“Old photographs turn yellow, and times they come and go.
But we can still do the boogie from the High Plains to Mexico.
Some old angel from Amarillo must be helpin’ us to hold it on the road.” Terry Allen from “Flatland Boogie”
One of my favorite pastimes is to head into the mountains with my husband and my dog. We call these day trips “back yard days”. During the school year they are few and far between, but we’ve treated ourselves to a three or four adventures this summer: kayaking at Bowman Lake and Sand Harbor, and our annual pilgrimage, traveling the back road to Casey’s Place in Alleghany. We had one destination left on our list, though, and we headed there on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. Last spring we tried to make it to Brandy City Pond, which we’d visited five years before, but a snow bank on a north slope turned us around. Brandy City is off of Highway 49 on Forest Service Road 491–on the way to Downieville. On August 31 we headed up there again, looking for good old road 491-6 that leads right to the eerie mining tailings pond we like to hike around. We missed the road, somehow. We were talking I guess. We tend to reminisce on these trips; the conversation is always good. Soon we found ourselves with several road like strips of land to choose from. Near Roads, I call them. The first one we took led to the former townsite of Brandy City.
We hiked around there for awhile, feeling far from a pond, sure we had to be close but not feeling anywhere near a tailings drainage. Finally we headed back to what we thought was road 491 and headed down the next Near Road.
Fortunately we were paying attention. The road ended abruptly at this cliff–about a 300 foot drop.
We carefully backed out of there and headed back down what was road 491, but had become road 39. We turned around, finally, and were full circle.
We were beginning to wonder exactly where we were, and how a pond we once drove right to was now so hard to find. One more Near Road to explore, and we headed down it.
We got out when the road turned to a path, and began to look around some more. We saw this sign that had been uprooted by someone and tossed on the side of the Near Road.
I heard Jack’s voice from 50 feet away or so. “Whoa…..” He’d found something, and I headed up the path his way.
We talked awhile about who might have chosen to be buried here about 100 years after their neighbors. Since Brandy City saw a renaissance in the early 1900s, we figured maybe two people born here had chosen to rest here. It is a lovely cemetery with sweet energy. I mentioned returning for a picnic some day, and it took Jack a while to realize I was not kidding.
Still, no sign of Brandy City Pond, so we headed out to the main road 491 to retrace our steps. Then we saw the sign we’d missed.
The pond was just a few hundred feet past, and was as eerily pretty as we remembered.
Jack noticed, as he had years ago, that there are no birds at the pond. Some insects here and there. Elvis waded a minute and took a sip, but after that had no interest. Because there is little wildlife, the scene is especially quiet.
Since it was Labor Day weekend, the North Fork of the Yuba had been crowded with campers. We were the only visitors here though. We walked the one mile loop trail, which is marked “easy” in the hiking books. Were the trail well maintained, it would be.
We had a snack and drink and headed home to what we’d find there: the Tyler Fire and our neighbors fearing for their homes and safety. “You know,” I said. “The most fun part about today was getting lost in Brandy City.” “Ain’t that often the way,” Jack mused, and we were quiet awhile before we started reminiscing again.