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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 89.djvu/754

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Breaking a Mountain Trail

Wheels had to be taken off and caterpillar treads substituted, and bridges had to be built

���By means of caterpillar-type wheels, a portable bridge and a drum-andrope device for crossing turbulent streams the trail was covered in two days

TIIIC OIK- annual sportini) event in Southern California which is of unusual interest is l)reaking the trail into Big Bear Valle\', a fishing and hunting resort on top of the San Bernar- dino Mountains, at an elevation of seven thousand feet. For years the automohile men and enthusiasts have contested for the honor of being the first to make the trip after the o])ening of the new year. The ri\alry between these men has been made more keen since a s]iorting-goods house offered a \early cui) to the auto- mobile and crew which should be ilu' first to cross the divide.

Every winter the Big Bear X'alley section is visited by severe rain, hail and snowstorms. Cloudbursts arc numer- ous and there are several months during which the country around the tops of the mouiUains is literally frozen-u]). Diu-- ing these periods it is inipossibk' to reach the top l)y machine, and it is almost worth the life of a person to tackle the trip on foot. Before tin- winter is \-ery old the trails and roads le.iding lo ihe summit are made |)racti- call\' impassable b>' washouts, land- slides and fallen Iret-s.

The crew piloting the last successlul car converted their wheels into the

��caterpillar type. Ihe aim ol the crew was to proceed as far as possible on the inflated tires and when the going became too hard on the rubber to change to the caterpillar wheels. When the rubber tires were taken off they were hung to tree branches to await the party's return.

A portable bridge was carried for crossing streams, but there was one place where the temporary briilge was useless. This was a thirty-foot stre.im of swifth' running water. The men cut down a i>air of large trees on the nearby bank, letting them fall across the stream so that they reached from bank to bank. They were then drawn together so that the cateri)illar wheels came on either side of them, the axles being the only parts of the car which touched the logs. Strong ro|ies were fastened lo trees on the f.irlher side of the stream, the other ends being turned sevi'r.il limes around drums fasleni';l to the ri'ar whi'els. W hen the motor was started the drimts turned ami the machine simph' ilragged itself across ihi' log upon its axles. Many times ihis drum-and-rope idea was brought into play when tlu' car bi-came stuck. ()llier crews lh.it started on the trail ilid not reach the half-wa\- house.

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