Nevada County, California, USA: Gold Country

Every time I go home I love to take a mini-trip out to Nevada County, California.  It’s  called Gold Country and it still feels a little like the wild west.  Nevada County is a great place to get lost.  You can explore the Feather River and the Yuba River.  The Tahoe National Forest is warm dry and beautiful in the summer.  These are probably some of my favorite places on earth.  They feel like home.

Every year millions of tons of snow melts in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  The run-off is focused into powerful rivers which carve radical valleys from the  vast granite mountains.  Hiking into these river valleys is a mesmerizing experience.  They are deep and loud.  I often drink straight out of the rushing water.  It’s super clean and clear.  I’ve spent weeks in various valleys of the Yuba River.  I love it.

One of my best old friends lives out there.  I was lucky enough to meet up with her just after she bought a kick ass 4×4.  She is awesome.  I asked her if she wanted to go thrash through the mountains and test her new toy.  She agreed; she is awesome.  Our only goal was to go down some gnarly hills and test the capacity of her new kick ass 4×4.  That’s all we set out to do.  But we came across some cool stuff just by chance…

We are smiling for this photo because it’s cool to spend time with old friends.  What we are standing in front of isn’t cool.  This is an old hydraulic mining site called “You Bet.”  It’s sobering to drive deep into the mountains and find huge sites of wrecked barren land.  This is a lesson for all of us now; we must do what we can to preserve the earth.  We have lots of great stuff and it’s important to the future generations that we conserve the finite resources of Earth.  -Reduce Reuse Recycle-

After driving deeper and deeper into the forest we came across lots of amazing views.  We came to massive lookouts and awesome rivers.  As we were creeping back over some havoc strewn roads, we came across a peaceful wilderness grave yard.  It was strange to see the chain link fence so far from the reaches of civilization.

The grave stones were all from people that died while taming these crazy gold country.  One memorable grave stone:

“Her lies Pete Simpson

Profession: Logger

Cause of death: Log Fall”

Simple times for simple folks.

Looking over the grave stones of the men and women that lived in Nevada County in the early 20th century is thoroughly intriguing.  I don’t find graveyards to be disturbing in the slightest.  Graveyards are the most down to earth places one can visit.  They help one to think about life as a whole.  You can step out of your day to day life and see the historical relevance of it all.  The old gold mining towns in California are so rich with history.  Booming and busting overnight.  Those people lived lives that inspire me.  Often, I wonder if I would have enjoyed living in those times.  Would I like them more than life here and now?  Their lives involved riding horses through the rugged uncharted mountains with a back pack full of dynamite and a shovel in the search of wealth.  I like the sound of that.  These were true adventurers; mine pale in comparison.

The profound graveyard moment wrapped up and we jumped in our rubber footed, fossil fuel eating robot and commanded it to carry us through the mountains.  We had obligations back in Grass Valley and we intended to make them.  It’s a dusty dry trail up there in the summertime.