We left Scotts River and headed South for Sonora, California to another of the LDMA camps, Italian Bar, or “I-Bar” as it’s referred to. For a year now, we have had many a miner warn of the crazy narrow, steep switch backed road down into the valley where this camp is. We arrived into town at night and planned to stop and camp at the top of the said road, unhook the camper in the morning, and drive the road once with the truck alone so we knew what we were up against. We didn’t want to be one of the 5 or so campers lost over the 750 deep canyon each year (this could be a miner exaggeration). So, as we approach the canyon road, still paved, we keep a sharp look-out for the “top”, as described to us. Next thing we know, there’s an open gate, and the pavement ends…ut-oh, I think we’ve just committed ourselves…the road narrows, gets steeper, and it is dark. Really dark. Well, here we go, down, around, slowly…Fortunately we arrived at the bottom, with the camper still attached, and had not met any other vehicles on their way up as there was no way out but down. The next day, as the sun shown it’s light on the canyon we were now camping in, I was very thankful that we’d come in at night since I couldn’t see just how perilous that crazy road was. We were, literally only 6 inches from opening up the camper like a can on the upper side on the huge protruding rocks and 6 inches (maybe less at times) from plummeting 700 feet off the edge. Good driving, Marcus! He said that the I-Bar road wasn’t as bad as he’d expected, actually. Boy, am I glad! I don’t think I could have handled much worse without sedation.

We explored the I-Bar gold area without so much as raising our shovels, something Chase was not very happy about. He reminded us that there could be a 1 lb nugget out there and we couldn’t find it if we didn’t try! Well, he’s absolutely right, but neither of us was comfortable enough down there to leave camp, pick a spot, and get to work. Between the cougars and loco locals (mercury soaked miners were the least of our thoughts…think meth labs in trailers accessible only by foot…) we decide the gold could stay right where it is. There’s lots of gold out there, too, but you’ve got to find it. The old timers used to hike and mule their equipment in and out…can you imagine? That road I described earlier was only a distant dream back then.

All in all, the Columbia-Sonora area is beautiful and well worth a visit, but the valley witch lies beyond (Italian Bar) is better left alone. We snuck out late one night, in hope to make it up the treacherous road without meeting another RV on it’s way in and made our way further South. Ahhhh. It felt good to be out of that canyon!

Published in: on December 12, 2007 at 8:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

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