Roger Ekins, who retired from Butte College in 2009, is a longtime Paradise resident fascinated by local history. He and his wife, Helen, have hiked and biked in the area almost daily and now, in a beautifully designed guidebook, the couple share much of what they've learned.
"The Flumes And Trails Of Paradise: Hiking Through History On The Ridge" ($19.95 in paperback from Happy Trails Press) features trailhead maps, hiking tips, the history of Paradise flumes, a section on local wildflowers, and dozens of hikes with detailed commentary and color photographs. Here is a book that will help readers, walkers and mountain bikers see Paradise and surroundings with new appreciation. It's an indispensable good-humored guide, with hikes set out in minutes, and vistas for points of interest at every turn.
The authors will sign copies of the book and present a slide show on "mysteries of the flumes" at Lyon Books in Chico this Thursday at 7:00 p.m. They'll be the interview guests of Nancy Wiegman on Nancy's Bookshelf, this Friday at 10:00 a.m. on KCHO, 91.7 FM (Northstate Public Radio). For details about additional signings, and a list the places the book can be purchased locally, go to flumesandtrails.com.
Readers will be rewarded with information on old telephone poles ("the first telephone call in Butte County was made from Cherokee to Oroville in 1878"); empty houses; water pipes ("beware of any 'modern' hoses carrying water off, as these may well lead to an illicit marijuana grow. ... Just keep on hiking"); and "curious equipment."
For instance, the "Double Incline Loop" hike near Lovelock yields a view of a "huge concrete pad that at one time housed the 900 horsepower Westinghouse motor that operated a winch with some 4,400 feet of 1¾ inch cable. ... You are standing on the easternmost end of Diamond Match's amazing double incline" which "operated from 1928 as long as the trees lasted, until 1935." Flatbed cars full of logs were let down on one side of the canyon and empty cars winched up on the other.
"Regardless of how much faith you bring to your flume treks," the authors note, "you won't always find yourself walking on water" (which is sometimes diverted). Regardless, find a store and get the book. It's worth the hike.