Sunday, March 30, 2008
Not for the faint of heart, the Haslem Trail is tailor-made for mules. At 89 years old, Kimbal Haslem painstakingly carved it by hand in 2003 with some help from my neighbor, Jim Wallik. I've flown these cliffs many times, but this day(Friday March 28), I get to know them. From Warner Valley's monochromatic red floor, Jim and I pick our way up through ledge and cliff. Finally, we scramble over the petrified, honey-combed dune scape that guards the living, crimson sand dunes across her mesa top--in shock and awe that we get this all to ourselves! A ride up this trail is an eye full of miracle, and a gut full of adrenaline.
Just don't tell Jim or Kim that it ain't for horses. When Old Kim hacked this passage out of boulder and ledge, his un-shod horses were 30 years old and just as tough as he was--none moving too fast, but steady and full of purpose. They carried Kim along everything you see here, except the ledge jumping, but including the boulder hopping . Trail building is the way he stayed young. There could literally be over a hundred miles of trails in the county with his name on them, none on maps, but catalogued in the memory of young Jim who covered so many of those miles as Kim's riding partner and apprentice.
For years, Jim wondered if he would have to pack Kim's used-up tabernacle off of some impossible climb, or some boulder strewn ledge. But Old Kim still lives. He retired from horses and trailbuilding just a couple of years ago. His vision failing and his body finally exhausted, Kim left for California to spend his last days with his kids.
Kim used to invite me and my kids to come along before we started our Mule project. I regret missing the chance. Reflecting on Old Kim's contribution, Jim and I figured this trail had Kim's name written all over it--the Haslem Trail.
Sunday morning 2:00 am--the watch is on...4 days over due, and no baby mule yet.