dream ranch

blue sky, black coffee

I am posting this 50-year-old photo because it reminds of the days when my lungs and knees worked like rubber, all elastic and no pain. I was no John Muir but I’m trying to remember if I had to stop for a breather going up Kearsarge Pass in the Sierra Nevada in the early 1970s. Now I wince at the thought of even going down. In July 1972, I was hired out from the California Division of Forestry to the Inyo National Forest to work on a crew building a five-mile stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail, near Cottonwood Pass to Siberian Outpost. From camp at Chicken Spring Lake, elevation 11,242, we walked to and from the end of each day’s work from July into October, with two burros, Pancho and Waldo, to carry — if they felt like it — the chainsaws, Cobra drills, gasoline, dynamite and C-4 plastic explosive but lugging the Pulaskis, McLeods, shovels and 20-pound rock bars ourselves. We worked 10 days on and 4 days off from when the snow cleared in early July until heavy snow returned in October. Putting in a foot and horse and mule packing trail takes time through timberline granite at 11,000 feet while avoiding the old foxtail pines and maintaining a constant elevation, more or less. At least once, we were sent to work a forest fire on our off days. Piece of cake.