Save the Buckeye Path

Buckeye trail sign in Royal Gorge area-2 6-21-14I am starting to notice a new and totally unexpected trend in my life, ever since the acquisition of the Royal Gorge Properties. Contrary to my expectations that we had saved Donner Summit I find that we seem to actually be losing things. The latest casualty is some of the community minded spirit that makes the Summit such a great place to live.

In the last couple of weeks I have discussed some of the new single tack trails that are being created by the Truckee Donner Land Trust (TDLT) on the Royal Gorge lands. Last week we were out walking the dogs in the forest on the west side of Serene Lakes when we came upon another beautiful meandering footpath that ran parallel to the Big Ben trail. If you have been out on Big Ben lately, you know that it is not the pretty little ski trail it used to be. It was the unfortunate victim of the the very necessary forest restoration project being done by TDLT. The trail is now covered by 6-8 inches of wood chips and quite frankly it’s going to be a few years before it becomes a nice walking or riding trail again. I’ve taken to using the James Joy trail instead.

Maggie at Buckey trail sign in Royal Gorge area 6-21-14Well apparently someone else saw the need for an alternate trail to Big Ben. This individual, obviously being a community minded person, decided to create a footpath that meanders through the newly restored forest along Big Ben. Whoever this person is, they put in a lot of time and effort to clear the forest debris to make a wonderful little path for all to enjoy. But that person did not stop there. To mark this alternate route this person with an obvious artistic flare, created beautiful hand carved and painted trail signs. The trail is named the Buckeye Path (after the wonderful little Buckeye butterfly that flits around the summit). I think we can all agree, this was a wonderful good deed.

Well, unfortunately, we seem to live in a time when no good deed goes unpunished. An email is circulating now in which the new trail has been labeled “abuse that will not be tolerated” by TDLT. This is really a slap in the face to all community minded people on the summit. Those beautiful hand carved trail signs apparently don’t conform to TDLT sign regulations (like all those beat up Royal Gorge ski trail signs do?). I think we are witnessing a real loss of perspective in the summit community. We are talking about a walk in the woods. How many regulations do you need for that? TDLT is now planning on removing these trail signs. Wouldn’t it be more productive if TDLT would try to utilize this type of community spirit? I think it’s time to slow down the regulatory bus that seems to be barreling through the summit area lately and get back to the open minded spirit that used to live here. If you’re feeling the same, you might want to contact TDLT and let them know. You also might want to tell them to save the Buckeye Path while you’re at it.

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Time to kayak Van Norden Lake

LC kyaking on Van Norden Lake-13 9-11-09Ann LC transporting kayak at Van Norden dam spillway-03 6-28-13It’s time to get the kayaks out and do a paddle on Van Norden Lake. With this very dry year, the water level is already dropping below the spillway and the seasonal lake will be drying out very early this year. You can pretty easily traverse the spillway and put in for pleasant paddle out to the back bay of the lake. Best to get going early to miss the winds that can come up in the afternoon.

NancyHimmelstein LC kayaking in Castle Creek in Van Norden Meadow-03 5-12-13This is breeding time for the water fowl and shore birds in the wetlands and you should see pairs of Mallards and Mergansers and hordes of Western Toad tadpoles. I even saw a pair of Cinnamon Teal when I was out there last week.
Keep your eyes peeled for Osprey and Bald Eagle that love to hunt the waters of this shallow lake. Last week there were four Osprey all hunting together and we saw one pull out a small Bullhead Catfish for lunch. Make sure you make the effort to paddle back to the back bay area where Shooting Stars and Small Elephant Head flowers are currently in bloom.

I especially urge you to get out there this year in view of the possibility that the lake and wetlands may not be out there much longer if we can’t prevent the Truckee Donner Land Trust from draining the lake (see SAVEVANNORDEN.ORG for details). It is really magical to be out in the middle of the blue jewel of the lake surrounded by the scenic beauty of Donner Summit Valley.

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Hike of last week – Rowton Peak

We had a great hike last week along Razorback Ridge and up to Rowton Peak. The weather was perfect and many of the wild flowers were out. Now is the time to get up there to see the last of the Pink Star Onion and the Mariposa Lilies and Scarlet Gilia are just starting up. Thanks to Curt Oldenburg for the great photos.

GL LC Maggie Calla Lily with hiking group on Rowton Peak 6-14-14

GL LC with hiking group on Razorback Bridge in Royal Gorge area 6-14-14


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