February 26th, 27th & 28th, 1999
Rooster broke down and then I saved the day by finding snow when nobody thought there would be any!
There editor, print that if you're not afraid of the truth!
Now for the long version
Well, after being late to the drop off last month, I was determined to get to Carl's Jr. in Mojave before the rest of the group. I had just pulled into the gas station when I heard Trail Princess complaining about something on the CB. I thought, "Man, they really made good time!" But when I met up with them and asked how they got there so early, Patti and Nancy (who were leading) casually said "We left EARLY!" About 20 minutes early. Gees, A Wagon Master's life is never simple. It looked like most for the expected people were there, but we waited around for a little while anyhow. I thought, well maybe nobody got left behind if I'm lucky.
We left Mojave with the girls in front. Nancy would show us the way from the passenger side of Patti's new Jeep. I'd never been there before. They did good They found Tehachapi and they made all the turns. They only missed the last one by a little bit and we got there eventually. And it was nice to see all the streets around where Rhonda and Bob live. Bob "U-Boat" Baker showed up a right after us, wondering why nobody was a Winchells. Oops!
We all found a spot to through out a sleeping bag. Sean and I stayed in the manly room, down with all the guns. The testosterone was running hot and heavy through our veins. We watched Nancy's video from the last run and there might have been a little card playing.
I wanted to get an early start next morning, so when I heard voices and footsteps upstairs, I hustled up there only to find that it was just 6:40. Hasn't anyone ever heard of sleeping in? We weren't due to leave the house for almost 2 _ hours. Well, we had donuts and bagels as well as a few other things and were ready to go. And it wasn't even 8:00 yet. This group was definitely ready for some wheelin'. I called Gary, who was going to meet us, in order to tell him we'd be a little early. He was still in bed and I woke him up.
After some pavement driving, we entered the Jawbone Canyon area. While stopped at the base of the mountains (for reasons we won't be covering here Rooster), things didn't look too snowy. There were white patches way up, but I wasn't exactly encouraged. We left the Kelso Valley area and headed up into the Sequoia National Forest. Going up the switchbacks was fun and the view was great. As we approached the summit (7000 feet) we began to see small patches of snow. Eventually, the small patches gave way to what amounted to some real snow! We stopped for lunch next to a snow covered hill and played and ate. We even managed some sled runs on the little sled that Sean brought.
After lunch, we headed for the Sorrell Peak road. As the road climbed, we got into some REAL snow. I stopped to air down, and continued on. Soon there were only a couple of dirt bike tracks in front of us. We finally stopped at a good looking slope and played for a while. A few of us continued ahead for a ways, but the road went around to the sunny side of the mountain and the snow thinned out a lot. Since the map said that the road was a dead end, we turned around and made our way back out. We approached a switch-back that I remembered had a good looking slope, covered with snow, that would allow who-ever slid down to be picked up at the bottom when we went by. After much staring at the slope with no volunteers (I would have gone, but I had to drive ) I called Paul on the CB. I new he'd do it. (He's not too bright about such things, but you gotta admire his attitude). He went down about half way and then I guess the slope must have got a lot steeper He just disappeared out of sight and then sort of rolled out onto the snow covered road below. This all was too much for the Trail Princess and off she went, minus a sled. She had ski clothes on and she slide on her butt all the way to the top of the steep part. After minutes of sitting there in the snow, staring at the drop, she finally pushed off And disappeared like Paul did before. In the mean time, Paul had climbed back up with the sled and was going to make another go of it when Mom decided that this was the perfect thing to relieve all the stress she had built up at work. The two of them mounted Sean's little sled (they MAY have been at the poor little sled's capacity) and took off. This time there was no hesitancy and the two of them shot off the steep part and into the snow below. They must have submarined into the snow pretty good because there was more snow on them and in the sled than was left on the hill.
After, we headed west towards Piute Mountain road. Our plan was to complete a loop that would take us back to Tehachapi. The valley we traveled through didn't really have any snow, so I was surprised to find that at one intersections, the road we wanted was not only covered with a lot of snow, but there were NO TRACKS either. Now you can look at this either: Great virgin snow to play in, or Why are there no tracks in the snow and what does everybody else know that we don't? We continued on and it turned into some great snow 4-wheeling. Sometimes I'd have to stop and take a second or third try at a snow covered slope and I think everybody was either searching for forgotten snow driving techniques or learning new ones.
As we continued to climb, the snow got deeper. Trail Princess helped out by pulling me out of the snow a couple of times. Unfortunately, the last time, the snow was getting REAL deep. I tried to plow ahead a few times and Trail Princess and Rooster would pull me back out. Then Rooster got the urge and tried to plow the trail a few times. We could make progress a few feet, but there was a long ways to go. Pappy and Cupcake even make a couple of hi-velocity attempts, but no amount of speed could get us more that a few feet along. We debated winching and the trail was scouted ahead. When all was said and done, it was time to turn back. We were so close to making the loop to Tehachapi!
It was a long drive back. We went back down the switch backs in the dark, which was interesting because the turns were tight and down hill so my headlights weren't pointing where I needed to turn and we'd sorta sail off into the darkness. We arrived at the highway around 8:00 and aired up. Since we all needed gas (some more than others) and there was only one gas station where we were heading, I suggested that whoever was done airing up should go on ahead, that way we wouldn't all arrive at the gas station at the same time. One of those to leave before me was 10-Ball. He turned right onto highway 14, got up to speed and ran out of gas. Rooster volunteered to tow him the last few miles to the gas station. A few minutes later, the last of us turned right onto highway 14, got up to speed and I ran out of gas! Probably less than 100 feet from were 10-Ball ran out of gas. Knucklehead hooked on and away we went. What a ride. Along the way, I heard talk over the CB that Patti and Loren were missing in action. Not having any gas and being several miles behind the group, there didn't seem to much I could do.
Well We all got gas (at least those present!). 10-Ball put in a little over 13 gallons and I put in 15 gallons. I think we both need to add some gas tank capacity. I could probably just bang out all the dents. Rooster and Jerry called for Patti and Loren the whole way to Tehachapi. Rhonda and Bob took to the city streets looking for our lost girls. We all met at the far side of town for pizza, but no sign of them. Half way through dinner, Nancy finally got a hold of them via cell phone. They had missed the gas station, headed for Tehachapi and were eating dinner. With our group now whole, we returned to the Hughes' house and settled in for the night. Again, there was TV, poker, etc. Rooster and Jerry were a little bitchy towards each other all night, but everybody else was in a good mood.
The next morning, Rhonda called ahead to a great little restaurant, and we all went out to breakfast. Afterwards, we went back to the house and played horseshoes. Thanks to the Hughes' and some good luck, we had a really great snow run.
Oh Diane says I missed her a lot and I'm never leaving her home again!