A Walk Down Main Street
In Silver City, where we have our cabin in the Sequoia National Park, one of our favorite things to do – is take a walk down Main Street. Main Street is really not a street, as you will see in the video, but rather an unpaved road, which meanders down hill to a bend, then sharply turns right for another bit, where community cabins flank the road on each side. The forest is all around us.
We generally take a walk either earlier in the morning to say hello to anybody who is in town (we know everybody because there’s only 29 cabins!), or after dinner to get a little exercise after a filling meal. As we wander down the road, we invite neighbors to our campfire, or hear about the latest Silver City news, where creature sightings like bears and mountain lions are always top headlines. We joke that walks down Main Street are the Silver City “internet” – where news travels faster than you can imagine!
While the road seems just like a dirt road, it is actually a carefully tended through-way that is managed by the citizens of Silver City. We have our own governing bodies to take care of things like the maintenance of main street, water distribution, and fire suppression. And without that, there would be no Silver City. We are all friends, but we are also citizens that belong to a communal endeavor, where we self govern for the good of the community, and make sure that everyone’s voice is heard, and that everyone has proper access to their cabin, equal amounts of water from our Silver City water system (which is a whole other, MUCH more complicated venture) and protection in case of fire.
But the road holds one big surprise. A VERY BIG surprise. Beyond the cabins, the road continues on for about a mile, a very narrow one way lane with many hair pin turns (17 switchbacks!), that dead ends at the Kaweah River. It is a private road, though, so visitors cannot pass beyond the last Silver City cabin without permission.
The Kaweah River is not a stream, or creek, or any other mild water way, it is a river with a capital “R.”
It is one of the main arteries in the Sierras that delivers high elevation snow melt to the Kaweah Lake, and then to the San Joaquin Valley, the “food basket of the nation.” At any time of year, it’s smart to have a healthy respect for the river, but especially so in early spring when the snow melt is rapid. And while there are many rafting businesses that operate on the river, there have also been many serious accidents, where people were careless in the face of the river’s strength. On still nights around the campfire you can hear the sounds of the rushing river float up to Main Street.
But hold on. That’s NOT the surprise! At the end of the road, on the banks of the Kaweah River is an incredible edifice called Kaweah Han.
It is a mountain lodge (we call it a mountain mansion) that is similar in style to the Ahwahnee Lodge in Yosemite. A privately owned 6,000 foot lodge, constructed in the 1930’s by the Wells family as a summer home, it is built with all the fancy and detail of Gaston’s lodge from “Beauty and the Beast." Inside there are large antler chandeliers, hand painted Swiss Alpine wall decorations, a 20 foot (at least!) beamed ceiling, and a view of the Kaweah River. Robert and I have visited Kaweah Han a few times, and each time we do, we are amazed anew at the glory of the place.
Our after dinner walks down Main Street never take us to Kaweah Han, though. It’s over a mile down to the Han, and it’s very steep. But knowing that there is a secret treasure at the end of Silver City’s Main Street makes our strolls that much sweeter. All in our own back yard.