Dirt Bikes, Off-Road, Panamints, Panamint Valley, Happy Canyon, Ride Report, Trip Report
|Location: Panamint Valley,
Riders: Brad, Bryce, Jay & Paul
For several years weve tried to reach Panamint City by way of Happy Canyon, every year failing. Our last attempt was plagued with mechanical failures. Paul threw a chain, jamming it hard. Brads WR died. The attempt ended with Brad on the back end of a buddy tow. Unfortunately I was towing him. Im the worst tow-man on earth, and he had a miserable, scary ride.
This year was no exception, other than we took more of a beating than ever. The trip up Happy is not for the lighthearted. The first obstacle is a small moss covered waterfall. Im convinced that the only way over this is fast with eyes closed. I know because thats how I did it the one time I made it. I think the same holds true for everyone who has made it. This time, none of us made it.
obstacle is a larger waterfall. I dont recall any of us ever making this. We usually
just see how far we can get before everyone has to catch us to pull the bikes over the
top. (These two waterfalls can also be seen on the "CrashnBurn" page.)
Usually the remaining ride is through water, not very deep only an inch or so. This particular time was more brutal than usual. The trail was completely grown over. When we werent tangled in brush, we were in a tunnel of foliage. At times the only solution was to tuck the helmet visor under the numberplate and go full-throttle until stopped. Then, try again. This was brutal. Bryce got clothes lined and ripped clean off his bike.
After this section it got steeper and dryer. After stopping for another break, we realized that Bryce was nowhere to be found. We decided that Brad would go looking for him while Paul and I continued. The trail got steeper and looser. There was little traction to be had. Then it happened. I hooked up. With a skyhook wheelie going, I thought to myself, "man I must look cool". I found myself wishing, yet again, that I had a chase 'copter to videotape the whole thing. Then without warning or any recollection of what happened, I woke up under my RMX with gas pouring all over my leg. My right foot was twisted underneath me. I was able to turn off the gas and get my foot unsnagged before I passed out again. I later discovered a quarter sized chunk out of my helmet.
I woke up, after what must have been 20 minutes, to the noise of Brad coming up the trail. He dug me out and got me to some shade. He had no luck finding Bryce. This wasnt overly concerning; its happened a couple times before. We usually find him back at camp. We agreed that Brad would catch up to Paul and I would wait for them to return.
After sitting in the shade for about a half-hour, I decided Id try to work my way back down. Still being real shaky, this was tough. I crashed two more times but at a much lower speed. I finally came upon Bryces KDX, sitting to the side of the trail. There was no sign of Bryce. After looking for several seconds I spotted him off into the distance. He had been sleeping in the shade.
It turns out that he had crashed and while he sat, recovering, he realized that his bike was still upside-down and had dumped most of the gas. So, he righted the bike and took a nap. I was glad to see him, because I had run out of water and he had plenty. After swapping gas and water we headed back to camp, realizing that once again we had failed in our mission.
Meanwhile, Paul and Brad had decided to continue on, after all they were so close. Im unclear on all of the details of what followed. What I do know is that they never made it and they ran out of water also. They filled their CamelBacks with creek water and iodine tablets before heading back to camp.
Unfortunately, I think this was probably our last attempt to reach Panamint City on motorcycles.