At the Pond: Flowing water and wildlife make biking even more pleasant

Maria on American River Bike Trail
The Davis Enterprise
By Jean Jackman

I like to bike my age (in miles) each birthday — increasingly challenging — especially since I do less long-distance riding and am a slow rider.

Luckily, we have a watershed with beautiful views and access to rivers, creeks and ponds. Biking along flowing water — with wildlife, birdsong, blooming orchards and vistas — takes half the effort and doubles the pleasure.

Last last week I biked the American River Bike Trail, properly called the Jedediah Smith Memorial Bicycle Trail. The start of it in Discovery Park near Old Town Sacramento is completely underwater. So I, along with friends Carol Bourne and Maria Tebbutt, drove a car carrying bikes to the REI parking lot and biked a few blocks over to the river to begin our trip.

Along the trail we saw turkey, quail, hawks, vultures and heard continual birdsong. The redbud is beginning to bloom. I saw my first pipevine swallowtail butterfly of the year. One year, at the end of March, there were pipevine swallowtail butterflies along all 32 miles of the trail. Over the years I’ve seen fox, coyote, deer and salmon migrating.

Our rewarding destination was Karen’s Bakery in Old Folsom, a popular spot. And then a visit right across the street to the whimsical Museum of Wonder and Delight. The curator, Dolph Gotelli, a professor emeritus of design at UC Davis, was there preparing a new display that will be in place by March 31 called “Let’s Play! Childhood Treasures from the Toybox.”

His massive collections are from all over the world. The museum is part of the Folsom Historical Society.

The trail has detours due to recent flooding in many spots, fallen trees and landslides. Workers already had cleaned up many miles and were at work at the detours. I bike the north side of the river, cross over a bridge and then bike the south side to the bakery. Normally I take the north side back around Lake Natomas, but that side was closed due to a large landslide.

After biking the trail, I dropped off my friends in Davis, biked along Putah Creek to Winters and around and around neighborhoods there to complete my miles to match my age. Then my husband came for a celebratory dinner and gave me and my bike a ride home. It was a satisfying and healthy day.

I do not take these pleasures for granted and hope that my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will experience such events. I’m grateful that our local air has improved in quality due to rules for car emissions, conversion of power plants to natural gas from oil and coal, control of emissions from fueling stations, stricter rules for agricultural and industrial sources.

Still, we need to get better, since 2016 was the hottest year on record since 1880, when we began tracking. Our watershed empties into the Pacific Ocean. Studies with new and improved methodology indicate that a staggering amount of heat has been added to our oceans, mostly since 1980.

The new study included research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which documents that climate change affects places thousands of meters below the surface of the sea. As the ocean sucks up more heat, we have bleaching of corals, important habitat that is dying.

The Trump administration calls for budget cuts, including a 26-percent cut for the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, the primary research arm of NOAA, which could mean measurement programs may no longer be there.

For 14 years, this column has celebrated public lands, waterways, improvements in our environment, species protection, the Endangered Species Act and people who help us understand and appreciate nature. So much is now at risk.

Environmental Protection Administrator Scott Pruitt is a climate denier. The EPA is the agency that responds when there is an oil spill, an explosion or bad pollution. Pruitt questions the link between human activity and climate change. Congress wants to slash the Endangered Species Act.

Our calls and letter to legislators do make a difference. The Sacramento March for Science is on April 22 and the People’s Climate March will take place April 29. Einstein said, “Those who have the privilege to know, have the duty to act.”

— Jean Jackman is a Davis resident; her column is published on the third Wednesday of the month. Got a story, question or comment? Contact her at

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