Author Topic: The History of Pipejam  (Read 2931 times)

Offline chicomecha

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The History of Pipejam
« on: August 26, 2013, 04:30:48 PM »
The History of Pipejam

"Our" history has to start in 1933, when the Lassen National Forest (LNF) first published their map showing a trail, which on later 1948 CDF maps is labeled, "North Valley Trail".  Could be earlier, but that is the oldest map on which we could find it.  Rumors abound as to its uses before that time, the most likely to be as a mule trail that fed the cedar shake mill just below Bear Lake, of which just the foundation remains today.  Old-timers report using the trail for different purposes, but mostly their reports coincide with the recreation uses shown on the 1968 map, when it is was marked as a "Maintained" trail, and then the 1992 and 2002 LNF, marked as an "OHV" trail.  It was even on the 1999 LNF High Lakes map as a "2WD" route, though probably that should be a "4".

The Forest Service had a sign for a long time near Spring Valley Lake that said "Bear Lake 2, North Valley 6".  It only disappeared a few years ago.  I had heard it went through and back in 2007, talking to Ken Knull on a 4x4 Forum, he was also quite interested in its reclamation before we went into the LNF's planning phases in the High Lakes.  At the time there was no FOTHL, and we were starting to see closures of trails.  More specifically, during the Chips Creek Roadless Area designation process in the 70's, they left a motorized cherry stem through the section, Section 3, which is owned by SPI, but the trail has LNF trail at both ends.

So that Fall, we started making trips to assess the difficulty of getting it back, and after coming in from the top twice and not finding it, and coming in from the bottom twice, I was finally able to walk the whole thing and discover it was totally all there.  Just getting to the top end required cutting through the Tamarack Forest, where wind-blown trees littered the road, and even finding the 519 trail just below Frying Pan Falls was difficult.  The dirt bikes had been using it from the south, and all it needed was to be cut back.  Yeah right, and so the work parties started.  Every week we had a crew out there cutting back the manzanita.  While we were on the trail, we saw all the signs of those past uses.  Track was cut in sidehill areas as a double-wide track, winch marks were on trees, and double blazes (double means FS maintained) were cut into trees.  As we started cutting, we found the old manzanita cuts out at the full-width area, signs of previous maintenance.  There was even still clear double track in many spots.  The trail had been used by hunters (they started the huge Stirling fire there), as we found fire rings at the top, middle, and bottom of the route, and now it has most recently been used by LNF as forest fighting route in 2008.  Today is all open to the most capable wheeling' rigs, with the top being rocky, and the bottom being trees and off-camber.  It is not an appropriate wet-weather trail.  You can simply slide off into the trees and need double winching to get back on.  Ask.

So where does the name "Pipejam" come from?  On one of our first attempts at the trail, we had cut a couple hundred yards in from the bottom, and came to a sharp pointed rock, with a sidehill to the side.  You had to either try going up the sidehill and around the rock, or over it, and it was a rubber-ripper.  It had to go.  So Ken hooks up his winch to a snatch block and then over and to a strap around the rock and we start pulling.  I thought I saw progress, so I kept him pulling.  Over at his Heep, he was sliding down the hill, so he put it in reverse to try to hold ground.  Pulling, pulling, pulling, then…. snap.  The sound came from his rig, and we quickly determined he had no more 4WD.  It was the end of the day, so we called it, and started working on getting his now-2WD Heep off the trail.  At least the winch still worked.

So a few days later, he calls me to tell the news.  His transfer case gears had broken.  Apparently it was not shifting all the way into the gears.  Then Ken sheepishly starts to tell me this story of how a year and a half ago, he was smoking his pipe while wheeling, and he dropped it.  He looked all around inside, and then got out and looked under.  Gone.  Figuring he'll find it later, on he went, and then forgot about the whole thing.  Until he started pulling out the transfer case.  There, below the floorboard, wedged between the transfer case shift levers, was his pipe, stuck there, not allowing the case to ever be fully engaged in 4WD.  So, since it was that damn rock, which is still there today (and has since taken out at least a couple tie-rods that I know of) that started it all, we named that rock "Pipejam Rock", for his pipe that was jammed in his shift levers.  Fairly quickly, we started going to work on "Pipejam", and then name stuck.

Nick
« Last Edit: August 27, 2013, 06:19:15 AM by chicomecha »
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Offline ragdump

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Re: The History of Pipejam
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2014, 04:27:18 PM »
I have you guys all beat my first trip through there was probably 35 years ago then about 20 years ago my friends and I opened up again that's where the MF on the tree's came from,then in 97 my ignition on my almost new bike died near Pipe Jam lake (even got desperate and stuck my finger in the spark plug cap and kicked it over it was dead) then what saved my was the big Church group that use to camp up there was on a hike and they pulled my bike out to where they had Jeeps and dropped me of on the high lakes road

Offline wheeler53

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Re: The History of Pipejam
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2014, 12:02:57 PM »
Ragdump, do you know if there was a shake mill, mine or sombodys summer cabin on rock creek ? been to the site would like to hear the story. when was it in use ?  Thanks

Offline ragdump

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Re: The History of Pipejam
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2014, 03:54:52 AM »
Yeah there is and there's a marked grave (small granite Head stone Benjamin Frost 1873-1937 ) It's a few hundred ft. up from the cabin site,I first found it maybe 30 years ago,the cabin was still standing then. to find it you go across Rock Creek go to the end of the road,don't go up the Hilakes trail or the Jeep road to Tobin Ridge,at the end of the road is a turn around over to the left there's a jeep road that does down to the remains of the cabin. After the 2008 fire the Forest service blocked the road so you have to follow a trail maybe a mile or less. From the cabin there was a trail that went down and came out above the train bridge at Rock Creek and across from the grave site the trail  goes up stream crosses the bottom of the giant wash out on Pine Creek and continues to the remains of a cable bridge that use to cross the creek. It's been probably 10 years since I was where the bridge crossed but there was still a center support in the middle of the creek, I have heard that Ben Frost use to make shakes

Offline ragdump

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Re: The History of Pipejam
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2014, 04:15:01 AM »
Here's a screen shot from Google earth

Offline wheeler53

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Re: The History of Pipejam
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2014, 01:17:27 PM »
Thank you for that info, didnt know a thing about that cabin or Frost, Do you know anything about the cabin on rock creek thats just below Bear lake. Thanks again for taking time to share the local history  Dan

Offline ragdump

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Re: The History of Pipejam
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2014, 04:06:30 PM »
Never heard of that one but I have a friend (Ken and may you know him) Pete Moak his family's live around here for 3 generations I'll ask him

Offline wheeler53

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Re: The History of Pipejam
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2014, 02:43:04 AM »
Again, thanks for your help