A frosty micro brew was poured into your new favorite stainless steel re-usable pint cup. The first sip of hoppy nectar tastes just right in these mountains, tucked away in the high Sierra. It might be the best beer you’ve ever encountered, especially because your purchase directly benefits the revival of a community driven, non-profit ski hill. Although the beer is divine, you’re forced to set it down because the band is firing off acoustic rhythms that require both hands for clapping, and both feet for stomping. The sun is slowly diving over the forested ridgeline, but the night has just begun. You’re out in the country, with the greatest people you know, and tonight, everyone is camping out.
Welcome to the Lost Sierra Hoedown, the intended result of a Service Learning Project led by a team of three Interdisciplinary students: Cody Wilkins, Rachael Blum, and Drew Fisher.
“The purpose of Service Learning is to give students an opportunity to create a project to gain skills and give back to the community,” said Katie Zanto, Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies. “This project seems to be the epitome of what we’re looking for.”
The Lost Sierra Hoedown is scheduled to take place Sept. 20-22 at the Johnsville Historic Ski Bowl, in Plumas-Eureka State Park, just an hour north of Truckee. The event will shine light on a historical and cultural treasure of the Sierra Nevada, and raise funds toward re-opening the ski hill.
“People have lost touch with the roots of skiing, and Johnsville is keeping the culture and core of the sport alive, and that’s something we are trying to support,” said Cody Wilkins, the team’s social entrepreneur.
It’s a “back to the roots” event; focused on Americana music, ski history, outdoor activity, community, and simple sustainable living. The goal is to create a little super community, where everyone can have fun and participate.
“I’m excited that the team is experimenting with creative ideas, like pairing hiking with live music,” said Zanto.
The outdoor setting features forests, lakes, rivers, streams and peaks, but it’s the profound historical presence that makes Johnsville special. According to oral history, in the 1860s, the ski bowl was the first hill in the western hemisphere to provide skiers with uphill transportation, via aerial ore carts used for mining. Back then it was called “Gold Mountain”.
Azariah ‘Z” Reynolds remembers skiing in Johnsville when he was just three years old. “Even after the hill shut down, I continued to go up there and hike it,” said Reynolds. “When I heard that the community was working to re-open the ski hill as a non-profit, I knew I wanted to get involved.”
Sharing his extensive background in the music industry and event production, Reynolds is working with the students to make the Lost Sierra Hoedown a reality. “Everybody is so motivated and has such good ideas, it’s motivated me too,” said Reynolds. “There’s nothing but good intentions all around.”
Rachael Blum is the sustainability director of the event, and she is working to make it a one of a kind, Leave No Trace, sustainable event. “It’s going to be totally unique. We’ve got unique motives,” said Blum. “It’s our chance to take something and make it different; people should say they’ve never been to something like this.”
Producing the Lost Sierra Hoedown has been a tremendous endeavor, but the team is passionate about making it happen. “I’m really impressed with the level of organization, teamwork and initiative that the team has shown,” said Zanto. “Even though it’s months before the event and (the team) has just been accepted into the class.”
With the support of several faculty members and students, the Lost Sierra Hoedown is picking up steam. Currently, Reynolds and the service learning team are collaborating with the Plumas-Eureka State Park Association, the Plumas Community Foundation and the Plumas Ski Club to create the infrastructure for the event.
“We are working on the detailed event description,” said Reynolds. “Once we have the description the Plumas Community Foundation will turn in the application for a special use permit.” The event description is meticulous, containing everything from bathroom locations to parking and waste management. Excitement for the event is building in the Sierra Nevada College community as the vision becomes more clear.
“I am very excited to bring my whole family to the Lost Sierra Hoedown,” said Rosie Hackett, Director of Outdoor Adventure Leadership. “There is nothing like a good ole fashion hoedown to bring people together…stomping their heels in the dirt, smiling, and locking their elbows to dosy doe. The Hoedown allows people to slow down, disconnect their cyber lives, and to enjoy themselves. They connect…with themselves, the community, the place, and the cause.”
The service learning team would like to express tremendous gratitude for the support from Sierra Nevada College; faculty, advisors; and students. For more information, check out the event’s website, www.LostSierraHoedown.com.
It’s super exciting to get the project rolling,” said Wilkins. “Everyone should be there, its going to be the event the year.”