Boozy P. and me
August 3, 2022 Comments Off on Boozy P. and me
Kristie and I don’t get a lot of visitors here in the Southern Sierra. It’s mostly because I never invite anyone up. It’s also because I only have four friends, one in Texas, one in Illinois, one in France, and one in Torrance.
The handful of times I’ve invited less-than-friends, they’ve all said, “Yeah! Awesome! Sounds great! Lemme check my sched and get back with ya!” Their scheds are, shall we say, busy. Or their email is broken. Or both.
But my Torrance friend Boozy P. said, “Yeah. How’s next weekend?”
“Uh, great.” I was shocked.
“Let’s go camping.”
“Ah, yeah. Right!”
“Ok. See you then.”
Boozy P. showed up with most of his camping gear. “Where’s your sleeping bag?” I asked.
“I’m going to cowboy camp,” he said. “Just find a spot under a tree and curl up in my jacket.”
“Dude,” I said, “It’s early May. We’re camping at over 8,000 feet. There’s snow. It may freeze.”
He laughed. “I’ll be fine.”
Because he had made the special effort to drive all the way from Torrance I decided to take him on a special route, Sawmill to Portuguese Pass via Rancheria Road. It’s only 28 miles from here to there. But it does have a touch of elevation, almost 7k feet of climbing, and it’s all on sand after the first three miles, and we were going to be on fully loaded bikes with full backpacks.
Boozy P. was not intimidated even though it’s the hardest climb I’ve ever done, because once every three years he’s fit as fuck for six months, and he was only about a year away from being fit. We started up Sawmill and it wasn’t pretty. After a while we were both walking. I knew he wasn’t going to quit. He’s one of the absolute toughest people I know.
We got to Rancheria Road and I said, “It’s downhill all the way to the next climb,” which made it sound like a long way, but it was only downhill for a mile, then uphill for seven. We crossed the 155 and continued on towards Portuguese Pass. The temperature was in the 50’s.
Eventually we stopped for a snack and Boozy P. announced that he was stopping for good. We were only a mile from the pass but he’d reached THE POINT, where further pedaling wasn’t an option. I still couldn’t believe he’d gotten that far on almost no training lugging a 30-lb. pack up the gnarliest 25-mile climb you’ve ever seen. It only took us seven hours or so.
We hiked down into a small ravine and I set up the tent next to a creek. It was in the high 40’s. “Dude,” I said, after we’d had dinner. “Why don’t you climb into the tent? It’s not going to be getting any warmer.”
He did, and it didn’t. I wasn’t a good enough friend to suggest he crawl into my sleeping bag with me, but he wasn’t too far from asking as it dropped down into the 20’s. He finally got up around four and went out hiking to warm up.
We had breakfast after he got back and he told me about a trail he’d found. “Goes up to Sunday Peak. Looks great!”
He led the way and we did the 3-mile out-and-back hike, taking in amazing views that stretched all the way to Mt. Whitney and beyond, with vast snow-capped peaks in the far northern distance. He sprang up the trail and down, no worse the wear for yesterday’s beatdown or the frigid temperatures of the night before.
We loaded up the bikes and turned towards home, where he put on a dirt descending clinic. I watched from a fearful distance as he sliced the 28-mile descent like it was a tomato and he was a razor.
“That,” he said, “is my new favorite descent!”
Home. In time for lunch.