Taken from the August 2004 Newsletter

Photos from the 41st Anniversary Picnic:

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Packer Lake Outing: by Le Wallin

"Summer in the High Country"

It was August 5th and Elaine and I were headed for Packer Lake. Most everyone else was heading for Reno and Hot August Nights - it’s nice to be different. Someone once called me SPECIAL. I didn’t know whether to be offended or lucky. When we arrived, camp hosts Keith and Vicki assisted our parking in a space known as "Hamptons’ Hang-out." We managed to slip past "Hampton Rock" without any undue stress and were soon level. I don’t know how cold it got that night (editor: 44.5 degrees F), but the down comforter felt real good.

Friday morning, bright and shiny (about 10:00 a.m.), Keith and I were on the trail with a grand plan to scout out Rattlesnake Trail off to the west of Downieville Road. Down Butcher Ranch Trail to the junction with Pauly Creek; Pauly Creek to Third Divide; and from there to the Second Divide turn-off. Oh, yes, this is where the first adventure of the day begins. Picture a trail 14 to 18 inches wide cut on the side of the mountain with the downhill side a good 60 to 80 feet before you quit sliding and you have the general picture. Now put a two-stage six-foot tall rock face in the trail. Keith gases the KTM and gets over the top, but good judgment tells him the geezer behind will have a problem so he waits. Up I go, over the first rock, and get stuck at the second rock face with the wheel hard turned left against the rock. Now I’m off the bike holding the clutch with two fingers and the bar tight up against my belly - the front wheel jammed against the rock. Keith is in back pushing. The motor is racing but I can’t let out the clutch ‘cause the bar, the clutch handle and my two fingers are jammed in tight against my tummy. Keith has no idea why I am not letting out the clutch ‘cause my body is in the way and he can’t see.

Finally, two minutes later, we are over the second rock and on our way again. We stopped for a bit at the cabin and four mountain bike riders went by (more about that later). The rest of the Second Divide went by without another incident but the opportunity for disaster is close at hand on this trail. What compels us to do this? Arriving at the Downieville Road, we turned north for a quarter mile and hooked up with the First Divide and again a semi-challenging trail toward town. As you get closer to town, the First Divide crosses the road and this must be where the four mountain bikers got between Keith and I, ‘cause when I came out on the road at the bottom of the First Divide, all were there and waiting for me. Well, Keith knew the rest of the story. As each mountain biker came down onto the road one by one, they lost control at the bottom and, one by one, they crashed. Now, these guys have very little protective gear on - it’s just skin, rocks and gravel - oh, such fun.

After a bit of thought (green sticker bikes, Sheriff, costly tickets), we decided to go north and up the Lavizola Creek Trail to the A-Tree. This is the first time I have taken the trail uphill and, on a 223-cc machine with a well-rounded rider with full gear, and the little bike had a real work-out. Keith took a nap and talked with a jeeper while I made my way up. Quite steep and lots of loose rocks later, I was at the A-Tree also. It was time to head south back to camp and Keith was a touch NERVOUS as to how many left and right turns we needed to make and, looking at the map, he suggested we take an uphill and catch a ridge line trail south. I suggested we not do this ‘cause the trail up to the ridge was very GRUMPY and I had never gone up it - only down it. This is like putting gas on the fire. Up the hill we went. We went past the tree line and I could see Keith and the KTM fighting the rocks and ledges about 300 yards ahead of me, and this is where I started to use the last trick in my bag - MENTAL TELEPATHY. You start off in a soft voice, "Keith, turn around; Keith, turn around," and you build in crescendo till you are mentally shouting, "KEITH, TURN AROUND," and sure enough, he turned around - doesn’t always work but it did this time and we all lived to ride another day.

Another day was Saturday and by now we had six or seven rigs in camp (editor: 6 RV’s, 1 tent, 1 day rider). Five of us with Cottrell in the lead headed out for the look-out and an easy ride - one of the five was a 13-year old kid by the name of Zack. Now, there is no greater mismatch than a 13-year old kid that can ride and a geezer like me. His dad made the comment that the kid had another 58 years of riding to catch up with me. Puts it all into perspective, a statement like that. We take a half-hour lunch break - I’m looking for a soft spot in the shade; the kid has already eaten his lunch and is trying to split quartz rocks looking for gold. Two hours later, we take another break by Pauly Creek - I am wobbling down to the water to wash off the dust and cool my head; the kid has already done that and now is trying to fill the river with as big a rocks as he can throw in. There has to be some way for guys like me to get some of that energy. If I can ever figure it out, I’ll be rich. The rest of the ride went smoothly and we returned to camp on the early side because we all knew that tonight was potluck night.

Six o’clock came and the potluck was on. As always, there was more food than we needed (Chas was not there) but two riders were not back. Keith and Robin were still on the trail and the word was that if they were not back by seven, there must be trouble. Well, at 6:45 they came in. Now Keith looked tired but Robin looked like dead man walking. Into the first open chair he went and Glenda, being the good wife she is, got a cold wet towel for him (editor: see photo). She may have been trying to suffocate him but we will never know for sure.

Saturday night turns dark. Now, it’s not every outing that, about 9:30 or 10:00 p.m., your wife says, "I hear bells ringing." Well, sure enough, a whole herd of cows were being driven up the road and, of course, some split off and came through camp with the cowboys and one cowgirl (mounted on horses) hot on their heels. Well, the cowboys got them back on the road uphill with no damage in camp, but the smell hung on for some time. . Sunday came and this old boy was satisfied. About 2:00 in the afternoon Elaine and I headed for home - out of the high country into the hot country. What a change. Almost a hundred miles of trail is good enough for this old man. Hope to see you all on the trail. -- Longfellow

(editor’s note: see attached photo of cow who was lost during the midnight drive and reappeared in camp on Sunday morning) (and Sunday night and Monday morning)

Photos from the Packer Lake Outing:

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