Conspicuous along the edge of the river in moist areas such as where there is a seep or side stream are large-leaved Indian Rhubarb plant, also known as Umbrella Plant or Elephant Ear. The young leaves and pink flower stalks were eaten by Indians. Also in moist areas along the river are the primitive, leafless horsetails or scouring rush. These plants, high in silicone, were used by pioneers an miners for scouring pans and dishes. Another large-leaved plant, Spikenard or California Ginsing, grows along side streams.
Saint Johns Wort, also known as Klamath Weed is an abundant yellow-flowered plant that blooms throughout much of the summer. Other plants used as herbs include Yerba Santa and Yarrow. The yellow-flowered Salsify often grows near where gold is found and was searched out by miners for that purpose. On sandy or rocky flats along the river the yellow and white flower of the exotic snapdragon, Dalmatian Toadflax are abundantly found.
Growing out of rock faces in the springtime are the pink flowers of the rare suculent, Heckner's Lewisia. Throughout the summer the brightly red colored California Fuchsia grow out of cracks in the rocks. Other common red flowers include Indian Paintbrush, Indian Pink, and Firecracker Lily.
One must be careful to avoid Poison Oak which grows as small plants, as bushes, and as vines. It has woody stems and three leaves which are reddish in the spring and in the fall. It's berries are white or red. It leaves an itchy rash to many people which lasts about a week and a half. The rash is carried by oils, so if one touches it, it is helpful to wash off with a detergent, soap, or special Poison Oak compound.
Geology and Gold
The Klamath Mountains of Northern California and Southern Oregon are generally considered to be a break off of the Sierra Mountains The jagged Trinity Alps are a smaller division of the Klamath Mountains.
The dominant source of rocks in the area is from ocean bottom in the Pacific Ocean spreading from it's center and moving towards the continent. As the ocean floor meets the lighter rocks of the continent it dips under (subducts under) the continent. As the ocean floor dips under the continent, it's top layer is scraped off, and is pushed inland as it accumulates. Layers of scraped off ocean floor have accumulated, the oldest being east to Shasta Lake, and younger layers comprising the coastal range. As the ocean floor get's pushed farther inland it is subjected to intense pressures and folding. Most of the ocean-floor rocks in the Trinity River Frontier region are called metamorphic, because they have recrystalized into harder rocks from the heat and pressure they have been subjected to.
As the ocean floor dips below the continent it reaches a point at which it becomes molten. Large areas of molten rock, called batholiths have formed below certain areas of the Trinity River Frontier. One area is the Trinity Alps, whose higher elevation rocks are comprised largely of granites which were originally molten rocks below the surface and later uplifted. Another large granitic batholith is in the Burnt Ranch area called the Ironside Mountain Batholith. Ironside Mountain rises on the north side of the Trinity River, and on the east side of the New River.
The formation of granite is associated with the abundant gold in the region. Gold, deep in the earth's crust is melted with the molten granite, and rises in steam vents into whatever cracks or crevices are available. It precipitates at roughly the same temperature as quartz and is thus associated with quartz veins. It is not necessarily embedded in granite, but is also found in cracks of the ocean-floor rocks. As the mountains erode, it is washed into the river. Since it is much heavier than other rocks, it sinks to the bottom, and into cracks, and is only moved by flood conditions where the bottom rocks are churned up to a deep level. Through this churning, it sifts to a deeper level until it reaches bedrock, covered by an overburden of larger rocks. In many areas of the Coast Range, the rocks are similar to those of the Trinity River Frontier, but they do not have gold because the granite-forming conditions have not occured beneath these younger rocks.
The ocean-bottom rocks of the area are primarily Sandstone Schists (metamorphic sandstones), Argilite or Slate if layers break off in even layers (metamorphic mudstones), Marble (metamorphic limestone) and chert. The Sandstones tend to be in more massive layers because of the relative abundance of sand. These rocks form closer to the edge of the ocean. Further out in the ocean mudstones form from finer sediments which do not drop to the bottom as quickly as the the heavier sands. These rocks tend to have thinner layers. Cherts form deep in the ocean from the siliconaceous skeletons of millions of microscopic plankton which die and drop to the ocean floor. Cherts come in a variety of colors such as red and green.
Chert is a hard, glassy rock that was used by indians to make arrowheads and other sharp tools when they were not able to trade for higher-quality Obsidian. There are a number of limestone caves in the area, the best known being the Del Loma Caverns. This cave was discovered by gold miners in the 1850s. There were rumors that it extended all the way to Denny.
Trinity River Rafting operates under permit from the Shasta-Trinity and Klamath National Forests. We are equal opportunity service providers.
This site created and maintained with assistance by Auriver Consultants. Last updated 6-24-02. webmaster