A reservoir of ideas

They say denial isn’t just a river in Egypt, but I still have a hard time coming to grips with my own little river of denial right here in Durango. Or perhaps reservoir of denial would be more appropriate.

Yes, I watched as the earth was opened up, the massive pumping plant arose from the sagebrush and the suction gates were opened like a giant shop vac. As a fan of one of the last free-flowing (or at least mostly, if you’re going to split hairs) rivers in the United States, I watched all this with the detached skepticism of a sore loser. I even harbored a secret, and impossibly far-fetched, fantasy of monkeywrenchers coming to the rescue and saving the day. And when the reservoir allegedly started to fill, I refused to believe, a sort of out of sight, out of mind thing. (That, and a mission to see for myself would’ve landed me on a Homeland Security watch list.)

As blasphemous as all this may sound, I can freely admit it now, seeing as how it’s all water under the intake grate, so to speak. Apparently, the reservoir now known as Lake Nighthorse is almost full – although I have yet to actually see it for myself. And the best retribution I can hope for is a mildly satisfying chortle when I pass the pumping plant and see workers fishing debris and strainers out of the intake at high water. (And no, despite the actions of a few others, I have never given the plant a backside salute, which I’m pretty sure would be a highly risky maneuver from a kayak anyway.)

Anyway, as curmudgeons like myself stew in our own bitter backwash of defeat, the discussion has gone from “if” to “when.” As in, “What do we do when Lake Nighthorse is filled, aside of course, from building an 18-foot, razor-wire fence around it to keep the ter’ists out?”

OK, call me a trader, but I must admit for the first time since I became familiarized with the whole A-LP concept, this is a small glimmer of sunshine. And while the probability of motorized recreation is being crammed down our throats thanks to a $3 million boat ramp, the prospect of some wine flowing from years of sour grapes is intriguing. Heck, I’m even encouraged by the prospect of being able to gaze upon something other than graffiti, radio towers and empty 40-ouncers during my semi-annual trips up Smelter Mountain. And despite the snide motorized comment, I must divulge to huffing more than my fair share of Mercury horsepower in a former life, although nowadays I’m more a fan of the pontoon scene.

Anyway, with the state relinquishing any managerial role, the job of shaping the recreation scene at Lake Nighthorse has fallen upon us, the residents of La Plata County. And who better to make such decisions than 50,000 self-appointed experts on outdoor recreation? Needless to say, since the discussion has been broached, there’s been a bevy of ideas, from horseback riding to Nordic skiing to a rowing club for Fort Lewis College. Of course, here at the Telegraph, we have our own ideas on appropriate recreation opportunities, and even some that don’t have to do with grandiose visions of a sweet trail network (I know we’re spoiled, but that topography practically screams to be ridden.)

Alas, without further adieu, here is our totally biased wish list for Lake Nighthorse (which I’m still not completely convinced exists):

- Jet skis – As far as I’m concerned, the red moped of lake life: fun to ride for a little while, but you don’t want to be seen on one. These are better left to the larger venues that can absorb their incessant whine and the associated stench of Axe, like Powell, Navajo or anywhere in New Mexico. OK, I know not all jet skiers smell like a night at the Roxbury or hang out in gangs like the three musketeers in matching life vests. So maybe they can stay to their own corner of the lake. Directly adjacent to the skeet-shooting range.

- Rowing crew – Does anyone in Durango even know how to scull? Nevertheless, it’s got to be better than that horrible medieval torture device at the gym. Plus, practice could make for some interesting spectating and give plenty of mileage to a whole slew of “cox” jokes.

- Fishing – A fine use of lake time, as long as I or my kids don’t catch anything because the thought of touching a fish let alone reaching into its mouth is downright terrifying. Funny, because I seem to have no problem eating them or drinking a few cold beverages in the pursuit of not actually trying to catch fish.

- Swimming –I know this is a bit of a radical concept, I mean it involves no motors, no boats, no boat ramps. Maybe if we got really nutty, we could throw in some sand for a beach. I know, crazy talk, but apparently it’s all the rage in California, Mexico and Hawaii.

- Rope swing – C’mon, it just hasn’t been the same since they cut down the one at 32nd Street. We’ll be really careful, we promise.

- Speedos – So I took a little flak over my last diatribe against these imagination-killing “swim” garments. So, allow me to rephrase by saying they are perfectly acceptable. As long as the wearer agrees to stay at least waist deep at all times or swims at night. Or is an Iron Man.

- Recreation Vehicles – OK, I understand these are an indelible component of the pursuit of modern “recreation.” I mean, as far as I can tell, these things exist solely for the end result of circling slowly around narrow lake roads, erratically breaking for squirrel and chipmunk crossings, and then stopping at a peaceful, idyllic lakeside destination to crank up the generator and take in the view from the pop-out living room window. In fact, there’s a $3 million cement pad that might make the perfect RV launching area.

Oops, did I say “launching?” Silly me, of course I meant “parking.” I told you I gave up those monkeywrenching ways. But a girl can still dream, can’t she?

– Missy Votel



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows