The first non Native Americans to come into Tehama and possibly Shasta County are noted in history to have been Mexican soldiers from the California Missions. In the late 1,700s or early 1,800’s they came up the Sacramento River as far as the Red Bluff area and then turned west to the ocean making a big circle back home. Not long after this initial exploration Hudson Bay Company trappers came south from the Columbia River with a large brigade of trappers. They entered into the Sacramento Valley following the Pit River, then turned south along the east side of the Sacramento River. They traveled through what is today the Jelly’s Ferry Wilderness Area setting up camps along the river and trapping beaver as they headed south into the valley’s interior.
I’ve ridden into this area on my mule Sugar many times and every trip is a special adventure. There’s something around most every corner, both present and past, that captivates my imagination. Every time I go into one of the Indian caves under the lava cap along the east side of the river it’s easy to imagine them gathered around a fire on a cold, wet, windy day. I can almost see Sam Neal riding his prize Morgan horses over the rolling oak studded hills heading north to warn Fremont that the California rebellion had started. John Bidwell rode past Paynes Creek and Ink Creek, close to where they dump into the river, on his chase to run down horse thieves headed for Oregon with his favorite team of carriage horses. Some historians think he caught up with the thieves in the wilderness area. Paynes Creek and Ink Creek are also the site of two thirty-mile long flumes. These two flumes, The Blue Mountain Flumes, carried logs from the eastern mountains to the river.
The Jelly’s Ferry Wilderness Area is probably the largest wilderness area along the Sacramento River that’s, more or less, just like it was when the Hudson Bay trappers first saw it. They may have even camped at Massacre Flats our favorite overnight camping site along the river. Sort of neat to imagine you’re riding the same trails these early explorers, mountain men and pioneers rode.
On Saturday we met up at the Ranch at 8 in the morning to gather horse and get everything ready to trailer to Jelly’s Ferry. By a little after 9 all three horse trailers were loaded and on the road.
“THE ADVENTURE HAD BEGUN!”
Tom is one of the founders of Trailhead Youth Ranch. He has been involved in Christian ranch and horse ministries since the early 1980s. Trailhead Youth Ranch is the culmination of 35 years of experience at various related Christian ministries.