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View from the lookout by Eron Norris
| Mike Hardy | Feature Stories

Mike Hardy reports on High Sierra Poker Run 2020

I just want it to be known that I (and I'm sure a lot of other participants) want to reach out and thank the Kingsburg Four Wheel Drive club for all their efforts to make the High Sierra Poker run become a reality!!!

The run was chaired by Paul Brady and Steve Peckham and a lot of other clubs helped to make it happen too.

Lisa and I left on Tuesday before the Labor Day weekend. We drove all the way in one day.

About the only reason I can think of to NOT go to the High Sierra run is Highway 168, which has quite a few miles of 11-12% grades.

My motorhome towing the enclosed trailer with my LJ in it most assuredly hates that section of highway. WE stopped halfway up and let the motorhome get its second wind and then went on up in 1st gear about 25 miles per hour.

We get to Shaver Lake and seek out the Edison RV park. We get there and they are all booked up for the weekend. They send us over to Dora Bella RV park. As I come to the check in area I am in hopes of finding a spot to camp... WELL the lady at the desk says they only allow 40 foot max. RV's... WELL I am 32 ft. motorhome and 23 foot trailer.

So what do we do now???? She calls her husband and we decide to try and turn around near the entrance where the road splits (forks) and I will drive up one road and try to back into the other and get the heck out of there. I ask why there is no warning sign to let the RVs know that 40 foot is the limit... but then there wasn't any place to turn around before you got into the park anyway.

I wish I knew the man's name who helped me get turned around in that small area... HE was great and I learned some things about jack knifing the trailer or not... my right rear view mirror had the sun shining right into it and I couldn't see a damn thing as I inched backwards. Finally we get turned around and I get back as far as I can to get a run at the hill that takes you out of the park... well I am hauling butt and almost to the top and some butt in a pickup truck cuts me off and I have to stop???? What more can go wrong with this RV park???? So I back down and unload the Jeep and Lisa drives the LJ in front of me in case I need a pull to crown the hill going out of the park. WE decide to just find a spot on the side of the road to camp for the night as by now it is almost dark. WE find a spot and grab some beers to wash away the horrible ordeal we just had at Dora Bella RV park. WE were sure we would see some deer or wildlife of some sort but nary a sighting of anything did we see.

I decide to drive the LJ to the camp area and see what we have to choose from in the campsite category. We get there and one of Nancy Rocha's sons comes out and talks with us about our choices. David Rocha helped us find a spot too.

WE drive back to the motorhome and decide there were some steep grades getting to camp so Lisa will drive the LJ and I will man the motorhome. WE arrive with no more issues!!!

WE found a spot and were just checking for level(where is it level in the mountains?) and we hear Steve Egbert holler over to us and say we have room over here for you guys!! Well, great we will know someone and he is a good friend of ours too.

WE finally get fairly level and go have a beer with Steve.

Saturday morning rolls around and we get in line for the Bald Mountain Extreme Run. WE see a bunch of smoke off in the distance. WE are told it is far away and the wind is blowing it away from us. So with that in the back of our minds we set out and have it in 4-low quite quickly. I believe the obstacle we came to was called the Waterfall?? (what a quaint name). There is a line and the rigs are being spotted and helped over the huge rocks. I guess it was taking too long or something and they soon started the trail going around that huge pile of rocks only to encounter another equally huge pile of rocks.

I am going to put this in just for some topic of discussion. As I am sitting there waiting for my turn, a rig that somewhat resembles a Jeep comes up and wants to try the rock pile they just closed down. His rig is all chopped up and has huge 40" tires. I was sure he would go over the pile of rocks with the greatest of ease???? NOT! He didn't get as far as the rigs with 35" tires. So much for big tires being the cure all... I know what you are going to say. A lot depends on the driver, gear ratio, lockers, finding the right line and a certain amount of luck. Tire size is only one of the equations to consider.

Well, we get up the pile of rocks and head up the mountain. Soon we see a lookout tower... AND we see this huge plume of smoke that seems to be way too close to us. WE can see the flames if we look closely.

A forest ranger comes up on a side-by-side and tells us there isn't a mandatory evacuation request, but get back to your RVs and be ready to leave on a minute's notice. WELL they didn't have to tell this "flatlander" twice and we headed back to camp with the rest of the rigs and were soon loaded and heading out of camp. The other excitement was that the fire was near Hwy 168, the only route off the mountain at this point. So Katy Bar the Door we are heading down the mountain. Hopefully before they close the road.

WE decide to just drive all the way back to Hemet as the A/C in the motorhome decided it didn't want to work and the KOA in Visalia was full. Steve Egbert had told me we could stay at his place if we wanted to park in the street. Thanks my friend.

We get down to San Bernardino area and we see another fire that started in the Redlands area. WE went from one fire to the next.

I am not sure but I think the campsite was spared and it will be there for us next year.

Not sure why more South District club members didn't make the trek to High Sierra Poker Run. It is a few miles to drive but I had not been four-wheelin' since March and didn't want to forget how to put the LJ into 4-low and have fun. Hope to see you on the trail soon.

And pray to God we get this COVID-19 in the past and close all the terrible events that have/will make 2020 a sight for sore eyes in the future.

Hope all are well and trying to stay sane. It has been said in the news media that the COVID-19 has brought families closer together???? I think it has only caused families to really learn about one another and I hope that learning doesn't end up in domestic violence or worse. Too soon old and too late smart!

Mike is a member of the Hemet Jeep Club.


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