Treasuring the Truckee’s last sweet spot
April 15, 2007
I walked down to the Truckee River under a mournful, gray sky Saturday to think over the debate about paving or not paving the Truckee River Legacy Trail.
Like the other times I have ambled along the banks of the stretch of river between downtown and Glenshire, I was alone.
A couple mallards skimmed the river’s glassy water and a pair of Canada geese honked at me from mid-stream.
Other than that, the silence only broke for the gurgle of rushing snowmelt.
As the sky dripped, I thought about what, perhaps, has been lost in the tumult of voices debating whether or not to pave the Legacy Trail.
There is still solitude to be found along stretches of the river ” places where Glenshire Drive, the railroad tracks and Interstate 80 are far enough away to allow you to find silence.
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When you begin to think of the whizzing cars and bikes that crowd against the river between Tahoe City and Truckee, and the thundering thoroughfare of Interstate 80 that follows the river all the way to Reno “-the brief span of the Truckee between downtown Truckee and Glenshire is a precious sweet spot.
It’s one of those places where you can lose yourself in thought after a long day at work. Or, if you ignore the mansions on the bluff east of Olympic Heights and the distant traffic of Glenshire drive, a place where you can spend a couple hours in solitude.
Those who will decide the future of the Legacy Trail should take this into account as they make their choice ” paved or unpaved.
The Truckee River does not need another thoroughfare along its banks. Any way to preserve the precious little river that is still bounded by trees, shrubs and willows ” rather than roads and paved paths ” should be considered.
The goals of taking a few cars off of Glenshire Drive during the commute as well giving families a place to cycle together are admirable. But there has to be a way to do that without destroying the only lonely stretch of the Truckee we have left.
On Saturday, I took in the melancholy sky, the river’s soft babbling and the sound of a nearby songbird. And I thought about the paradox of living in the Sierra Nevada ” the urge to find the lonely, natural places ” a desire that in itself is responsible for the overcrowding of our open places.
It’s the age-old realization that as much as you might advocate preservation or push to stop change, you yourself are a portion of the cause of the Sierra’s fast paced transformation.
So maybe it has a tinge of selfishness to it, but I hope that whatever form the trail takes, it leaves a little bit of the Truckee River untrammeled.
Or else we might have an entirely different traffic problem on our hands ” people jumping in their cars every day and driving well outside of Truckee to get their daily dose of solitude.
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