“…To a man whose life is chiefly within four brick walls, and whose every breath takes up some part of the street and its filth, whose daily work is such that his body and health are a daily sacrifice to the necessities of sedentary life, to such a man there is nothing in the whole range of remedial agents to make him so sound and strong and well and in so short a time, like the two or three weeks he can spare for a trip in the woods.” -- Camps and Tramps in the Adirondacks, 1880
During the last century it became popular for urbanites to escape to the wilderness for health and mental rejuvenation. It was so theraputic it was called the "wilderness cure." At that time the Lakes Basin developed resorts with fishing, swimming, boating, cabins and lodging. Easy access to many lakes and the unspoiled wilderness made this a natural mecca.
Primative campgrounds sprang up for the extra hearty who slept in heavy canvas tents and cooked with Coleman stoves under alcohol lanterns. That was the camping style that prevailed during our family summer vacation. Pounding stakes and pitching pup tents, gathering wood for pit fires, unrolling sleeping bags and repairing inflatable air mattresses -- those were the chores of the day. Smores, anyone?
Eventually the roads were paved and widened, making campsites accessible to aluminum sided campers and large trailers with portable showers, heaters, and gas stoves... and no bugs. How lucky were those fortunate enough to afford modern amenities - but not us! Our family remained true to the "roughing it" approach as our primary wilderness experience!
Packer Lake lodge was built in 1926, Sardine Lake lodge in 1941, and Gold Lake lodge in the 1950s, as well as others. As the wilderness explorers arrived on the scene, forest trails were established for day hikers, backpackers, horsepackers, mountain bikers, and even 4-wheelers. Although Sardine and Packer lakes were scenic our family enjoyed the easy hiking access to the many lakes surrounding the Gold Lake campsite. We caught our limit fishing its waters and enjoyed a selection of daily hiking outings between lakes. We always packed lunch, water, a fishing pole, and some worms along on those hikes.
Recreational development of the Lakes Basin has slowed since the 1950s and the area has kept a sleepy ambience, so we still find solitude and comfort. We continue to enjoy charming ammenities from the past, unspoiled by the modern treatment that many resorts adopt. That uncomplicated mood still appeals to my nature and always puts a smile on my face! What can be better than a cozy cabin with a clean comfortable bed, a warm shower, happy hour on the porch, and a fantastic family-style dinner at the lodge? Hmmm.. maybe that home made breakfast the following morning!
Gold Lake Road was constructed in 1913 and gradually improved as an all-weather highway thanks to the county road department. Somehow, our Dad discovered the area in the 1930s, rode the train to Reno and hitchhiked here as a young man. He enjoyed himself so much, it became our family camping retreat and a frequent summer destination during our childhood.
Now my brother and I have it "in our blood "to return here as often as possible. We've found this to be our own "wilderness cure" -- a home away from home that revitializes the body, nourishes the soul, and raises our spirits. May we be so fortunate to return again and again...
Many thanks to John and Shuggy, our kind hosts who have tirelessly maintained the Gold Lake lodge for years with help from their delightful young staff.
Check their website at http://www.goldlakelodge.com/