Friday, November 5, 2010


I love the forested mountains. I love the ocean. There is something magical about these places. No matter what is going on or how I am feeling, either of these places, here or there, near or far away, can calm me – allow me to just breathe.

Recently, as in earlier this week, I got to work in the Sierra Mountains east of Fresno, California. I got to stay in a little mountain town of a little over 1,000 people in a hotel with 8 rooms each of which has a theme. I had the duck room. I, the lucky one, got to go to sleep with stuffed ducks mounted over my oak bed. I got to wake up and see the ass of a duck. Scary as that sounds, it’s better than the fish room. That one just gives me the creeps.

Me and a co-worker, I’ll call him Bubba Joe Forsythe (because I can) surveyed around a historic dam and a wooden distribution line (wood pole utility line). We got to drive around on the back roads (limited access) and look at dilapidated corrugated metal sheds and walk down a mountain. And we got a peek at a working hydroelectric powerhouse (with the help of our escort). Sometimes human engineering just boggles my mind.

Now I mentioned walking down a mountain, and I meant it. We dropped 2,000 feet in a distance of maybe 500 feet. That’s STEEP! It took Bubba Joe Forsythe and I 3 hours to get down. Normally we could have just written it off as too steep to survey, but I knew we could do it safely and construction crews back in the 1910’s and later in the 1930’s built a railroad up this mountain and installed the utility line. So if they can build a railroad on this mountainside, then by golly, we can walk down it in 2010. We hung onto the poles, slid down a wash, and decided the mangle of manzanita was better to trapes through rather than the slippery loose gravel of the wash. I never felt like we shouldn’t have done it. And I’m glad we did. We saw some cool engineering and what 70 years of just brush clearing does to a railroad.

I hope these pictures can give you all an idea. And just so you know, I am walking like a 90 year old now because I am so sore!!
The very beginning

What happens to a railroad on a mountainside

Our ending point is that town

looking back up


Tim said...

Wow, pretty interesting. Great pictures. What mangled the railroad tracks?

Tim Isbell

The Lonely Traveler said...

Just time, erosion of the slope by rain water, and vegetation. It doesn't take long for nature to take back what's hers.