Saturday, October 25, 2014
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Wednesday, 20 August 2014 21:44



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 The Dusy-Ershim Trail is a testament to the Four Wheel Drive Club of Fresno and their generation’s of members who ventured out with military surplus jeeps into the great outdoors. The storied history of the trail provides an indication of the formidable challenges you may encounter when traversing this IMG 1397trail. The 4x4 Corps once again enjoyed this national treasure  and had an excellent time winding through some of America’s most protected land, with great appreciation for those who made it all possible. There is a real history here but it doesn’t escape my attention that the Fresno club is still as dedicated to this trail as their original members who built it.

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  In 1956 when the Four Wheel Drive Club of Fresno first made it to Ershim Lake they believed they had a great route to one of their favorite fishing spots. In 1958 a large section of the trail from Badger Flats to Ershim Meadows was taken by Forest Superintendant for an equestrian trail. I'm sure this didn't sit well with their members. After petitioning congress in 1959 they restarted the trail North of Badger Flats in an area now known as White Bark Vista by way of Lake Camp Lake. In 1960 and 1961 they made it all the way to Thompson Lake. Then in 1967 a trail was cut from Courtright Reservoir to Dusy Meadows and then in 1968 from Dusy Meadows to Thompson Lake making it the longest trail in the Sierra National Forest. You may note a space in time between 1961 and 1967; in 1964 the “Wilderness Act” was signed into law by President Johnson. It designated 9.1 million acres of land mostly in the Western United States as “Wilderness”, IMG 1194581,000 of those acres just 300 feet to the North and West of what would become the Dusy-Ershim Trail. What is amazing to me is in those days the Federal Government respected an existing boundry created by an off road club. The new wilderness was dedicated to John Muir who founded the Sierra Club and is credited with pushing congress to establish legislation that created our National Parks. What was established in this Bill was the legal definition of wilderness land “A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the IMG 1027earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” In 1984 the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness was created and literally sandwiches the Dusy-Ershim Trail within a 600 foot easement. I’m glad there are areas in the world you canIMG 1246 go that are undeveloped but the modern day Sierra Club would rather make these areas off limits to humans and vehicles alike. As with many of the environmental organizations they have gone to the extreme in their views. John Muir said “The Mountains are calling and I must go” and “Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world”, and I agree with him. John Muir died 100 years ago this year. I personally believe that some places should be left untouched by civilization, I also believe people will only learn to appreciate these places if they are allowed to enter; the Dusy-Ershim Trail strikes a perfect balance of this concept.

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IMG 1502  Today when you travel this trail you are still inspired by the same scenery that inspired John Muir and Ansel Adams. You can also experience and understand the desire of the Four Wheel Drive Club of Fresno to find a route to Ershim Lake. I think their vision was brilliant but if you think the trek is an easy one you should reflect on the trails history as a warning. I can’t even imagine the drive in a surplus military jeep of the era, but if you’re lucky enough to explore this trail I believe the experience is a life changing one. If you don’t believe me you definitely won’t doubt the Dusy.

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