Dartmouth Outing Club of Northern California
Vox Clamantis in Sierra
Founded in 1939, the Dartmouth Outing Club of Northern California (DOCNC) is a group of Dartmouth alumni and alumnae interested in the great out-o-doors, mountain sports, conservation, and good old College spirit. The DOCNC hosts events year-round in the Bay Area and is also the steward of an incredible cabin on the shores of Lake Mary on Donner Summit that is available for members to use. The DOCNC cabin is an incredible legacy of inestimable value to Dartmouth alumni and their families and friends.
The DOCNC cabin sits in the homeland of the Waši-šiw (Wa She Shu) or Washoe people, and the Washoe continue to live in and care for this beautiful region. In the introduction to their tribal history (linked below), the Tribe writes that “People who live or travel within Washoe ancestral territory know little to nothing about the past and present of the people and the land. We feel that it is vitally important for all residents and visitors to understand the depth of Washoe history as well as the current status of our sovereign tribal nation. This knowledge will help to form a more respectful and complete understanding of Lake Tahoe and the area surrounding it. The Washoe request that you assist in preserving this environment to benefit future generations."
We at the DOCNC are grateful for this land and to the many generations who have sustained it. We encourage everyone who visits the cabin to learn about the Washoe at the link below, and to consider our responsibility to the land and its original inhabitants.
At an altitude of 7,000 feet, the cabin is situated directly on the overland Emigrant Trail, just a stone's throw from the trail's highest point and only a few hundred feet from where the Donner Party met its snowy demise in 1846. Later years saw the completion of the transcontinental railroad along roughly the same route. The Pacific Crest Trail — the West Coast equivalent of the Appalachian Trail — also passes just behind the cabin.
The cabin is hardly rustic: it has wood heat, a full kitchen, electricity & lights, running water, a great dining table, couches and mattresses, and an indoor chemical toilet. Legend has it that the stone fireplace includes rocks brought to California by Ray Taylor '1911 from the Second College Grant.
The cabin sleeps 12 in winter and 15 in summer comfortably, and this is the number to which reservations are limited on non-exclusive weekends. You can pack in more on exclusive weekends, but you do so at your own discomfort, and we strongly discourage it. The living room has three couches, a stereo with aux cable and Bluetooth, and a great small desk and chair for reading/ studying/ working. There are a slew of games and decks of cards too, and a few books. The cabin journals, dating back decades, are always a great read. In the warm season, the deck and the lakefront beach are great places to hang out. The cabin has a phone but no internet connectivity unless you use your own mobile device.
The DOCNC was founded in 1939 by a foresightful group of alumni who wanted to recreate the Dartmouth experience out West. The club's stated purpose from our 1939 Articles of Incorporation is to encourage and promote "winter sports and all other sports, and social and recreational activities and friendly relations among the members." The DOCNC is the oldest alumni club on the West Coast and the only alumni club to own and manage a cabin - just like the cabins in the Second College Grant.
The cabin was built in the late 1940s using local materials, such as ties from the old railroad snow sheds that crossed Donner Summit. President Dickey visited the cabin in October, 1955 to dedicate the cabin's remarkable fireplace to Ray Taylor, '1911, one of the cabin's founders and the man responsible for the fireplace's New Hampshire granite.
The cabin is a truly magical place, a piece of New Hampshire transplanted to California. It has served as the entry point to Dartmouth on the West Coast for countless new students and graduates, and it provides a way of reconnecting with the Dartmouth community for more "mature" alumni/ae.
As an alumni club, the DOCNC is loosely affiliated with the College, the Dartmouth Outing Club, and other Bay Area alumni clubs. Only graduates of Dartmouth College or one of its graduate programs can be DOCNC members, and only DOCNC members may reserve the cabin. Membership is obtained by attending one of the cabin "work weekends", which are held every Spring and Fall. We have almost 400 members, ranging from current students to the class of '54.
DOCNC events are open to the entire Dartmouth community. We host an annual ski weekend at Sugarbowl Ski Resort – we call it Winter Carnival West – and a semi-annual Tubestock West in the summer. The Pacific Crest Trail runs through our "front yard."
Cabin improvements over the past few years include new mattresses, new industrial kitchen sink and counter, new couches, new carpet, new linoleum in the bathroom and toilet, refinished wood floor and a new dock. All improvements were done with volunteer work and from money from rental fees and membership dues.
If you're ever back in Hanover, check out the large volume of DOCNC material that's safely stored in the College's Rauner Special Collections Library. We have a limited number of bound copies of some of these historical documents. If you'd like a copy, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We're working on a short history of the club's formation and the cabin's creation and hope to post this soon. In the meantime, here's a quick overview:
The DOCNC's history at Lake Mary began when Johnny Ellis '34 purchased a plot of land with the intent to build a small ski resort. Though those plans never fully materialized, Ellis did install a rope tow, one of the first in California. The remains of the rope tow structure and related buildings are still visible next to the cabin.
Eventually, the land passed to a group of area alumni — Johnny Ellis, '34, Wilson Evans, Raymond Taylor, '11, Richard Townsend, and B. D. Winslow — who incorporated the DOCNC on February 28th, 1939, the same year that the Sugarbowl Ski Resort opened. Outdoor and ski clubs were a very popular thing in the late 1920s and 1930s in Tahoe. The late 1930s ushered in several other large lodges on Donner Summit, including the Sierra Club's Clair Tappaan Lodge and the Nature Friend's Heidelmann Lodge. The DOCNC cabin was built with alumni labor from 1949-1955 from salvaged construction materials, such as a World War II Quonset Hut platform for the main floor and discarded railroad snowshed timbers for the walls.
In 1987, all 18 acres of Lake Mary and 82 acres with 21 building sites was sold by Southern Pacific to the Sugarbowl Ski Resort for about $300,000. Len Smith, Lou Leeger and Bill Perrell (and other Dartmouth alumni) worked with Lake Mary folks to buy the 11 acres around Lake Mary, including three parcels for the DOCNC. Lake Mary Partners was formed to do this and was later dissolved. These gentlemen put a significant amount of work into this, and we're eternally grateful!
The DOCNC removed brush and move rocks to create the cabin's beach in 1987. We bulldozed stumps, built a dock and put in sand over the following years.
In 1997, Bob Williams submitted excellent comments from the DOCNC on the proposed expansion of the Sugarbowl Ski Resort. Bob's response to Sugarbowl's Environmental Impact Statement is available at the cabin.
Board of Directors
Ben Prudhomme '17, President
Sarah Wildes '13, Vice President
Paul Hogan '14, TH '15, Secretary
Thomas Kim '02, Treasurer
Jennifer Cohn '93
Craig Sakowitz '93
Scott Jules T '97
Ben Parker '16
Maya Schechter '14
Gisela Insuaste '97