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BCHC Mid Valley Unit

Kennedy Meadows Campout

We camped out at Kennedy Meadows on August 21-23, 2009; good food, good rides, good conversations.
All photos courtesy of Jeannette DeMott.
You may jump to the newsletter article below the pictures.

Setting up camp
Setting up camp

Back Country Horsemen camping
Back Country Horsemen camping

Back Country Horsemen camping
Back Country Horsemen camping

Back Country Horsemen camping
Back Country Horsemen camping

Kennedy Meadows Campout, August 21-23, 2009

by Michael King

The BCH-Mid Valley Kennedy Meadows campout got underway on Friday August 21st. It was a spectacularly clear day although a hint of change was in the sky.

I am not sure what time folks started arriving as I was with the trail crew returning from Horse Meadow. We arrived at the Kennedy Meadows trailhead after a 6 and 1/2 hour ride, at about 6:30 pm. We stripped the gear off of the stock and stowed that away. The horses and mules were watered and fed, highlines put up and then we individually set up our camps where family members had previously staked themselves.

By this time the parking area had a lot of rigs parked, with more people continuing to roll in. As I was a guest of the Newsome's and while waiting for Sandy, Barbara and family to arrive, I made a quick greeting tour around the campsites to say hello. Along my way I saw Lloyd and Susan Erlandson, Rich and Sandy Kirchner, Vicki Whisler, Bob and Jerrie Thomas, Debra Mason, Karen Lopes, Dennise Davis, Rudy Dezzani, Gary and Sheri Duty, Dan and Kim O'Hagen, and Jean Tucker who joined her husband Steve. Besides Steve, the trail crew consisted of Dennis Serpa joined by wife Loretta, son Dennis Jr. and daughters Karen and Traci and their children, Tony Moules, Dennis Wetherington and Carl and Julie Perry. Eventually I came to Doug and Cathy Dollarhide's camp where they had a great spot right on the riverbank. Somehow I think that they got there early to claim this prized location. They were in full view of the river where their son and Dennise Davis' son were working a pool with their fishing poles. Although their boots and shoes were wet they looked to be having a supreme time!

Eventually the Newsome's arrived and we maneuvered their outfit into their spot. After getting the camp set up and the horses tended to, Barbara and daughter Lynn Golding made a light dinner for the clan. I set my own tent up nearby, with Rudy Dezzani as a neighbor on the other side. After a bit of visiting everyone headed off to their sleeping spots as there were riding plans for tomorrow.

Bright and early the next morning Barbara Newsome was up and put on a breakfast feed for anyone who came by. There were fresh home laid eggs, pancakes, bacon and coffee to pack away. I must say that breakfast was delicious and I know that was the opinion of everyone else who stopped in for a bite. Thanks a bunch Barbara, Sandy and Lynn!

After everyone chambered their breakfasts, horses were saddled and individual day rides were planned. Sandy, her granddaughter, Rudy and myself hit the trail for a ride up to Kennedy Lake. Barbara and Lynn fixed us up with lunches and we were off. We were not the first out of the gate however as Bob and Jerrie Ann Thomas, Karen Lopes and others were ahead of us.

The trail up to Kennedy Lake is very pretty with a variety of scenery along the way. After crossing the two bridges in the main canyon, the Kennedy Lake trail eventually turns up a hillside to climb up the steep narrow canyon mouth. After crossing another small bridge over the creek, you continue up the canyon eventually breaking out at a very large meadow and then the lake. Coming from a cattle ranch background, I enjoyed looking at the cattle along the way. We ate our lunch at the lake and relaxed as we watched the Perry's down at the lakeshore inflating their rubber boat, the SS Perry. Before long it was launched with Captain Carl at the helm and Garret Dollarhide as the first mate. Fishing poles in hand they were making a valiant attempt to remove a few fish from the lake if possible. I heard that they had no luck, but they gave it a great effort. Knowing the Carl's skill as a guide, there were probably no fish there to be caught.

Upon returning to the camp, we found preparations well underway for the Dutch oven potluck that evening. Soon tables were set up and the ovens started arriving from the various camps. It did not take the serving line long to form either, but soon everyone was chowing down. Now let me say, if you did not get enough to eat, that was your own fault. Even taking the smallest of portions, there was still not enough room on my plate to sample all of the dishes.

After dinner, folks were encouraged to get up and relate a bit of the history of the area or tell about a memorable pack or camping trip. Many people participated and eventually 45 minutes had passed by. One special speaker was Ozzie Rorabaugh who came up to be at the campout. It was great to see him there. After the stories were told, people either retired to bed or stayed up and visited awhile. Some hardy souls made their way down to the Kennedy Meadows bar. Late that night a pickup load of partiers returned from the bar and promptly backed hard into a stump while parking. Other than the sound, it was dark so there were no eyewitnesses! My lips are sealed.

Along about midnight, the weather change that I mentioned finally materialized. Yes, it started to rain! And it kept up a steady rainfall for the balance of the night. (Thank goodness for rain flys). By daybreak the camp was getting pretty soggy and it was still coming down. Ozzie wandered into the camp for coffee and I found out that he slept under the stars, well clouds anyway, that night. He had faith in the pine tree that he was under to keep him dry. His faith was well placed and he was dry as could be and looking none the worse for wear.

Looking like there would be no relief from the rain, everyone made quick work breaking down their camps and heading home. One small incline on the road out was getting wet enough to cause trouble climbing it. Rudy needed four-wheel drive to pull the hill while Sandy had to unload his stock to get out. I am sure that others behind us had similar problems.

Despite the rain everyone had a great time. This was a very nice opportunity to get together, visit and have fun without work looming in the background. A great big thank you to the Matt Blooms for opening up the Kennedy Meadows camping area for the Mid Valley group. It is greatly appreciated!

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Backcountry Horsemen of California - Mid Valley Unit
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Modesto CA 95353-1709

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