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Last Updated: Jan 22nd, 2018 - 15:41:34 

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Touchstones Through the Fog
By Martin LeFevre
Jan 22, 2018, 3:42pm

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Though the fog hadn't burned off as it neared mid-afternoon, I hiked up-canyon beside the same stream that runs through town. The path is named the "Yahi Trail," after the indigenous people who made this area their home until they were exterminated, relocated or assimilated.

As always on inclement days, the beauty of nature far surpassed one's dim view of it indoors. That was never so clear as when I reached the narrow gorge over two miles from the closed gate. An opaque fog bank hung like a gray, ragged curtain, completely obscuring the cliffs above.

On days like this nature gives new meaning to the word "reclamation," the antipode of the usual meaning, such as "the aggressive reclamation of woodlands for agricultural production." Then, perhaps, you can feel the presence of ancient peoples who made the sacredness of the earth central to their lives.

The road into the canyon has been deliberately left unpaved and bumpy, and is closed at least two days a week. Chico has had the good sense to set aside the canyon, and prohibit "development" from spreading into it, though in recent years the city council has allowed monster houses to be built at the mouth of the canyon and despoil the viewshed from town.

Acorns were a staple of the Native Americans who lived in this area, and grinding-holes in flat slabs can be found along the banks of the stream. High above the creek, now flowing full and cold during California's rainy winter season, are volcanic cliff-faces that form small caves under the rim. Gazing up at the drapery of rock on clea