by Jim Dickens
One thing about getting old is considering whether you will ever get the chance and be able to do something ever again. That came into play at Waltstock this year. At 58, how many more times will you ride a dirt bike up a boulder strewn mountain?
My great friend, Pete with the cozy Big Sky home, and my other great friend, Pete who is the best fly fisherman I know, are good friends with Walt who owns a cool ranch in the Big Lost Valley of Idaho. Every September, Walt invites a group to his ranch for fly fishing, horse riding and socializing. I have become a regular attendee over the past several years. This year the group included some talented musicians so the get together was dubbed Waltstock.
Every evening after dinner, the group dons cowboy hats and socializes under the stars around a large campfire. Guitars, mandolins, keyboard and harmonicas are manned by the musicians and various percussion instruments are given to the inept to keep them occupied. Pete, the best fisherman, is among the musicians and has a new album on Spotify, “Better Late than Never by Peter Perkins”. It’s easy to listen to and very professionally done so check it out.
At one of these campfires, Idaho Wildlife manager and mountain of a man, Pat, suggested we ride motorcycles to catch some rare trout species in high alpine lakes. Pete, Big Sky house owner, another, Scott, and I agreed it sounded like an exciting expedition. And when would I get a chance like this again? Probably never!
So Pat gathered 3 motorcycles and loaded them into his giant Doge Ram Hemi pickup. I would drive the pick up to the trail head and he would ride the fourth motorcycle there. It was a challenge to take a six speed manual up 20 miles of mountainous dirt road with over a 1000 pounds of dirt bikes in the back. But it certainly wasn’t as challenging as actually riding the motorcycles.
Well, we greatly underestimated the difficulty of riding up to the lakes. The trail was steep, switchbacked and boulder strewn. Pat, an expert rider, spent his time getting us beginners up the mountain. He helped us right and position our bikes as we went down multiple times. It took all my childhood motorcycle riding experience and all my focus and still there were terrifying moments. Pete and Scott were without experience so I can’t imaging what they went through. Eventually I came around a turn and saw Pete lying still in the middle of the trail.
It seemed odd that there was no motorcycle just Pete lying still. But no limbs were bent in the wrong direction and eventually Pete began to stir. I then spotted Pete’s cycle higher up a switchback. Pete had high sided and fallen 10 to 20 feet down knocking the wind out of himself, bruising shoulder and hip, and cracking a couple of ribs. Pete toughly gritted out getting to the lakes and getting down the hill but could not fish.
On the way back, I managed to get a flat tire on the pick up and unwittingly drove on it until it was shredded. Pat ended up having to change a tire in the middle of nowhere. He had a long day taking care of us tenderfoots. We got a little too far outside our comfort zones. However, my son Chris says, if you never missed a flight you have spent too much time waiting in airports. So I don’t regret our decision.
With 20 excellent people having the time of their lives at the beautiful Three Sisters Ranch, the experience is unique. I anxiously look forward to it every year.