COLD WEATHER CAMPING ~SONORA, CA~
Sleepy Sonora, Queen of the southern mines, is a mountain town nestled amongst the western Sierra Nevada foothills
It was a bustling gold camp in the late 1800's and was then settled by homesteaders from the east. Now it's just like most small communities, more big box stores and stop lights popping up than mom and pop shops and country roads to explore un hassled. But the nature to be had is just around every corner. It's not rather difficult to take a number of adventures out into the Emigrant Wilderness or Stanislaus National Forest. If you're from the city come visit and support our local economy but don't stay,
we don't need you... Haha
LOCATION // IONE » SUGARLOAF
INTERVIEW // PAT LEAHY & LUKE KIDD
PHOTOS // CHRIS RIESNER
After spending a few nights and a couple hundred miles of traveling with the Santa Cruz boys I split off and continued onward, east into the mountains. Some hours later I arrived in a small town called Sonora where I met up with a few friends that I’d met previously on the road, at some skatepark, somewhere. It’s always a bit wild to think about the people you meet and the places you go becuse of BMX bikes.
INTERVIEW // PAT LEAHY
How long have you been going to the Sonora skatepark?
The first time I went to the skatepark was back in ‘99. I skateboarded back then. Got a DK Six Pack as an 8th grade graduation present. Been riding there for the last 15+ years.
With 15 years under your belt there what do you love and hate about the park?
Man honestly I love so much about that park. Everything is so different. After all these years of riding it I still find some new gap that can be done or some little jib that that I could have fun on for hours. It's just a goofy little park in the hills. It definitely has its own unique style. I wouldn't trade it for any other park. Haha
Yeah it's definitely got a lot going for it, flowly snakerun and that weird tranny wall berm in the back that you were shredding. How long do you think the parks been around?
I'm not sure but I think it was built in ‘96 or ‘97
In your eyes, when was sonora's BMX scene at it's height?
Things were at their peak from ‘04 to ‘10 when we were doing all the Greycloud videos. There was a good group of us that rode everyday, we filmed as much as we could, road tripped every weekend. Eat, sleep, and breathed it. People moved away, bad habits got picked up, same old story the “scene" fell apart. Sonora has seen its group of legends come and go.
What was Greycloud? Did those videos ever make it online?
It was our crew. We made 4 full length videos from our junior year in high school to 2008 or something. Our first video Taylor Brown and I edited with 2 VCRs, the camera, and a CD player for the music! Then I got a computer and switched to DVD. We were doing things before the whole pull a trick and instantly put it on the web but I posted a few sections from Follow Me To Tuolume on the web.
Oh man those videos brought a big ol' smile to my face, makes me want to go back through all the visalia videos we made back in the day. I just saw on the two headed dog video Luke posted a comment calling out a 10 year anniversary video.. thoughts?
Yeah we've talked a little about it. I still have a little gas left in me to film some of the things I want to get in Sonora. And a 160g. hard drive full of old footy. It might happen in the near future.
What was that trail spot you took me to on the side of the hill? Have any of the local kids taken it upon themselves to dig?
We had big dreams for that spot. There was a lot of potential there but it turned into a hobo highway and all the youngsters used to go up there and leave trash laying around and just flat out disrespected the spot. We revived them a couple times but they recently got leveled.
Has anyone done a fence hop out of the Skatepark?
I tried once. There's a couple different gaps out of the park. I tried the smaller of the two and made it out lucky. Supposedly there's tale of the Solid dudes coming through in the early days that did the big one. That one is nuts. I asked Aaron Huff once and he confirmed it but he couldn't remember who did it. Don't get me wrong the smaller hop out is no cake walk. I tried going out off that little wave thing in the back corner.
That's another thing I love about our park. Nothing is easy. You gotta earn it!
Rad! Well it was good talking to you Pat, Any last words?
Chris, thanks for giving me the opportunity to do this with you. It's been fun. If you guys ever make it back out this way you're always welcome to stay.
INTERVIEW // LUKE KIDD
Have you guys ever journeyed out into the wilderness with the BMX bikes, in search of natural spots?
I’ve never set out with the BMX bike in search of natural spots, although I’ve come across quite a few rock formations that could have been rideable while out hiking around and explor- ing.
Yeah I remember you telling me about that fountain spot with the rock formation. Any memorable spots around the area?
-Big hill lumbermill full pipes.
-Don Pedro spillway- called the birdshit banks.
-Obviously the few pools we got to ride throughout the years. -High school pool banks.
What’s your most memorable time on a BMX?
Back in 2004 or 2005 we heard of an empty pool up on Table Mountain. So we loaded up my old four runner and put our three BMX bikes on the hitch mounted bike rack. We found the house and pulled down the long drive way only to be met with a yard full of cars and a group of people outside. We thought we were going to get shut down before we even could get started, but this lady walks up and asks if we were there for the open house, the house was for sale and empty. Naturally I answer yes, why wouldn’t three teenage boys be there for an open house? So we go with the group and get the whole house tour, empty pool in the back included. So roughly an hour later everyone leaves and I pull my Toyota around the side of the house right next to the pool. We used a shovel and broom scoped out in the garage during the tour and quickly clean up the bottom. Blasting tunes from the truck radio we rode that pool for a good couple a hours. Did an ice pick bonk inside the broken light fixture in the deep end that day. Wish we would have had cameras in our pockets like now a days just to have been able to document stuff like that.
Guess we’ll just have to rely on campfire ramblings to carry down the stories aye! Any last words on Sonora?
Up here we have a bunch of deadman spots. We need a tour to roll through with some heavy hitters so I can tour guide them to all the spots we’ve been dreaming of seeing get sent. The enersons, kachinskys, and Chris Childs of the BMX world. Or anyone else that wants to throw their bodies down some stairs, gaps, and rails. Haha