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Stories from the valley

Exploring the American River, Part Three

Contributed by Lewis Kemper

I woke up early hoping to be down at the river before sunrise to see first light, but when I walked out of the house the fog was so thick, I could barely see across the street. I knew it wouldn’t be safe to kayak this morning, so I headed over to Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael. The nature center is hundred-acre riparian woodland along the American River. It is one of my favorite places to photograph in the area, when I am not in my kayak. I made the fifteen-minute drive to the nature area and got there a few minutes before sunrise. Due to the fog, it was still fairly dark with not hint of light or color in the sky.

I walked to main trail towards the river, hoping the fog would life around sunrise as it typically does. But not his morning. When I got to the river, I could just barely make out the oaks on the other side. Looking downriver my view was limited to about one hundred yards before everything faded to gray. I decided this was going to be a day of photographing details and wildlife. In the subdued light of the foggy morning I noticed the abundance of autumn color and began concentrating my camera on the intimate landscapes and details all around me. While photographing trees, and vegetation, I would frequently come across some of the deer herd that is prevalent in the area. I must have seen fifteen to twenty deer in just a short while.

After spending about two hours wandering through the fog, I decided to head to William Pond Park, just a bit down river from this location. By the time I got there, the fog was finally beginning to break up, and by the time I walked from the parking lot to the pond, it was a fairly sunny day with a few puffy white clouds. I walked up to the pond’s edge and made some nice images of the reflecting clouds on the water.

From the pond, I decided to walk down and explore the river. There are a series of small riffles in the river here that I thought would make good photographic subjects. BY the time I walked to the river there were very few clouds in the sky and while I was there, they burnt off to totally clear skies! I am always amazed how these foggy days can change into bright sunny days so quickly. I made a few images here and headed back home.

This evening looked like it might be a beautiful sunset, so I walked down to the river, close to Rio Americano High School. I was right, it did turn out to be a nice sunset and I had a great ending to a day that presented many different weather changes.