The sixth annual nationwide Winter Trails events designed to introduce
newcomers to snowshoeing and enjoying the snow will take place without
a Northern California venue, cancelled in December due to apparent
miscommunication between local organizers and the ski resort that had
agreed to hold the event.
Scheduled for the first time this year at Royal Gorge near Lake Tahoe's
North Shore, the event had been held in past years at Eagle Mountain,
where hillsides were devastated by a forest fire in August, forcing
owners in early fall to decline the event since they thought the resort
would not be able to open this winter.
Bern Kreissman, who has organized the event for the Sierra Club's
Mother Lode chapter since its inception, then discovered that Royal
Gorge would be able to host it. Thrilled, he said he told resort
officials the event could draw as many as 250-300 cars and from 500-800
people, but that message somehow missed its mark. In December, with the
event planned here for Jan. 19 on the busy Martin Luther King Jr.'s
holiday weekend, Royal Gorge bowed out when it discovered how
successful the event had become.
"The problem is, it is a fabulous event," said Royal Gorge president
John Slober. "That is why we initially said 'yes,' but it has gotten so
big that it overwhelms anyone that might be willing to do it out of the
goodness of their heart.
"We felt very bad about it," said Slober, who said his lot holds only
about 500 cars. Holding a free event there like Winter Trails, he said,
would force the resort to turn away many of its paying guests that day
and perhaps that weekend.
"We would have been happy to do a small little event," Slober said, "but we can't do a big one."
Kreissman said with a few promotional fliers already out locally, and
the venue posted on the American Hiking Society's Winter Trails web
site (www.wintertrails.org), he and the organizing committee felt it
was too late to get another site and do proper publicity. Still, he
said he hoped the group could find another venue for 2002. The event in
2000 drew so many people that Eagle Mountain's lot filled to capacity
and snowshoe companies had long waiting lines for gear all day.
"The cancellation was really disappointing," said Mary Margaret Sloan,
president of the American Hiking Society. "We hope it won't take the
legs off the program in Northern California. It's too bad we were not
able to make that event go as planned."
Ten other events are scheduled around the country on Jan. 19, while one is scheduled for mid-February.