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From Cold To Warmth


10-11-12, Round Valley, CA - Today was a day of cold and heat. a day of difficulties and triumphs, but also a day of really great people and stunning scenery.

Shortly after breaking camp, I drove a mile to the entrance ramp for US-396. From a previous recon, I knew I face a difficult challenge.  While the entrance ramp contained a go-around gate for the cattle guard, it was locked.  Somehow the lock just magically disappeared.

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Cattle guards are usually a tough obstacle.  This one took nearly and hour to navigate through (with an awful locked go-around gate.

With the help of my hosts from the previous night, I made it through the cattle guard and out to the main highway. The morning drive was cold and blustery, with rain. sleet and snow.

Near, Deadmanís summit, Mark Berlin, from the California Highway Patrol was kind enough to fall in behind me and put his lights on.  Just over the summit. Mark stopped and talked with me while I fed the horses their lunch.

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Near the summit,

My lunchtime view was a panorama of steep mountains with their tops covered by snow. Layers of clouds hung suspended at different elevations. For once, more people were stopping to take pictures of the scenery than of the horses.

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Climbing to the top of the pass. I was right near the snowline, but fortunately escaped the worst of it. It was just warm enough that most of the precipitation I experienced was a light cold rain. What snow fell didnít stick on the road surface.

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The view from the front of the wagon at lunch.

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Patrolman Mark Berlin, one of two very nice CHP officers I met today.

The afternoon drive was in sharp contrast to the morning trek up the mountain. From Deadmanís Summit I had to descend 3000 feet in elevation towards Bishop, CA. As I wound my way down the mountain, the scenery continued to get even better.  The view of the Sierra Mountains from this section of road is always great, but I had chanced upon a day and time when it was truly amazing.

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As I moved lower down the hill, the Ponderosa forest gave way to Pinion trees, which offered a nice contrast to the wisps of clouds floating in front of the snow on the mountains.

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Doc and Bob pulled well today, with Bob needing little encouragement to stay even with Doc.

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Not bad, not too bad at all!

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Another very nice CHP officer. This lady first saw the wagon when it passed near her boyfriends place in Gardenerville, NV.

On the way down the mountain, Bill got a little bored hanging out behind the trailer.  As I was passing through the 5000 feet elevation mark, I guy drove by and said I had lost a couple of saddles. A few minutes later a nice guy driving a tanker truck pulled up and delivered them to me.  Evidently, Bill got to poking around inside the trailer, grabbed the saddles with his mouth and gave them a toss.

About this same time, I received two offers for a place to spend the night.  The first offer was too far to travel, but the second was only a couple of miles ahead. In order to reach the closer of the two places to stay, I first had to defeat another cattle guard. The only go around gate was to the side of the road and down a fairly steep embankment.  After unhitching the horses, I led them down the hill one at a time, through the gate and tied them to the fence. Then, with the help of Paul Payne, who owns KMMT and KRHV radio, I rolled the wagon past the cattle guard, led the horses up the hill and rehitched them.  This was what I called a 30 minute obstacle.

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Round Valley is lush and green.  Now free of the heavy traffic and moving through a green landscape in warm temperatures, I thought of how much contrast there was between the morningís and afternoonís travel.

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It was a real joy driving down this tree lined boulevard with my feet propped up and a cocktail in my hand.

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A pair of does playing peek-a-boo around some cottonwood trees.

Tonight, the horses are in a lovely green pasture and I have been stuffed by a very good meal prepared by my host. The temperature is very moderate compared with what it must be on top of the hill. 

Iím only 13 miles from Bishop, but I think Iím going to take my time getting there.  This is a lovely place, filled with great people, many of whom ride and drive horses and mules.