Riding the Rails

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 1, 2014 - 12:38pm PT
Ironweed Bump...
Flip Flop

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
Jun 1, 2014 - 08:52pm PT
I hitchhiked to Shasta to try a solo ascent of the North side. The weather turned and I started walking back toward Shasta City. I was sheltering under a train bridge when a slow moving hulk of a train came rolling down the tracks. Now my pack had ropes, axes and all manner of heavy equipment but I decided to make a dash and jump that train. I had taken a few short train hops and felt like it was worth a try. I could remember the kid with one leg from my childhood who lost it on a similar effort.
I couldn't run effectively with my massive load so I lobbed it on the train and started running. The wet rails and rocks reminded me that my jump to the train was a no-falls situation. Pretty quick I was up with my pack sitting under a tractor trailer watching the world go by.
After a short while I saw a crew cab pickup truck following along the train and the rail workers in the truck saw me too. I wasn't excited about meeting those four fellas in the rail yard. When the train slowed down the next time I hopped off and opted for the company of my boots and not the boots of those men.
I was rewarded with a long walk down a sandy road. I followed the tracks of a Mountain Lion for a few miles who was, in turn, following the tracks of a deer. For years that was my only encounter with the lion. I have seen the mountain lion now but never the yard bull.
I hear the train whistle rolling through Truckee as I write this.
Mark Rodell

Trad climber
Bangkok
Jun 1, 2014 - 10:20pm PT
Rottingjonny, yes, I got in a lot of running while working. Rules said that the brakeman on the rear had to walk up the train when stopped. I'd bound off and trot to the power. One of the best things about the job was those walks up the train. Working between Dunsmuir and K Falls put me in nice country often.
John Morton

climber
Jun 3, 2014 - 08:55am PT
some observations about trains:

I worked as a head-end trainman (brakeman) for a short spell on the CPR out of Nelson, BC in the snowy winter of 1969-69. Having ridden gondolas and reefers illicitly, I found it surreal to see everything from the comfort of the engine at night in the depths of winter. The walls of snow on the way to Cranbrook were almost as high as the cab, and very close. Tragically, animals that had found their way into the plowed right of way could only run ahead of the engine until they tired and were run down. That took a lot of the romance out of driving a train.

Plowing the sidings was pretty fun. No rotary plows in BC, too many logs in the snowslides. They used a shovel plow, which they'd repeatedly ram into the snowpack until it cleared the way or went off the track. Once the engine (always called "the unit") derailed as well (just at the front), and I was amazed to see they had a way of putting it back on the tracks. They hauled out the "replacers", massive cast steel blocks with a twisted guide surface, slotted underneath. Those were dropped over the rails behind the displaced wheels, and the engine would pull the wheels into the guide grooves and back on track.

I never quite understood how trains avoided each other, with no communication when underway. Well, there was a walkie-talkie that worked from engine to caboose, unless the track curved. There was a schedule - the train had to keep to it in order to be safe on a siding when something came the other way. But if we were too late for the scheduled departure, they just went anyway and called it an "extra". I didn't pester the crew about this, they already thought I was pretty dumb.

John
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Oct 30, 2014 - 09:18pm PT
One Shining Steel Rail...Bump
hooblie

climber
from out where the anecdotes roam
Dec 22, 2014 - 08:02pm PT
hugh masekela ~ coal train: http://youtu.be/cPxmmMpfG88

[Click to View YouTube Video]
Chief

climber
The NW edge of The Hudson Bay
Dec 22, 2014 - 09:42pm PT
Gordon Lightfoot, The Watchman's Gone

http://youtu.be/DJ92sS8WwGM
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
May 25, 2015 - 09:38am PT
The prettiest girl
In all the world
Is in a little Spanish town
But I left her for a Bonnie lass
And I told her
I'd see her around
But that Bonnie lass
And her heart of glass
Would not hold a candle

To bumming around
So don't cry for me
For I'm going away
And I'll be back some lucky day

Tell the boys back home
I'm doing just fine
I left my troubles and woe
So sing about me
For I can't come home
I've many more miles to go

Why, there's Miss Kelsey
You taught dance at our school
And old Johnny O'Toole
I'll still beat you at pool
So don't cry for me
For I'm going away
And I'll be back some lucky day

Now when I was a boy
My daddy sat me on his knee
And he told me
He told me many things
And he said sone
There's a lot of things in this world
You're gonna have no use for
And when you get blue
And you've lost all your dreams
There's nothin' like a campfire
And a can of beans

Why, there's Miss Kelsey
She taught dance at our school
And old Johnny O'Toole
I'll still beat you at pool
So don't cry for me
For I'm going away
And I'll be back some lucky day

Tom Waits Lucky Day

https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=tom+waits+campfire+and+a+can+of+beans&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-004


Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jul 26, 2015 - 11:29am PT
Bump...
zBrown

Ice climber
Jul 26, 2015 - 11:58am PT
This route is scheduled to come back on line.

[Click to View YouTube Video]
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 20, 2018 - 07:17pm PT
Cheap transportation bump...
hooblie

climber
from out where the anecdotes roam
Jan 20, 2018 - 08:45pm PT
broken link ^^^ redo, stimela = coal train

[Click to View YouTube Video]
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Jan 21, 2018 - 06:42am PT
I used to jump trains when I lived in F*#king Lower Alabama (FLA). It is surprisingly easy to do.
Contractor

Boulder climber
CA
Jan 21, 2018 - 07:12am PT
For young, poor surfers it was buses in Mexico. Everything from small local school buses with chickens and farmers to the big cross country Tres Estrellas- "tree star" line. The drivers were well respected yet I was always freaked out by how fast they drove and where they choose to pass slower traffic.

If you've spent much time in Mexico you have undoubtedly seen a Mexican tabloid "Periodico" with graphic photos of dead bus passengers and luggage strewn down a hillside from a pass gone bad.
Contractor

Boulder climber
CA
Jan 21, 2018 - 07:17am PT
Z Brown- I've spent many days in that desert and climbed all over the Goat Canyon Trestle.
originalpmac

Mountain climber
Timbers of Fennario
Jan 21, 2018 - 09:51am PT
I used to work with a guy that got shot in the ass with rock salt by a yard bull. Apparently that really sucked.
hooblie

climber
from out where the anecdotes roam
May 31, 2019 - 11:32pm PT
bump up a Dick Erb thread ... and consolidate my rail stories:

thumbing around the west in '70, northerly inclined, i spilled over the divide up in glacier and hooked a left at the chief, slipped across the border and absolved myself in the waterton lakes.

off to banff, i found myself on the trans-can where a couple of girls were holding court at a campfire surrounded by a dozen hopefuls. passing by, i overheard "la honda" which was my well known dirt bike turf and site of the kesey enclave noted in the acid test. the blonde and the brunette were each quintessential prototypes of their kind.

openers are not my forte, but these were neighbors in a foreign country and i uncharacteristically ignored their intimidating beauty for the brief time it took me to elbow my way into the crowd. i wasn't trying really, and that must have been the key.

the next ten days could fill a volume, the details of which my wife never pried out of me no matter how she cajoled to be told about the "angels." i will confide that her imagination outstripped the actual in terms of lurid debauchery. i am at heart a gentleman and romantic with a penchant for savoring every increment of anticipation, plus a devilish knack for ratcheting up the stakes and i suppose, tension. they were perfect foils, and flawlessly cooperated to suspend me at the midpoint of their forcefield. it was their spiritual maturity and forsworn complexity, this bathed in exquisite appreciation of His handiwork, that prompted me to be resolutely demure when pressed to unwrap this gift.

now on to the trip report. after rollicking about in the embrace of forests and earthy conjugation upon succulent meadows behind the hot springs, we ascended to the alpine realm. high above valley of ten peaks behind lake louise, we happily overstayed our vittles, so snug were we in their little pup tent.

then, upon hearing my tales of riding the rails along the yellowstone, thru the redwoods along the eel, over the tehachipe's in bloom, they gushed when i proposed a freight ride over kicking horse and rogers pass. little did i imagine that their curves would be parlayed into upholstered seats in the second engine. we were honored with guest visits by each of the fawning crew members as the lyserge brought into vivid clarity the structural geology i so adored studying back at ucsc. recumbent folds, upthrust faulting, the rockies revealed their suffering and i empathized. hydrocarbon infernos raged both against and through this throbbing electro-mechanical bohemith that i leaned out of to better lavish my respect upon the translucent river. it cheerfully obeyed every nuance of hydrodynamic law with panache. riparian freshness enveloped the ferrous, rolling, unimaginable burden that strained on each coupling. the girls were linedriving a beaming admiration from vibrant bright faces, our grins tight as chrome. surely god agreed.

after we each were escorted up front for hornblasts at moose and goats and the shackles of conformity, evening fell along with a steady drizzle. walking distance short of revelstoke the whole train came to a halt where the boys knew of a dry bivy in a hay loft up a dark slope. hugs all around, good bye to the crew. as much as i admired their life, it felt like they admired mine.

well the next day we snagged a ride in a painted bus full of assorted souls that had been gathered up along the way. there was room for us on top where a big partialy inflated raft was lashed to the roof. like a magic carpet, it was remarkably unwindy, devoid of engine noise and most traffic commotion. enjoying panoramic mountain views, i layed back in the sun as my portrait was sketched into a journal.

at a gas stop we heard that emergency hiring was underway to fight a fire that was sending a column into the sky to the south. able bodies with good boots seemed to be the job requirement and my funds were low. the girls seemed to be in good hands.

what strikes me as quaint about this easy parting, now years round the bend, is how sure i was that something just as sweet lay ahead just around any corner, because clearly things were unfolding just how "it's sposed to be."

well, yes women have been good to me through the years, but i call these the angels because they knowingly, compassionately escorted me to the epiphany that the earth was my mistress. even as the lovers have come and gone, each giving their poignant best in human terms, it has been the planet that has always sustained me, always let me in, impassionately tolerating my crawling about and laying on of eyes from every possible vantage. and when i screw it up big time, i shall return to her.
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