Monday, August 13, 2007

The China Trail

[written August 13, 2007]

Walking down the ancient trail, with twelve people scattered along the way, some above, some below, I found myself thinking of my old friend Dave Lawler, geologist and paleontologist extraordinaire. In the early and middle 1990s we had made an extraordinary series of hikes which had greatly expanded and enhanced my knowledge of this entire area. Dave and I went to places I had previously, somehow, only dreamed of exploring.

For instance, once we visited Big Valley Bluff, away south on Forest Road Nineteen from Emigrant Gap. From the summit of the 3500-foot cliff we gazed up the North Fork to Snow Mountain and the Royal Gorge. I remember pointing out Sugar Pine Point, the first major promontory east of the Bluff, and explaining to Dave, that since at least as early as 1975, I had wanted to check out the Point, and now here it was, twenty years later, and I had never been there.

What mystical and soul-stirring views must be had from this Point, named for the King of All Pines!

With Dave, to think is to act, and within an hour we had driven back out to I-80, up to Yuba Gap, back in along The Nineteen, passing Lake Valley Reservoir, and then out FR38 to Huysink Lake and beyond. Nearing Pelham Flat, an enormous Red Fir blocked the road; undaunted, we hiked south towards the Point.

When we finally reached Sugar Pine Point, we found a few large stumps, some brush and small trees, and the sun was sinking low in the west. There was no view whatsoever into the great canyon. It might have been prudent to start walking the two miles back to our car. But I said to Dave, "It's possible that, if we drop right over the edge, into the canyon, we'll find a rock outcrop that stands clear of these small trees, and have our canyon view."

With Dave Lawler, actions speak a lot louder than words, so ...

We crashed through the thin screen of brush and trees and found ourselves in a magic world which had never been touched by logging, with gigantic, centuries-old Sugar Pines and other forest trees of the middle elevations, with springs, with meadows, and with an old, old trail winding through the woods. We did not know it then, but we had discovered Sugar Pine Flat, and the terminus of the historic Sugar Pine Point Trail, almost entirely ruined by logging in the early 1990s, but in these sacred precincts, intact.

We were in even-numbered Section 20, T16N, R13E; even-numbered, hence not part of the great and horrible land give-away signed into law by President Lincoln in 1862 and then, needing to give away even more of the public trust, in 1864. All the odd-numbered sections, for so many miles to either side of the railroad itself, were given to the Central Pacific Railroad.

I would return again and again and again to Sugar Pine Flat.

For many years Dave had studied the history of the hydraulic mines here in the Sierra, had guided field trips to these old mines, had taught volunteers how to collect the Eocene-age fossils, had added to the collection of the Museum of Paleontology at Berkeley. I had slowly developed the idea, over a couple of decades, that no one else had studied these mines, explored these old diggings, dared to enter those old drain tunnels, more than I had. Then I met Dave. As Dave was, to me, was as ten is, to one. The ancillary subject, of the mining ditches which fed these mines, by the miners' inch, by the acre-foot, fascinated us both; and what could be better, for hiking, than one of these old ditches?

Hence it was that we were out on The Nineteen, south of Emigrant Gap, one summer day, and saw a gate standing open, a Forest Service gate, which was ordinarily closed and locked. We decided to explore, and soon found ourselves on the historic Bradley & Gardner Ditch. A logging road followed the B&G out of Fulda Canyon, sometimes paralleling the B&G, sometimes cut directly into the line of the ditch. We reached an anonymous spur ridge, and here at least the road was separate, the ditch, somewhere below. We walked down to the ditch, and indistinctly, through the forest, saw a great canyon to the south. Perhaps some rock outcrop would stand clear of the trees, and allow a view?

We surged down the ridge, which soon narrowed into a knife-edge of upturned slaty outcrops. "The Blue Canyon Formation," I remarked, and was quite surprised when Dave replied, "No, this is the Shoo Fly Complex; a hundred years ago, Waldemar Lindgren called it the Blue Canyon Formation, but nowadays, we call it the Shoo Fly."

The Shoo Fly?

I must admit, it galled me a little, to be so ignorant. Here I had imagined myself acquainted with the local geology, but I was apparently not so very well acquainted. I had imagined myself the master of the old hydraulic mines, and then it had transpired, I was not the master. Dave was. In fact, he was The Master. And now, in an instant, I and my Blue Canyon Formation were down in the dust, pathetic coyotes, and some demented geological roadrunner had beep-beeped "Shoo Fly Complex" before disappearing into the distance.

The same pattern seemed to obtain when we hiked. Here we were, in drastically steep terrain, following a knife-edge of slate down and down and down amid a gnarled elfin forest of Canyon Live Oak, and some kind of foot race had developed, and Dave was winning. He dropped out of sight below me. We had imagined finding an outcrop with a view, but I had myself never envisioned that we would descend all the way to the North Fork of the North Fork of the American River before we gave up.

We knew we were entering the Complex of Canyons, the Gorge of Many Gorges. Who ever heard of having a race down cliffs? I remember feeling a little irritated as I pulled out all the stops, and alternately skied down steep slopes over the slippery oak leaves, when the slate knife narrowed overmuch, or when it made one of its sudden hundred-foot steps, or, sometimes following the ridge-crest itself. How could anyone in this world handle terrain like this, better than I? For it was one thing to know the hydraulic mines better, one thing to know more geology, but to out-scramble Russell Towle in such rough terrain was unthinkable. It was not only impossible, it was, well, unfriendly.

I brooded. What of the camraderie of the hike? Gone, destroyed, in a clatter of slate and a cloud of dust, somewhere below. So I pulled out all the stops and tried to catch up to Dave. Finally I reached the last step in the ridge-crest; a couple hundred feet below, almost straight down, the beautiful river. A gurgling, a murmuring, but also, the hiss and roar of waterfalls. There was no sign of Dave. He must have found a way down to the water, but I could not quite see how. The cliffs were steep to sheer. I shouted down. No response. Dave had either peeled off the ridge to the right, or to the left; there was no going straight down, not without ropes. So I sat there and shouted and brooded for a while. Ten minutes. The sun was lowering, the climb of more than a thousand feet was in my immediate future, but my hiking companion had disappeared.

Then he suddenly appeared, climbing down from above. In the intensity of my effort to catch up, I had passed him by. He had been on the other side of the knife-edge at that critical instant. So we sat and admired the scene for a while. This was quite an amazing canyon, most all of it incised into the Shoo Fly. Consulting our maps, we saw that a trail dropped to the river a little ways downstream, from a spot near Blue Canyon named Lost Camp.

Dave knew all about Lost Camp, and despite its proximity to Blue Canyon, being almost in my back yard, I had, somehow, some way, never visited the place. At any rate, it was clear to both of us what the next phase in our explorations must be. A week later we drove down to Lost Camp, in odd-numbered Section 23, T16N, R11E, and with a little difficulty, located the trailhead.

We had our loppers with us, as usual, and the old trail needed a lot of lopping. I forget whether, on that first-ever hike of the China Trail, or China Bar Trail, as it is variously called, we swam the Pool of Cold Fire, and entered the Gorge of Many Gorges. But we soon did. The canyon, the gorges, the river, the waterfalls, were of incredible beauty.

Twelve or so years later, here I was, following the old trail, built in 1862, passing giant Douglas Fir which had sprouted in, who knows, 1662, passing old Forest Service "small i" blazes. Like most trails in Tahoe National Forest, the China Trail long predated the establishment of the Forest itself, in 1905. For decades the trusty rangers had faithfully maintained the historic trail.

I had met Ron Gould, Catherine O'Riley, Jim Johnson, and Jim Ricker, of the North Fork American River Alliance, or NFARA, at the Blue Canyon exit, for a hike on the China Trail. A number of other people were present, including Bill Templin, of the American River Watershed Group, and Steve Hunter, who has been hiking the China Trail since 1955. It was not just a pleasure hike. There was trouble, right here in River City. The old road to Lost Camp, a public road since at least as early as 1858, had been gated closed, and posted with numerous "no trespassing" signs. Thankfully, NFARA had decided to act. The purpose of the hike was two-fold: to assert the public's right to use the road, by ourselves going through the gate to the trailhead, and to consider what to do about the closure.

In my opinion, NFARA should not have to act. This Lost Camp Road and this China Trail are both parts of the Tahoe National Forest "system" of trails and roads. It is Tahoe National Forest's job to protect the public's right to use these historic roads and trails. But Tahoe National Forest is too busy devising ways for Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) to harvest timber from our public lands, to trouble itself about historic roads and trails. Historic roads and trails are things which get ruined and erased in the ordinary course of doing sweetheart business with the most rapacious lumber company in California; historic roads and trails are curious artifacts from before the Atomic Age, before that great god, the Bulldozer, commanded our National Forests to bow to its every whim.

So, unfortunately, the custodian of our public lands in the middle and upper elevations, Tahoe National Forest, has not acted to protect the public's rights. Very far from it. To wait for the Forest Service to act would be to lose the Lost Camp Road, and the China Trail, forever.

Would Placer County act to protect the public's right? No. What Placer County will do is approve land subdivisions directly on historic roads and trails, as though we didn't have more than enough parcels already, as though we can afford to lose any number of historic public roads and trails. Placer County supports and aids in every way possible the "standard" path to progress: first log, then subdivide.

Look, look, how much the views have improved, now the trees have been cut down! Why, this is now a "view" parcel! Look, look, how the very roads made by the logging bulldozers, can become driveways! Look, look, how the log landings become building sites! Look how easily one can put up a gate, how easily "no trespassing" signs can be added here, there, everywhere!

The gate was not locked, on the Lost Camp Road. We let ourselves through and drove to the trailhead. A hazy summer day, the wildfire up by Chico spreading smoke into our area. The China Trail is short, not much more than a mile, and we were soon on the river. A glorious pool is just downstream. I hurried down ahead of the rest, tore my tattered clothes off, and dove into the crystalline coldness. If there had been a way to dive right back up and out, I would have. The North Fork of the North Fork is usually far too cold for my tastes.

The Shoo Fly Complex metasediments are often slaty in structure, and on the gravel bars one can find any number of excellent skipping stones. Several of us amused ourselves skipping slates down the long pool. Others debated what to do about the gate. Some left and explored up the river. Eventually, most of the group left, and Ron and Peggy and Catherine and I boulder-hopped up to the Pool of Cold Fire. We swam a little, and Peggy became a regular expert at skipping rocks. I had the pleasure of helping her, by telling her that one must throw the rock, so that it spins like a Frisbee. Suddenly she was skipping rocks like a champion.

We were directly below that last cliff-bound step on the very knife-edge ridge Dave Lawler and I had raced down in 1995. Just above the long and narrow Pool of Cold Fire, a waterfall, and then the Gorge of Many Gorges. We might have swum the Pool and entered the Gorge, but we merely relaxed in the shade of some alders, swam a little, skipped rocks, talked, took note of an infinitude of spiders and spider webs, found a chilled cicada in the Pool, rescued it, and visited various sunny boulders, beloved by birds, in the river.

At last our lazy day must end, we must hop back down the river to the trail, and then, up and up and up and up. I took my shirt off just before the climb, and wore nothing but shoes and my cutoffs. It seemed likely I'd be attacked by mosquitos, but nary a one chomped me on the way up and out. Only, those miniature flies I call Face Flies buzzed along beside me half the time, trying to get into my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my nose. Horrible little things.

In and era when the very entities we might reasonably expect to protect the rights of the public, Tahoe National Forest, and Placer County, are far too busy arranging timber sales and subdivisions, to be bothered with historic trails, it is indeed fortunate that we have people like Ron Gould and Catherine O'Riley and the others of NFARA, who are willing to fight the good fight. It may well be that this issue, the Lost Camp Road, the China Trail, will end up in court.

I did not say it, but even if the gate is removed, and the "no trespassing" signs come down, residential development of these little parcels north of Lost Camp will be like the kiss of death, affecting not only public access--one will feel as though one is driving through somebody's yard--but also ending the ambience of wildness and remoteness, which existed there until a very few short years ago.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Monuments

[written August 10, 2007]

My family joined our Bay Area friends the Creelmans for a visit to Monumental Creek, once again driving south from Emigrant Gap on Forest Road 19, past the North Fork Campground, past the Onion Valley (lower) Meadow, to Forest Road 45, thence on FR 45-2 to the historic Bradley & Gardner Ditch, or Placer County Canal.

This ditch was made in the 1850s, and delivered water to the hydraulic mines of Dutch Flat and Gold Run, as well as to smaller mining camps such as Lost Camp and Blue Bluffs. Its capacity was around two thousand miners' inches of water, a miners' inch being that amount of water which will pass through a hole one inch square, cut through a two-inch-thick plank, six inches below the water surface, in the course of twenty-four hours. This comes to around sixteen thousand gallons per day.

FR 45-2 forks right from FR 45 a quarter mile above Onion Valley, and soon descends to coincide with the Bradley & Gardner Ditch, just a smidgin above the 4800-foot contour. In about a mile it reaches Monumental Creek, a tributary of the East Fork of the North Fork of the North Fork of the American River. The ditch-road is only a hundred feet above the creek, but the forest is thick enough that one can't really see the creek.

The Monuments form a kind of witches' coven of stone pinnacles, huddled around a series of pools and low waterfalls on Monumental Creek. The principal Monument rises sheer one hundred feet from the water, and has a crown of white, which seems to be a combination of a quartz vein, and down-dripping white stains, which I speculate derive from centuries of nesting eagles.

When the Bradley & Gardner reaches Monumental Creek, one is directly above the Monuments, but they are well hidden behind a screen of trees. We followed the ditch-road on up Monumental Canyon, through a brushy clearcut where not only was the historic mining ditch destroyed for the sake of a few sawlogs, but the road which replaced it was left in poor condition, so one fights Ceanothus and stumbles over boulders to make a passage, and then, the final indignity, the road almost imperceptibly rises above the grade of the ditch, the brush so thick one can't see where the two diverge, so that after a time one must simply leave the road and strike downhill a few yards.

There one finds the rather large ditch blessedly intact, and the berm can be easily followed, through the deep woods, and soon one is much closer to the creek, and soon one can see across the canyon to the very same ditch, so it can make sense, as it did for us, to drop to the creek, hop across on a few boulders, and scramble back up the far side, saving hundreds and hundreds of yards of walking.

For the Bradley & Gardner's almost level grade sends it in and out of Monumental Canyon in a tight hairpin course of almost a mile, on both sides. We followed along the scenic path, often lined with large dry-laid stone walls, until we reached a point directly above the Monuments, again, but from this side of the canyon, one has a fabulous view of the pinnacles and the creek.

We rested and enjoyed the view, and then made a retreat, some of us descending directly to the creek and climbing steeply up the far side of the canyon, others keeping to the ditch. When we formed up into one group again, we had lunch, and then walked out to our cars, and drove to the North Fork Campground, parking along The Ninteteen.

We ambled through the campground and followed the trail leading down the North Fork of the North Fork to the lovely waterfalls and pools that Everybody Knows About. Quite a party of young men and women commanded the area around the falls, swimming, laughing, shouting, clambering up the cliffs to make thirty- and forty-foot leaps into the upper pool, or sunbathing on the polished bedrock between the two deep pools. So we located a little ways downstream, swimming in a lesser pool.

I had hoped we could all go out to Big Valley Bluff, miles past Texas Hill and the last of the pavement on The Nineteen, but our cars were too small and low to the ground, and the road too bouldery and rough. So, we declared the day a success, having visited both Monumental Canyon and the Waterfalls Everybody Knows, and having gone swimming.

From a geological standpoint, the Monuments are a curiosity, the whole area having been repeatedly and heavily glaciated: such thin spires of rock could never withstand the inexorable ice. I envision the inner gorge of Monumental Canyon, around the Monuments themselves, to have been filled with glacial sediments, while the ice flowed by, above; and the thin spires arose in that hidden maelstrom, where a river, roaring in darkness, a powerful river of glacial meltwater comprising a hundred times the current summer flow of the creek, a powerful river, slowly dragged along a one-hundred-feet-deep mass of boulders, cobbles, gravel, sand, even clay.

And above, a thousand feet of ice.

Onion Valley's meadows are all glacial meadows, almost certainly silted-in glacial lakes. They are perched on the tellingly low divide between the North Fork of the North Fork, and its East Fork. In this immediate area the dividing ridge was almost destroyed by the ice. There is scarcely any "ridge" left. During the recessionary stades of the last, "Tioga" glaciation, perhaps 13,000 years ago, the ice paused in its retreat, and left various moraines.

It would appear that the larger North Fork of the North Fork Glacier crossed the dividing ridge, overflowing into the East Fork, again and again, over multiple different glaciations, over hundreds of thousands of years, thus gradually wearing the ridge down. This resembles what we see at the head of Bear Valley, where the South Yuba Glacier overflowed, again and again, into the Bear River Canyon, and gradually lowered the dividing ridge. There is essentially no ridge left at the head of the Bear River.

Here at Onion Valley, however, the overflow was not from one canyon, into the head of another canyon; it was from one canyon, into the middle reaches of another canyon, from the North Fork of the North Fork, into the East Fork. So the dividing ridge, almost erased in one area by the glaciers, reappears a little ways down, rising between the canyons into the eminence named Scott Hill. This eminence seems to be formed from an especially siliceous series of strata, in the Shoo Fly Complex of metasedimentary rocks. Probably these resistant strata are quartzite (metasandstone), with some chert.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Moraines in the East Fork

[written August 6, 2007]

Early Saturday afternoon Gay Wiseman and I drove up to Emigrant Gap and then south on Forest Road 19 towards the North Fork of the North Fork of the American River (NFNFAR).

There is a Tahoe National Forest campground where The Nineteen crosses the NFNFAR, a popular campground, and yet one often sees cars parked along The Nineteen, near the campground.

They park along the road in order to walk downstream to a beautiful waterfall and swimming hole. A close examination of the USGS 7.5 minute quadrangle reveals several of the 40-foot contour lines crossing the river near the falls; but for quite a ways further downstream, the gradient lessens, ergo, no waterfalls, and a cursory exploration twenty years ago or so had confirmed what the map suggested.

However, around a mile downstream, several more 40-foot contours cross the river in fairly close succession; hence, there ought to be more waterfalls, perhaps bigger and better waterfalls, with deeper and more dramatic swimming holes.

One always wants more drama while swimming--there can never really be enough--so Gay and I set out to find these supposed waterfalls, and their exciting pools.

While staring at the map, with its many contour lines, I noticed two strange spur ridges, one on either side of the river, one farther upstream, closer to the campground, the other farther downstream, close to Sailor Point. The area lies within Township 16N, Range 12E, in sections 7 and 18.

What drew my attention to these two ridges was their geometry. Imagine if you will a generalized canyon following a straight course. Let the typical cross-section be a simple "V" in shape. Now imagine the contour lines in such a canyon; they roughly parallel the river; they have a "global" direction which is nearly parallel to the length of the canyon.

Now further imagine that the walls of the V-shaped canyon are scored by ravines, and ribbed by intervening spur ridges, which are more or less at right angles to the river, to the length of the V-shaped canyon. Hence although the "global" direction of the contour lines parallels the river, locally, the contour lines bend in around the ravines, and bend out around the little spur ridges. We have defined the ridges and ravines as perpendicular to the river, and the "global" direction of the contour lines as parallel to the river. If we place a ruler so that it intersects all the little local outward bends in the contour lines, where a spur ridge is crossed, or so that it intersects all the little local inward bends, where a ravine is crossed, our ruler will itself be at right angles to both river and canyon.

However, these two little ridges which caught my eye do not exhibit this geometry. If one places a ruler so that it crosses all the little outward bends in the contour lines, it is far from being at right angles to the river. In fact, in both cases, the ruler would lie at approximately a 45-degree angle to the line of the river, to the trend of the canyon at large.

They are both moraines, portions of terminal moraines from a recessional stage or "stade" in the most-recent, "Tioga" glaciation. I say, recessional, because it is fairly clear to me that Tioga ice extended well down the canyon, miles down the canyon, during its maximum extent. The Tioga is somewhat poorly-defined in time: it is well known to have ended about 12,000 years ago, which is a geologic and climatologic blink of an eye, but its beginning point is harder to specify. We would not be drastically amiss, I think, to set the beginning of the Tioga to "about" 20,000 years ago.

To illustrate why the beginning of the Tioga becomes problematic, research has been conducted in recent years in which the sediments of Owens Lake, on the east side of the Sierra, were cored to a depth of a couple hundred feet, and the cores carefully analyzed. During periods of intense glaciation, one type of sediment reached the lake and was deposited. During interludes between glaciations, a different type of sediment reached the lake and was deposited. The sediment cores are longitudinally striped with these alternating types. All that remains is to attach a date to each stratum. This was done.

The Owens Lake sediment cores revealed no fewer than sixteen separate glaciations within the past 52,000 years. Sixteen!

And yet, it is a commonplace among Sierran geologists to refer to the Tioga glaciation of 12-20,000 years ago as having been preceded by the Tahoe II glaciation of 65,000 years ago. Clearly the glacial history is much more complicated, in detail. It is exciting to think that the story will continue to unfold as research progresses.

There is an important reason why geologists remain "stuck" in the Tahoe-Tioga model of glacial sequence: one the east side of the Sierra, so much drier than here, many terminal moraines are well-preserved, and in canyon after canyon after canyon one can see two principal terminal moraines: an older, more blurred moraine, farther down the canyon, and a younger, sharp-crested moraine, farther up the canyon. Sometimes only a little distance separates them. The younger, sharp-crested moraine is Tioga; the older, blurred moraine, farther down the canyon, is Tahoe.

Direct observation leads to the Tioga-Tahoe model.

Of course, as a glacier melts away it retreats up its canyon, and leaves a series of terminal moraines. Actually, if its retreat is steady and rapid, it may leave a formless mass of glacial till slathered over everything. On the other hand ...

It may well happen that during this retreat up its canyon, a retreat which may require well over a thousand years, the glacier stops retreating for a century or two. During such a "stade" the glacier will deposit a much more strongly marked moraine along its terminus.

My two ridges-of-odd-geometry, in the canyon of the NFNFAR, represent two such stades, the younger one half-a-mile up the canyon from the other. The upper, younger ridge-of-odd-geometry is in the SE 1/4 of Section 7, T16N R12E, near the word "Fork" as seen on the 7.5 minute quadrangle, and is on the southeast side of the NFNFAR. The other ridge-of-odd-geometry is to the west, in the NW 1/4 of Section 18, T16N R12E, near the surveyed elevation of 5137'. This moraine is northwest of the river, and The Nineteen cuts right through its upper end.

Both are really rather minor ridges. On the topographic map, they are expressed as a series of kinks in the contour lines.

It is not nearly as easy, here on the well-watered west slope of the Sierra Nevada, to see moraines. They do exist, but they are often inconspicuous. I have a rather short list of such moraines, in my mind: there is a fine figure of a moraine north of Lake Spaulding, visible from I-80 at a disiance of several miles. There is a long, brushy moraine complex on Black Mountain, also visible from I-80. Red Mountain has a blurred-into-till portion of a lateral moraine of the Fordyce Glacier, high above Fordyce Creek. And there is quite a distinct moraine at the lower end of Bear Valley. And there are others.

So, having noted the two ridges-of-odd-geometry, I was excited to see whether I was right, or wrong, when I actually got out there on The Nineteen and passed Sailor Point, entering the NFNFAR canyon.

Of course I was right.

And the waterfalls? Oh, well, Gay and I had quite a nice time, following the good old Bradley & Gardner ditch, and then dropping to the river and boulder-hopping along, farther and farther and farther down the canyon. We saw many a one-foot waterfall. We saw many a three-foot waterfall. But we found no big waterfalls. Pools, yes; but no "dramatic" pools. Oh, they were very nice I'm sure, and Gay went swimming. But they lacked drama.

It is a very beautiful reach of river and canyon, with pretty stream-polished exposures of the Shoo Fly Complex metasediments, and the giant-leafed Indian Rhubarb all along the water, and many many many giant granite eggs left there by the ice, 12,000 years ago. During our explorations we discovered several old narrow-gauge logging railroad grades which had been pressed into service by Tahoe National Forest as skid trails, twenty-five or thirty years ago. In fact, I was fuming quietly to myself as Gay and I finally climbed back up to the good, the old, the huge Bradley & Gardner, the Placer County Canal. A bulldozer skid trail angled steeply up the slope, and we followed it for a time. Under what possible pretext did Tahoe National Forest allow the canyon wall to be thus scarred for the next thousand years or more?

I can forgive the glacier, in fact, I rather admire its scars.

I can forgive the loggers of the 1890s, who made a few carefully-thought-out railroad grades and rolled logs right down onto flatcars. The loggers of the 1890s lived in an era of rapacity, in which rapacity was so universal that "everyone" did it. But to come along in the 1980s, and make scars on the canyon walls which will easily last a thousand years? If it was Sierra Pacific Industries, whose only view is the bottom line in a ledger, well, that would at least be intelligible.

But since the scarring was on public land, under the management of Tahoe National Forest, I can't shake the feeling the the public trust was violated. It's not a new feeling. When I stop and wonder how it could be that Tahoe National Forest either itself orchestrated the destruction, or stood by and did nothing to avert the destruction, of so many historic trails, in this same area: the Burnett Canyon Trail, the Monumental Creek Trail, the Mears Meadow Trail, the Big Valley Trail, the Sugar Pine Point Trail, the China Trail, et cetera, well, when I recall all that, I am worse than displeased.