It’s been far too long since I had a little bit of alone time. Since early September when I camped at Point Reyes for a couple of days. So, I was desperate to get out. A friend and co-worker is moving to a new neighborhood near the river. He goes for his own river walks regularly because of how close he currently lives and will live to the river. I’m envious of his opportunity. I decided to beat him to it and rose early this morning with the idea I’d find his new neighborhood and walk along the river there.
I call this Sunrise Near Wilhaggin…
My objective was to get to the river in time for the sunrise. The end of daylight savings time made that slightly difficult, but I got there early enough to get some good pictures of the colors created by the sun’s rise and the reflections off a very still river.
I walked about 1.5 or 2 miles down the river, along the dirt trails that parallel the bike trail and take you through the trees and bushes along the river. There is a main trail, with countless side trails branching off in all directions, each of those trails taking you to the river, where you get views like this…
At each spot is a slightly different view of the river and I could take countless photos of those views. Equally important is the wildlife. My best picture of a deer ever.
My new little buddy I found along the way…
And these will always be my favorite (Why? Because one of my novels begins with just such a bird feeding in the shallows of Sullivan Bay. It’s called The Irrepairable Past and I’ve struggled with it over the last couple of years, but whenever I see one of these — and they are everywhere in Sacramento’s waterways — I get a little inspired to get back to it. So here’s to you, Bob.)
And there are trees…
And those views…
And, finally, the real reason for my walks…
In my own little personal world gone mad, I am trying to re-connect to peaceful moments and natural parts of the world far removed from the crazy. It’s why I started backpacking this year. It’s why I walk along the river. If for only a few hours, I can be quiet and enjoy some very simple things.
Earlier this year, I discovered the Sacramento Yoga Center. I went to yoga once a week for a couple of months and one of the instructors began the class with the phrase above as what we should focus on during the session. It’s Like This Now. And, it is, and this is what I am working towards. There are many ways to do it and walks along the American River are just one way I am working towards recognizing the value of that concept.
The American River Parkway has a bike trail that stretches about 32 miles from downtown Sacramento to Beals Point at Folsom Lake. It’s been there pretty much my whole life. I remember family bike rides on the trail with my dad leading the way, solo rides on the trail as a teenager, and over the years of my adulthood, numerous efforts to turn the bike trail and bicycling on it into a regular effort to stay fit and active.
Those efforts have not typically been successful for very long, ending most frequently because I haven’t lived close enough to the bike trail for more than 20 years now. Something about having to throw the bike in the car and then driving to the trail somehow defeats the purity of the thing. The other reason is the lack of time to get in really good bike rides. I just haven’t had the time to bicycle as frequently as I would have liked.
About ten years ago I took up running and discovered an exercise that worked much better for me. Until I tore a groin muscle. I’m running again — but shorter distances of 3-5 miles. And a few weeks ago, I decided to include a weekly bike ride into my exercise efforts.
Today, for the fifth weekend in a row, yes, I threw my bike in the back of my car and drove to the bike trail to put 30 miles in. I’m pretty single-minded when it comes to exercise. I want to get it done without a lot of distractions or breaks. For these past five weeks, I have basically stayed in the saddle peddling for two hours without stopping.
I slowed down a bit today. Took a few pictures. Maybe you saw them already. If not here they are again. A few moments of beauty along the American River Bike Trail today.
Bonus points for anybody who can identify which bridge that is.
Way back in February, I took this picture:
Along my route today I rode past that pipe again and the water level on that pipe was higher today than it was almost seven months ago. In August. As we move through the fourth year of a horrendous drought.
I have memories from my childhood of driving across the Howe and Watt Avenue bridges late in the summer and being amazed at how ridiculously low the water level was. While the river is low these days, it doesn’t come close the pictures I have in my head of the “old days” back in the 1970’s.
I get some of the reasons for this. Water policies change. Some things are happening these days that weren’t in place forty years ago, but I wonder about the wisdom behind some of these. As we empty the reservoirs to preserve the river’s flow for endangered species and other purposes, what happens if we enter a fifth year of drought? What happens if there is no more water in the reservoir to preserve the river’s flow? What’s the point in having dams and reservoirs if we aren’t using them to preserve water for the dry years?