Lunch with Llamas

An excellent hike today up near the Pilot Hill area off of Salmon Falls Rd and Hwy 49 at Cronan Ranch. My kids and I hiked with the American River Conservancy group and some folks from Vacaville with Llamas. Overall, a pretty easy hike about 2-3 miles to the South Fork of the American. Water is still flowing and a few ripples. Even deep enough for a lone Kayaker today. The kids were able to lead the llamas round. Ended the hike with a view of parasailors floating off of a nearby hill.


Palisade Creek Lost

View Palisade Creek Lost in a larger map

I finally got a chance to do a more difficult trail sans kids. I had this idea that I would take advantage of a neat trail I had heard and read about. I was all excited to finally get down the the Upper North Fork and explore some of the river bed in this area and witnessing some spectacular scenery.

My expectations were suddenly devastated after I lost sight of the Palisade Creek Trail that comes off the right side of a granite face. I searched all over along the creek that the trail is supposed to run down, however, I never found it. I also ended up more East than I intended when I went searching for it, so about an hour of my 4 hr hike was spent bushwhacking in the manzanita. Cursed Manzanita...evil, vile! Looking at the topos and coming off the granite face, I was not sure if I was too far West or East of the trail. I thought I might cut over East since it "looked" kind of easy to traverse and it wasn't "that far." I was only about 1-2,000 meters from the said trail and thought I might go South to pick up the junction of the Palisade Creek and Long Valley trails. There is supposed to be a little upside down "heart shaped" lake that is also just East of the trail. I am pretty sure I came upon this (completely dry and full of dead grasses this time of year), but still could not see any indication of the trail. So I decided to head back, since I was beat from traversing manzanita hidden granite. Enough of that !#@$*, said I.

Luckily, I had my GPS and my Topo maps with me, which if I did not have, I would probably still be in the "thicket" of things.

Let this be a lesson to you....who am I lecturing. I was the idiot that got lost!

I finally made it back to where I lost the trail and had some deserved lunch. I was wiped out.

I hiked down the trail a little to about a 1/3 mi out from the parking area and I came across another "Bearing Tree for Section 32 in the Township 17N, Range 14E, XXX Topo Quad. The Bearing Tree is 83 links S72N.

A link is: "a traditional unit of distance used by surveyors, equal to 0.01 chain. In Britain, one link is exactly 0.66 feet, or 7.92 inches, or approximately 20.12 centimeters. In the U.S., both 66-foot and 100-foot chains have been used; for a 100-foot chain the link is the same as the foot." University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Units of Measurement Dictionary

I did see some pretty country and an interesting geographical feature.

Next time, I will be sure and go with at least one other person, so I can't blame getting lost on myself.

Palisade and the North Fork will have to wait, yet another day.

NMC (not feeling too cartographica on this one)

Compost Bin ca. 2009

My new compost bin is finally completed. It took me several weekends to complete since I deviated from my project to go hiking in the various places mentioned below. The plans came from a Lowe's site that I found in a Google search. Pretty sturdy. I did not put in a wooden bottom as per the plans, but left it open. I did put in the middle support, though. The top sides and middle are open to the elements to allow moisture and air circulate and keep the critters out. They are made from 1/4" x 36" roll of "hard ware cloth." It will likely be found in the garden section of Home Depot or Lowe's.


Iowa Hill Ditch to Tadpole Creek

View Iowa Hills Ditch/Tadpole Creek in a larger map

We made it a bit further than last time. At least we made it to Tadpole Creek. The hike to this point was extraordinary, me being with my kids and all. Some parts of this section of trail (~2 mi to Tadpole Creek) have several washed out spots that are too narrow to cross and force one to bushwhack up and down hills. Luckily, a fire came through here in 2008, which made it much easier.

As one will see in the slide show, because we did bushwhack, we came across a section corner for Township 16 NRange 15 E for Section 31. Also we saw a tree with a "Bearing Marker" on it to indicate which direction and distance from the tree the section marker is located in case it is obstructed by brush.

It was a good day for to hike this section again after a couple of weeks. The fact we were out on the trail much earlier and we didn't run across the squatter again. He left is mobile homestead and must have parked somewhere else.

We came across many interesting features of the Iowa Hill Ditch (or what remains of it). We found numerous hand hammered nails from ca 1850-1880. I am not sure of the exact dates as well as wire, iron stakes sticking out of rock, and splintered wood from when the nails actually held the wood together to form the Iowa Hills Ditch. This ditch, from what I read, was built by Chinese labor and ran for 40 miles. This section is at the 5500' elevation mark and runs the contour for a number of miles from Beacroft trail head East to Iowa Hills. It also continues along West, but I am not sure how far. Consult the USGS topo for more information. This "abandoned" ditch is on the USGS maps. You can also find out more here, at Russel Towle's blog.


Iowa Hill Ditch (short)

I spent more time driving here than hiking (again). With my 7yr old in tow we set off for another adventure in the North Fork. This time I was hoping for an "easy" trail that we could stroll along for a couple of miles or so. The hike didn't last long due to a washed out area that I didn't really want to take my daughter on in the middle of nowhere and the fact we passed some squatter at the trail head in his beat up trailer and truck. I will definitely come back here, since the ditch is noticeable in many places and covers several miles to the east and west of Beacroft trail head.

Fire ripped through here in 2008 as one can see from the photos.


North Fork American River - Stevens Trail (attempt) and Codfish Falls

Stevens Trail/Codfish Falls Trail Map

View Stevens Trail/Codfish Falls in a larger map

Stevens Trail (attempt)

This weekend, I had in mind to do a less strenuous hike with my 7yr old and I wanted to start looking over Ron Gould's North Fork Trail guide, so I settled on Steven's Trail just outside of Colfax. I even wanted to get an earlier start which I did, however, we didn't get very far on Stevens.

We reached the parking lot about 10:45am with the plan to take our time and hike as far as my 7yr old could tolerate (I was hoping most of the way 6-8 mi). We ambled down the trail about 0.5 mi just past an old road coming in from the right when we spotted a bear (sorry, no pictures on this one). Luckily, he turned our way, took a look, then headed up the hill from the trail.

I decided to turn around and leave the trail. So our all day hike on Stevens turned out to be short lived.

On our way back we ran into a couple hiking with the same idea in mind. I told them of the bear siting. They decided to turn around as well. Back at the car, they asked me about other hikes in the area. Being a new hiker in the NF and a recent contributor to the North Fork of the American River Alliance, I told them about Ron Gould's guide, the NFARA.org site and Russel Towle's North Fork blog and remembrance site and suggested that Codfish falls might be a good alternative, now that the time was approaching noon. Turns out that the woman of the pair teaches at American River College, like myself. They actually had this trail downloaded from the Internet. I told them we may meet up with them later after my daughter ate a bite.

Off we went to Codfish Falls...

Codfish Falls

Using Ron's directions and taking the easier of the two ways to get to Ponderosa Bridge, I decided to take the Foresthill Road to the Ponderosa turn off and then take the 3 mi drive down, down, to the canyon and parked at Ponderosa Bridge. We did meet up with the pair we met on Stevens and they were just getting ready to head out. The commented on the drive down that it was a lot rougher than they expected. I replied that at least they did not take the 6 mi drive from Weimer. I told them that many of my "scouting" adventures to check out trail heads along I-80 to the NF had been met with driving very "questionable" roads and that a high rise vehicle and possible 4WD would be recommended. I am glad I have one for these such adventures.

So on we went through the stifling heat and the very low NF. To me, its all good. Just getting out exploring these wonderful places with the seed planted from Russel Towle's blog posts and Ron Gould's guide. I definitely plan to revisit some of these places in the spring time when the water is high. I also plan to visit some of the more impressive adventure spots that is profusely described in Russel's blogs. They seem amazing and, checking other related posts and blogs (see above), the are truly amazing, especially earlier in the year.

The trail was not too long, but seemed longer than I would expect because of the heat and my 7yr old likes to talk more and walk less. Eventually, we reached what would have been the falls, except it is September and the falls are just a trickle, perfect for the little frog my daughter spotted and tried to catch. We hung out for a few and then did our return trip. On the side at the confluence of Codfish Creek and the NF, we pulled off to the right and dropped down to the bed of the NF to take some pictures and experience the NF right at its base. So awesome being in the canyon.

We finished off the hike with my daughter jumping in the pool just at the base of the Ponderosa bridge while I hung out on the shoreline and watched the crazy young-folk jumping in different forms off the bridge.

It was a good day. New adventure...more to come.



Loch Leven Lakes Trail

View Lock Leven Lakes in a larger map

You may need to open the larger map to see the captions under the photos.

Loch Leven Lakes trailhead is just off I-80 at the Big Bend Exit. The trail is mostly an uphill climb to to the Loch Leven Lake. From there you can hike about 1/4 mi to the Middle Loch Leven or about another mi to the High Loch Leven. On the west side, you can pick up the trail for Salmon Lake which is another mi or two. Loch Leven will make for a good day hike where one can experience some or all of these lakes in a day. Water is much lower in the summer than the spring.


American River Links Added

I have added a separate link section for the American River for links that include other "forks." The Canyon Keepers link has portions of its trail book in PDF format for download, some with pictures.


Soil Born Farms

Soil Born Farms is an urban organic farm that exists near my home along the American River. I didn't even know it existed until I saw a blurb in the Sunset Magazine this past month. So now I venture there occasionally and volunteer once in awhile, too. It is so nice to have such a splendid place nearby. Soil Born Farms has inspired me to continue my ventures to organic farming at my home.

North Fork Shaded Relief Topo Maps

I just finished a set of 1:24,000 scale shaded relief topo mosaics (42" x 60") for the North Fork of the American River. The maps include a good portion of the Middle Fork as well to help me plan and prepare my hiking trips. Check out my website JenningsPlanet-->Gallery for PDFs of the maps and more. I will likely make some minor updates and post some pure shaded relief renditions of the area as well. I may prepare some smaller versions of these as well as post the actual 1:24,000 PDFs that come from the USGS for this area. All of the information came from the USGS National Map Viewer and can be downloaded for free. The trimmed topos without the collar can be downloaded from the Cal-Atlas (aka CASIL) site for free. I created the maps using ArcGIS 9.3.1.

If you decide to print them out, they will take about 15-20 minutes to spool to an HP Plotter 4500.


Onion Creek and Cascade Lakes

Went on another adventure with the kids to explore some more of the North Fork. Again, I didn't get too far because I have a 7yr old and the fact we did not leave until 11:30AM to drive over an hour to any trail head.

Onion Creek

Based on a recommendation from the North Fork of the American River Alliance, I took off for Soda Spring to see how far I could drive towards the Royal Gorge. We went a few miles in just past Ice Lakes Resort and were able to drive pretty much up to a precipice where I took some photos. We continued on down, down towards Onion Creek. When we reached the 1st significant hair pin, I decided to turn around. I didn't want to get much further, just in case I ran into trouble, plus I wanted to check out the trail head near Palisade Lake that would take me down to the North Fork.

Cascade Lakes

So we did make it to the Palisades Trailhead (it is now about 4pm) and I did want to get out of the suburban. We walked about 45 min to an hour. I did notice that the North Fork would be about 7 mi which I will keep in mind for another day. I definitely want to go back and will probably do so in the spring when the water is up and flowing. The Cascade Lakes are of course very dry during this time of year, very dry...

All in all, it was another good scouting adventure and will come back to fully experience the glory of this trail.

China Trail

Another post I came across in the NFARA blog was a description of a hike that Russel Towle and a friend did a couple of years ago that starts around the Emigrant Gap area and trails down the North Fork. I will need to do this on my own or maybe with my son (12), since there will be a lot of driving and hiking.

I am eager to get to the North Fork at some point in time.

I am working on an overall map of the North Fork piecing together the 1:24,000 topo maps to make a large poster size wall map. I will post pics when I get them. I also want to put together a nice hill shade of the are too from USGS DEM data.


True Story Images

This website is from a good friend of mine. Beautiful pictures and a great person. If you are ever in need of some photog, look her up.

True Story



North Fork of the American River

First of all, a few links for those who are as interested as I...

North Fork American River Alliance (http://www.nfara.org/). This is a non-profit that one can contribute to help protect the North Fork of the American River.

Russel Towle A remembrance of Russel and his life.

Links to Russel's writings and natural history of the North Fork of the American River

I will add more posts on this subject as I become more involved.

The Slide Show of this Adventure

Euchre Bar
From North Fork American River - Euchre Bar - Lover's Leap

I was looking for a place to take my kids hiking a few weeks ago, somewhere near my home in Sacramento. I had made a pledge to myself to do more hiking and camping than I have done in years past and take advantage of the wonderful place I live near (1-2 hrs from many hiking areas in the Sierra Nevadas) and 1-5 hrs to the Pacific coast, depending on how far I want to drive. I had just completed a hike off of Hwy 50 in El Dorado National Forest (almost to Raymond's Lake). I had done another hike a good ways up I-80, off of the Big Bend exit. (I can't remember the trail, but it was good and went from 7000-8200 ft). I had also purchased both the El Dorado Forest and Tahoe National Forest Service maps and had spoke to someone that I used to work with on some good places to go hiking. I spread out my Tahoe NF map and started looking around the American River area. I knew that there were a North, Middle, and South Fork and have talked to a couple of people who did kayaking down some of them. Once I got a descent bearing of the topography, I checked on-line for any basic information that people have recently put out regarding their favorite hikes etc. Little did I know, but a person, Russel Towle, had spent a good chunk of his life hiking and maintaining trails within the North Fork of the American River. After reading a few of his blog entries, I decided on taking my kinds down the Euchre Bar trail. It was interesting to get to the trail head and then once there, we hiked down about 1/2 way (it's all down going down, thus all up, going up!)....and then my little girl decided to be defiant and touch the poison oak. This ended our trip down to the River for the afternoon.

Emigrant Gap Area

Once washed up, we did another excursion down Emigrant Gap through part of the forest, just checking out the land and seeing what was around. I have some good ideas for another hike.

Adventure to Lover's Leap

From North Fork American River - Euchre Bar - Lover's Leap

From North Fork American River - Euchre Bar - Lover's Leap

It being late, we decided to head back to Sacramento. As we got close to the Dutch Flat, we took the exit and headed south. I wanted to see if we could get to Lover's Leap, since the pictures I saw, were very spectacular!

We drove a bit, and then some more. Passed some very interesting homes throughout the woods along Moody Ridge, then came up to Lovers' Leap Ln. Took this for a bit and finished at the end which was Lover's Leap! I took my two kids carefully down to a look out. Snapped a picture to the West and then went to a small little path that led to a 2000' drop off to the East. Awesome! A hawk flew circles below us hanging on the thermals. We hopped back in the SUV (burb with 4WD, recommended or at least a high riding vehicle) and took off for home. There appears to be part of Moody Ridge that goes East from Lover's Leap Lane, but since I was down at the Alta exit off of I-80 and found a gate closing off the road with what appeared to be a security vehicle, I decided to return the same way I came (to Dutch Flat exit).

A very good trip all in all...

When I returned home, I broke my map out again to check some places where we went to and read some more about Russel Towle and his adventures.

I also came across the North Fork of the American River Alliance, which I am expecting to make a contribution to from now on.

This is a magnificent place and a place that I can spend countless hours on and hope to be the primary place to do some hiking, show my kids some wilderness, and give back to the mountainous environment which I love so much.


JPL 2009 Open House

Just returned from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Open House....Very cool!! Check out the slide show!

JPL 2009 Open House Slide Show

I have never been to this event, but I am amazed at what JPL is doing. They have their hand in so many things.

One of the high lights is the 2011 expected Launch of the Mars Science Lab.

Earth Science - Remote Sensing

Atmospheric Science - Hurricanes, Ocean currents, tornadoes

Geology - LiDAR, RADAR, subsidence, micro changes in elevation, Earth Quake detection

Water/Ice - snow pack, water, ice monitoring


nano machines, chemistry and physics to build nanotechnology

Material Science

Chemistry and Physics

to create and produce thin films, silicon wafers

All of these are used in imaging systems

Imaging Systems (for terrestrial and extra terrestrial uses)

UV sensors, Infrared (short and long wave), LiDAR, RADAR

Solar Technology

multi-band solar cells to power probes, robots, space craft

Fuel Cell Technology

for powering probes, robots, etc.

Electronics development for sensors and probe function


Rovers that are/will be on Mars and other planets

Aeronautical Engineering

Spacecraft, orbital sensors and systems, launch vehicles, vehicles for carrying payload to planetary surfaces and atmospheres

They also have entreprenureal opportunities, too!


JPL Pod Casts

JPL Blogs

JPL Slide Shows

JPL News


Mapping Urban Forest Canopy in Sacramento

I just finished a draft urban forest canopy layer for downtown Sacramento. I developed this for material to present to my Remote Sensing Class and for my students to work on for a lab. I developed a process to extract out urban forest canopy from other features in high resolution QuickBird satellite imagery. This is draft, so other refinement is necessary. I will update when it is complete. Imagery July 2006 QuickBird Satellite (2 ft, 0.6m) Software Used: Feature Analyst 4.2 for ArcGIS

Urban Forest Canopy (DRAFT)


Solid Waste Routing Custom Map Book Production

As part of my re-route work for the City of Sacramento's Solid Waste Dept, I created a custom map book tool that allows a user to choose from a number of solid waste services to produce both an overview map and two detail maps (streets only and streets/parcels) of the route. The tool automatically generates PDF files of each of these. The tool has been timed to generate 200 maps in 8 minutes. Without this tool, it took over a week to reproduce all of the maps. I can generate a full set of maps for a given service in less than 20 minutes.


Searching for a Parking Space (Updated!)

Here is yet another one of my Business Integration problems, I am working on solving for the City of Sacramento. We (I should say, our Parking Division) has a unique way of "addressing" the parking spaces in our downtown area.

I have developed a way to "geocode" these to our street centerline with an offset which will then accompany the Parking Space/Meter attribute information and, yes, integrated to our wonderful Infor EAM (Enterprise Asset Management System).

The Data

Our Parking Enforcement group provided a Parking Space inventory in Excel that contained "addresses" of the parking spaces. These "addresses" are not actual addresses, but do look like addresses. The Parking Enforcement division has maintained their data for years with this system and so on the right side of the street, the "parking space ranges" are from 00-32 and on the left from 01-31 on each street segment. Since these ranges don't match the existing exhaustive address ranges in our street centerline file, just geocoding these to our street segments don't really work. Some modification of the exhaustive ranges are needed.

Modifying the Street Centerline File

Since our Parking Division only enforces parking spaces in downtown Sacramento, only the downtown portion of the street centerline file is required to be modified ~4000 segments out of ~20,000 segments.

Ideally, the GIS team in the City encourages departments that want to create spatial data use our existing centerline file, parcel file, and master address file without modification. In this case, an exception is made to perform a 1 time generation of spatial data for parking spaces.

A series of queries and calculations were applied to compute additional exhaustive range attributes specifically for parking spaces. Most of this step was not too bad, but it did take about 2 full days to accomplish, since specific queries needed to be made to certain sides of the block.

Geocoding the Parking Space File

Once the street segment file was completed, a custom geocodeer was created that used the modified centerline file as the street centerline base for geocoding. One of my co-workers had created a custom geocoding style that we use for other address searching functions in other websites we maintain, so I used this in my geocoder routine.

Once the geocoder was set up, I took the parking space file I imported into ArcGIS (I did convert the excel file to a Dbase file so I could use it in ArcGIS) and geocoded it.

The first time I ran this, I did find some street address range issues, that I needed to fix. After running several iterations of the geocoder process, I was able to geocode all but 78 of the 21,400 parking space records. The 78 end up having "space range" values beyon the xx32 mentioned above. I will need to work with our Parking Division to work this out, but it won't be too much of a problem.

The Result

Overall, this process worked well. I am going to have an intern make some minor adjustments to the placement of the parking space information and work on a similar process for "angled" parking v. the "parallel parking" mentioned here.

If GIS was consulted before the inventory process began, we could have saved a lot of time of parking enforcement workers filling out an Excel field form and then having to go through this process of geocoding. If Parking Enforcement had worked with our GIS group and used already established GIS field form methodology from the beginning we would have save about a week's time running this geocoding process.


Traffic Sign Inventory ArcUser Winter 2009 Article

Check out my article on the City of Sacramento's Traffic Sign Inventory Project.

I have received numerous calls and email on the I am doing with the City.


ArcObjects 9.3 Help

A few of my students were asking how to navigate the convoluted course of the ArcObject Model Diagrams. You can check under the latest ArcGIS Web Help


Hope you find this useful.


City of Redlands and Sign Inventory

A person who read my article in ArcUser sent me this link to what the City of Redlands is doing. They are using Street View of the Google Map to assist them in identifying and locating street signs. Check my Subscribed to links on the right or click here:

City of Redlands Sign Inventory


Rapid Eye Releases Demo Imagery

Rapid Eye launched a series of satellites simultaneously in Aug 2008. Check out some of the galleries and data.

5m multispectral image data (5-band) B,G,R,NearRed, NIR

One of their benefits is they can capture a tremendous quantity of high-res data in a fairly short time.



Ode to a Tree

Well, the City is underway with the Urban Forest Services Tree Inventory. Davey Resources, the consultant on hand to complete the citywide inventory of city-managed trees, has been working for a month now and has about 10% complete.

In the meantime, I have been working on the back-end GIS data management infrastructure setting up the SDE transactional and publication environments using SDE Replication and Synchronization that will eventually hold the tree inventory data as well as developing some processes to create spatial SDE table views that will be used in the work order management side of things using Infor Enterprise Asset Management.

Just finished a Python script to create attribute domains out of the look up tables provided by Davey.

I will update as progress is being made.