It's a strangely almost formal element in a mostly wild landscape.
Lots of the trees here look like they're being eaten alive by mistletoe. But mistletoe is native here (or one species of it is, anyway, and this is very likely the native one), so the native trees are well adapted to handle it.
On the other side of the path I was walking along, here's another rock pile - cascading down the hillside from where I was walking.
Soon I arrived at the Beautiful Valley of Old Tires.
A rusty pickup truck was attempting to deliver a truckload of grass.
Nearby, another truck was resting at a 45-degree angle, inviting passersby to look under its hood.
And within sight of these, I found a sort of unofficial mobile home park - 5 or 6 or 7 mobile homes, all grouped together on public land, clearly inhabited. I couldn't get a good photograph of the whole group, because in order not to point my camera directly into the sun, I would have had to walk right through the middle of the group and call an uncomfortable amount of attention to my uninvited presence there. But here are two of the mobile homes. Just pretend you can see the several others, barely beyond that tree on the right.
Not far beyond the unofficial mobile home park, I found the river. It had a gravelly beach, with only a few small areas of fine sand.
Growing everywhere amid the gravel were these tiny lupines. I think they're Bentham lupines, a native annual. If so, in another month or two, this entire beach should be covered with bluish purple flower spikes, like this.
I was a bit disturbed to see how eroded the opposite bank of the river looked. The water level is probably not normally this low at this time of year; despite considerable rain around here in the Sacramento Valley, California is still suffering its third year of drought from insufficient snow in the Sierra Nevadas. Snow in the Sierra Nevadas is most of what fills the Yuba River.
Some of the trees look as if they might fall into the river soon.
Anyway, I let Boston off her leash so she could wade in the river.
And I threw rocks for her to chase.
And I sat on the shore, picking out rocks to bring home to Susan.
Then we went home again, walking back through the chaparral.
These two trees were in bloom - some sort of Prunus species I think, possibly the native Klamath plum? A lot of trees have begun blooming this week. Alas, my little redbud tree in the back yard doesn't yet have a single bud.
Upon reaching the highway, I took one last look back at the trail.
Then I looked forward, and saw the Sutter Buttes rising over the roofs of the town.