This is as far north as the valley goes.
Any farther, and the flat plains rise rapidly into still snow-capped peaks, the junction of the Sierra Nevada and the far southern reaches of the Cascades, marked by the looming giant of Mt. Shasta on the horizon.
This is where the massive Sacramento River first enters the valley, then winds all the way to the delta. It’s been an important crossroads for a long time, with formerly prevalent oaks and salmon once feeding a large settlement of Native Americans whose trade routes stretched all the way to the east coast. The trees are some of the largest old growth in the county.
At least, that’s what I was told by an avid fisherman I met out on the trail, who startled me a bit despite his politeness. Perhaps it was the fact that we were very alone in a densely wooded area, and he was carrying nothing but a cracked iPad and a hatchet.
Logic found a more comforting companion. At her first point of the day a small dog trotted out of a nearby house to greet her. It proceeded to follow her the entire morning, venturing well over a mile in the process. It seemed to greatly enjoy the adventure, and made for an interesting story to tell while we labored over the heap of ornamental plants we had to identify for that neighborhood.
Back at camp we were delighted with our calm, shady site. Less delighted with the first 98 degree day of the season, prompting me to tear off the hood of my tent a full month earlier than last season.
Two days later we were bundled in jackets and the wind was literally ripping out tents out of the ground. The joys of living outdoors.