View Full Version : Another Tom and me, story...in hellshole

12-30-2005, 05:21 AM
Another Tom and Me, story. (1957 I think)

Still stationed a NAS Alameda, Tom wanted to go prospecting and was talking it up with me one day. He knew this area in the Sierra Neveda Mts outside of sonora California, a place called Hellshole. Said it had old gold mine shafts and a big stream flowing through on the canyon floor and might be good for panning.

Now this trip was a year before going to Aurora Neveda, and in our rather hasty departure we had not planned our equipment check as well as we should have. Oh well, we had a coleman stove and lantern and some Navy flashlights, and we got our G.I. olive drab sleeping bags from the base gym check-out depote on camping gear, it was free so why not. We used Tom's 2-door 51 ford.

By the time we arrived in Sonora it was around 11:30 at night, he pulled into a gas station he use to work at before joining the Navy. Tanking up the old ford he was talking to the owner he used to work for. "Where are you boys going to tonight" he nervously eyeballed the camping gear in the back seat. Tom said, down into Hellshole Canyon.

"Cripes, Tom. There's a 37 man possey out looking for two young guys that broke out of jail, about your age. They tied up the deputy and took some guns, and I think they are looking for them in the area you are going into tonight."

Needless to say this brought on an ernest discussion between Tom and me. Do we really want to get in the middle of something like this. What if the locals are a trigger happy bunch and open up on us as we travel those back roads to the top of the canyon. Or, what if we run into the jail birds and they want to shoot it out.

Tom decided he wasn't driving a couple of hundred miles to turn tail and head back to Alameda, so we told the gas station owner if he can get ahold of the sheriff tell him and his damn possey to watch out for us and don't get trigger happy.

Ok, Tom is driving through these farm and ranch propertys, we have to stop and open and close several gates to finally arrive at the top of Hellshole canyon. Talk about being nervous in the headlights of that old ford while doing gate duty was really making a wreck out of me mentally. Even though I was packing a holsterd .357 four inch revolver like Patons it didn't give me much comfort.

Tom had this little pipsqueek .32 short revolver I think it was a S&W.

OK, we made it this far and are parked in way away from any roads in a grove of trees above the canyon below, it was really a nice spot as we built a big bon-fire. That was real smart, let the possie know where we are at, or better yet let the two armed jail birds know where we are. But the fire was better than the pitch dark and Tom wore himself out piling up fire wood to feed it half the night.

Finally we are both asleep, But poor Tom is a lite sleeper, he snaps wide awake when he hears a branch being broken when someone stepped on it. It is coming from behind him as he hears the plodding foot falls right behind his sleeping bag which was pulled up over his head... He thinks, damn, its now or never. He sets up abruptly and shove his mighty 32 short revolver right into the nose of an old bossy moo cow...damn near pulled the trigger.

Boy is he pissed, looking over at me snoring he throws a hefty size log over that wakes me up with a start, then tells me what happen.

Well, happy to say we made it through the night without further incident and prepaired to decind to the canyon floor.

The view was spectacular of the canyons in the daytime, but it was about a 3.5 hour trip getting down to the bottom to the fast flowing creek that turned out to be a river when we finally got to the bottom of Hellshole...which is aptly named. Going down was the easy part, climming out was a real bitcheroo.

We had to travel pretty lite with only the essentials to get through an overnight stay, back packs from the base gym and the olive drab sleeping bags, some sandwhich making materials...no cooking down in Hellshole. Decided to leave the lantern in the car and rely on our Navy flashlights at night.

Halfway down that steep ass canyon trail which was really only a well worn deer trail, several of them, we seen this old mine shaft across another side of the canyon to our left. I forgot to mention the gas stattion owner said there was a stock killing bear down in hellshole canyon, probably living in one of them old mine tunnels. Local ranchers were out to nail him but no luck finding him.

If we are lucky enough maybe we won't find him either. Tom, I'm not going into any blinking tunnels unless I've got a bazooka, a .357 magnum would probably just piss him off. Tom nodded his head in agreement.

So, its on to the bottom and riches. Riches my ass, we didn't find zip as usual. And damn near froze our buns off trying to sleep between the boulders and rocks with a freaken Navy sleeping bag that was nothing but a flipping olive drab canvas cover over one lousy army blanket. We sure found out what the guys went through at Bastone in France, they weren't prepaired for the cold either; Must have got down in the late 30s that night.

That was the last time I ever checked anything out from special services at the base gym.

The trip back to the canyon top took a little over 5 hours to make it out of that hellhole. When we got close to the top and laying ontop some big flat boulders we could see over the edge and big heard of deer were coming up the same damn deer path we had come up. They must have smelled us all the way up to that point, looking over the edge we was right above them...man, an easy shot with the ole maggy....but being it was not deer season and I don't think they permited handgun deer hunting back in 1957 with a revolver. I didn't have a license anyway.

We headed straight back home, didn't even stop to find out about the two jailbirds if they got caught or not.

To hell with hellshole, last time I ever went there.


12-30-2005, 05:43 AM
Great experiance Jim ! I'm glad you shared that with us ! I can relate to the not wanting to cross with a bear who could /could not of been living in there ![smilie=1: I "Borrowed " a Jungle hamock oncefrom Our Qstore when I was in the service (not realising they had been in mothballs since about 1945 ! Strung it up between two trees (I was the envey of my mates ) Then my self into it & went straight through the bottom it was so rotton !I must admit that it was only my pride that was hurt ! I did consider sending a strongly worded letter to the Minister of Defence ! But chose to quietly return it from where it had come !


12-30-2005, 06:09 PM
Neat story Jim