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  • Lisa Parsons

Happy Thanksgiving from Hound Hollow

It has been awhile since our last official blog post...and a lot has happened. The short version is that in May our older white German Shepard herniated a disc in his back. As a result, we had to take some time off from traveling so he have surgery to repair the disc and recover. The good news is the surgery went well. The bad or not so bad news is we have planted roots in a new location and are spending our time exploring locally.

We've found ourselves in the Sierra foothills, fifty miles from Lake Tahoe, on a hillside overlooking the Sacramento Valley. It offers ground floor living, which is a must for Taz while he recovers from surgery.

Taz on one of our many adventures while traveling the past year.

Now he is slowly healing. We can't take him on our adventures for now, but he is doing quite well hanging out in the house and driving us crazy. This dog was running eight miles while we rode our mt. bikes up until the day before he herniated a disc. Keeping him in a sedated resting position for upwards of six months has been a challenge. At least now he is getting physical therapy in the form of walking on the property and swimming in Folsom Lake.

David, Mica, and I are spending our time exploring the local river canyons. For Thanksgiving we headed out to mt. bike a loop trail that starts at the confluence of the Middle and North Forks of the American river off of Forest Hills Road.

The Start of the Lake Clementine Trail

The first half of the trail follows along the edge of the North Fork of the American. The river, a deep jade green color, spins its current below. The sound gentle at low water. Background music of water and stone as we peddle our mt. bikes along the trail. The dusty orange of oak autumn leaves litter the ground. Yellow grasses bent and tired from the long summer frame the deep wet red of the trail.

Its a holiday and we pass many families out for a hike. What is so amazing about landing in California is that people here get out and enjoy the open spaces. Even today, on a holiday, with the threat of rain above, people are out. As we pass people, many wish us Happy Thanksgiving. We return the greeting. We are riding our mt. bikes but we aren't in a hurry and enjoy greeting the people we pass by.

The dam at the end of Lake Clementine

After the red dirt we spill out onto Lake Clementine road and climb out of the North Fork Canyon to the Fuel Break Trail. Then we climb some more. We reach the pay off. A left turn onto the Culvert trail. Now we are headed down a flow trail that winds like a sidewinder down the ridge line. It winds past the cover old oak trees, past the red smooth trunks of Madrone, and around sweeping slopes of yellow grasses. Just to keep us awake, a jump or rocky section randomly appears on our way down.

The Culvert Trail

The main attraction is the two-hundred foot culvert that flows beneath Forest Hills Rd. Big enough that we can ride through its dark interior which allows us to bypass the busier Forest Hills Road above.

The Culvert under Forest Hills Road

Before we know it we pop out at Mammoth Bar Rd and drop down to Confluence Trail. From here it is a narrow rocky trail carved out of the hillside. The edges dropping down to the Middle Fork of the American. We pick our lines across rock and down drops carefully.

As we descend the river grows larger and the turns reveal steep dark rock walls, and moss covered islands of rock with jade and white river water flowing around them. Across the river is another trail below dark jagged cliffs. This introduction to both river canyons are just what we need to keep us coming back to explore.

Trail as it hugs the hillside above the Middle Fork of the American River

I think to myself how lucky we are to have landed between three river canyons. These rivers of water are dammed but there has also been a concerted effort by forward thinking conservationists to preserve land around this watershed. The American River Conservancy, Friends of the River, and many others ( I am just learning more about the conservation efforts in this area) have worked to establish preservation of land for biodiversity, regional connectivity, recreational access, and an abundance of trails for people to enjoy. Coming a different river cosnervation project that I worked on for two decades I can attest that that is no small feet.

So for now we have a new BIG Backyard to explore and enjoy in a place called "Hound Hollow". A perfect setting for us to regroup, recover, and plan our next adventures.

For more trail information visit:

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