After awakening from a “do not resuscitate” coma at the Auburn Faith Hospital, it became my ultimate dream to ride an off-road motorcycle (dirt bike) to the top of the most difficult trail at the near-by “Mammoth Bar” off-road motorcycle park.
Please do not think me in need of a complete reality check just yet. I’ve owned countless dirt bikes for over 35 years and have ridden on every surface imaginable including motocross competition.
I’ve ridden up the “Humphrey Hill” trail several times and it has always been an exciting challenge. Now, due to California State Parks and Recreation Administration hiding $34 million that was supposed to go to up-grades and maintenance of California’s eight off-road vehicle parks and not happening, the trail has now become significantly treacherous and I cannot emphasize its perilous condition enough.
The date was July 19, 2012. While astride my dirt bike, facing the trail’s entry, I glanced at the park sign that reads “difficult.” I was having serious considerations about failing to ride that trail and how it would affect my self-confidence, possibly shattering it beyond repair. It was time with no turning back.
My helmet was strapped and buckled. My gloves were good and tight. I took a deep breath, pulled back on the clutch lever and snapped the transmission into first gear. I revved up the engine to a level vibrating the bike and let the clutch lever go. And with all of the power that that Honda had I roared up the mountain.
Very soon I began to realize I was not having a nice time and no fun at all. I was being consumed in the one and only most panic-stricken riding adventure of all of my hundreds of hours on dirt bikes. Both front and rear wheels became imprisoned in a deep rut up to the axles.
Large, sharp, jagged stalagmites of solid rock were imbedded in the mountain side and my hands squeezing the grips so tight as though they might collapse.
The only good thing besides living to tell of my worst nightmare was that my legs and boots had been knocked off the foot pegs early on and I was able to use the weight of them for rudders to help keep me upright and consistently going straight up the trail.
I stood on the top of the mountain, panting for breath, physically exhausted but spiritually electrified and raised my arms up to the brilliant blue sky like “Rocky.”
Arriving back at my pick-up, I was to discover that California State Parks and Recreation had not yet finished beating on me enough. There was a citation on my windshield demanding that I pay $71.50 for non-payment of $10 day-use fee.
In a perfect world the ranger who cited me would have checked with the ranger attending to the safety of the park who had given me permission to ride for just that one day.
I had forgotten my wallet. Dues of $71.50 seemed a little unreasonable for a $10 park fee.
I sent the parks administration $10 with an explanation. I’ve yet to hear back from them.
GENE BAKER, Meadow Vista