Sacramento has been blessed and cursed by its location on the banks of the river. Commerce is great, but floods are an annual event. They don’t get much rain here during the summer, but come fall you’d best button your slicker and roll up your pants! We stopped briefly at the wharf for information, and were sorely tempted to take time out for a quick tour of Sac and a purely medicinal whistle wetting, but money was tight and time was money. We decided to check out downtown on our next trip through. The sight of those bags of gold has had a huge effect on our previously dwindling energies. Our hearts are set on that hole at Chili Bar! We spent the rest of that day paddling for all we were worth in the drizzling rain! Just north of Sacramento, we left the Sacramento River and turned northeast up the American, toward the infamous Sutter’s mill itself, where this worldwide obsession began back in ’48. We petered out pretty quick and called it a day.
That night we didn’t fare no better than the night before! The next day it rained even harder, the temperature dropped into the forties, and we didn’t make but fifteen miles all day. And so it went for the next two days. At last we came to the fabled fork in the road. In this case it was a fork in the river. To the left, the south fork of the American River continued its tenacious climb into the foothills and the majestic Sierras beyond; Gods’ country to those who know it best. That way was Coloma, Sutter’s mill, and, just north of Hangtown, that hole at Chili Bar. Most of the traffic was headed in that direction. The water was muddy, the competition fierce, and we’d soon run out of supplies. To the right lay an innocuous little tributary by the name of Webber Crick. The sun was shining; there was reasonably clean water for drinking, and a nice quiet place to pan for gold and camp. The biggest advantage of this little branch is the indisputable fact that we’re already here! Sometimes your best bet is to set your cap and take your shot and claim the duck that drops!