Monday, July 21, 2008

Birthday at Smarts Crossing

My son, Greg, turned seventeen over the weekend, and had a birthday party swim at Smarts Crossing. A merry group of nine young people and one old fogey made the mad drive down the rocky rutted road to a point well above the Bear River. We walked the last few hundred yards. Who can understand the antics of the Younger Generation; who can interpret their slang; who can fathom their music, if it can even be called "music." They vigorously debated an apparently age-old and perpetually captivating question, viz., whether ninjas or pirates would win in a flat-out fight, and made a series of sick jokes about zombie babies.

A monsoonal air mass had spread over the Sierra, and on the one day in the year when one could absolutely count on sun and blazing heat, it was cloudy and sometimes cool, with occasional showers dotting the dust. However, we were all inspired to swim the icy pool. A few of us made the jump from the Twenty-One-Foot Rock. The girls were sweet and lissome, the boys were, well, boisterous. At a certain point the boys thought it worthwhile to carry boulders to the Twenty-One, and topple them into the depths of the pool.

It was a good thing an old fuddy-duddy was present, inasmuch as hundred-pound boulders were deemed inadequate, and the young men were soon collaborating on two-hundred pound boulders, aiming to carry them up a slippery and sloping rock surface to reach the exalted Twenty-One. I had to intercede. One slip and it would be a broken leg, or arm, or foot, or hand. Later I just had to call a halt to the boulder-dropping altogether.

All in all it was a lot of fun to visit the great old swimming hole, enjoyed by generations of folk from Dutch Flat, and probably a favorite swimming and salmon-fishing spot for the native Californians of centuries and millenia past.

There are quite a few obnoxious metal signs nailed up by PG&E, warning of sudden releases of water into the river from Drum Powerhouse, and concluding with the order to "KEEP AWAY."

It is strange that PG&E ignored our beautiful Smarts Crossing for nearly a century, and that only now, in the 21st century, do they assert that the Bear River is no more than their own corporate canal, to be used exactly as they please, the rest of the world be damned.

We ignored the ugly signs. We need to find a way to put the private parcels along the old road into public ownership; Tahoe National Forest would be a good fit, inasmuch as the Crossing is already flanked by Forest parcels.

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