Sly’s Park

sly park recreation area
Crystal Range as seen from Jenkinson Lake.

There is a place in Pollock Pines occupied, visited, and otherwise
shared by all manner of species of fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, bugs,
mammals and um, oh yes people too. All kinds of people- fishermen, hikers,
bikers, runners, campers, horseback riders, boaters, kayakers, naturalists,
photographers, and many more that have never heard of Pollock Pines or
Jenkinson Lake but depend on its waters for their every day lives or
livelihoods. Not all that long ago there was no Jenkinson Lake. In 1952,
the year that Queen Elizabeth became Queen and Dwight Eisenhower became
President, Sly’s Park was still a meadow. Well, not just a meadow, but a
ranch, sawmill, and stopping place for cattlemen, explorers and settlers.
Shortly before that it was a gathering place for the Maidu and Miwok to hunt
and collect acorns for grinding. These days we visit Jenkinson Lake, the
centerpiece of Sly Park Recreation Area, to enjoy the water, the wildlife
and the woods. But under the lovely sparkling surface, beautifully
reflecting the surrounding hills, forest and sky, lies history!

sly park, Jenkinson Lake, Camp Creek Falls
Camp Creek Falls, Sly Park Recreation Area

My own history with Sly Park spans 15 years, which seems a long time to me.
I remember my first hike here, the first time I made it all the way around
the lake, the year when the water level was so high it seemed like the dams
might overflow, the time I saw the bald eagles and actually got close enough
to take a photograph, the time a sudden squall dropped 3 inches of snow on
me before I made it back to the car, the time I found the dog, the time I
saw the bobcat, times when Camp Creek waterfall was barely a trickle and
times when it was a raging flood, times when we could paddle kayaks all the way up
to Park Creek bridge and times when you could walk across the narrows on dry
land and bypass the whole east end of the lake. Yesterday I will remember
as the day we found the bricks, and realized that there was a lot more to
Sly Park Lake than met the eye. Or the lens of the camera.

sly park recreation area, Jenkinson Lake
South Cove
sly park recreation area, Jenkinson Lake
Bricks resurfacing.

I should have suspected something because of the mist. Sly Park Lake is a
prodigious generator of mists which rise fast and furiously from the waters’
surface, especially from the little cove tucked in down along the south shore. I
used to believe that it was due to physics- something explained by warm
waters evaporating into the chilly air lurking on the shady north-facing
slopes of the south shore. But these are mystical mists, and both physicists
and mystics agree that there are many invisible layers of matter and energy
in this world and in this universe. Because the last several winters have
been so dry and the lake levels are relatively low, some of those layers are
resurfacing. Yesterday we found bricks. Colorful old bricks forged locally
from native soil and clay, imprinted with letters and names that are clues
from the past. Bricks with stories baked into them, for whoever has the
ears to hear them.

sly park recreation area, Jenkinson Lake
Camp Creek diversion tunnel head wall
sly park recreation area, Jenkinson Lake
Mushrooms in the snow after a winter storm

Jenkinson Lake was born in 1954, the product of 2 main creeks, 3 dams and a
half mile of underground tunnel contributing the diverted waters of a third
creek. The lake’s serene vista, which now seems to fit so naturally into
the landscape, belies the power of the geological and cultural forces that
evolved and conspired to create it. Whether you walk, run, pedal, float, or
ride horseback, whether you’re after fish, photos, relaxation or rare
plants, when you visit Sly Park Lake you are part of history, adding another
layer to the story, another link in the continuum, another footprint in the
mud.

Read more about the history of Sly’s Park and the genesis of the lake at
http://www.thepollockpinesepic.com/title/sly-park/

Then go for a walk and
enjoy the day!

sly park lake annie picks-8(PS- Unless you are a fish or a duck it’s illegal to swim in the lake
because it is a municipal water supply; obviously fish and ducks are more
sanitary than people…)

Author: sixdogmomma

Dog lover, hiker, backpacker, photographer, caretaker.

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