Category: community activities

Autumn is in the Air in Markleeville – Here’s a Beary Good Update!

AHH, the sweet, cool wind. Those regularly scheduled afternoon breezes…The robins are here. It feels almost like normal here in the heart of the California Alps. After weeks of fires, and fire related ca-ca, it’s a relief. That’s not to say it’s over. We know fire-season isn’t, yet it feels good so we’ll take it.

AND what perfect timing…It’s Fall!

ONE of our fall traditions here in Alpine County is a good old-fashioned clean-up day.

AND so it was that last Saturday a bunch of us Markleevillians, and Woodsfordsians, some Mesaites; and even some Gardnervillians, too, found ourselves banding together, whacking, pulling and pleading with various bushes, trees, and weedings. I know, weedings is a bit of a stretch, but work with me, k?

WE hit up Markleeville, Hope Valley, Hwy. 88 and Hwy. 89 (litter pick-up on these highways some of us have adopted), picked up piles of pallets and gobs of glass. Old can dumps, and loads of biomass (mostly pine needles), along with what seemed at times like entire pieces of automobiles, were collected too.

MO Loden, former (sad 😭 that you’re leaving but congrats on the new gig, Mo!) Watershed Coordinator for the Alpine Watershed Group herded all of the cats and organized our big ol’ event. Click here, by the way, to see a more recent pic of the gang, and learn a little more about Mo, and AWG.

AFTERWARDS it was lunch at the Library Park (courtesy of Outwest Cafe – thank you Buzz, Jamie and Joey!). Was a nice group, many of whom stayed to visit. Unfortunately for me, like I said, fall is in the air. And that means…

CHORES around the house. Things like covering holes recently made by some electrical panel work, raking pine needles, and clearing dirt and debris from around the generator so we can be ready for the Public Safety Power Shutoff (that fortunately never came). But, those winds sure did. In fact, earlier that day, when out on Hwy. 89 doing the Adopt-a-Highway schtick, I looked back toward town and saw the topsoil blowing from the forest floor (no more vegetation post-fire) and it was insane. With the howling winds, blackened bushes and trees with no tops, it felt and looked apocalyptic.

GAWD, I hope we haven’t turned the corner. I don’t want to be a dinosaur.

Image courtesy of space.com.

SERIOUSLY, Mark? This post is going to the dark side, man. Let’s move on. Fall isn’t a bummer. It’s a beautiful time of year here in the Sierra. Sure, some of the forest is gone but a lot of it is intact. Take, for example, this photo, which I took last night.

SUNDAY we saw a bit more of what’s to come while having a nice lunch at Wylder Resort in Hope Valley. Sitting on the deck (it was a little windy) in the aspens, with our friends, one of whom we hadn’t seen since Christmas of ’19, felt so good.

THE food was great. Even with the 7000′ foot tax and the various service fauxpas. “No I ordered the tuna on ciabatta and the potato salad, not the tuna on greens with potato salad.” “She ordered the ham and onion quiche, not the veggie quiche.” “Sorry, we’re out of the ham & onion.” It was almost comical yet we laughed and continued to reminisce.

STILL, the staff did an admirable job. The two free glasses of wine and extra potato salad helped smooth things over. As did the Bloody Mary’s prior.

WE forgot about the pandemic (even though we talked about it) and the fires (ditto); and we just reveled in the day, and each other, and our friendship. It was a special afternoon, indeed.

Speaking of Special Afternoons

THERE’S one coming up this Saturday, the 25th. The Candy Dance is happening in Genoa (and we’ve gone every year), but we’ve got our own little “Aspen Day with Friends of Hope Valley” thing going on, so we’ll be hanging there instead. Candy Dance Sunday maybe.

THERE’S a famous comedian, Mark Lundholm, making the trek to town the same night. Woo, hoo, big shit happening here in Alpine County let me tell you. There’s more to come too. Click here to check out the Chamber’s events calendar.

Riding?

Riding, you say. Yeah done some of that. There seems to be a little less wind most days and the air has been clear – although last night we saw some 150’s again, this time from the fires to the south, in the Sequoia Nat’l Forest. Will it end?

THERE I go again. Dark side. Back to cycling…

Alta Alpina members were wowed with a windless night at last Thursday’s Diamond Valley Road Race. I didn’t get to see it or race it, though, dang it 🙁 ).

I haven’t been quite so lucky but the riding has been good nonetheless. Check out last week’s post if you haven’t seen it. Great day on pebbles (and sand, and rocks and Pinenut dirt). As for here… Not too many cars and fall temps (32 yesterday a.m.) make for some great riding.

SOME charred forest awaits you but none after Monitor Junction if you want to take a ride up to Ebbetts Pass (my fav).

Fall colors starting to show on Hwy. 89 (looking south towards Monitor Junction).

BEER also awaits you (at the Cutthroat)! And some leaf-peaping. And some grinding (food or gravel). Speaking of grinding (the edible kind), did I tell you that the Salettis, from Gardnerville, bought Stonefly? Our landmark eatery is soon to go Italian. I’m already salivating. The locals who had been to their restaurant in G’Ville are talking them up big time! Can’t wait for some wood-fired lasagna, or that famous coconut cake! Oh boy.

SO, onward we go Alpine County, and you too, I hope. It’s a new season and a new day and this shitty stuff? It shall be displaced by the good vibes, laughter, color and light, of fall.

COME on up for a visit! That’s kinda the whole point of this post, after all. And be sure to let us know you’re coming. We’ll join you for a ride. Or hoist a beer with you. Or just say hi.

HAPPY AUTUMNAL EQUINOX!

Coming Back to Life in Markleeville – It’s Been a Wild Ride

THE trip back to Chalet Schwartz, aka California Alps Cycling headquarters, was a sobering and somber experience. So much of our forest was now blackened.

AFTER almost ten (10) days of being evacuated (from Friday, July 16th, through Sunday, July 26th) it was great to get back home. It was a surreal experience for sure; Markleeville and Marklee Village were oases in the middle of a charred forest.

WE were lucky…Our generator system did its job and kept my beer and other libations cold, our food fresh and our frozen grub, frozen. The Alpine Co. Sheriff’s Office, as well as other law enforcement, kept our home, and town, secure from both two-legged and four-legged creatures.

Firefighters

THOSE firefighters, though…What a group of individuals! They fought for our town, for our people, for our businesses and for our homes. When the fire blew up, almost overnight, they didn’t give up. They battled and battled. For days. What they did can really never be repaid. As I’ve told those that I have seen since – whatever you need, whenever you need it, we’re your huckleberries.

DOUGLAS County, Nevada, also came through in a big, big way. They opened their facility (the Senior Center in Gardnerville) and most importantly, they opened their hearts. Donations poured in, offers of places to stay for people and animals were proffered, and the kindness and compassion were palpable. To them we also owe a huge debt of gratitude.

WHILE we had power (thanks to Liberty Utilities hooking up a big-ass generator) we did not have internet. Too bad Frontier isn’t like Liberty, whose crews were on sight almost immediately, and even today they were at it. This time, dropping poles by helicopter. Frontier, on the other hand. Haven’t seen ONE truck. Not one. Not to be too cynical but I’m betting we’ll see a bill.

OKAY, enough negativity. Karma…

My Mental State

ADMITTEDLY, I’ve had a very hard time this past week. I tried to work on Monday but it was almost impossible without decent internet; my cell phone just didn’t have enough of a signal to act as a hotspot.

TO the rescue came our friends Mike and Eileen. They offered us their home in South Lake Tahoe for the week. And we are also oh so grateful for our dear friends Chris and Shyanne, who offered us their home in Spanish Springs last weekend as a little getaway. My wife and I, and our two (2) cats, took advantage and headed north for a couple days, leaving Mom and her cat, Baxter, in the hotel in Minden.

BUT last Tuesday morning I found myself packing up. Again. My wife and I made the trek to South Lake. I thought it was the right thing to do (it was work-wise) but my psyche said otherwise. I found myself in tears Tuesday night, asking myself what the hell I was doing. I came to the realization that I needed to be home and so Wednesday, after a decent workday, I did go home.

BACK to South Lake I went Thursday but I couldn’t focus. I didn’t care. I had no spark; I was just flat. Was this PTSD?

IT wasn’t just the fire I now knew. It was the loss of the Deathride, the possible prostate cancer diagnosis (thankfully I found out the Saturday after we evacuated that it WASN’T cancer), the pandemic (and so no 2020 Deathride) and the almost constant fear of another fire. All of that combined with almost ten (10) days of worrying about our home took a serious toll on my mental health. I understood that I needed some help and I’ve since begun that process.

HERE I am a few days later and I’m certainly feeling more like myself. The anxiety is still there although it’s not as pervasive as it was. Getting back to a somewhat normal routine, including a ride yesterday and another today, has truly helped. Being home, getting some things put away, doing some household chores and putting it in some sort perspective has made a difference.

OUR local businesses, including the Cutthroat, have been closed, but today the Cutthroat was open. There’s a sign of recovery!

An Animal Oasis and a New Beginning

OTHER signs abound, too. Black-eyed Susan’s and their cheery blooms. A flock of mergansers on the East Carson. Two velvet-antlered bucks just across the road yesterday morning. Allen’s hummingbirds putting on a daily show just off the deck. And the bears. While they can be a bit of a nuisance (ask my neighbor whose freezer and garbage can they overturned yesterday), in a strange way their renewed presence is reassuring.

AND Tuesday is the first of many meetings that we Markleevillians will have as we begin the healing and rebuilding process. As a community.

THAT will be an oh so awesome start…

After-Action Report on the Inaugural Curtz Lake Trail Day

THE weather was wonderful (okay it got a bit warm in the afternoon), the trails were in tip-top shape and the hikers were happy.

‘TWAS a good day in the heart of the California Alps!

THE ATA

THE Alpine Trails Association, of which I’m the rookie officer-at-large, held the event yesterday.

OUR program included some Washoe history; some trail-tools training; a bit of orienteering and compass-cognition; some trail-bike (gravel, MTB, eMTB) background; and most importantly – this was after all a trails day – several hikes.

Special shout-outs go to the event organizer and ATA Director Jim Haen (center-right of frame, facing the map), and Irvin Jim, the Chairman of the Hung A Lel Ti here in Alpine County (center-left of frame with the black shirt).

THERE was face-painting for the kids (I went with a Deathride theme as you can see), both large and small.

AND other crafty and informational things were also available in our little mall.

IT seemed like a reunion at times, with so many locals gathered to celebrate our fairly new sense of freedom, enjoy the beauty of our region and to give thanks to those who have been stewards of this land for thousands of years (the Washoe) and to those who have taken up that mantle much more recently.

AS Jim wrote this morning: “Thank you for making yesterday special. My first objective was to celebrate the construction of the Interpretative Trail by the handful of original builders still with us – Andy, Jim Mc, Kevin, Rhonda and Rich; and to expose this great area to more local families. On those counts the day was a resounding success.”

INDEED it was, Jim!

THERE were approximately 40-50 on hand (not bad for a county of about 1100, right?) and everyone learned a lot. Over-acheiver Jim 😉 has already made some suggestions on how we can improve the event next year. Yup, the work has already begun and we’re looking forward to seeing more folks next year, including you perhaps!

IT’S All About Stewardship

AS many of you loyal readers know, we’re big on that here at CAC and have put our skin in the game, as it were, since we’ve been here. A big part of that has been our past participation in the Eastern Sierra Sustainable Recreation Partnership (ESSRP), and I bring that up because it has recently put up a fantastic page entitled “CAMP LIKE a PRO in the Eastern Sierra.”

CHECK it out here.

AN Unexpected Ride

WE realized during after one docent-led hike had taken off down the trail that our docent didn’t have his radio. With no cell service at Curtz Lake communicating with him was impossible at that point. No problem. Bessie (my wife’s eMTB) to the rescue!

OFF I went down the trail and I caught up with the group post-haste. No need to put on lycra or special shoes and no worries that I was more appropriately appareled for hiking than riding.

A great use of an eMTB (or other e-Bikes) I thought. Having one on hand for events like this was an unexpected benefit and it got me thinking about more such uses, e.g. as a sweep for organized hikes, rides or walks or a way to deliver emergency first aid or communication when that otherwise might not be possible.

CERTAINLY others have considered this already; for us, though, it was an eye-opener!

HATS off to my colleagues at the ATA! You are all amazing individuals and I’m so glad to be a part of the Association.

AFTER all, trails don’t just build themselves and they need to be maintained so that all of us can continue to enjoy them for years to come.

THANKS for reading and see you out on the trail!

Siren? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Siren!

NEITHER do the Washoe.

AS I understand it, the siren dates back to the early twentieth century and was erected in order to “tell” the Washoe people that it was time for them to get off the streets of Minden, NV, and surrounds, and go home. It still blares its racist message everyday at 6:00 p.m. if you can believe that!

The first time my wife and I heard it we thought it was some sort of test of an emergency siren.

NOT hardly!

IN a recent article written by Kurt Hildebrand of “The Record-Courier” he references a quote from a letter written by Washoe Tribal Chairman Serrell Smokey on August 6th, 2020 in which Mr. Smokey called on Douglas County and the Town of Minden, to silence the siren.

“This is not a noise complaint but an attempt to bring (resolution) to years of underlying racism and historical trauma and our town,” Smokey said. “The historical trauma of this piece of history has an effect on all generations of Washoe people, including the youth of today. It is a constant reminder of the oppression that was brought upon our ancestors.”

FOR a bit more context (there’s a bill, AB88, pending) click here to read the entire article (see page A4). And, no, we don’t buy the “it’s been re-tasked” argument.

The Sundown SIren Protest Ride

A friend of mine e-troduced me to Matt Niswonger, the organizer of the Sundown Siren Protest Ride, and Matt was kind enough to provide some more information:

  • This is a fundraiser ride. Everything (100%) donated to the link below goes to Washoe outdoor programs through their juvenile probation program. Donation is not mandatory but here is the link in case anyone wants to: https://www.pledgereg.com/tahoe-siren-fundraiser-ride.
  • The $48 registration fee is to help offset the cost of insurance and the video we are making of the event; as well as the pre-ride meal we are serving the night before at the riders meeting.
  • The ride involves about 5K feet of climbing and 20 miles – all on trails. Mountain bikes are recommended but it might be possible to ride a gravel bike. Matt says this is suitable for expert riders. “It’s a protest ride so we are not racing and will be mostly sticking together.
Map of the Sundown Siren Protest Ride course

WRITES Matt: “I really appreciate you raising awareness about this protest ride. I’m happy to answer any questions anyone has. If anyone wants to register there is still room for a few more. In case anyone has questions about the Minden sundown siren here is a petition I started with some info.”

WE REALLY APPRECIATE people like Matt, and my friend John Dayberry, and so many others, who are champions of what’s right. Matt can be reached, by the way, at matt@adventuresportsjournal.com.

I’LL be out of town next weekend or I’d be there. Editors note: I’m kinda glad; the course looks gnarly. 😉

Still, we’ll be sending in our donation (and signing the petition) and hope you can find some time to ride next Saturday, donate to a good cause, or both.

Coming May 25th! The Interregional Stakeholders Meeting and Workshop

OUR friends at the California Bicycle Coalition are hosting the final Interregional Cycling Tourism Community Outreach Workshop and Stakeholder Meeting at 5:30 p.m. P.T. on May 25th.

WE’LL be there and hope to see you too!

IT’S a fantastic chance to make your opinion known!

AS Rob Williams, CalBike’s Community Outreach Manager, wrote in this recent post, you too can “help shape the future of cycling tourism.”

We need your help to learn as much as we can about these Showcase and Trails. We’re relying on you, an actual cyclist who has ridden the roads, knows the proposed bike trails, and to tell us what needs to change and what that change should look like. We want our proposals to reflect the experience and needs of bicyclists and lead to real progress in making Northern California a premier cycling destination.”

You will join other stakeholders—recreational cyclists, business owners, tourism, civic leaders, and government officials—who all want to encourage cycling for a better local economy, and a healthy resource for residents and visitors alike. We strongly encourage you to participate in this exciting and ground-breaking opportunity to shape the future of cycling recreation in Northern California.

WE, along with other Alpine Co. stakeholders, participated in one of the five initial meetings CalBike held in Caltrans’ District 10 last month. It was well attended and lots of good ideas and information were shared.

WHAT a unique opportunity to contribute to the cycling landscape of the region!

LET’s keep the vibe going!

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE MEETING on Tuesday the 25th at 5:30 p.m.

SEE you then!

Feel free to download the cycling club flyer or meeting info. in the meantime.

An Update on the ESSRP and the Visitor Connection Working Group

Last year, as some of you may recall, the Eastern Sierra Sustainable Recreation Partnership (ESSRP), “a unique public/public partnership between the United States Forest Service and local agencies,” kicked off. One of “those publics” is the Alpine Co. Chamber of Commerce, one of many regional agencies involved in the project, and yours truly is a representative for the ACCoC.

This update expands on last year’s December post so for a bit more context/information click here and take a gander at that missive before you read on.

The mountains near and behind Mammoth Lakes as seen from the Lake Crowley area during the 2018 Mammoth Gran Fondo. Just a portion of the region on which this initiative is focused.

The partnership, covering roughly the area from Inyo County to Alpine County, began before Covid-19 became part of our lives and so we were initially able to meet in person. That has since changed and we now meet via Zoom. The initiative is comprised of four (4) tracks or programs:

  • Regional Recreation Stakeholder Engagement
  • Climate Adaptation and Resilience Assessment
  • Connection to the Eastern Sierra Visitor Audience
  • Project Development and Prioritization for Funding
The first meeting of the “Connection to the Eastern Sierra Visitor Audience” working group.

Connection to the Eastern Sierra Visitor Audience

This post is about that third track/program: “the Visitor Connection Working Group (VCWG).”

It all started in October of 2019 when the Chamber was invited to be a part of this effort in order to help “develop a regional strategy to connect with our Eastern Sierra Visitor Audience.” As Kristy Williams, Project Manager, put it: “We aren’t talking about how to get more people here.  We are going to discuss the unique recreation, culture, stewardship, and tourism opportunities that exist here in the Eastern Sierra – and determine how, as a region, we communicate these opportunities to our visitors, including opportunities for stewardship.”

There are about thirty of us, give or take, that are working on this track and we’ve done quite a bit of work, from developing the visitor persona; to devising some particular words and phrases that we feel represent the area and the people who live, work and visit here; to (and this was what we did at our most recent meeting, which took place last week) selecting images that represent those words or phrases.

Speaking of images…One of the bitchenest (is that a word?) things you can do in the Eastern Sierra is ride a bike. This was me finishing the medio route (70 miles) of the Mammoth Gran Fondo in 2018. The MGF is just one of many organized rides (the Deathride is another) that take place in the Eastern Sierra annually.

It’s a Zoom ‘Thang

How are we doing all of this, you ask, without meeting in person?

It’s amazing what can be done with Zoom. Thanks to the incredible staff of the Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation, we don’t just yak as a group or look at slide decks the entire time. The meetings are highly collaborative and open and all ideas and thoughts are welcome. A distinct aspect of these sessions in my mind is the break-out room, or rooms. Several groups are formed and then we are magically and virtually transported (thanks Mr. Wizard) into these rooms with our colleagues.

It’s in those rooms where a lot of the heavy lifting is done.

Last week, our group (and there were three (3) others, groups that is, doing the same thing) was tasked with reviewing approximately thirty images that describe these words – MEMORIES – TRADITION – CONNECTION. Not an easy task by any means but the idea is that these images, from all four (4) groups, would be part of a package given to a team that would then “translate” them into our deliverables, which are things like brochures, handouts and videos that can be used to educate and inform visitors to the Eastern Sierra. Sorry, I can’t show you any of the images; they are top secret for now (and I didn’t take any screenshots).

Skin in the game…

As I wrote (as did Kristy in her email to me) in December it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not just about marketing to get MORE PEOPLE to the region. In fact, that’s what it’s least about. It’s really about getting people who are already here, or coming here, to be MORE INVOLVED. And having skin in the game is a vital component to that approach. Meaning:

  • Are visitors educated on what to do and how to act? For example, are they aware of best practices like where to poop (a big topic at our December 2019 meeting) and how to “leave no trace?”
  • Do visitors care about the region?
  • Do they want to help improve and maintain it?
  • Are they willing to educate their families, peers and friends about it?

More to follow…

Yup, it’s not a done deal yet. We’ve got several more meetings, the last of which takes place in February of next year. And we are just one group of many within the larger group. That means there are still lots of cats to herd and work to be done so that we can best utilize that grant money. In the long run that means selecting approximately eight (8) projects. Perhaps that means updated or new bathrooms for some deserving park or community. Maybe it’s about signage and kiosks that describe a particular route or feature. It could be something related to off-road vehicles (the kinds with engines). TBD. Once a project is vetted and approved, however, it will be up to the “winner” to get the funding and execute.

Do you have ideas for improving recreation in the Eastern Sierra? Infrastructure? Access? Programs?

Click here if you do, or if you just want to learn more, you can do that too!

We’re all in it for the long haul and if we do our jobs well then we’ll define the Eastern Sierra as the next Moab or Grand Canyon. A place where generations of us can continue to ride our bikes, climb mountain peaks or granite walls, take our grandkids 4-wheelin’ and catch some big ol’ fish. Before we get there, though, there is more work to be done.

The Eastern Sierra Sustainable Recreation Partnership and its Potential Impact on California Alps Cycling

And no, I’m not talking strictly about the impact this project could have on our business. I’m referring more to the impact it can have on the Alps, and the Eastern Sierra region, as a whole. For more about California’s Alpine Zone though, click here for an overview, courtesy of the USFS.

The southern CA Alps – Looking towards Mammoth from near Bishop. Part of the amazing region on which this initiative is focused.

A little background…

The Eastern Sierra Sustainable Recreation Partnership (ESSRP), an initiative that began in the spring of 2019 due to the largess of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Governing Board, authorized “$618,750 of Proposition 68 funding to go to the Town of Mammoth Lakes (on behalf of the regional partnership) to administer the Sustainable Recreation and Tourism Initiative.”

The partnership could potentially implement the following, depending on the outcome of the review and prioritization that has begun to take place here in the Eastern Sierra:

  • New trails and facility planning and construction
  • New and existing “hard infrastructure” including bathrooms, pavement maintenance, water, sewer, other buildings
  • Maintenance and staffing of visitor centers
  • County/Town recreational infrastructure maintenance, rehabilitation, and new project Identification and work program development
  • Project planning including environmental review
  • Permitting facilitation and clean-up

The Partnership not only includes the town of Mammoth Lakes, but also the counties of Alpine, Inyo and Mono as well as the city of Bishop. Two (2) regions of the United States Forest Service (USFS) are also involved. Click here to learn more.

The first meeting of the “Connection to the Eastern Sierra Visitor Audience” working group. Yours truly is humbled to be a member of this group representing California Alps Cycling and more importantly, the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce.

What’s that mean for the California Alps and California Alps Cycling?

In our mind it means that visitors to the Alps, especially cyclists, gravel riders and mountain bikers (hey, this is a cycling blog after all!) could have more support when they visit. As some of you may know, infrastructure in Alpine County is a bit limited. I’m talking about public bathrooms, showers, and such. Our Chamber of Commerce, as well as other businesses in Alpine Co., do provide some of this but we need more. Other counties in the Alps (think Mono for example) do have better support systems but even they need additional support. As I’ve heard from some fellow attendees at our meetings, some of their infrastructure is a bit dated or limited. So, the idea behind this approximately two (2) year initiative is to vet and prioritize projects for which we can then seek grant money. “We” being the region, not just Alpine, or Mono, or Mammoth, for example. This regional approach will allow for much more comprehensive benefits. E.G. what helps Mammoth Lakes could help Inyo county; what Alpine county does or will do may be scalable to other areas.

Skin in the game…

It’s not just about marketing to get MORE PEOPLE to the region. It’s MORE ABOUT getting people who are already here, or coming here, to be MORE INVOLVED. And having skin in the game is a vital component to that approach. Meaning:

  • Are visitors educated on what to do and how to act? For example, are they aware of best practices like where to poop (a big topic at our 12-11 meeting) and how to “leave no trace?”
  • Do visitors care about the region?
  • Do they want to help improve and maintain it?
  • Are they willing to educate their families, peers and friends about it?

More to follow…

As I mentioned earlier in this post, this is a two (2) year initiative so there is definitely more to follow. The next public workshop is on January 16th in Lone Pine. Then, in February, is the 2nd “Connection to the Eastern Sierra Visitor Audience” meeting in Mammoth. I’ll be attending both and will continue to provide updates on our progress. In the meantime, if you have anything to add, please let me know.

Happy New Year!

We wish you all a happy and healthy 2020 and we thank you for being a loyal reader of our blog and if you’re a member of California Alps Cycling, you get an extra THANK YOU! Together we can accomplish a lot. Ride safe and Let’s Kick Some Passes’ Asses! in the coming year. There are oh so many to choose from, right?

Here and There in the California Alps – Part Deaux

Lots of things to talk about in this post: The Christmas Faire is coming; Grover Hot Springs has a new boardwalk; we’ve got some serious birding energy here including a first-time sighting; an amazing sushi bar in South Lake Tahoe; a patriotic visit with Snowshoe Thompson; a little bit of snow earlier in the week and a Deathride resurgence. Let’s get to it!

The Magical Markleeville Christmas Faire is this weekend!

A yearly tradition here in Markleeville but with an added twist this year: the Faire will be in the County Administration building so we all don’t freeze our hineys off like we have in the past. Things start with a pancake breakfast and there’ll be crafters, cookie decorating for the kids and Santa will be making an appearance too. Check out the Faire’s Facebook page for more information.

Grover Hot Spring’s New Boardwalk

I got out for a hike last week and did part of the Charity Valley Trail (from Hot Springs Road to Grover Hot Springs State Park), trekked around the park’s meadow and then took the boardwalk back the way I came. The park is always a great place to visit, especially the hot springs and now with the new boardwalk there’s one more thing to check out!

Birds, birds and more birds

It all started with the sighting of a rare bird in these parts – the Yellow Browed Warbler. Our little town of Markleeville was invaded by birders from throughout the state – they were hoping to add the bird to their lists. The Record Courier (Minden, Gardnerville and Carson City, NV) did a little write up. Click here to take a look.

A few weeks ago, we spotted an Osprey here at HQ (click here to read that post) and there have been visits from other birds since, including the Evening Grosbeak. Having been here three (3) years this was the first time we had seen these happy birds – a flock of about 20-30 tweeted their way across the meadow, perhaps enjoying the morning sun. And our regular herd of turkeys is back, too.

It’s not [always] about the beer

That’s not to say I didn’t have any when my wife and I visited The Naked Fish in South Lake but the beer definitely WAS NOT the highlight of the meal. Yes, beer can be a meal but I often like it as an accompaniment to food – food. In this case, some of the best, most unique sushi we’ve had. The hamachi was glorious (so buttery) and the uni was briny, kelpy, rich-flavored goodness. And that poke bowl…I’m salivating now as I recall how good that was! The way they prepare the sushi, though, is perhaps the real highlight – works of art that you almost don’t want to eat.

Flags (er, flag) flying at the ‘Shoe’s place

As many of you loyal readers and Strava followers know, Diamond Valley is one of my favorite places to ride. I did what I call the Diamond Valley Ewes (not the sheep, no, but two half-loops – but how does one write two yous, as in the letter?) which took me past Snowshoe’s place twice. The second time around I stopped to visit, as I usually do.

First snow (kinda…we had a little in Sept) of the season

It wasn’t much but it was enough to close Ebbett’s, Monitor, Sonora and Tioga Passes here in the California Alps. According to the CalTrans QuickMap app just now, they are all still closed with the exception of Monitor. It’s pretty darn cold here so it appears winter is on the way. We’d appreciate it, though, Ma Nature, if you’d give us a break or two before the big snow starts.

Deathride resurgence

The ride is under new management! The Alpine Co. Chamber of Commerce owns the ride (as it has for years) but this year we’ve (I am a board member) decided to take it to a new (different) level. We’re hiring a professional ride director and are exploring things like alternate route options, or additions. We’re also looking at making it more of a Fondo and adding a bit of a retro vibe. We’re still working out some of the details so stay tuned for more information about our Ruby Anniversary Edition. It’s going to be a blast!

Well, there you have it! I told you there was lots going on here in the heart of the California Alps. Here at California Alps Cycling we count our blessings every day. Living, working and riding in such an awesome place is a privilege that we don’t take for granted. We hope to see you here for a visit soon. In the meantime, let’s kick some passes’ asses! Assuming they’re still rideable.

Another Successful Adopt-a-Highway Event in the California Alps

Success on an Adopt-a-Highway day is a mixed bag, no pun intended. It’s great to be able to give back to the community but I wish we didn’t have to pick up trash in the first place. It’s mind-boggling to me that people still litter at all!

Bailey, Henry, Pat, Mark & January with the day’s haul from Saturday’s clean up.

Now to be sure, some of the littering was likely accidental – for example the Kenworth branded mudflap we found, or the socket wrench, with a couple sockets, likely left there by a distracted, or perhaps hurried, repair-maker (there’s not a whole lot of shoulder on that particular chunk of Highway 89 where this stuff was found).

Other than those “special” items, we found the typical beer cans (mostly Coors light and Chelada), numerous cigarette butts (seriously?), a filled (ew!) baby diaper, one-half of a plastic Easter egg, numerous plastic bags, various plastic car parts (headlight lenses, pieces of wind deflectors, taillight lenses, etc.), myriad bottles, including a few Sierra Nevada Summerfest, and other “fun” items.

The California Alps Cycling crew was joined this time by two folks from Sparks, NV: Henry and Bailey. They reached out to us after seeing our last blog post advertising the event. Chris (legacy member, Chris Schull) and I met them a couple months ago. We chatted a bit in town (Markleeville) as we were coming back from a ride and they were heading out. Henry and Bailey felt that it was important to give back to the community where they ride quite often and we can’t agree more. That’s one big reason we do it.

One of the other reasons we do it is to help keep our watersheds clean.

“As an interconnected system, an impact to any part of the watershed affects the rest of the system downstream.”

Did you know Alpine County includes the headwaters of five (5) watersheds?

Yup! The American, Carson, Mokelumne, Stanislaus and Truckee Rivers all get their start here and so it’s that much more important to prevent garbage and other nasties from getting into these rivers.

And, we aren’t the only ones that take this seriously. The Alpine Watershed Group does too. As their tagline reads, they are: “Working to preserve and enhance the natural system functions in Alpine County’s watersheds for future generations through collaboration, education, and proactively implementing stewardship projects.” We’ve donated to the AWG before and today we became a sustaining member. Perhaps you can help out, too? Just go to their website and donate, or volunteer, or both. They, and we, would love to have you!

Speaking of healthy watersheds…We have been frequented here at CA Alps Cycling HQ recently by an osprey! We saw it fly over town a couple days ago and then noticed it on Sunday, perched on a branch here, eating a snake.

“Our osprey” checking out the scene.

Was that a thank you? We’d like to think so.

Givin’, Fixin’, Ridin’, and Spectatin’ in the California Alps

The last several weeks have been a lot of work, but with lots of fun times, too. I haven’t had much time to blog but I finally came up for air so here’s a run-down of our recent activities here in the heart of the Sierra Nevada.

Markleeville Spring Clean-up and Cinco de Mayo Celebration

It all started on the anniversary of that famous (infamous?) day, which commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza. It is not a celebration of Mexican independence, as some mistakenly think. Okay, there’s your history lesson for today. Thanks Wikipedia!

Here in Markleeville, it was our chance to do our first clean up of the year and do a bit of commemoratin’ ourselves (after the work was done, of course). Eighteen (18) intrepid volunteers, including your truly, my wife and California Alps Cycling co-founder, Patricia, joined us, as did our club mother (and my Mom), January. In fact Mom gets the kudos for the excellent salsa and guacamole that we munched on post-work day. I brought the cerveza, though.

We mowed, weed-whacked, lopped, trimmed, picked-up and well, you get the idea. We tackled Markleeville Park (as we have affectionately named a vacant lot in town), Coyan Park, and Heritage Park. We picked up a bunch of limbs, branches and such that had accumulated by one of our welcome signs and we picked up trash – on the section of highway we’ve adopted between Turtle Rock Park and Camp Markleeville, which includes town.

Several bags of trash, a bike helmet and a totally thrashed mile-marker (snow blower got it I think) were part of the haul. We made about three to four trips to the local bio-mass pile, too. Lots of mass to bio, if you will. A shout out to Karrie and John Baker, of Alps Haus and Al’s Got Gas, Bait & Tackle, here in town for their support (as always). Quick plug – We have some CA Alps Cycling schwag for sale (it’s a consignment ‘thang) at Al’s so stop on by and grab some (and get some gas and tackle while you’re at it)!

Washoe Earth Day Celebration

The following Saturday (last weekend, May 11th), Chris (Schull, legacy member) and I met at the Hung a Lel Ti gym as we had lots of bikes to repair. The day had been a long time coming with the associated planning that comes with such big events. Susan Jamerson and team did a bang up job getting ready for the event, with a bicycling focus added to the day. Part of that included a repair station so that kids could get their bikes fixed up for the races that were to come. I spent the previous week or so gathering donations (prizes for the race winners) from local merchants and friends as well as prepping and packing the gear, tools, stands, tables etc. that we’d need for the repair center.

Chris & I arrived about 8:30 a.m. and we already had some repair candidates waiting. Hung A Lel Ti Chairman Irvin Jim met us upon arrival and he and a few of the riders helped us unload and then we set to work. Was quite the trip down memory lane as the bikes we worked on were not what we were used to riding, at least now that we were old (er). These were bikes we rode as kids! Too fun. We mostly fixed flats and such but there were other repairs needed too – from brakes to derailleur hangers and many points in between. We figured we wrenched on about 12-15 bikes and we got them all done in time for the races, which started at 10:00 a.m. It was great watching the kids race and we basked in the knowledge that we helped them be able to do that.

What an awesome place to ride

After our hard, but oh so rewarding day acting like bike mechanics, it was time for some us time! We headed up Ebbett’s Pass to Raymond Meadow Creek for a “chat n’ ride” as I call it. Nary a car was seen so we were able to yak and take in the scenery without much trouble.

Then, on Monday (just a few days ago), we took it one step further and rode Monitor Pass; my second trip up the mountain since the Friday before. It’s a hard climb but we figured it would be a good way to start the day because we planned on finishing it by watching the Amgen Tour of California come into So. Lake Tahoe for the finish. Get it? We suffer in the a.m. and then drink beer and eat while we watch the pros suffer in the afternoon!

The Amgen Tour of California

Off to Tahoe we went. We kicked things off with some suds and sammies at Artemis; we hung out at the bar and enjoyed the vibe before we walked a couple miles up to Heavenly to avoid the crowds, or so we thought. Fortunately for us (and other race-watchers) there wasn’t much of that. Unfortunately, if you get my drift, there wasn’t much of that. Too bad – seeing these athletes do their thing is an amazing experience. Anyway, compared to last year it was a piece of cake. In fact, we realized about 2/3 of the way there that we could have just driven on up and parked near the start/finish/festival. By then, though, it was too late. We were committed!

We got to the start/finish in plenty of time to have a brew (see above) and check out the vendors and schwag. The weather was perfect and I don’t think there’s a better place to watch a bike race. You still have some time to check out some of the race, yourself. The women’s race starts today which means you can watch two races! And, of course, there’s the Giro happening too! And, on top of all the wonderful cycling coverage, there’s basketball and hockey playoffs for those so inclined. I’m into the Warriors but have yet to watch the Sharks play. I will though; I have to represent since I’m a San Jose native. Exciting times for sure! At least for some of us, right?

Check us out on Facebook!

That’s right, we finally got our arses in gear and set up our FB page! We also have a Twitter feed and have begun setting up our Instagram page. It’s not easy trying to find the time and I appreciate your patience, loyal reader, as we continue to build and “social-ize.”

Thanks for reading, especially this post. I know it’s a bit long-winded.

We’d love to know about your adventures! Comment on this post so other followers can partake and perhaps live vicariously through you.

Be safe out there

In closing, just a little reminder to be safe in whatever outdoor activities you do. Have the right gear, get the right training, do the right research and you’ll have the right fun! Ride on!?