Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Robinson Flat Road – Placer County, CA

...Or so said the man piloting a county dump truck laden with gravel up the hill.  Just above Robinson Flat, I’d pulled over to the side of the road giving him ample berth to pass. 

“You okay?” he’d asked.

“How could anyone not be okay up here?” I responded.  Then I added, “Unless you gotta work.”

“Yeah,” he said looking down from the cab of his International 2½ ton, checking out my abnormally clean GSA, “but I getta work up here.”

“Today is perfect,” I said as he waved and shoved the rig into gear.

Robinson Flat is a favored destination.  About 70 minutes from home we frequently find ourselves with a better bottle of Tokay, a couple of chicken sandwiches, folding chairs and a free, languid afternoon. Whatever book has been resting unfinished on the bedside table will be finished while the dogs freely gambol in the meadow.

Today’s mission was simple reconnaissance: take the bike up there to assess the condition of the road and the meadow and parse out how soon one of those lazy afternoons might safely be added to the summer schedule. 

Although a storm had blown through on Saturday prompting the local TV station to be agog about snowfall in the mountains, the intervening 80+ degree-days wiped out any accumulation.  The 29 miles of paved route from Foresthill were clear and dry, and the tiny bit of gravel I traveled was being filled and graded by a county crew that included the young man. 

The guardhouse near the meadow looked as if it has struggled through a winter that was not yet fully finished.  Refurbished about three years back, its brown painted sides looked in need of another coat and the green painted shingles on the roof made it appear that painting roof shingles green was not such a practical plan.  A mitten of snowfield wrapped about half the base of the cabin.

Likewise, the meadow had yet to see spring.  Water stood atop the saturated glade with no place to run off and nowhere to sink.  I was reminded that this spot, long before man, was a tiny subalpine lake – probably home to the ancestors of today’s black bear and whitetail deer.  Whatever wildflowers I might expect to see in a month or so were probably still encased waiting for a longer spell of warm weather to break out of their shells and splash their color on the landscape.

Hiking around the grounds, the litter of the prior season had been either picked up or scrubbed away by an icy, departing winter.  I did find a derelict poster warning of bear encounters tattered and tossed on the moist duff.  I wondered whether the vandals responsible for the defacement of this government notice were named Bubba and Jim-Bob or Yogi and Boo-Boo.  I hoped it was the latter.

Opting not to traipse through the county’s construction zone this day, I retraced my steps back toward Foresthill.  While riding on gravel and dirt is pleasurable on the big GSA, having time to simply ride and enjoy the nectar of the first breaths of spring is as well.  I could take the long way home next time.  I figured I’d be back up this way in about three weeks with a good book.

Today’s Route:  I-80 west to Auburn; exit Foresthill Road.  East on Foresthill Road 17 miles to the community; continue 29 miles further to Robinson Flat.  Alternate return:  South, over the ridge on graded gravel Robinson Flat Road, passing the road/trail to Duncan Peak LO (Hike this!); right on Mosquito Ridge Road (paved) back to Foresthill.

Related Posts:  Having been to Robinson Flat numerous times, here find a couple of Church of the Open Road posts about rides and hikes hubbed from that point.

Also, click on the “Foresthill Road” label and see if something else shows up.

© 2012
Church of the Open Road Press

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