“What kind of vehicle are you driving?”
“That four-wheel drive pick-up,” Ric says pointing out our truck.
“Then I recommend you follow this trail, here,” the attendant at the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area’s Visitor centre suggests. “It’s a gravel road and can be narrow at times, but if you take it slow and easy, there are some worthwhile views.”
It’s a beautiful spring day, and while I am struggling with my health, I don’t want to waste it in bed, so a driving tour seems like a good compromise. I had researched the area and read that this is one of the best places for birding, which is an interest of ours.
Whiskeytown Lake is actually a reservoir, surrounded by mountains. As it is early in the season, many of the areas are closed. The trail we’ve been directed to begins where the paved road ends, past a number of hiking trails and camping sites. The road is rough and narrow, and as we ascend the twists and turns become sharper, with a wall of trees rising on Ric’s side and steep drops next to me.
“This is worse than the Apache Trail,” Ric remarks at one point, cranking on the wheel and slowly edging the truck forward.
I don’t respond. I’m trying to keep focused on the road ahead, as the dizzying heights are only adding to my already oversensitive system. The Apache Trail, in Arizona, allowed sweeping views of mountains and valleys, and was a long drawn out trail encompassing forty plus miles of scenery. This short trek is more like a carnival ride. Occasionally, a break in the trees reveals a breathtaking view of the lake below, but mostly we are immersed in a tunnel of trunks and green canopies. I am relieved when we finally hit pavement again, and head back to our home on wheels.
Apart from this scrub jay that we encountered at the Visitor’s centre, we didn’t see one other bird, ironically.
The frenzied sound of birds greets us, however, when we step out of the car, and I grab my camera looking for the source. It seems our neighbours have installed feeders that have attracted swarms of feathered cuties: finches, blackbirds, hummingbirds, and this confused junco.
Today marks our last stay in California. Next stop: Oregon.