Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Vacation Snapshot #3: The Hike
On our last full day at the lake, all the sisters and brothers-in-law and nieces and nephews had gone home and it was just our family and my husband's brother. We took a hike on the Royal Gorge cross-country ski trails, abandoned in summer. Technically we were trespassing, but we knew no one was checking. We had a need to go exploring, maybe see some land that could soon be changed forever. A development company has bought the ski resort and just filed a preliminary request for a permit to build a massive ski camp, artificial lake, new ski runs and double the number of residences in this tiny, quiet shelf of granite surrounding the lakes. The whole project is preposterous, especially since there is not sufficient water on the land to support increased visitors, even at less than 50% occupancy rates, without dredging and draining the two small Serene Lakes as the water supply. And the sewage...already they have to spray excess treated water on the hillsides in summer to avoid overloading the streams with it. Before we came up to the cabin this year, I researched who to write to protest the project (there is a website devoted to this) and printed out multiple copies of letters for us all to sign and send in.
The land seemed more vulnerable to me than it has in the more than 15 years I have come here to vacation. The growing season is so short, and already the meadows are dry and parched. There are many human marks on the land: tall signposts with the names of the ski trails and a roughly bulldozed road where the trails go. It's not a wilderness by any means. But it's not paved, and there are beautiful views down the canyon of the North Fork of the American River and up at the Sierra Crest. We saw no one on our entire 5-mile hike. We saw a grouse, who peered anxiously over her shoulder at us from between the trees (I decided it was a female Dusky Grouse). We saw many many orange butterflies, which I decided were Fritillarys. We saw a hawk, too far away to identify. We saw fresh bear scat. I hope it's all still there five years from now.