Gillespie Gulch Cleanup - 2003

by Adam Mehlberg
Photos by Ray Comeau and Adam Mehlberg

This years Gillespie Gulch cleanup began with checking the buck and rail fencing that we had placed last year. It was still in good condition. The old fire road is re-vegetating very well.

Next our group of volunteers headed to the Owens Flat road. This road leaves the Gillespie Gulch road and heads north up to an old mine on a ridge overlooking James Creek and the 102J road. The Owens Flat road does not have a Forest Service number, so the entire road was GPS’d so that an accurate map could be produced. On our way back down we stopped in the meadow of Owens Flat and picked up a bunch of glass that had been left. Most likely targets for someone shooting.

After connecting with the Gillespie Gulch road again we headed up to the old mine and the steep section of Gillespie Gulch. Most everyone made it up to the second mine site through the small snow drifts that were in the road. The incline made the going a little tough for some of us. The upper shoot section beyond the second mine was full of snow. This would be the end of the trip for our group so we stopped and had lunch at the second mine.

After lunch Darrel and Ray decided to see how far they could get up the shoots. Darrel made some good progress, but the opposite side of the snow drift just wasn’t getting any closer. Ray decided to give it a try also. He took a few runs at the snow drift and made a little more progress toward the other side. Each time he tried he got a little closer to making the other side of the drift, that being his downfall. On one attempt he took a little different line and tangled with one of the large boulders in the road under the edge of the snow drift. As Ray backed down, his drivers side front tire started to walk out from under the fender. Our short day just turned into a long day.

Ray had pulled the front steering knuckle loose from the ball joints. With no front tire on the front drivers side we had to figure out how to get Ray down to a flat spot in the road to see what could be done. Using Ray’s winch and two other winches, we were able to get his Jeep down to the level spot. While everyone was looking over the damage, some of the group headed on out while I went down to Darrel’s house to get the car dolly.

While I was returning with the car dolly, Ray got his front steering knuckle “sort of” beat back onto the ball joint studs enough that he drove his Jeep out of Gillespie Gulch and part way down Lefthand Canyon. When I met up with them, Ray was concerned about driving on the pavement at higher speeds, so they had pulled off on a bend of County 94. In short order Ray’s Jeep was strapped onto the dolly and I began the trip home with Ray’s Jeep in tow.

In the end Ray learned that the back side of snow drifts are like Sirens from the ancient Greek tales, they will entice you to your destruction if you let them. "I almost made it!"

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