Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

A Busy Weekend

A tree, just like any other tree, only long-dead.

A tree, just like any other tree, only long-dead.

One thing that had conveniently skipped my mind is that although the Overland Expo is great, the following weekend may have a team roping competition to watch, but it also brings hordes of holiday campers to Mormon Lake.

The area where I was camped had some very, very big pines downed long ago, most falling in the same direction, as if a storm had blown them over long ago.

The area where I was camped had some very, very big pines downed long ago, most falling in the same direction, as if a storm had blown them over long ago.

The lower area where I was pretty much filled up, and a parade of fifth-wheel toyhaulers began making their way up the mountain on early Friday. That was okay, so I went for a walk to look at my immediate area, a slope filled with pines.

Walking among these gives one a sense of continuity and time, but nothing upright was remotely close to the trunk diameters of these ancient downed behemoths.

Walking among these gives one a sense of continuity and time, but nothing upright was close to the trunk diameters of these ancient downed behemoths.

It wasn’t long before a parade of ATVs began roaring up and down the access trail, FS219. The parades led to town and back, which didn’t make logistical sense to me because except for bags of ice, everything in the sole Country Store that’s part of the Mormon Lake Inn is priced nearly double the usual rip-off costs that you’ll find in your typical gas station convenience store. I’d have to guess that the call of civilization was irresistible, since the main drag became a long row of large ATVs parked with owners just hanging out, proudly displaying their hardware to each other.

Roots grabbing large rocks was common, and it'll be awhile before this one is let go and falls back to whence it came.

Roots grabbing large rocks was common, and it’ll be awhile before this one is let go and falls back to whence it came.

The trail beside the Intrepid also quickly became a race track. Most of the ATVs sounded like their mufflers had been punched out with screwdrivers, and the drivers invariably throttled up as if wanting to hear The Sound of Power even on the way downhill. Some had radios at full blast in order to be heard over the roar of the engine. Up hill, the drone carried for well over a quarter mile, and I could also hear them roaring along the main drag, which I’m sure the local residents appreciated. It sounded a lot like Rockford Speedway from a distance.

Just a little texture here.

Just a little texture here.

I’m not exaggerating too much on the racetrack thing, since a couple of smaller ATVs simply went up and down the trail as fast as they could, using the Intrepid’s “driveway” as the turnaround point to turn around and head back up, throwing dirt as they spun around. A couple of dirt bike riders in full regalia went all the way to the highway before turning a round for the run up the hill. The constant quantity of ATVs passing by was unbelievable, frankly, and it was as though all these people had a ton of pent-up energy that the Memorial Day weekend was their cure for. Been there, done that, and yet now, it all seemed as frenetic and foreign to me as suddenly finding myself in another country.

This toyhauler arrived in the early evening, and had to park awhile due to an overheating transmission. This was his second stop onroute, he told me. It's an older 2WD Dodge, and an hour later, impending darkness and threatening sprinkles of rain prompted a "now or never" departure. This climbing trail gets pretty bad when the dirt and rocks turn slippery, so the sprinkles served as a motivator to get rolling again.

This toyhauler arrived in the early evening, and had to park awhile due to an overheating transmission. This was his second stop onroute, he told me. It’s an older 2WD Dodge, and an hour later, impending darkness and threatening sprinkles of rain prompted a “now or never” departure. This climbing trail gets pretty bad when the dirt and rocks turn slippery, so the sprinkles served as a motivator to get rolling again.

That night remained just as interesting. The parades tapered down but did continue after dark, oversized campfires lit up all over and, after 10 o’clock, one sub-cluster of ATVers about a hundred yards further up began hooting and screaming into the woods just to hear the echos. Welcome to Memorial Day weekend. Well after I’d turned in for the night, a minivan pulled into my campsite, but they were pretty quiet, except for the repeated sliding of rollers on the van’s side door as they compulsively opened and shut it for each item they unpacked. The gentle glow of a new campfire flickered faintly through the Intrepid’s windows, and except for that distant hooting, the only other sounds after that point were the distant roar of a cheap generator running overnight until it ran out of gas at 4 AM, and the vehicle alarm of the minivan going off three times early on. Each of us communes with nature in our own way, I suppose.

A closed-to-vehicles trail slowly recovering from the wear.

A closed-to-vehicles trail slowly recovering from the wear.

I went for a walk late the next morning, and as I headed for a part of the woods closed to vehicles with barbed wire, the walk down past other campsites was slightly unsettling. It was similar to an urban area where a Neighborhood Watch program was in force, and I had the feeling that campers along the way were trying to decide whether the semi-codger strolling past, using a photographic monopod as a walking stick, posed a threat to kin and kind. It was clear to me that, unless I wanted to enjoy several further days and nights of holiday revelry, I was going to have to explore for a more isolated campsite in addition to my hope of seeing the rodeo just north of town. I dismounted the Evelo e-bike from its carrier and headed in.

This kid is in the "under 5" group, and gave it a game try without a satisfying result.

This kid is in the “under 5” group, and gave it a game try without a satisfying result.

I arrived at the roping arena just as the static roping contest began, and they had children divided into three age groups: under 5, 6-8, and 9-12. As I found out later during the normal steer roping, once they’re much over 12, they are on a horse competing just like anyone else.

The motley crew of kids waiting their turns.

The motley crew of kids waiting their turns.

The Under 5 winner, grinning for his historical moment.

The Under 5 winner, grinning for his historical moment.

6-8. These kids varied from "give it a shot" to a heap of practice paying off.

6-8. These kids varied from “give it a shot” to a heap of practice paying off.

It didn't seem impossible to me to get the loop around the steer's neck, but the jump to lassoing only the horns demanded much higher accuracy and timing in when to yank the rope back.

It didn’t seem impossible to me to get the loop around the steer’s neck, but the jump to lassoing only the horns demanded much higher accuracy and timing in when to yank the rope back.

In general, the many girls in the contest didn't do well, but did enjoy trying. It didn't seem like lack of ability so much as not being willing to put spare time calf roping skill development high on one's list of life priorities, and that's hard to argue against.

In general, the many girls in the contest didn’t do well, but did enjoy trying. It didn’t seem like lack of ability so much as not being willing to put spare time calf roping skill development high on one’s list of life priorities, and that’s hard to argue against.

That plume of smoke over the announcer's stand is controlled burning in the area that has gone on for several days, initiated by lightning strikes that were ultimately put to constructive use. Always makes me a little uneasy though. "Where's the smoke, and where's my camper?"

That plume of smoke over the announcer’s stand is controlled burning in the area that has gone on for several days, initiated by lightning strikes that were ultimately put to constructive use. Always makes me a little uneasy though. “Where’s the smoke, and where’s my camper?”

This little boy impatiently awaits the resumption of steer roping. Here, ropers don't show up, families do.

This little boy impatiently awaits the resumption of steer roping. Here, ropers don’t show up, families do.

And so it begins!

And so it begins!

The "Heeler" has the more difficult task of timing his throw such that the loop passes underneath the steer's rear hooves, and he must pull it up fast once those hooves return to earth.

The “Heeler” has the more difficult task of timing his throw such that the loop passes underneath the steer’s rear hooves, and he must pull it up fast once those hooves return to earth.

Hey, that's a kid! She's in charge of the horns and made many runs that day. She had a few problems (as did many adults), but with many things, the only way to get better at something is to get out there and do it, pressure, crowd watching, and all. I found her to be my message o' the day: when something is important to you, don't fear failure, but don't accept it as the norm, either. Keep at it.

Hey, that’s a kid! She’s in charge of the horns and made many runs that day. She had a few problems (as did many adults), but with many things, the only way to get better at something is to get out there and do it, pressure, crowd watching, and all. I found her to be my message o’ the day: when something is important to you, don’t fear failure, but don’t accept it as the norm, either. Keep at it.

Time will be added for roping the steer's neck, but this heeler is about to succeed on his end.

Time will be added for roping the steer’s neck, but this heeler is about to succeed on his end.

These steers know the ropes, so to speak, and make a beeline for the end gate, hoping for as little inconvenience as possible. Sometimes, they succeed. I doubt that they fully appreciate the historical context of these competitions.

These steers know the ropes, so to speak, and make a beeline for the end gate, hoping for as little inconvenience as possible. Sometimes, they succeed. I doubt that they fully appreciate the historical context of these competitions.

Young. Old. All same.

Young. Old. All same.

As the lead gets his rope on, Joe Hollywood in the sunglasses tries to get his timing down.

As the lead gets his rope on, Joe Hollywood in the sunglasses tries to get his timing down.

As the steer tries to throw rope #1, the heeler works with rope #2.

As the steer tries to throw rope #1, the heeler works with rope #2.

They succeed.

They succeed.

A look back toward the Evelo gets me a little dog sniffing around the bushes. Nope, no deposits. This is the only unleashed dog I saw, belonging to a female visitor wandering about. Not the best thing to be around constant horse traffic. Some horses were jumpy, and one pulled back some portable fencing it was tied to, which spooked others tied to the same fence.

A look back toward the Evelo gets me a little dog sniffing around the bushes. Nope, no deposits. This is the only unleashed dog I saw, belonging to a female visitor wandering about. Not the best thing to be around constant horse traffic. Some horses were jumpy, and one pulled back some portable fencing it was tied to, which spooked others tied to the same fence.

After I’d watched the roping for awhile, I had to leave myself time to scout the only other nearby trail. So I hopped back on the Evelo and used the MVUM map on my cellphone to loop several miles back to my existing campsite. Then all that remained was to break camp and pilot the Mighty Furd back up the trail at a slow walk, due to the many areas that were either rocky or eroded.

This is one of the better sections of 219/219A, but shows what the woods look like here. One section near where I ultimately re-camped showed signs of a major burn in times past.

This is one of the better sections of 219/219A, but shows what the woods look like here. One section near where I ultimately re-camped showed signs of a major burn in times past.

Camped about 150' from the main trail on a short spur next to a "tank" or holding area for water runoff. There are much fewer ATVs and trucks going by, mostly scrounging for campfire wood. But no parades or car alarms so far. The only pervasive sound is woodpeckers and the wind in the treetops.

Camped about 150′ from the main trail on a short spur next to a “tank” or holding area for water runoff. There are much fewer ATVs and trucks going by, mostly scrounging for campfire wood. But no parades or car alarms so far. The only pervasive sound is woodpeckers and the wind in the treetops.

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6 thoughts on “A Busy Weekend

  1. Linda Sand on said:

    Looks like changing sites was a good decision.

  2. Ming on said:

    wow, what an even toned description of your night, unbelievable! Your rig proves itself again doing what it was designed for and getting you out of there.

    • I considered setting the videocam out on a tripod just to “prove” the astonishingly steady quantity of unmuffled traffic going past, but decided against it.

  3. I like and so agree with your message o’ the day: “when something is important to you, don’t fear failure, but don’t accept it as the norm, either. Keep at it”

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