The river returns
If you’d like to get at least some hint of what the American River looked like prior to the building of Folsom Dam, try hiking the shore in the area between Sweetwater Creek and the New Salmon Falls Bridge (built in 1953) during the late fall/early winter season. The area is certainly more picturesque in the springtime; but if you venture out in the colder months to wander along the drab shoreline, dodging the Velcro-like burrs of the jimson weed, you’ll find all sorts of remnants of the past and maybe a few other surprises, as well.
I knew the old Salmon Falls Bridge could be found somewhere in this area but was never clear about the exact location, partly because the different water levels can be disorienting if you’re not very familiar with the shoreline. I did realize, thanks to the Big Guy, that when it’s underwater, the old bridge is a great spot to find fish. And even though I’d actually walked on it several years ago, I never took pictures. So I had a good laugh at myself the other day when I finally discovered that walking in a straight line from my favorite driftwood shelter down to the waterline takes me directly to the site of the bridge.
The willows are also a favorite shelter of fish in the springtime, while in the winter they look more like eerie skeletons standing far from the water’s edge. Still, they are not completely devoid of life, as I discovered on my hike a few days ago.