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What Do People Think About a Luxury Lodge in the Wilderness?

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What Do People Think About a Luxury Lodge in the Wilderness?

Postby rightstar76 » Thu Jun 21, 2007 10:58 pm

There was an article today by Tom Stienstra in the San Francisco Chronicle about luxury lodging right next to the Kings Canyon backcountry.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... QG9M21.DTL

I was wondering what people's thoughts were about this.

I had mixed feelings about it. While I was disappointed that most people wouldn't be able to afford it (myself being one of them), I was relieved by the fact that it wouldn't be attracting too many people to the area and so the wilderness character would be preserved.

Personally, I don't like staying in lodges when I'm in the mountains. At the Wuksachi in Lodgepole before a backpacking trip, I could barely sleep. Then when we finished our trip, we stayed at the John Muir Lodge near Wilsonia. I couldn't sleep that night either and just sat by the window and looked outside. I felt trapped in that room. Hey, I thought, if it's just like being at home in the city, why bother to drive all the way there just so you can feel like you've never left. The room is stuffier, after all, costs more money than to be at home, and the linens are sure a lot less comfortable. It's much better to just throw down a sleeping bag, a tent maybe if it's raining or buggy, and sleep outside.

What do other people think?



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Postby Matilda » Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:28 pm

I stayed there last year (I'm an outdoors writer, so I had a good excuse for the expense) and I thought it was just fine. The food, as Stienstra wrote, is excellent and the tent cabins w/fluffy beds and high thread count sheets were a treat.
The lodge isn't in SNP, but on a private in-holding within the Sequoia Ntl. Monument--that's how the owner was able to build it (it was still apparently quite a rigorous approval process w/local govt agencies). It's all very tasteful and extremely unobtrusive. The location is remote (although it's barely walk-in with all the backroads in that area), and it certainly doesn't disturb surrounding wilderness/park areas.
Backpackers are going to see much more spectacular parts of the Sierra, no doubt about it. And those of us that log the trail miles and follow leave-no-trace wilderness ethics certainly can poo-poo such easy, if expensive, access. But if a stay at this camp gives people an appreciation of what they can see from the top of Mitchell Peak, I'm all for it.
I'll go back and treat myself to another night there whenever I manage to do a dream trans-Sierra trip through Kaweah Basin and Cloud Canyon. Then I'll really deserve my filet mignon.
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Postby markskor » Fri Jun 22, 2007 4:30 pm

Much like the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite...why not?
I realize that it is an opulent expense, affordable by only a few, but do not they have the same rights to the wilderness experience as us all. The High Sierra Camps also come to mind here.

I wish I had the free-expendable/ disposable income to afford places such as this...maybe someday, but that being said, as long as this establishment obeys the same codes of...non-pollution, environmental protection, etc.
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Postby giantbrookie » Sat Jun 23, 2007 8:23 am

I agree with Markskor: if the place is environmentally friendly and does not visually intrude on the wilderness nor attract unwanted excess crowds to otherwise pristine areas, it is fine. So it is expensive and caters to those with lots of money--so do a lot of other businesses. If they pay their taxes, fine. The majority of the Sierra is still cheap for those of us who don't have the cash and most of it is still only available for us who choose to put on our boots. Personally I like the entire range of the Sierran experience from my klingon-like death marches to sleeping in a comfy bed, but I don't have that much money to spend. My "luxury" is more like Markskor's Big Sur. I'll cook the high end food and I can bring the good wine and a vastly higher end choice of beer than any luxury resort will ever provide.
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Postby Haiwee » Thu Jun 28, 2007 3:23 pm

I don't make a habit of staying on lodges, but on occasion it's kind of fun. Although I met my wife on a backpacking trip she's not too keen on roughing it anymore, so a lodge or a cabin is about the only way I can get her into the mountains these days. And we stayed in the tent-cabins at Vermillion Resort a couple of years ago during our thru-hike of the John Muir Trail -- it was heaven to have showers and a soft bed for at least one day during the trip.
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Postby Rosabella » Thu Jun 28, 2007 4:18 pm

OK….. I have to confess that I usually stay at the Ahwahnee while visiting Yosemite Valley. It’s an indulgence that I thoroughly enjoy, albeit only occasionally.

The Valley can get really crazy during peak tourist season, but regardless of the numbers in the Valley, there is always a calm elegance about the Ahwahnee that is a balm to the spirit.

I love my backpacking trips; sleeping on the ground on the trail in a meadow all to myself is why I look forward to summers more than anything else. But I also love ballet, opera, …and the Ahwahnee. Yah, I’d probably stay at this new lodge at least once.
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Postby mountaineer » Thu Jun 28, 2007 8:24 pm

That is nothing compared to the plans China has for Mt. Everest.

http://www.indiadaily.com/editorial/17249.asp
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Postby SteveB » Fri Jun 29, 2007 10:09 pm

This is one of those topics that I'm divided on. I recently watched a very good program the Grand Lodges of the greatest parks (or some such), and it was absolutely mesmerizing to think about one day staying at the Ahwanee, or other lodges I can't recall at this time that are exclusive and deep in the backcountry. On the other hand, I think that what it takes to get those lodges built are disgusting. I go to the backcountry to get away from people and civilization: the notion of these places is just abhorrent to me.

Populations are exploding exponentially across the world, and our wild places are vanishing. If we can't do something about the population, we MUST do something to protect the wild places.

(PS: I'm proudly republican. :) Thanks for listening. )
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Postby Rosabella » Sat Jun 30, 2007 6:55 am

Now Steve, surely you're not saying that you'd go to Yosemite Valley and then be disgusted by the Lodges and the number of people. If you're heading to the backcountry to get away from people and civilization, the last place you'd head to is the valley.

All of those grand old lodges were built in areas that had already been established and "civilized".... on the road with easy access. That was the key then, and still is. Yes, the population is exploding, but it is still a very small percentage of people that actually get into the "backcountry". The majority of people are happy just seeing it from the sidelines.

I'll tell you what disgusts me, and that's Curry Village. I've only stayed there twice (out of necessity... nothing else available). It's a slum with canvas cabins jammed as tight as possible. It's noisy and it's an eyesore. I think this is where people go when they want the "wilderness experience" but don't have a clue how to get it. And don't know how to act when they get there.

At the risk of sounding snobby.. I'll take the quiet elegance of the Ahwahnee any day. :)



PS, if something isn't done about global warming, clear-cutting the rain forests and wreckless industry here and abroad, I don't think the question of a Lodge coming into the Sierra is really going to be an issue. We are poisoning ourselves.
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Postby Skibum » Sat Jun 30, 2007 5:21 pm

Actually, they are doing a pretty nice job. The tent cabins are pretty secluded and the only structure I guess you could call a lodge is a high ceiling open air dining area. Also blends in to the surroundings pretty good. From what i've seen, the food looks pretty good.

I guess ones perspective of what is "backcountry" is varied. I consider "backcountry" more like Humphrey or Dusy Basins or Tehipite.

You can drive to this place. Or, I can. If your a guest, I believe you might have to hike 1/4 mile or something. :eek:

I love the old "parkatecture", they do not build like that anymore. Love that Ahwanee dining room! And the Native American arts & crafts! And the Navajo Rugs! And the huge stone fireplaces.

Hey Rosie! :)
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Postby SteveB » Sat Jun 30, 2007 6:09 pm

Rosabella, I did say I was of two minds on the topic. ;) All those grand old lodges are beautiful structures, and they have histories of their own that will last well into the future. We need to remember that all of these places were built at a time when America's view of the environment (and it's wild places that really weren't even considered wild at the time) is considerably different than it is today. Would Glacier's lodge be built today, money aside? I don't think there would be a chance in heck, and I think that is a good thing. In the over-commercialization of things these days, I'm confident that it's only a matter of a few scant years before we start seeing the Pepsi Lodge in Little Yosemite Valley, or the Cingular Ski Lift in Vale.

Yosemite Valley is another beast altogether. The ONLY time I visit Yosemite Valley is either in the dead of winter or in the middle of the night in late spring. Other than that I stay away specifically because it's a mess. Dirt parking lots, signs out directing traffic to this lot or the other, tour busses, vehicles spewing exhaust... I think everyone in the area knows what the air looks (and smells) like in Yosemite Valley during the summer. So yes, I do avoid the Valley at all costs when I'm on a Yosemite trip. I think (not too seriously) that Yosemite Valley is already a lost cause. ;)
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Postby Rosabella » Sat Jun 30, 2007 8:37 pm

:lol: I was in Yosemite a couple years ago and one of the cashiers was saying that the concession contract (I guess that's what it's called) that had previously been held by Curry Company was up for bid.... and McDonalds and Disneyland were both competing for the bid.

Fortunately, neither one was the succesful bidder. Pretty scary thoughts - what it would have started to look like! :eek:

Hey back at you Jim! :D
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