Memorial Weekend Backpack in El Dorado

May 26th 2023

It’s difficult to describe and really comprehend the amount of water coming out of the Sierras right now. The heavy rains of winter and spring feel long ago as the hills around the Bay Area turn a dry gold. I didn’t observe any change in the level of the Sacramento river as I traveled through the area and experienced the typical mid 90s weather. Temperatures dramatically dropped in the foothills of the mountains. We heard the water movement before we saw it, a roaring crashing volume tears through the land, in same places pouring over boulders and trees that probably have never been incorporated into a water system like this before. The water level fluctuated dramatically from afternoon peak snowmelt to early morning slow downs. The amount of flooding that has happened along the banks is unbelievable, in some cases there was debris strewn about for more than 25 feet. We crossed at least 10 small tributaries that otherwise wouldn’t exist and countless streams and former alluvial offshoots that developed during the rainfall. The burnt landscape seems to be recovering in some areas, others were a wasteland devoid of life and now of topsoil that has all been eroded with this much rain. If this severe weather is going to become a pattern it won’t be sustainable. We spent a lot of the backpacking doing out-loud back of the envelope calculations on reforesting and restoring the landscape. A lot of hours, people and money. I hope I return to some growth next time I’m in this neck of the woods.