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Monday, February 7, 2011

Devil’s Gate Nature Run of Patience

It’s been a little while since I’ve gone up the Devil’s Gate Trail. But I made it up there today for the first time this year. I kinda got out of the habit after my weird ankle/river/tumbling experience last Fall. I think I’d been back since to “get back on the horse” but once that was accomplished I drifted away. Part of that drift was that it got a little cooler and there’s sort of an ideal temperature range for making that run work smoothly, especially as it requires a bicycle ride before and after. You want it to be cool enough to go running and warm enough to go biking. You also don’t want to ferry too many different levels of clothes along in the bike basket or bother with changing at the trailhead. And you don’t want to ride in “running shorts!” In the seventies works well. Sixties could work too.

On the run, just after passing through the dam (there’s a pedestrian/equestrian tunnel) I came across a couple of walkers that were stopped over at the side of the dirt road waiting for a big dump truck to pass by. I joined them under their oak tree while the dust settled. They told me about a big construction project that was just getting started there above the dam, below JPL, that will be ongoing for 3 years. I forget the exact details but something in the neighborhood of 30ish dump trucks a day for those three years will be hauling out debris from behind the dam that has washed down from the mountains. That’s a Devil’s Gate Damn lot of debris.

He knew a lot about the project and the area. I didn’t get around to asking but I had the impression that he was a part of one of the community groups that is active in the area, maybe The Arroyo Seco Foundation or Save Hahamongna or one of their friends. I was glad to get some information about other projects going on in the upper Arroyo too.

And then we all went in our opposite directions and what he’d said started to sink in. The consequences, the construction, the removal of hundreds of trees, the dust, the noise, possible closures! I can’t take any more closures. “This aggression will not stand, man!”

I understand, though. You have to clean up behind the dam or it won’t be a dam for very long. Which is exactly how I’d want it and I’m sure that guy with the info too. But many people like to be able to build houses and golf courses and stadiums and freeways in flood plains and they probably want it the other way, dammed.

A little further up the Arroyo at about my turn around point I went out to the creek where it was meandering along quietly. It was a nicely naturalized area just above the dam. It was all sparkle and flow and real and awesome. A pristine nature-takes-it-all-back moment. Soon to be removed. Labeled “debris” and trucked off to become fill dirt and concrete. Useful stuff to have access to but today a bit of a tough thought.

Looks like we’re in for some more patience. Not really what we needed as they just re-extended, again, the closure on Brown Mountain, another year… Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one dying from this, but today at least, I came across a few people* that are in it with me.

*Also another walker asking me about the creek cross-ability at the top of his loop as it’s been flooded a lot lately – it’s been flooded because they’ve been draining the water off behind the dam so they can dig it out. We had kind of a moment of shared understanding and connection to place as I too quickly understood his line of questioning and why he was asking and how long he’d been cut off by the water flow and how glad he was about to be to be able to cross that creek and go on above (and secretly knew that he’d be bummed when he figured out about the construction too but couldn’t bear to tell him then) and all of that all exchanged with a few words and looks within a few seconds.

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