Honoring Washoe Traditions in Their Homeland, Tahoe National Forest, California
- Learn about culture and traditions of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California
- Hike the High Sierra and visit the Lake Tahoe area
- Stay, eat, and relax at the Sierra Club's rustic Clair Tappaan Lodge
- All your meals while you stay at the lodge and one dinner at a local restaurant
- Admission to the Nevada State Museum
- Presentations about the Washoe homeland history and traditions
|Dates||Jul 27–Aug 2, 2014|
Few people who visit or live in the Tahoe-Donner area know it as the homeland of the Washoe Tribe. Their website states: “We feel that it is vitally important for both residents and tourists to understand the depth of Washoe history as well as the current status of our sovereign tribal nation.” The Washoe lived alternately in two ecosystems: the western Great Basin and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This week we will live in the forest and hike the mountains of California, with views of spectacular granite domes, and twice visit the arid region of Nevada to learn about the Washoe.
We have an opportunity on Sunday, July 27 to attend the final day of the annual Wa She Shu It’Deh Arts Festival weekend that celebrates Washoe culture while educating the public. Those who arrive one day before the outing starts can join us at the festival before we drive to the lodge for our orientation. Attendance at the arts festival is not required.
This trip should be of special interest to teachers who have state-mandated American Indian curricula, as well as those of you interested in Indian history and cultures of the West.
On alternate days we will hike in the Tahoe-Donner basin to splendid Sierra ridges and lakes and enjoy one another’s company; we’ll have time to take photographs, eat lunch with a view, swim, and relax. We will spend two days in Carson City learning about Washoe history and culture at the Stewart Indian School and the Nevada State Museum.
After each day of hiking and our trips to Carson City we will return to the lodge for hot showers and hearty home-cooked meals, and spend evenings at the lodge, relaxing by the fireplace in the living room, sharing observations of each day’s activities, or soaking in the hot tub.
Your day pack should be large enough to hold lunch, at least two liters of water, and a warm, waterproof jacket. Sturdy, broken-in hiking shoes are needed for comfort and safety. We will send a detailed clothing and packing list when you are approved for the trip. Be sure to bring your camera and binoculars for observing vistas and wildlife.
Participants can plan to begin or extend their vacations in the Lake Tahoe/Truckee/Reno area enjoying recreation and learning about the history of the West.
We recommend that participants arrange directly with the Clair Tappaan Lodge office to arrive a day early, on Saturday, July 26 to acclimate to the high altitude. This extra day is optional and would cost $60, which includes dinner and lodging on Saturday night, as well as breakfast and a bag lunch on Sunday, not included in the trip cost. Those who come early could arrange to carpool to South Lake Tahoe on Sunday for the Wa She Shu It’Deh Arts Festival.
Day 1: We will gather in South Lake Tahoe at noon on Sunday, July 27 at the Wa She Shu It’Deh Arts Festival, held by the Washoe Tribe, and spend a couple of hours enjoying the festival together. We plan to head up to Clair Tappaan Lodge, our home for the week, to check in by 3 p.m. This opportunity is optional, not a part of the outing. Our outing begins when we assemble at 4:00 p.m. in the Lewis Clark Room to get acquainted before dinner. After dinner we'll gather to view the week's itinerary, tour the lodge, and relax together.
Day 2: We'll start the week with a leisurely hike past Azalea Lake to Lake Flora, one of our favorite alpine lakes, the kind of place where Washoe people spent their summers for thousands of years. The hike includes a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail and a panoramic view of Donner Lake. We’ll explore the area and eat lunch there, and swim or lounge in the sun surrounded by pines and stunning Sierra granite outcrops and domes. Some participants may wish to enjoy a longer return hike to the lodge. After dinner we’ll carpool to a nearby site, where Washoe and other Indian people carved petroglyphs, and we’ll have an opportunity to walk through a tunnel Chinese laborers dug for the Transcontinental Railroad in the late 1860s.
Day 3: We'll carpool to Carson City, Nevada, to visit an exhibition titled “Under One Sky” to introduce us to Washoe history and culture in the context of Nevada Indian tribes and we'll have a behind-the-scenes tour of the Nevada State Museum. We will eat our lunch in a city park. In the afternoon we will explore the area rich in Washoe history, and return to Clair Tappaan Lodge for dinner.
Day 4: We'll hike with a guide to Donner Peak (8,019 feet), where we’ll eat lunch near Cold Stream Pass to see where 19th-century emigrants crossed the Sierra Nevada Mountains and where their oxen hauled wagons on chains up an incredibly steep incline. Some of us will continue and climb up Mt. Judah (8,243 feet), with its 360-degree panorama of surrounding mountains, and see Roller Pass, where a technological innovation helped later emigrants pull their wagons up the mountain. During our evening discussion, we will compare the changes the Washoe experienced in the 19th century with today’s conservation issues.
Day 5: We will carpool to the Stewart Indian School near Carson City, NV for presentations on Washoe culture by Washoe tribal members.
Day 6: We will hike to Castle Peak Pass (7,880 feet) and eat lunch. Afterward, we'll continue on to beautiful Round Valley, a crescent of ridges above a pristine alpine valley, stopping at Sierra Club’s Peter Grubb Hut, which is used for cross-country skiing. Some of us may choose to continue on a longer hike to Sand Ridge Lake. We’ll enjoy our final meal, conversation, and laughter at a restaurant in Old Truckee, California (included in the price of the trip).
Day 7: The trip will end after breakfast. You can pack a lunch to take with you as you return home or move on to another place on your vacation.
While leaders will make every attempt to follow this itinerary, all hikes and programs are subject to change depending on a variety of factors including trail conditions, weather, and availability of speakers.
The most popular and closest airport to the lodge is Reno, Nevada, only 60 minutes away; limited shuttle service and taxis are available but may limit your flexibility. Other airport options are Sacramento, California (one and a half hours) and San Francisco (about three hours). Carpooling among trip members is an option and has been done from these airports. Those arriving by air should plan to rent a car for greatest flexibility in travel to the lodge and airport, or make arrangements to carpool with other trip participants.
Due to insurance regulations, all transportation to the lodge, trailheads, and tour/meeting sites is the responsibility of each trip member. Sierra Club leaders are not allowed to make carpool arrangements for trip members, but the leader will provide a list of participants willing to carpool to those wishing to make such arrangements. Additional information regarding travel will be provided. Do not make any transportation reservations until the leader approves your participation in the trip.
Accommodations and Food
Located in the woods among mountains near Donner Summit, Sierra Club-owned Clair Tappaan Lodge is a rustic retreat known for warmth, good company, and family-style meals. A professional kitchen staff prepares hearty breakfasts and dinners, and provides a daily sandwich buffet from which you can pack your bag lunch. Each morning before breakfast you will prepare your lunch; bring a reusable plastic container to carry your sandwich. Guests are asked to assist with a chore, such as preparing meals, setting tables, serving, and cleaning up—taking about 20 minutes a day. Vegetarian options are always available, and the staff can usually accommodate other dietary restrictions with advance notice. Coffee, tea, and water are served with breakfast and dinner. Participants are invited to bring their additional beverages of choice.
There are a variety of room types, ranging from large single-sex dormitories, to smaller bunk-bed rooms for groups of 3-6, to small, private cubicles for couples. Clair Tappaan staff will assign rooms in advance, based on room availability. We will sleep on bunk beds with mattresses. Bring your sleeping bag and/or bedding. There are two men's and two women's restrooms, each with at least two private shower stalls and toilets. Bring your own towels and toiletries.
Our hikes range in distance from approximately 4-8 miles (round-trip) along well-traveled trails, with elevation gains of 500-1,500 feet. We invite a range of hiking participants, from strong hikers to those not accustomed to hiking at altitude and others who may not have hiked much recently. Our hikes will always have a "shorter option," so the less ambitious and those who want to take photographs need not worry about holding up others. In previous years, participants' ages varied from teens to 70s; we've been able to accommodate everyone who was in good physical condition.
We will be at 7,000 to 9,000-feet elevation, where the air is thinner and acclimation may take several days. You can expect a feeling of tiredness and fatigue initially and can ease your transition and enjoyment by getting into shape early. Being physically unprepared is unfair to yourself and other trip participants. You should at least be able to walk one mile briskly (and three miles on flat terrain more leisurely) without getting winded and be able to carry on a conversation while walking. If you are so able, you will do fine on this trip.
Equipment and Clothing
No special equipment is required; however, you need a light, day pack, layered clothing, two (liter or quart) water bottles or a water bladder, a sun hat or cap, and a rain jacket/pants. We recommend you have “seasoned” hiking boots because of uneven terrain and stones on trails. Sandals are not acceptable. If you wish, bring a swimsuit for the hot tub and/or (cold) mountain lakes. Bring a fleece or jacket, for night and morning temperatures may be in the 40s. We will forward a complete list of items to bring after you have been approved for the trip.
- Downs, James. The Two Worlds of the Washo.
- Makley, Michael and Matthew, Cave Rock: Climbers, Courts and A Washoe Indian Sacred Place.
- Makley, Michael J. A Short History of Lake Tahoe.
- Washo Inter Tribal Council of Nevada, Wa She Shu: A Washo Tribal History.
- Clair Tappaan Lodge: http://www.sierraclub.org/outings/lodges/ctl/
- Washoe Tribe of California and Nevada: http://www.washoetribe.us
- Nevada State Museum: http://museums.nevadaculture.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=486&Itemid=406
We will learn and practice Leave No Trace principles that will minimize our impact whenever we choose to explore the wilderness. At the lodge, we will model recycling, conservation, and minimal use of disposable products. We will witness and discuss conservation implications of intensive use of the landscape we are visiting.
We will learn how the Washoe have for centuries tried to live in harmony with their environment in the Lake Tahoe-Donner Lake Basin. We will also learn contemporary environmental issues in the Washoe homeland.
Your leaders are volunteer Sierra Club members with a long-term dedication to the Sierra Club, conservation, and enjoyment of the outdoors. We hope to impart to you some of our love for the area that we are visiting and for the work of the Sierra Club. We believe that the Sierra Club's Outings program provides an excellent opportunity for members to enjoy the fruits of past conservation victories and to learn about current concerns. While on this trip, please feel free to ask your leaders about any particular conservation issues and to share environmental concerns from your area.
Since any traveling leaves a carbon footprint, check out the information that the Sierra Club offers about carbon offsets at: http://www.sierraclub.org/outings/national/offsets/#neutral
Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under a permit from the Tahoe National Forest.
Notes for Sierra Club Outings
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