My cousin Jim tells me that he runs into Lloyd Padon every now and then in Hiouchi/Crescent City . So, I’ll tell a story on him. Back in about 1963 I was setting chokers behind Lloyd in a canyon south of Lymon Jewetts place in Harris. He was punching a skid trail, with a 17a D7 Cat, up a steep little draw to some logs at the top. He shook loose a hornets nest and they flew at the Cat. They seek out heat, and the hottest thing around is the exhaust stack that comes out the top of the engine compartment. They hit like BB’s You can hear them hitting the metal just like pouring dried peas in a can.
Most Catskinners don’t want to take the chance of sticking around to see if they all hit the exhaust pipe. The hornets are, mean little, very active Son-of-a-guns in the heat. It only takes being stung two or three times to lose interest in fighting them. So, Lloyd threw the winch in gear, and set the winch brake. That will lock the transmission and tracks firmly in place and the Cat won’t move. That’s the theory. It works good if done right.
He then bailed off the Cat, swatting at the bee’s. He ran down the hill and stood by me, quietly congratulating himself, with a big grin on his face, that he didn’t get stung. As we stood there. It looked like the winch line was creeping out. We looked at each other, then looked back at the Cat, looked at each other again, and we both took off running up the hill as fast as we could toward the Cat. Just as we about got to it, the Cat took off back down the hill toward us, spooling the winch line out as it went. We didn’t take the time to look at each other this time we took off back down the hill making tracks like “Old Slew Foot“, at forty feet a leap.
We got behind a tree as the Cat passed us. It rolled down to a flat spot in the road and as it just about stopped we started breathing a huge sigh of relief, then it edged over the side of the bank. We started saying; “Oh shit, Oh shit Oh shit…..” It edged over the bank and darn near tipped over, but it righted itself again and headed down to the dry creek below. It hit the bottom and slowed down again, and we were just about to crap our pants with happiness that it was going to be okay, when it rolled up on the bank on the other side. It rolled up over a stump, it did a little pirouette like a ballet dancer on the drive gear, and it headed straight down a bald ridge about a hundred yards long.
I’ve never heard such a racket of noise in all of my life. The winch was screaming like a siren on a fire truck, and the tracks were clanking loudly. I remember when it started moving fast that the tracks ballooned out from centrifugal force, they were flying so high above the top idlers that they were hitting the cabin fender. Sparks were flying, and dirt and crap was flying everywhere. Again Lloyd and I were saying; “Oh shit, Oh shit, Oh shit….” it rolled down to the bottom of the ridge, through a gentle little swale and up the other side, still moving like a bat out of hell, it missed several big trees and stumps, and it slowed down to just about a complete stop when it started down the other side. It ran into some small pepperwood trees and it stopped right there on the top of the ridge like nothing had happened.
It took us about half an hour to get down to it. Weak kneed, and knowing full well that something must be badly broken. We inspected each and every part, and didn’t find anything wrong, so we pushed a few things with it and tried all the gears everything seemed to be fine. We went back up the hill and spooled the winch line back on, found a turn of logs and headed to the landing. I’m sure that our faces were as pale as ghosts under the dust, and we were expecting Roy Goforth to be standing there with our paychecks in his hand. As we pulled onto the landing, we didn’t see Roy anywhere. We pulled up next to the deck and as I was unhooking the chokers we noticed that both doors were open on Roy’s truck. That’s unusual, because people like to keep the dust out of the trucks as much as they can. I walked over to the truck and Roy was laying on his back across the seat, snoring like a bear.
If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a noise? Better yet, if a Cat runs away in the woods and the boss doesn’t hear it does it happen?… Hell no it didn’t. You owe me Lloyd.