Kennedy Meadows ride report By Phil Brillinger AKA Dr. Phil
Well if you missed this ride you really missed out on a great time in one of So Cal’s best mountain riding area’s. I took Wednesday off trying to get all of my loose ends done before the trip. About 5pm I was done and got antsy, so I packed up and headed for the mountains about 7PM. I rolled into the Troy Over flow camp at about 11:30 PM and luckily there was only one other camper there who was still up watching TV, so I jumped into the back seat and crashed for the night. Thursday morning I woke up for the fifth time at about 7am, I hate sleeping in the back seat. I got up and moved the truck to the premium tent site and unloaded my gear.For about 4 years I have had a pesky small leak in my front tube, so I figured this would be a good time to fix it. I made up a sling with two tie down straps attached to two trees/ handlebars and hoisted the front end of my trusty 2004 CRF450R off the ground. Off came the front wheel and out came the tube. I took the tube down to the small running stream behind my camp site and dipped the tube into the water. A small cactus needle sized pin hole in the center of the tube was the cause of my annoying but not critical leak. Searching through the tool box left me empty handed for a patch kit, so I headed off to meet the neighbors. I found a nice family who was camped down the road a bit and borrowed a patch.. Tube fixed, tire back on and I was ready to ride. Only one problem, there was no club members here to ride with and my next door neighbors were still asleep. I decided to break the club rules and headed of on a short easy solo ride to the Black Rock ranger station to get maps and check the trail opening status. Once at the station I talked to the ranger in charge for awhile about what trails we could and could not ride, highlighted one map with notes and headed back to camp to set up my RUTS signs on the road into camp. About lunch time a couple trailers came into camp , so I gave them a RUTS greeting.
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They were not with RUTS though and turned out to be part of a group of guys that met on Thumper Talk who planned a group ride over the weekend. After we haggled a bit about how we were going to facilitate my group and there’s, we came to a compromise over the available camping area. I moved my truck to one of the better trailer spots and put some chairs in a couple tent sites to reserve some real estate. Thursday night, I got lonely and wandered over to those Thumper Talk guys bomb fire and reintroduced myself. I was greeted warmly and offered a chair to site by the fire. There turned out to be 10 riders in their group and most of them had never ridden Kennedy Meadows or had not been on many of the trails before. I offered to trail boss a morning ride with them, which they eagerly accepted. Friday morning was cold, about 45 Deg, so I got up and made some oatmeal and coffee and got my gear out and ready for the ride. I got the group up and ready about 10AM, so we headed out on a trek towards Monache Meadows and the South Fork Kern river crossing. The trail was dusty and trees were cut down everywhere along the trail. The winter produced a lot of snow which weighted down the younger trees, then wind came trough and pushed over the heavily laden trees that did not have enough mature root growth to keep them standing. The forestry removed over 750 fallen trees to that date and the trail paths were riddled with 3 ft sections of trees cut out across the trail to allow passage. One of the riders in the group made the mistake of focusing on one of the cut trees and ran his radiator shroud right into it. A few hundred yards down the trail he was overheating and spewing coolant out the right side. We were about 10 miles from the closest dirt or paved road and Chris was a little freaked out about how he was going to get out of there. A quick trail side removal of the shroud revealed a cut in the upper radiator hose caused by the sharp edge of the radiator nipple cutting through the hose on impact. Ten minutes later we had the hose trimmed past the cut, radiator topped off and the bike back together. Chris was a happy man and grateful for his buddies tools and experience. The cool thing about these guys was that everyone of them had a GO PRO helmet camera on, it was like a Go Pro Adventure Ride , and they took every opportunity to record there buddies embarrassing crashes and misfortunes.
We ended the 45 mile ride back at camp, with everyone smiling, exhausted and lots to talk about at Friday nights campfire.
When I pulled in Mitch Kelly, his daughter Britney, son Thomas, nephew Spencer, and Bruce Wright were setting up camp. Abe Bouman, Johnny Severin, John Spaeth, came in and set up tents also. RUTS Kennedy Meadows club ride had officially began. Bruce’s group was itching to ride, being that Mitch and the family had never rode in Kennedy, so Bruce took them on a short ride to the fire look out tower to sigh the guest book and see the awesome view of this pristine wilderness from a birds nest view 75ft up on the look out tower. Thanks Bruce for trail bossing for me, I was beat from the ride with my new friends. We enjoyed each others company over dinner that night and the group got together for some fire side chats after. Abe Bouman, Johnny Severin , John Spaeth and the rest of the A-Team riders showed up and tent camped for the weekend. I don’t know anything about their ride except they covered more ground than we did in less time. I like going fast, but not when there is tree limbs ready to impale me when I go down.
I don’t seem to crash much anymore, so either that means I have slowed down or gotten smoother in my old age and recognize my limits now, probably a combination of all the above. I did get smacked in the face a few times by the overgrown foliage and took some bark off a couple trees with my bark busters, hence the name.
Saturday Mitch and family, Bruce and I set out on a ride to the granite boulder slides up rattlesnake trail.
We got about 5 miles in when we came across a group of guys at a 2 ft deep water crossing. One of the guys stalled in the water and sucked in some H2O . They were purging his new YZF450 WATER PUMPER and trying to turn it back into a fire breathing four stroke again. I crossed the river to the other side to see if I could help with tools and any technical advise. I went through the same procedure with one of our RUTS members on a YZF426 about 10 years ago at the south fork river crossing and was successful in getting it run again.
We waited until he got started and after the rest of my group saw that the water went over my seat as I crossed the river twice , they decided to turn around and go back.., they were smarter than me. We were told that up the trail a couple miles was 2 big logs in the river that blocked the path to the granite boulders, so going back was always a possibility.
On our way back we were caught up to by my friend and occasional D-37 Enduro racing buddy Nick Blais, Nick was up there with his dad and my long time friend Martin Blais. Nick and a couple buddies moved the logs out of the river with smaller tree limbs they found and leveraged them out of the way and kept going to the granite slid rocks, I really felt like a wimp at that point for turning around , but Mitch was crying so loud about getting wet we had to turn around (Just kidding Mitch) .We came to the fork in the road that takes you to Ossa Meadows and decided to take out trek that way, the only problem was that the short connector trail is one of the hardest trails out there with massive boulders and step ups. Britney who is an excellent rider, finally asked me to ride her bike up a really knarly section that would tear you up it you went down. When I got to the top of the worst part, Thomas bike was leaning up against a rock and blocking the trail, Thomas decided to go down to the stream and dip his smelly feet in the stream while he was waiting for us and his poor sister to get through the rock garden below. He said it was so picturesque he couldn’t resist. I was already overheated and seeing him so cool and on top of that his bike blocking my path, gave me the justification to push past his bike with reckless abandon. The benefit of riding an 04 with lots of battle wounds, is the ability to hit anything you need to, trees, rocks or even another bike, with the carelessness of a teenager. Sorry Thomas, it’s still the prettiest bike I’ve ever seen, but scratches make you go faster!!
One we got to the Ossa Meadows , Britney was really hurting from a ankle injury she got on Rattlesnake and the rocks just finished her off for the day. So being the loving father Mitch is he offered to take her back on the road. Bruce , me and Spencer rode the meadows, which was one of the most beautiful areas to ride I think. When we got back we made such a fuss about how great it was that Mitch , Britney and Bruce ( the resident trials rider new to the club) decided to do the trail after they rested and Britney’s ankle was feeling better. Britney said it was Wicked Awesome riding, I think that’s as good as it gets in young peoples terms.
Saturday night after dinner we got together at the bomb fire to hang out. I decided not to have a devotional and instead planned an evangelism work shop of sorts. I invited everyone to talk about what they use to share the gospel with people they meet on a daily basis. There is many ways to share our faith and it was good to see that everyone had a style that worked for them. We are commanded to share our faith, its not an option, the main thing is that you are out there trying save lives for Jesus in some way.
Sunday morning we got started late and my Thumper talk friends were loading up to go home, so I said my good byes. I rounded up everyone and we ended up with 12 riders ready to go. We laid out a 35 mile ride out to Monache meadows and returned down Jackass trail back to camp. A father and son team visiting from In The Dirt Ministries dropped out because the son’s YZ125 was not wanting to run on the low end due to a weak top end and carburetor issues. At one stop, Bruce found one of the only patches of snow left and decided to sit on it for awhile. They make a cream for that Bruce =).
Well everyone made it back in one piece, appropriately worn out and exhilarated by the beautiful meadows and meandering single track woods riding.
Mitch’s gang and I decided to stay Sunday night and come home Monday. So we hung out, played some poker ate some good grub and called it a night.
All in all it was a great event that more of you should have attended. I will definitely trail boss this again and I hope more of you will show up.