Markleeville residents hit the trails

Graduating Woodfords High School student Satori Ivy has a mission. Before he leaves his Markleeville home at the end of summer to attend Savannah College of Art and Design, he hopes to see progress on the Curtz Lake Interpretive Trail Restoration Project, as proposed by the Bureau of Land Management.

In the summers of 1972 and 1973, BLM and the Youth Conservation Corps created an interpretive trail near Curtz Lake, located on Airport Road between Woodfords and Markleeville. Color-coded signs indicated three trail systems; vegetative, geologic and aquatic. However, the site has been neglected for years. Washed-out trails are littered by fallen logs, and shot-up metal interpretive signs are standing broken and rusted.

A revitalized site would benefit residents and tourists alike, as well as students on educational field trips.

"I am the coordinator of the Curtz Lake Trail Restoration Project," he said. "This is a community-based project established through the Environmental and Spatial Technology lab at Woodfords High School."

Woodfords High School is a "necessary small school," with 10 students and two teachers, Joe Voss and Joel Tabor, and the EAST lab stresses self-directed learning, teaching students how to handle and solve problems with teamwork.

"The vision of this project is to create a new trail to replace an existing one that is falling into disrepair. Through our collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management, the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce, the Alpine Watershed Group and interested individuals and organizations, this project will impact the recreational and educational opportunities in Alpine County."

Ivy, along with student collaborator Caleb Knapp, Tabor and adult collaborator, Kate Ivy, will be mapping out a rerouted trail with the Global Positioning System, conducting a survey and encouraging partnerships to be established within the community. Interested members of the public may receive a survey form by e-mailing Satori Ivy:

To learn more about the Curtz Lake Environmental Study Area, the public is invited to a free power point presentation about the project and dessert at the Alpine County Library in Markleeville on Wednesday, June 7 at 7 p.m.

n Markleeville resident Wanda Coyan dreams of hiking without having to lug camping equipment. To achieve this goal, she has been raising three kids Ðyoung goats Ð and training them for packing her gear on the trail.

"When our four boys were little, I had some goats for milking," Coyan said. "Last year, I was thinking about buying a goat to milk and met Charlie Gaggan, who owns Lightfoot Goat Packing in Fallon. I hadn't even thought about goat-packing at that time, but she convinced me that goats are ideal hiking companions, nimble, surefooted and strong enough to be pack animals. So I bought Oliver, Ivy and Willamina."

Oliver and Ivy were bottle-fed by Coyan since they were born. Willamina arrived at the Coyan compound after she was weaned. Ivy and Willamina are does, and Oliver is a wether, a neutered male goat. All three of Coyan's 1-year-olds are part Saanen, Boer and Alpine and bred to be big. Oliver will weigh about 300 pounds when he's 4 years old and full-grown, ready for packing. Goats can pack 30 percent of their weight.

As Coyan leads her docile goats from one fenced-in yard to another, she presents the image of a grown-up "Heidi" in California's Alps. She also keeps chickens for fresh eggs, grows vegetables and is happy creating homespun crafts like baskets made from pine needles.

"As an only child growing up on a farm in Tennessee, my best friend was a goat. We played tag and hide and seek together," she said.

Last month, Coyan and her husband, Gary, went to the Annual Goat Pack Trip at Succer Creek State Park in Oregon, near the border of Idaho.

"There were goat-packers from the western states and more than 100 goats," she said. "We camped in tents for four days and attended goat-packing workshops. We had a great time, but our German Shorthair dog was more trouble than my three goats put together! Oliver, Ivy and Willamina just followed me around, thinking that I'm their mother."

When her three goats are mature enough to pack Wanda Coyan's gear over Alpine County trails, no doubt that they will continue to follow her and call her, "Ma-a-a-a-a-a."

n Gina Gigli can be reached at


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