Speaking of routes, I love the old logging trail up to the observatory, because I kind of think of it like it is ours.
Me and my old buddy Wes Ronning, a united pilot, heard about it and Mike Senior told us that it had been abandoned back in the thirties and no one had been up there since then. Wes and I decided to blaze a trail. In the next year, maybe 1968, we took our two strokes up the trail into the pine forest, which was about three thousand at Mike's up to ten thousand at the observatory. Each time we tried, we reached some dead end canyons and run low on gas and had to head back.
There are a couple of stretches before you get up into the pine forest that are so full of nasty rocks that it was a real challenge for me and I am glad that I came out on the observatory road and back to Mike's the easy way. Back then we would have to go back the nasty way and try another day. I think it was our fourth attempt when we finally made it, having eliminated one dead end canyon after another. And now there is a trail that you can follow all the way. Although it is a bit faint at times, it is the same trail we cut about forty years ago, so I'm kind of proud of that.
I took some crazy Mexican friends up there on quads and three wheelers about fifteen years ago. Dan Garcia, one of my best buddies, was the ring leader. He had heard about it and talked up this Thanksgiving ride. I was the only one on a bike and I knew it was impossible to go up there on a three wheeler, but they insisted. I figured they would soon be ready to turn back, but you might think a german is stubborn, you might think an Irishman is stubborn, then try a stubborn Mexican or worse - a bunch of them. So we left Mike's early in the morning.
Bear in mind a good bike rider can probably make it up to where the logging road joins the observatory road in maybe an hour and a half, or two hours at most. The trail was so nasty and washed out that there were impassable places, but only these Mexicans didn't know that, so we continued.
At one place a huge boulder blocked the entire two-track and it was too high to lift the quads over and there was a sheer drop-off on one side and sheer cliff on the other. Like Moses and the Red Sea they began pounding on this huge boulder with another that they could lift. After a long time that big boulder split like an eggshell broken in half in a "V".
There were about seven of us and we passed each bike through, one at a time. Now that is stubborn. We did not make it to the observatory road before dark, so we camped for the night. Three wheelers and quads carried all kinds of neat things like sleeping bags, tequila and snacks, and tents, so we were happy and we had a party.
About eleven at night the roof fell in, literally. It had started to snow and with about four inches of snow my tent collapsed. I was the only one who knew the route and I did not know where we were or how far from the road, so I woke everybody in a panic: "hey, we have to get out of here before any signs of this almost invisible trail in the daylight are gone. They may not find us until Spring". Nobody was willing to leave their snug sleeping bag and the tequila released them from tension that I felt. So I said I was going alone, which finally got my loyal buddy Dan out of his bag. I want to add that he did it unwillingly because he has always felt it is his ordained mission in life to see that I survive another day.
It turned out that we were only a mile or two from the graded observatory road and we were able to follow our tracks back to the camp. Still we couldn't get anybody to worry about manana and whether we could even ride our bikes if the snow got any deeper, so I went back to bed too. Fortunately, when we woke in the morning we realized the snow had stopped shortly thereafter.
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