California or Bust - 1998 style   continued

As the day progressed we wandered our way across central Nevada. In the afternoon we arrived at Fallon, Nevada. The plan was to make one last grocery stop here as we didn't want to get off of the interstate in Reno.

After a quick trip to Wal-Mart for some sun block, forgotten on the packing but required, we then went to the nearby grocery store to stock up on refrigerated food. Finally it was time to continue on. It was about 100 degrees and the asphalt has even warmer as we waited for the rest of the group to finish their shopping. We were glad to get back on the road after the grocery and gas stop. The next stop - Union Flats and the campground.

As we left Reno and crossed the California line the excitement began to really build. Even though I had traveled this same route last year, I could hardly wait to arrive at the campground. Soon the sign for the first turnoff appeared. Hiway 89. Making the turn off of the interstate hiway, we headed up a 2 lane hiway up into the Sierra mountains. The next town, Sierra City. The place where we would turn onto the magic hiway 49. The historical California gold prospecting heaven. The group must have wondered what I was doing as I made the left turn onto hiway 49 and almost immediately pulled over to the side of the road and stopped. Three other vehicles followed my lead. I had spotted the first hiway 49 sign. We all gathered beneath it and it was picture time. In the background you can see the Sierra mountains. We were to climb them and then go down the other side. Where am I? In my usual position. Holding the camera.

98trip4a.jpg (32738 bytes)

Finally, the magic number appears

As we left the town we headed up into the Sierra's. We were on 2 lane road driving through tall timber forests and we eventually topped the pass at 7,000 feet. There was even snow at the side of the road. Almost July and still snow on the ground. We were to see a lot more snow on the high mountain slopes. Heading down the other side we were now within 20 miles of the campground. We made quite a caravan as we slowly made our way down the mountain, around the sharp corners, and through the trees. Every once in a while I nervously pulled over along with the rest of the group to allow the faster drivers to pass. With a trailer house and Chris's truck and camper behind me I wasn't sure that their hot brakes would stop them. I could picture the caravan not being able to stop and my truck and dredge just acting like a very small speed bump for them as they rolled over the top of me and my dredge as they failed to stop. Finally, rounding a corner, we arrived at our destination, Union Flats Campground.

Entering the campground I drove by the first few campsites. A sense of gloom was forming over me. They were all full. Driving on I finally came to an empty spot. This was large enough for a trailer to fit into so I stopped and recommended that Jim with his trailer and Chris with his camper take it. I then drove on past the turnaround and down to the dead end section. It was filled with even more campers. The place looked full. 2 members of the Denver club that I was a member of occupied the spot I had camped on last year at the top of the hill. That was great! At least I might be able to share a spot with them. I wouldn't take up much room.

The free camping spots

The "Free Camping" spots

Looking around I noticed that there was another spot empty. Maybe it was one of the reserved spots for the Valley prospectors. They had three reserved free spots. That would be even better as everyone that knows me would tell you that I am a frugal person. Some might even go so far as to say cheap. One of the campsites had a sign that said "Valley Prospectors Campground Host". I knew that must be Herbie's as I had called the club and asked about camping there. They had told me that there would be a club campground host there.

Herbie wasn't home so I walked out onto the gravel bar and began asking everyone where he was. Finally I located him. I asked about the empty spot and he responded "That's not one of ours. That's a pay spot and it's empty". Great! The only way it could have been better would have been for it to be a free spot. Walking back to my truck quickly I told Rick and Molly "Park here. We'll take this spot before anyone else can". This was a great spot. It was under the trees and I could throw a rock out onto the gravel bar where I wanted to dredge. Like all of the pay spots it had a fire ring and a picnic table. This would be a great spot to spend the next 2 weeks and by splitting the cost of the campsite it would only cost $5. a night.

I moved the truck into the front of the campsite and began unpacking my equipment. First came the 4" dredge as it was on top of everything else. I unloaded it down the back ramp attached to the truck and slid it along the gravel to the far side of the truck. I then began to unload my camping equipment. The tent went over on one side of the open spot. Returning back to the truck I found my dredge rapidly moving toward the river being carried by a prospector on each corner. "Where do you want it"? They asked. Surveying the gravel bar I quickly pointed them to an empty spot at the waters edge. What a great way to meet the other people in the campground. Them moving it in one piece had saved me an hour or so of disassembly and subsequent reassembly. Introducing myself, I thanked them all and returned to the task of setting up my camp.

Later, walking around the campground I found that 5 other Colorado prospectors from the Gold Prospectors of the Rockies had beaten us there. That made a total of 11 Colorado goldseekers.

Did we find any gold? Join us in "Union Flats Campground!" Find out about Dave#1 and Dave#2.

Union Flats Campground

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