This Sight is Continuously Evolving

 

SNOW MOUNTAIN NORTH OR RIDEN, RESORTEN & RENDEZVOUSEN

 by BADGER

                 badger.jpg (21801 bytes)             ba.jpg (17140 bytes)         nosox.jpg (13195 bytes)         baspky.jpg (31003 bytes)
                                 Badger                                             Brown Ass Bob                                   No Sox                                    Sparky & BA

OCTOBER 16, 2001

The plan was to ride from Fout Springs on the south end of the Snow Mountain Wilderness north 160 miles to the James Clyman Rendezvous in Little Cow Gulch the Trinity National Forest.
We pulled in to Dixie Glade Trail head. Brown Ass, my partner for the ride, standing beer in hand, his bed roll spread out and his little iron man mustang, Sparky, in the corrals at the trail head, he looked ready. No Socks, the buck skinner that got to drop me at the trailhead for some favors I got to work on his house, parked the truck.
We unloaded Milly, my big dark buckskin mare. She is a BLM mustang. Tired from the ride she went right to the corral for some water and hay and a roll in the dirt. We threw out our bed rolls, pulled out the two large pizzas we picked up in town and sat down to drink beer and swap howdys till morning.

 OCTOBER 17

Up at dawn to feed the horses and start figurin how to get all of this stuff on a horse. The ants got the rest of the pizzas so we finger fooded what was left in the ice chest and stated to saddle up.
No Socks jumped into his truck said would see us at the Rendezvous and he was down the road. We finished saddling up and I swang up on Milly really having to stretch to clear the load.We sat there camera in hand waiting for the show.
Sparky would stand for hours while you pack but when Brown Ass goes to swing up Sparky spins like a wheral wind. It starts my day right watchen Brown Ass try to catch up with that horse and get his leg over to land in the saddle.

 We headed up the milk ranch trail into the snow mountain wilderness. The weather was warm for October. The trail was all up, heading for the top of snow mountain starting at 3400' and going to 6400'. The horses tired fast as they started the first of a 10 day ride. Stopping on the trail to let the horses blow. The large fur trees block the view and the sun from the east, some old elder berrys still hanging on the plants a little over ripe but eatable.

 When I started singing about riden to the Rendezvous with all the prime rib a council fire could roast, Brown Ass up and tells me the boys were bringen a lamb instead. Well, this old boys spirit dropped knowin he was riden 160 miles for mutton.
We broke over the top at summit springs, watered the ponies and rode down into milk ranch, a large meadow of grass and water, no buildings but you could see why they were there. We rode along the ridge with views to the west all the way to the coastal mountain range. Riding down the west side of snow mountain I was looking at the map when Milly stopped. There were two logs crossing the trail with broke off branches sticking up as high as the horses bellys. It didn't look smart to cross. Both sides of the trail were solid buck thorn at least two foot high with two inch thorns around the bottom. Looked bad so back up the hill and around from the top. Sparky and Brown Ass started stepping through the thorns trying to miss the down and dead logs and branches under the buck thorn. Sparky had a thorn branch stuck in his tail and sticking into his belly as he used his back foot to step on the branch so it was off his belly.
I was thinking how that was pretty smart when a branch stuck Milly in the leg and off we go. She got her head down at a full run, bucking down the hill. Reeling in raines and yellen WOO WOO! I was leaning back so far my stirrups were over Millys ears. Her head was so low I couldn't see over the saddle horn, just sticks and branches flying everywhere and a long hill of thorn bushes in front of me. I tugged on the reins and another round of WOOS! Up popped her head and I couldn't see the danger in front of us anymore as we stepped out on the trail and stopped. I looked back up the hill at a trail 200' long through the buck thorn we just made. Brown Ass riden down laughing at the way I looked breaking down the hill, hat following behind on the cord to my neck, singen a chorus of Woo! Woo! We all lived and took up the trail north.

We dropped into a large burn, the forest didn't feel happy. Everything was burned, nothing but dead trees waiting for the wind to blow them down. We moved on, even the horses knowing something bad had happened here. There was trees down across the trail everywhere, the steep hillsides so burnt that the trails didn't show. The fire was so hot it burned the roots under the ground. The shaley rock trails would break off under the horse and riders weight. Around every turn there would be another log across the trail. You had to slide down the hillside to go under the log or scramble up the loose rock and slide down the other side to go over. Horse and rider becoming one, out of necessity just to not get hurt. And then around a bend, over a hill and damn, another log on the trail. Three hours of this log dancen was taken all the fun out of it when we came to the mother of all logs. It was at least 4 foot thick and as long as the cany■n. It went fifty feet down the canyon, broke off in the bottom with the burnt out stump holes and snapped off branches and up hill 150' to the cliff wall and unpassable burnt snags. No going over it. The log was broke in half about a foot off the trail. It had a two foot gap between the two halfs on the down hill side with big splinters sticking out on both sides. It looked like the horses would fit but the saddle bags would be tight and there was no footing on the hill in the loose rock. There was no going up so we broke over the edge and slid down to the bottom with all the rock around us. In a big dust cloud I hit the bottom before Brown Ass and rode around the tip as Milly stepped over a burnt out tree hole. In and out of a few burnt trees and hit the hill of burnt rubble and back up to the trail. Milly was pullin hard about half way up when the hillside slid away. Down we go, Milly stepped sideways, I threw my weight to the up hill side. As we were sliding down the hill, I see my just reworked shiny Queen Ann Pistol fly out of my holster and hit the dirt as it got buried in the rubble sliding down the hill. When we hit the bottom Milly stepped out and stopped. That's when I knew, mustangs shine in the woods. I jumped to the ground, found my pistol and tried to  lead Milly up the hill. The hillside would just slip back to the bottom with us. We turned back just in time to see Brown Ass leading Sparky around the log tip. Sparky stopped and would not go as Brown Ass broke through the ground into the brunt out tree hole up to his waist. Sparky and Brown Ass staring at each other wonderin who the smart one is. Well, I mounted back up. I had to try the hill one more time. Up we go, half way up, down we slid. Milly spins on the way down throwing my weight to the up hill side again I got so far off the side of the horse I could see nothing under me but burnt rock and big broken logs, nothing I wanted to land on, when she stopped, faced down hill. Some how I got pulled back into the saddle and slid to a stop in front of Brown Ass, his eyes bigger around than a 4 bore shotgun. I looked down to make sure all my parts were still hooked to me. My pistol was gone. Back off the horse to dig in the burnt rubble for far too long when Brown Ass sees something shine, wedged in the saddle. It was my little Queen Ann, she has had a rough day so far. We lead the horses back around the log tip to the side we came down on. Sparky and Brown Ass scrambling up the broken rock, slippin and trippin they made it up to the trail, Milly and I made it half way up and the ground started to break away. Milly stopped, she was done, she didn't have no more pulling in her, it was no good. I had to get Brown Ass to slide back down the hill to help push Milly up the hill. He stepped off the edge not looking like he wanted any part of this. He slipped in behind her. Before he even got stopped, Milly scrambled up the hill, me running next to her. Like she just wanted him to go down the hill one more time.
Well, we're back on the trail but still on the wrong side of the log and my pistol is in the dirt again. I guess we'll try the broke spot in to log and hope the horses don't get hurt. We caved some rock down to make a flat spot for the horses to at least start into the notch. Brown Ass lead Sparky down and through the log. I was right on his butt to push him away from the splinters on the log. He went through real well like you would expect on this little war horse until a high line rope hanging by the saddle bag snagged a small splinter about as big as your finger and stopped him. Sparky was pulling hard to get up and around the log. It took all I had to push that rope a half inch up that splinter. When it popped off, Sparky stepped up on the trail, nothing wrong but a strap on a saddle bag broke. Now for the big girl. I led Milly into the log, Brown Ass behind her. She seemed to know this was a bad spot and seemed to be willing to put her trust in me to not get her hurt. She stepped half way through, I got her to stop and slid her back end down hill a little, she stepped through and up to the trail, snagged a rope and tore some beads off my saddle bags. Well, we were done with this log and Brown Ass was hoping there was no more. Back in the saddle and down the trail there was a few more down logs but nothing we had to die to get over. We rode out of the snow mountain wilderness on the north side at West Crockett. That was a most interesting twelve miles.
(Moral - Riden in the burns is hell.)

We rode out and on to road M3 headed north-east we started down hill so we jumped down to walk a mile or two, our butts and the horses needed it. It was nice walking down a dirt road hoping there would be no more down logs. After a mile or so our trail headed north. It was getting late so all we had to do was find grass, water and go to bed. The country was crisscrossed with skid roads from the fire and logging. We got headed north on the wrong trail and we dropped a half mile or so down into a canyon. Trail ended, no water, no grass and it was dark. At this point the only good move was to go south back to road M3 and head west to twin springs about two miles on the map. So we started leading the horses back up the hill. Almost to the top we ran into a hunter on a motorcycle in for the last weekend of deer season. We swapped howdys. He said there was water and a little grass at twin springs. His camp was about half way where this skid road hit road M3 but there was no grass. So we walked and walked. We could see the lights at the hunters camp. When we turned west you could smell the water at the spring, it was so dark you couldn't see your own horse. We found about two hundred square feet of grass and a small spring. We off loaded the gear, high lined the horses and brushed them. Out goes the bed rolls, a couple of sticks on the flint and steel and we had a cracklin fire. We were stuffin our billy mugs full of fixens for dinner when some headlights start coming into camp. It was the hunter and his partner checkin to see if we had found what we needed. They told us about the trails ahead up through Bloody Rock. We swapped lies awhile. They went back to camp and we stuffed our faces sitting by the fire. The events of the day didn't seem as hard sittin by the fire with a full belly. Horses munching and the sound of the spring in the background. Well, a hit off the flask and into the bed roll. One day down, nine to go.

 OCTOBER 18

I was up at dawn and had the fire going when Brown Ass jumped up grabbed the shovel and headed out in the woods. If I would have stayed in bed a litt le longer he would have had to build the fire. I think this is a game buck skinners play. I usually lose. Breakfast, grain the horses and packing camp was the morning chores.I Had to put a strap on my pistol holster. It dropped out three more times walking last night. It just wasn't funny anymore. We mounted up. Sparky going easy on Brown Ass but then he jigged for the first mile or so. We went west down road M3 for about a mile to lower nye and turned north on the trail to bloody rock. Sparky still jiggen down the road, Brown Ass not looking like a happy boy. The reins pulled in tight, Sparky stomping the ground with every step just to give Brown Ass the roughest ride he could. Once we were on the trail the horses moved good down the ridge top, off to the north-west you could see bloody rock on the north side of the Eel River. We were going there. We were following a 4 wheel drive road west when it ended in a large burnt canyon. The Eel River at the bottom and we need to cross, O boy, another burn, I see shinning times ahead.
We started pushing our way down through the burnt manzanita. The branches breaking off as the horses pushed thru. Black soot all over our gear. Down into the canyon till we couldn't get through the burnt limbs. I left Brown Ass with the horses and headed down into the canyon. Found a trail going down so I went back to get Milly. I had to break a trail for about 100' thru the burnt manzanita. We mounted up and rode further down about half mile down the trail ended again. Left Brown Ass with the horses and down in the canyon I went. Pushing down hill thru the brush. I came out at a cliff over looking 100 yards of boulders and the the Eel River. There was no way I was bringing a horse down this. I jumped down to the river, hiked down stream a long way, checked the north bank and found no trail out and no way to bring  horses thru. So back to the south side and up the canyon side to find Brown Ass. I broke out of the brush a little higher up than he was. I dropped down to him breathing hard covered from head to toe with burnt soot. Brown Ass laying on his back petting the horses noses. We parleyed what I saw, I grabbed the map, a drink of water and down the canyon again. I hit the Eel and bolder hopped to the north side headed east up river. The river was low but made for a real pretty scene running thru the boulders and Doug fir trees to the south.You could see the burnt canyon wall we rode down for a mile to the ridge. A quarter mile up river there is still no way across. From the lay of the land and the topo map it looked like we were about 2000 yards down river from the crossing and the whole south canyon wall was burnt manzanita. So back up the canyon wall to find Brown Ass. I came out above him again still laying there petting the ponies. This scoutin job is a lot harder than the guy that holds the horses. Brown Ass said he and the horses were all rested up while I was out for a nice October hike up and down the river. The plan was to ride back up the canyon wall thru the forest of burned sticks up to the ridge. Ride east back to a spur trail we saw and see if we could come out up river at the crossing.

The plan was good as we rode down the trail to the Eel. My new diamond shelter was stained black, my trade gun case was black and stretched four inches longer than the gun from the thorns and burnt sticks. Brown Asses diamond had about ten holes and his whole ridge was black. I guess shorter horses are in it more. We had lunch on the Eel river. Since everyone had had a long rest, but me, we hit the trail up to the marble cabin site where we had planned to camp the first night. Looking back to the south you could see skeleton glade and the burn going down to the Eel where we got to spend the afternoon playing,  it was shining times. There was nothing at the cabin site but dry grass and no water. So up over bloody rock and down to road M6. We rode down the road to the first spot with grass and water. We made camp at rattlesnake creek, a small flat spot about 150' above the creek beside a bridge. It had a little grass and we had to bucket the water up to the horses. Bedrolls out, horses hobbled, fire going, wood piled and a moment to relax. We finally made camp an hour before sunset. Brown Ass was starten on his mucket full of soup mix when he eyed my salami, potato and onion with garlic and peppers. Well, he offers 30 plewes for my dinner. Well, I though it over and taken this scottsmen's plewes was well worth losing my dinner.  He passed, you know a scottsmen and his money, We told lies into the night sittin on a cliff by a bridge, we knew it didn't take much to make us happy.

OCTOBER 19

I knew the morning was going to be fine when I heard Brown Ass up building a fire. He had to be cold, Breakfast and breaking camp we had down to a routine. But for the 100' cliff down to water for the horses, it's the same start each day. Then you see what the day brings. I mounted up and turned to see Sparky and Brown Ass start their morning dance. Well, they doe-cee-doed about ten times when Brown Ass got mad and made a dive for the stirrup. He swung into the saddle clearing his load and stabed the off stirrup, down the road he went. When I caught up with them they were jigging down the road. I had to mention that he got into the saddle alot better when he was mad and I would be willing to slap him around each morning if it would help. He gave a half smile as we rode on. The day ride was on a dirt road M6 following the eel River. It should be a nice ride. We climbed 1000' up little round mountain and then got off to walk a couple miles down hill. Horses seemed to move better and faster if we got off on the long down hills. And it would give your butt and legs a chance to wake up.
We dropped 800' elevation and out on to the Eel a mile north and we stopped on horse creek for lunch. At least 1000 frogs and grass growing out between the rocks. We hobbled the horses on the creek in the cobbles. We got comfortable for a spell. Checked a few straps, tighten a cinch and back in the saddle. We climbed up to the road to head north. Singing 100 miles to the Rendezvous where there's plenty of mutton for me and you. mutton. Make mine mutton, mutton is the meat for me.
We crossed trout creek to circle high rock on the east and north to low gap on the west side of round mountain. We took a small private road for a couple of miles then west on a forestry road. Around Lee Logan camp we headed north-north-west for white horse creek hoping for grass and water. This would be our first camp where we might get a couple hours before dark The creek was just pools and the sides were too steep for horses into the deep canyons. No grass so on we went to umbrella creek, the last one for a long ways. It was a deep canyon. Soon as we crossed I spotted a small pool at the end of the culvert through the trees. It was way down there as we crossed to the north side, you could see a small saddle of grass between two small peeks before the canyon fell off to the creek. I handed Brown Ass my horse. I slid off the road side down to the saddle and there was some grass but we had to pack water for the horses, again. Back up the hill to get Milly and off down to the canyon to make camp. We high lined the horses, packed water, thru out the bed rolls and got a fire going, we were home. After dinner we talked into the night of the hawks, trees and canyon vistas of the river we had visited today. A couple of its of the jug as we lay down for a windy night.

 OCTOBER 20

Mornin wuz here when our eyes opened this wuz the nicest camp yet. Blew the fire back to life and had coffee and breakfast going. Brown Ass spent most of the mornin repacken his gear another way and tying it to Sparky.A few trips down to the creek with the bucket the camp chores were done and the horses were loaded. We walked up the cliff to the road. I mounted up for a good seat for Sparky's morning dance. When Sparky stomps on Brown Asses moccasin covered foot.
Well, Brown Ass was in that stirrup, over that load and down into the seat like a pack of Blackfeet wuz on his tail. That boy can mount a horse when he's mad. Down the road we went, Sparky settin the pace, his head down and ground eaten. Milly walks slower so she has to catch up all the time. I been noticin that if I swing my feet she will walk as fast as him.

It was a nice couple of miles to skidmore creek as we came out of the trees. Onto skidmore ridge, the road broke off in four directions. I knew we were to head north-east and down, but always stop and check the map. When off to our right pops up a hunter and yells, "that's the road to the river" and back down into the bushes, like it didn't happen. It was like the scarecrow on the Wizard of Oz. We laughed as we dismounted to walk the four or five miles down to the river. That was the third hunter to offer a hand.
Miles had been hard to make so we were going to push hard to try to make twenty miles or more up to Howard lake. That would leave One hundred miles and six days to make the rendezvous. If we were late, Brown Asses wife would kill him for makin her worry. Besides, we would miss the mutton. There was a little water in the switch backs for the horses. It was a good walk down to black butte river, you could see the yollo bollo mountains about forty miles north. We had dropped from 5000 feet to 300 feet when we hit the river. A small spur road to the north was suppose to lead to the trail head. No trail head here just another cliff, a wall of trees and a big land slide. So back out to the main road and down to a small camp ground on the river. We seen some hunters there, they didn't even k now where they were. I thought we could drop to the river and come in under the trail. We rode north up the river picking our way thru the rocks and downed trees. Down a small slip, Brown Ass in the lead when we hit a wall of madrone trees with dead branches packed into them by the high water, when Sparky spun around and ran back up to the hill. I rode up behind them as Brown Ass jumped from the saddle, it was all the way around on Sparkys side. He started pulling his gear and yelled in no unclear terms, "I'm Done!" I tied Milly to a tree and started walking up the river to find a way to the trail. Nothing but dead branches packed tight into the willows. I got through an acre of that crap to a wall of logs packed all across the river. Over the pack of logs and across the river about a half mile north over some rolling hills I still didn't find the mouth of rocky basin creek and it wouldn't even be smart to try to bring the horses down here. So back across the river to follow the west side back, nothing but landslides and broken logs and branches. About half way back came across an old cabin site just a slab rock fireplace covered with Likens, it was nice. Got back to Brown Ass, he was still redoin his plunder. I broke out the maps to plot a route west aways and then north to try to make Eel river station. Well, times were damn sure shinin cause we get to go back up skidmore ridge and over the mountain on the west side of dicks butte, a pleasant climb of three thousand four hundred and ten feet. Walking and riding we headed up the switch backs looking off the north side we never seen anything that even looked like a trail. Knowing that there were a few water puddles for the horses helped. We seen a few hunters driving the road, they knew nothing of a trail north. Even singing about mutton didn't help the climb. We got up on the back of skidmore ridge and took a trail west at about 5500 feet the trail seemed to be going over the right mountain but we still had one thousand feet up to go, and it was about 5:30 pm.
It was a loose gravel trail that just kept going up. Milly would stop every couple hundred yards. It felt like you were dragging your horse walking up hill with the reins over your shoulder. At each break I would wait for Brown Ass. He would come slowly up the road, Sparky pushing him along with his nose, he looked beat. It was funny how I would drag Milly up hill and Sparky would push his boy up hill. When Brown Ass would catch up we would give each other a what the hell are we doing look and I would push on, we had to make the top. No water anywhere. We would walk on and on around every bend you would see the top but when we got there there would still be more mountain. It was about then that I said to Grandfather that if he was watching we could use some grass and water. Me and Brown Ass could sleep in a puddle or on a rock but I felt our four legged friends could use a nice camp. I stopped for a break on a patch of dry grass. Milly munched away while I stood there breathing hard. When Brown Ass showed up he flopped down in the grass, Sparky munching away. Layin there on his back he up and proclaimed that he was staying here and that was that. Well, I was rested so me and Milly headed up over the next ridge and the next. When we came into a big saddle looking to the south, all you could see was sky, it had to be the top. There was even green willows in the creek. So I climbed all the way up on Milly. Once in the saddle I could feel my horse was as tired as me. We rode down into the draw. The willows were green but the sand was dry. We turned around and went back up the ridge. Brown Ass was walking up when I got there, I was glad to see that he changed his mind on stayin. He mounted up and we rode over the summit. We came out on the south east corner of hells half acre. We broke out on road M61, that should go west to road M1 and north to Eel river. Still no water, it was dark and cold. We pulled on our blanket shirts and rode west. The plan was to ride on til we found grass and water and make camp no matter where it was. The road started down hill so we got off to walk. It was warmer walking. When headlights came up behind us Brown Ass crossed the road hoping for a hunter with five gallons of water. It was a gray chevy with a guy and a gal. They gave us what they had, a twelve ounce bottle of water. Well, Brown Ass dumped it in his canteen, mine was half full, we thanked them returned the bottle and walked on. More walking. Another truck came by, no water. It's funny nobody carries five gallons of water in the woods in a truck. We walked on sniffin the air for any clue of water so we could make camp. Awhile later two hunters drove up. They said the horses could drink out of their ice chest. Sparky had a big drink and the Milly stuck her head in through the beers and sodas to suck the last bit of water out of the ice cubes, Knowing that in twenty five miles or so I was going to have a big pile of beers to made walking all night not seem so bad. We swapped a howdy and a big thanks and back down the road. We must have walked into tomorrow when headlights were coming up the road, It was the folks in the gray chevy truck. They got talking about us to some folk at camp. There was a gal there that had road the country and she knew of a spring to a water trough. So they loaded up and came out looking. She thought it was back a mile or so and down a small road. We mounted up to ride back. Luckily the truck turned south about three hundred yards back, the horses didn't like following the tail lights down a dark road you couldn't even see the road. There was a thud on the ground as Brown Asses tomahawk hit the ground as Sparky jigged down the road. And he wasn't going back. I turned back to grab it and when I got back you could hear mexican music loud in the woods. That camp had a party going on. The truck pulled in headlights swinging up hill to a round water trough over running with spring water. The horses headed for water as we yelled a thanks going by the truck, I never felt we got to thank them proper. We gave the horses a small drink and rode over and said howdy to the camp. We high lined in some dry grass and threw out the bed rolls. Watered the horses again and laid down to listen to the music and finger food out of the saddle bags. I realized that I owed Grandfather a big thank you. We did get to grass and water. We talked of the day awhile, watered the horses and climbed under the blankets. When the music stopped and it turned to loud talk in mexican which if you don't understand sounds like a fight going on. Well, the talk turned to 9m gunfire in the night. The horses were spinning on the high lines from all the noise and they all ready had a long hard day and I wasn't happy about this at all. The folks in the camp got the shooter to bed after two clips of that damn modern ammo. They all bedded down and camp was quiet. Then they started spotlighting the horses. Well I got to thinkin that if they shot my horse I would be a very mad boy. So I climbed out of my warm blankets to stand in the spotlight an explain that this was not a smart thing to do. Well, the lights went out the night got quiet and this day was over.

 OCTOBER 21

The dawn broke on a large dry grass covered meadow with a tank running over with spring water. It wasn't a dream, we hobbled the horses out to graze and sparked a fire. Coffee and breakfast, a thirty mile ride and beer tonight, it was looking to be a prime day. A hunter or two would drive threw down in to the canyon every thirty minutes or so threw the morning. It was their last chance to make meat this year. It was late in the morning when we finally had our plunder in a pile, the horses looked like they were done eating. Sparky was as far away as passable so Brown Ass had to walk a little farther, what a fun game. Sparky does have a sense of humor its just hard to spot it. We saddled up and hit the road headed west it was cool out at 6000 feet. The horses moved down the road like they knew there could be alfalfa tonight for dinner. We circled to the south of bald mountain and hit road M1 turning north there was a road marker that said 23 miles to Eel river station. Brown Ass had been there a while back. He knew they had beer and the owner had horses so we might be able to buy hay and stay in the camp ground or in the rocks on the river. The new plan was to ride to Eel river and call Blue Belly, Brown Asses little woman and have her swing by and grab us on her way to the rendezvous. And to have her call Coon Hill and have him bring extra beef, that mutton wasn't going to cut it, we wanted meat. We walked and rode for  miles and hours, this road went north and stayed around 5000 feet with views to everywhere. A Bald Eagle cut our trail at Haydn rock. Still no water. But we weremakin miles. Every hour or so a truck full of hunters would drive by. We would get a lot of looks as they went by. Some would stop to say they heard of us from other hunters way to the south. One was the guy that popped up on skidmore ridge and even the folks in the gray chevy that showed us the water. We rode past coffee mills flat and headed for grizzly flat, an abandoned forestry station that was suppose to have a spring close by. We rode in and stopped for lunch. There was no water but the horses were doing good and the canteens were full. A short lunch and we were back in the saddle. It seemed like we had walked and rode for 20 miles when we found a road marker that said 13 miles to go. Brown Ass said it had to be wrong because miles weren't that long so on we rode. The road stayed on Etsel ridge. The views to the west were something to see, the sun was setting over the coastal mountains and we still headed north. We had talked and decided that if we found water we would make camp and make Eel river tomorrow. I think we both knew it wouldn't happen as we walked on. The sun was setting and darkness was coming as we rode down Mexico ridge you could see we were going down into a large canyon that had to be black butte creek and the Eel river. It was a long down hill so we got off to walk the horses a few miles. We walked and walked, it got dark and we still walked. The road was switch back after switch back and going down. We finally came to a small muddy pond and walked the horses over for a drink. The first drink all day, they didn't really drink that much for moving all day. Back out on the road there was a road marker, 3 miles to go. Way down in the bottom of the canyon you could see lights lining the road going through the camp grounds and at the end of the lights was a store with beer, sodas and candy, we mounted up to ride the last leg.
I think even the horses knew the end was near. The last few miles were just as long as the miles we had done. More down hill and more switch backs, the mood was a bit happier in the brigade knowing we could have a nice camp tonight. You could smell the water about dark as two tired horses and two buck skinners with a big thirst had just hit town.

Across the bridge and through the camp grounds. We headed on up to the office at the store.We rode by a whole row of small stalls, it looked like the horses might not have to sleep on high line tonight. They could roll in a stall. We dismounted out front. It was dark. Two people in a motor home pulled out with a wave and a smile trying to figure out where we were from. I held the horses as Brown Ass threw his trade gun over his back and pushed through the door. I was standing out front holding the horses lookin through the window at the popcorn maker, the freezer full of beer and sodas and shelves full of cakes and candies, there was even a Latte coffee maker. Brown Ass was parlaen with the inn keeper and I knew that the late nights of walkin the miles without water and the poor graze was over. We were done riden. It was time to start resorten. This is where I was a lucky man to be riden with Brown Ass for this was his specialty. I knew I was going to have to rely on his cunning and skills to get me through the next three days of nothing to do but sit around camp, I hope I don't go under. Brown Ass stepped out to see if we should get one or two stalls. It turned out that the inn keepers, Scott and Kathy had always been interested in buck skinning. Well Brown Asses ability to bring the best out of strangers had made us some new friends. A place to camp, two stalls, water tubs and hay. They even asked us to come back later for burgers. We went down to make camp. We dropped the saddles, rubbed down the horses and let them loose in the stall to roll in the soft dirt. A tub full of fresh water and a big arm full of grass hay and they looked like happy ponies. We just threw our bed rolls out by the horses under a big old oak tree. We each had a swig from the whiskey flask and sat down for a minute. I up and mentioned to Brown Ass that Scott had said that he had a horse trailer and if he took us about 40 miles to the yolla bolly trail head we might be able to still ride into the rendezvous and make it on time. He stared right at me and said,"I told you I was done!" So I grabbed a clean shirt and off we went for burgers and beer. When we got to the store the burgers were on the grill so we had some beers, there was rows of imports. Kathy told us that the beer was cheaper by the twelve pack. While we were picking out the twelve flavors that we wanted, she gave us a card and said just write down all we eat and drink and we could settle up when we leave. Well, after a few beers and the world's best cheeseburgers we went back to camp to hit the bed rolls. Hay for the horses, hot showers, and a charge account, this was going to be a prime camp.

OCTOBER 21

The morning sun rose on two tired horses curled up in a bed of grass hay and two buck skinners with not a thing to do. Brown Ass has called Blue Belly, his wife, to tell her we were alive. She said she would swing by in two days to grab us on her way to the rendezvous. We laid around for what seemed like hours waiting for 8 am, when they serve breakfast. When we walked into the store Scott was on the computer looking up Powder Dan and Tanglefoot's web site. He had found pictures of us and our friends. We had cafe-mochas with breakfast while watching Regis and Kelly. Brown Ass sat there eating Quiche. I couldn't do it. Then this local gal came walking in from up river, she had to be 100 years old. I heard she walks down every morning for her daily bitch. Well she was going on about trespassing hunters and having to put up fencing when she turned around and saw us sitting there in our skins, not being from around here. As she screwed those old yellow eyes in on us Brown Ass up and says, "Don't worry we have our own wire cutters." Well as she jumped around she stepped on a little crippled dog laying on the floor and stumbled back grabbing her heart. Well, when we got her calmed down and down the road I think she forgot what she was mad about. We grabbed some coins and headed back to the hot showers, this was going to be a prime camp. Later I went out and grabbed fire wood for a couple days. We spent the rest of the day laying around drinking beer. When Scott came down to invite us up to the house for dinner later. It was an evening of tacos, beer, and talk about buck skinning, they were both skinners at heart. We made it back to our bed rolls and one day of resortin was over.

 OCTOBER 22

Day two started with Regis and Kelly, a cafe-mocha, breakfast and a hot shower. A pickup pulled up and a mans head popped out to ask if he could drive in to primitive. Of coarse, Brown Ass said NO. Well he got out and said the he was a buck skinner for ten or twelve years in the 80's and that when he got up this morning and went out to get his paper he saw horse tracks and moccasin tracks going down mexican ridge so he followed them to see if they led to some skinners, for old time sake. We B. S. ed a while. A little later I saddled up Milly and went for a ride. Brown Ass held down camp. Later that afternoon Scott drove down on his lawn mower with a trailer with ice chest full of beer and hamburgers. I don't remember much about the rest of the evening but we did find our bed rolls.

OCTOBER 23
The morning started with Regis and Kelly and cafe-mocha's, it was time for us to get out of here. We spent the day laying around camp waiting for Blue belly, Brown Asses wife. I took my tomahawk and pounded all the loose nails back in all ten paddock stalls. Scott showed up with beer and burgers again. Blue Belly showed up with the trailer and we introduced her all around. Our camp hosts let us raid the store for dinner goodies even though they were closed. We sat around the fire and laughed into the night. I had to thank Brown Ass for his skills and wisdom at resorten, this enabled us to live through this three days of scouting out black butte country camp grounds.

 OCTOBER 24

Up in the morning for one last hot shower. We broke camp, stuffed it all in the truck and got the horses ready to load. The truck showed up with a leaky water pump. Scott offered to go to town for a water pump and loan us hid shop tools. But we decided to haul water and roll on. We went to the store for cafe-mochas and to pay the bill, we even got a hand made pie to take on the road. We thanked Scott and Kathy for their hospitality, they were great camp hosts. Sparky and Milly climbed in the trailer, they looked a lot better having a few days off with food and nothing to do but head for the rendezvous. Six hours up through the mountains on gravel roads and we pulled into the The annual James Clyman Memorial Rendezvous. Stopped in the parking lot to drop the trailer. Blue Belly drove the truck in with the camp. Me and Brown Ass saddled up the horses and rode in. There was about ten camps there and it didn't even start til tomorrow. We rolled out camp and swapped alot of howdys with friends waiting to hear our stories. The next day no socks showed up with my trailer and camp and food boxes for the doins.
Buck skinners showed up all day. It was going to be a grand time.
Hell, Plank-Buster Berg and Dung Beetle showed up in a U-Haul truck with a giant lobster on the side, it was lookin to be a real prime time. There was shooten and hawk and knife throwen during the day and drinkin and braggen at night. There was more food of all kinds then you could think of eaten. I even had a piece of mutton. But the twenty dutch ovens around the fire had better stuff. There was even at least 100 kinds of drinken pie. One of them had to be the foulest panther piss and snake head juice. Hell, La-Puke just called it rude. As he ran to the woods to blow chunks all over the trees. It was quite a time sittin around the council fire with 30 or 40 people laughing till your guts hurt.

Well, it has been one hell of a ride. You get to know a man when you spend time on the trail. You get to know them better if the time was hard.
Well, Brown Ass can share my fire anytime.


BADGER

as he saw it !
HEAD SCOUT,
Northern California Exploration Society

 

Back to FIM
Back to the lodge