“The Old Timers go mountain climbing”
Carmen and his old buddies had been planning to climb to the top of Mt. Rainier for years. It was a beautiful day June 2003, OLD SLIMBO was 80 soon to be 8 1. He told us if we don’t climb that Mountain now, then when? Ron, Al and Carmen said lets get to some planning now. We will need lots of equipment. We have been riding our Motorcycles and bicycles for years. I believe it was in 1959 I first met Ron when he came into my Motorcycle store looking for a dirt bike. As it is today dirt bikes were really a big part of the sport of motorcycling. Ron said he loved to race, I sold him a JAWA, which was a very good dirt bike but low priced. The motorcycle club I belonged to was the World Famous Jolly Rodgers Motorcycle Club. Our club owned 10 acres of land in the Kent Valley, about 10-12 miles from our store in Seattle. On the west side of the grounds we had a beautiful high-hill 520’ to the top. It was so steep you could not walk up it. Riders from all parts of the U.S. would come twice a year to try their luck at climbing the hill.
For most riders it was our track. In the early years we called the races Scramblers, and TT’-Races. Later we had Motor-Cross races almost every weekend. When we weren’t using the grounds we would lease it to the Seattle Motorcycle club. Ron was a member of the Seattle Motorcycle club. Their club put on some really good races. My four boys got their start at racing at the Jolly Track. We had better get back to Mountain Climbing.
On the West Coast, Mountain Climbing is a real big sport. We had been watching other people climb Mountains for years. We all ride our Motorcycles up into Mt. Rainier every year, many times. All of us had all the equipment we needed. Old Slimbo had bought 4-Big pieces of hard plastic about 2’X4’. We all asked Slimbo, what are we going to do with those boards? He pops up, “don’t you guys know anything?”. He said when we reach the top of the Mt,. we’ll sit on the boards and then slide to the bottom. We all said yes Slimbo but its not going to be that easy.
The day came we were all ready to climb the Mountain. It was a beautiful day and it was supposed to be nice all week. We drove in two different pickups to the Mountain. The 1 thing we did was check in with the Ranger Station to tell them our intentions. One young Ranger said you got to be kidding, doesn’t look like not one of you could make it 500’ up the Mountain. Old Slimbo pops up saying, young man I’ll have you know we have been climbing Mountains for years and in all parts of the world. Old Al said to himself, we have, when and where? The Rangers said OK we’ll give you the permits but you had better stay on the trails and stay in contact with us every few hours. We all had two way radios and cell phones. We figured we’d be just fine. We had planned ahead each one carrying his own equipment, food and water. We each had maps of the trails. All the Rangers were betting not one of us would make it 500’. We heard this from a young man that passed us on the trail, he said he heard the Rangers talking and one Ranger had a $20.00 bet we wouldn’t make it 500’. We had all our equipment on, it was real warm out. The mountain looked beautiful. Slimbo popped up this should be a piece of cake. So, off we walked. After 2 hours we stopped, rested and drank some water. After 10 minutes Slimbo pops up, Countdown, we have a long way to go. So off we walked. We climbed for about another 6-hours. We all were tired. We had planned on climbing till around 7-o’clock then set up camp. By 7-o’clock we were all tired out. It had not been as easy as we thought it might be. Al said let’s set up camp this is a good spot with a nice stream of water running along side the trail. Al said there’s always tomorrow if it takes an extra day that’s ok. 01 Slimbo says, “No it’s not, we got food and water for 3 days and that’s it”. We set up camp. We all fixed our own meals. We all ate like horses. We all agreed we had gone a long way the 1 day. Ron talked to the Rangers and told him where we were. He could hear one Ranger say what did they have a helicopter fly them up there. Those old fails could not of walked that far. The Ranger told Ron the trail will get much steeper and harder to climb. We all hit the hay. We set our alarms for 6-o’clock. That’s really early for most of us. But we all knew tomorrow would be hard going. We all fell asleep fast.
Seemed like just an hour or two and old Slimbo’s alarm went off. It was loud enough to wake up everyone. We were all still tired but we all knew we had to get going. We all ate, packed our gear and off we went with Slimbo in the lead. We could hear Al say what’s the hurry we’re all retired we got all the time in the world. We all realized the weather can change fast. We kept walking. I was tired and my knees were really hurting. Wasn’t long the trail turned to ice and snow. The mountain top looked close yet far away. Old Slimbo pops up, “I should lasso the top and pull us all up”. We all said the heat was getting to old Slimbo. We climbed for another 4 hours. We had to stop we were all tired. My legs felt like they were on fire. I could hardly walk. Al’s back was hurting bad. Ron said what now? It was only 12:30 the sun was out, a beautiful day. We rested for half an hour and off we went, all hurting. We’d walked another two hours. Slimbo pops up where the hell is the top. It looks so close. Soon the trail got steep and real slippery. The top looked so close. Old Slimbo blew up said whose’ idea was this anyway. He said I’ve had it. He sat on his plastic board and down the trail he went. Ron said we can’t let him go back by himself We all agreed we had walked up all we could. So we got on our boards and all started down that trail. We were all sailing along at a good clip. After about 1 hour we caught up with Slimbo he was sitting on the side of the trail waiting for us. He said I could see you guys coming.
Old Slimbo started singing, he does this when we ride our bikes on the trails in the Seattle area. We all try to ride the bikes for at least 7-8 miles a day 5-6 days a week. This keeps us in shape so we can climb those Mountains. We ride our bikes on trails that follow the Duwamish River. You can ride to Seattle north or go south to Auburn a total distance of 3040 miles. We usually start at Downtown Harley in Tukwila. The trails go right in back of the store. Once Old Slimbo started singing we knew he was
We used our boards until we ran out of snow. Ron said it’s getting late best walk one more hour and set up camp the next day we should make it back to the Ranger station. We walked about 1 hour Al said that’s it let’s set up camp no one argued with him, we were all tired. We set up camp, ate, then old Slimbo starting singing. One song he sang was There’s a Gold Mine in the Sky. I told Slimbo that’s true but none of us is going to get that Gold. We all went to bed, Al set his alarm for 7 he said that’s early enough. No one disagreed with him. We all slept good. I dreamed during the nite that we all had made it to the top. One could see the whole world from up there. 14,410’ that’s high. Soon Al’s alarm went off, we all got up the sun was out it was going to be a beautiful day. We ate and packed our gear. We all headed down that trail eager to get to the Ranger Station, check in and then head home. We left the boards on the trail back up the trail where the snow ended, just maybe some one else could use the boards. We walked a long way. All were tired but no one said anything. We had walked for 4 hours I felt like I could go no further. We stopped Ron called the Ranger told him we should be back 2-3 hours. He told Ron be sure to check in before you leave for your homes. Al asked if I could try and walk, so I tried. We walked for what seemed hours then all of a sudden Slim says I can see the Ranger station. It looked close. It was probably a mile or two away. We all started walking as fast as we could eager to get to the bottom. Then Ron sat down and said let’s rest and no more Mt. Climbing. After about 1 more hour we checked in with the Rangers four Rangers came out to meet us. They told us what we had just done was just about impossible to do for men our ages. The one Ranger who had bet we wouldn’t make it 500 feet said you old farts cost me a $20 bet, but I’m glad you all made it.
Soon we were in our pick-up trucks and headed back to Seattle. Slim said see you tomorrow at the Harley shop. We have to ride our bicycles and be there 10:30 sharp we got 10 miles riding to do tomorrow. Al said, doesn’t that old fart ever get tired? We all met at Downtown Harley. We all had our bicycles, but we were all too tired, so we didn’t ride. But we did drink Russ’s coffee and eat his doughnuts. If it wasn’t for the Harley Shops, I really don’t know were most riders would got to meet other riders and have a place to shoot the bull. The Harley store has always been the place to meet old riders and new riders. All Harley stores have a motorcycle club called the “Hog Club”, there’s over 600,000 members world wide. Other Motorcycle stores don’t have the attraction, they have big beautiful stores, but there just isn’t that ???????????? there is at the Harley stores. I thank God each day for getting me involved in the sport of motorcycling. I have and continue to meet so many wonderful people from all walks of life.