Kyle Atkins: A Venture in Monday

By Guest Contributor December 7, 2014 02:40

 Another FANtastic Tale of Adventure 

Typical workday for Monday

Typical workday for Monday

By Kyle Atkins

Nowadays hikers must be perceptive to note the clues, but once upon a time you could turn left off of Sonora Pass highway and see how far your vehicle could carry you up Saint Mary’s Pass.

A 1965 Barracuda fastback powered by a two-barrel, 180-horsepower V-8 and answering to “Monday” had Hurst linkage on a four-speed turning a 2.93 sure-grip differential.

Any owner interested in hill-climbing over mileage would have ordered the 235-horse, four-barrel with the 3.23 differential. But this little hardtop had learned a few tricks from two years’ schooling in Alaska, plus beneath its metallic midnight-blue paint it wore real mud-and-snows, stiff shocks, overload springs and a steel skid plate.

The track left near a creek gully and we were mildly gripped hanging on as the car gained the left-hand ridge while dodging rocks and avoiding sideways slides into lodgepole pines. The ridge flattened out long enough for a frightened glance to discover the track pitched into a 50 percent grade littered with rocks and ruts sufficient for high centering. Clearly a real Jeep run. “Go Monday, go!”

Already in low gear, the fuel feed slammed to the floor. Deft twitches kept us on smaller rocks and out of ruts. Monday quickly reached halfway where it became clear the sure-grip was working too well. The tires weren’t spinning enough to keep its RPMs up. Our torqueless ship was about to stall and fall out of the sky.

While maintaining full throttle, the clutch momentarily disengaged, then dumped the resulting four-grand rev back on the driveline. The sure-grip converted this to rattling rocks in the wheel-wells, a 20-yard leap, and another bog-down. Only two additional less desperate clutch-featherings were necessary to reach a scenic little flat where one could enjoy a picnic and dismiss the importance of the remaining 100 yards of track.

As we finished lunch, a pickup appeared at the bottom of the hill. A bit later it was backing out of a second massive cloud of dust at the base of the steep grade. I couldn’t figure his motivation or why he assumed a pickup could ever get up that hill, but single-minded intentions were now putting on tire chains!

I began to imagine him hung-up midway on the pitch blocking our egress, so we climbed in and let Monday gently nose over the edge. At the bottom I cranked down my window and leaned out, noting that a chagrined and dusty countenance was looking for chains on Monday’s drive wheels.

“I imagine your chains will cut a fine set of furrows going up there,” I offered.

“Got-all-muddy!” he responded. “What have you got in that thing?”

“Oh it’s loaded – we got the picnic basket, the boys, the wife and me in here.”

Retired teacher and inveterate mountain climber Kyle Atkins lives in Soulsbyville, California.

 To read our Tales of Adventure Contest winners’ stories, see the Winter 2014 issue
of Friends and Neighbors Magazine, available at these locations and by subscription.
By Guest Contributor December 7, 2014 02:40
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