Ken Hower and the Rubicon Trail Foundation is all about education, that’s their mission. As a 501(c)(3) Education foundation, RTF hopes to educate all to enhance the future health of the Rubicon Trail. There’s a lot going on right now with the Trail, listen in so you can stay informed, it really is fascinating stuff! Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast app – subscribe so you don’t miss anything, a new episode drops every Thursday morning, early!
5:30 – he was all kinds of notorious
13:06 – so, playing in a band, how long was your hair?
28:22 – “There are people who wonder what the F* happened, there are people that make Sh*t happen, and there are people that watch it happen.”
37:20 – not that people were mistreating (the trail) intentionally, it was just not knowing
46:34 – it was the community that extracted them, just as it should be
47:31 – **be sure to listen** the history of the law regarding the Rubicon trail starts here
1:17:35 – read the mission statement
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Welcome to conversations with Big Rich. This is an interview style podcast. Those interviews are all involved in the offroad industry. Being involved, like all of my guests are, is a lifestyle, not just a job. I talk to competitive teams, racers, rock crawlers, business owners, employees, media and private park owners, men and women who have found their way into this exciting and addictive lifestyle. We discuss their personal history, struggles, successes, and reboots. We dive into what drives them to stay active and offroad. We all hope to shed some light on how to find a path into this world we live and love and call off road.
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[00:01:47.240] - Big Rich Klein
on today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Ken Howard. Ken is an offroader, a musician, current president of RTF, which is Rubicon Trail Foundation. And this is the one I need to ask about. He is a field readiness architect, and so I'm not sure what that entails, but we're going to find out. Ken, thank you so much for coming on board and spending some time with us.
[00:02:16.020] - Ken Hower
Thanks, Rich, for having me on here. I really appreciate it. I listened to your podcast, so this is going to be strange hearing my own voice.
[00:02:23.700] - Big Rich Klein
Everybody says that I got to listen to mine over and over every time I record, then edit.
[00:02:31.120] - Ken Hower
Yeah, you poor dude.
[00:02:33.280] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I hate listening to my own voice. Okay, well, anyway, let's get started and let's find out where you were born and raised.
[00:02:42.760] - Ken Hower
Yeah, so nowhere near the Rubicon, but still in California. So I was born and raised in Burlingame, California, which is not on the peninsula between about halfway between San Francisco and San Jose. It's a very expensive suburb, bedroom community of Silicon Valley and San Francisco. So people who live in both, like, in the school district, so it's a very expensive place to live. Hillsborough is right next to it. But my dad and my family are I'm the fourth generation that was born and raised. My dad was born in a house on Peninsula Avenue in Burlingame, and my grandmother's house is a historical landmark on Burlingame Avenue. Oh, wow. Yeah. So my family has a lot of history. My grandmother, believe it or not, was the first Miss Burlingame in 1935.
[00:03:38.920] - Big Rich Klein
Wow. First Miss Burlingame.
[00:03:41.250] - Ken Hower
[00:03:41.900] - Big Rich Klein
So I have to ask a question. Were you born at Peninsula Hospital?
[00:03:46.860] - Ken Hower
I was born at Mills.
[00:03:48.210] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, at Mills.
[00:03:48.870] - Ken Hower
[00:03:49.230] - Big Rich Klein
I was born at Peninsula.
[00:03:51.180] - Ken Hower
Oh, wow. Okay. All right. We had no idea.
[00:03:53.630] - Big Rich Klein
We were yeah, I grew up in San Bruno.
[00:03:56.650] - Ken Hower
Okay. Yeah. Little toddlers. Run around where you can have it.
[00:04:00.770] - Big Rich Klein
Yes. Went to Cappuccino and cruised the L just like everybody else did. Shut it down.
[00:04:08.260] - Ken Hower
Yes. Cruising the L Camino. That's so funny. We just dated ourselves. Hardcore right there.
[00:04:14.090] - Big Rich Klein
[00:04:16.340] - Ken Hower
I graduated from Burlingame High School. My dad graduated from Burlingame High School. In fact, the vice principal of Burlingame High, when I went there in the 70s asked me if I was related to Ken Hower. I said, yeah, it's my dad. And he went, Vic shoot, I can't remember Mancini as his name.
[00:04:45.040] - Big Rich Klein
That's funny, because my dad went to San Mateo High.
[00:04:49.120] - Ken Hower
[00:04:51.600] - Big Rich Klein
They started cap. Everybody was you had to start as a freshman. They worked their way up. And so he went to San Mateo instead of cap. They would have started a full four year he would have ended up going there. My principal l that's the one was one of his counselors in high school. And my dad was well, he was American Graffiti millionaire that drove the yellow, the TCOP. That's what he was like, that he might have been in the principal's office a few times.
[00:05:30.880] - Ken Hower
Yeah, I suspect that my dad was, because my family owned an auto repair shop, so that now we're starting to get into the automotive portion. They owned an auto repair shop that everybody knew about. Burling game. It was called Hower Auto Repair, and it was started by my uncle, my great uncle, my dad's uncle. And that's where my dad started working. When out of out of school, he started working there. And of course, I worked there when I was a little kid, sweeping up, grab, stain, oil spill, stuff like that, break jobs. But he was kind of notorious for driving around town with cars with just the frame and stuff, and the cops would chase them around town in it. So, yeah, I think there was a little rebellion in the older generation from the Hower family. There were five boys in the family, so they were pretty notorious around town, I would imagine.
[00:06:25.030] - Big Rich Klein
So how were you as a student?
[00:06:27.680] - Ken Hower
Me? I was an excellent student. I'm not too my own horn. School was very easy for me. I breezed right through it. I didn't cause any trouble. I was a really good kid. It was the 70s, so there was a lot of drugs in my school because it's kind of a wealthy school. Nate Crosby went to my school. Bing Crosby's kid, went to my school.
[00:06:51.290] - Big Rich Klein
[00:06:52.130] - Ken Hower
Yes, Nathaniel. And his older sister, who shot jr. Ewing. She went there, but I think she graduated the year before I went there, so I didn't actually see her or meet her. So, yeah, there was a lot of wealth there, and you had to navigate and learn who you are going to be your friends with and what you're going to do, because it was pretty much anything that you wanted to get, somebody had it. It was just an interesting thing growing up, but for the most part, all good kids. It was a good school. It's still a good school, but yeah, a lot of welfare.
[00:07:29.400] - Big Rich Klein
So is that when you picked up the musical instruments?
[00:07:33.540] - Ken Hower
Yeah, high school, I had a band. I started playing guitar. My friend Jeff Cohen and I bought our guitar at the music store on Burlingame Avenue the same day. And Jeff, anybody who's a musician will know Pro Tools, and Jeff is one of the project managers. The company has changed names a couple of times, so I don't remember what it is now, but he worked on Pro Tools and so did my other friend Chris, who was older. He played keyboards. He also worked on Pro Tools. So any musician will know what that is. It's recording software for recording music.
[00:08:10.560] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. And then did you play any sports at that time, or was it all abandoned in clubs?
[00:08:19.700] - Ken Hower
My first year of high school, I did the swim team, and then there was a gas crisis around that time. The pool, they wouldn't heat it or was heated. Very minimally natural gas. And so it was cold. And I ended up getting pneumonia my freshman year and then my sophomore year. So that ended my swim team career, was getting pneumonia. And that's where I actually got into computers, which is part of my job description. So we can get that when you're ready. My sophomore year is when I started playing guitar. And then my junior year, my friends got together and we had a band. It was called Rave was the name of the band. First it was Orion, then it was Rave. And we used to play things like Wang Tang Sweet Puntang by Ted Nugent, cat Scratch Fever, and Surrender by Cheap Trick. That was pretty much the first record that I learned how to play guitar. Guitar to was a Cheap trick. Live at Budacon was my guitar. Yeah, that was the album that I learned how to play to. And yeah, we played high schools. We played Mills High School. I'm pretty sure we played Cappuccino, too.
[00:09:31.500] - Ken Hower
We played a lot of the high school, like, at lunchtime.
[00:09:34.150] - Big Rich Klein
[00:09:35.900] - Ken Hower
Yeah. So that's when I started getting into the music thing. And that's when athletics, even though I was really good at baseball, that's when they kind of weighed. I was too small for football, even though I was asked. I was five foot three when I got my driver's license. And you've seen me, so you know what I'm not at all anymore. Yeah, I was five foot 3, 105 when I got my driver's license. So football was definitely not in my cards. So I think that's where I gravitated more towards the music side. That's where that happens.
[00:10:08.830] - Big Rich Klein
Understood, understood. So then what was the first vehicle that you got to drive? Not necessarily that you drove with a license, but.
[00:10:23.900] - Ken Hower
My mom had a 1963 Mercury and that was the car that I learned how to drive in. It had the wings in the back and stuff. She still had that, so I drove that around. By then my mom had my dad by that point was working at a Buick dealership in Burlingame, joe Putnam. So if you're bringing your wife, bring your pink slip, bring your checkbook down to Joe Putnam's. Yeah. So that's where my dad worked. By then, my dad and my uncle had a work falling out, so that's where they separated at that point. So I learned how to drive in that car with the wings and everything. It had the fancy headlights, the dual headlights in the front, the old school with a button on the floor, the really way to do high beams.
[00:11:16.440] - Big Rich Klein
Right. It's kind of a big boat.
[00:11:20.880] - Ken Hower
Yeah. Now, by the time that time, my dad did not have any four wheel drive rigs. But when I was born, my dad had a 19 I think it was a 51, 52 CJ, three A, not a tall hood. And he put a V Eight in it in 1959, way before anybody else was put V Eight in a flat fender.
[00:11:42.490] - Big Rich Klein
[00:11:44.580] - Ken Hower
But I never got to drive that because he sold it when my brother was born. And I was around five when he sold that.
[00:11:52.200] - Big Rich Klein
So are you the oldest?
[00:11:54.600] - Ken Hower
I am the oldest. I have a brother who's five years young, four and a half five years younger than I am. He lives in Redding. He is a big time fisherman. So he does the fishing report for Lake Shasta on the radio and the news and people subscribe to his stuff. And he fishes like a lot and he knows it like inside, outside, upside down. My dad was a fisherman and a hunter, and I duck hunted up until I was probably discovered girl sophomore time in high school and also started playing guitar. And that's when I kind of stepped away from duck hunting and hunting and all that stuff. But my brother kept going and they've had duck clubs. My brother just probably stopped duck hunting regularly, like maybe two or three years ago. But he fishes a lot. He's got a boat and a slip on Shasta, so he's in Reading and he was a hardwood floor person. So he was the guy who took apart my train set. And I was the one who was upset that he took disassembled my train set. So that was our childhood.
[00:13:06.160] - Big Rich Klein
So playing in a band, how long was your hair?
[00:13:15.060] - Ken Hower
That's an awesome question. So my dad is a badass. My dad was old school, where the cars were on jack stands and he did transmissions. And just to give your viewers who are many Saturdays and Sundays, I would go down to the shop and race around the shop on a creeper and he would put the transmission on his chest and then he would benchpress it up and put it into the car. This is before lifts and transmission jacks and all that stuff. This is, you know, early sixty s. And so my dad had guns. Well, I started growing my hair out immediately. And my mom would protect me and she would say, Ken. My dad's name is also Ken. She would say, Ken, he gets good grades, he doesn't get in trouble. He just likes to have long hair. And my dad hated it. My first record that I ever bought was Kiss Alive. And Kiss was the evil incarnate in itself. And not that my dad was religious by any stretch of imagination, but he hated piss.
[00:14:19.720] - Big Rich Klein
I have a lot in common with your dad that way.
[00:14:26.680] - Ken Hower
We can talk about any of this stuff later. But in fact, he's at my house right now. I'm really good friends with Scott Travis, the drummer for Judas Priest. He's here at my house right now.
[00:14:35.410] - Big Rich Klein
[00:14:37.260] - Ken Hower
So I took my dad down to the Helen Amphitheater where they had the US Festival. It was the US festival, but I took my dad down there because Black Sabbath and Judas Priests were on a double bill together along with motorhead. And I was taking my dad to the California Speedway to a NASCAR race, and Jews priests happened to be playing the night before. So I took my dad and I got to take him backstage and meet everything. And my mom said that he hammered on about that Go being there and how awesome it was for like three months. He wouldn't stop talking about it.
[00:15:13.530] - Big Rich Klein
[00:15:13.990] - Ken Hower
And while we were driving down, shouted out loud by Kiss, came on the radio. And I said, hey, dad, do you know who this is? And he goes, Nah. And I said, this is kiss. And he's like, okay. He didn't understand where I was going. And I turned it on. Liquid metal on XM Radio. And it just happened to be I call him Cookie Monster. Vocals roll, roll.
[00:15:35.040] - Big Rich Klein
[00:15:35.470] - Ken Hower
And I said, dad, this is what I have to deal with as a parent, and this is what you had to deal with, the parents. And my dad's old school. He's not going to say I'm sorry, I know he loves me, but he's not going to say any of those things. He looked at me and he just gave me a smirk with his handlebar mustache with the wax on it out to the tips and just looked at me and gave me the smirk like the Robert Redford meme that everybody's seen where he just nods really quietly from Jeremiah Johnson. That was my dad's acknowledgement that kiss wasn't as bad as he always thought it was.
[00:16:14.140] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, that's funny stuff. That's good.
[00:16:16.540] - Ken Hower
Yeah. So, yes, I had hair. And one night at dinner, things that you don't ever forget. We were at dinner in the middle of dinner. My grandparents are there. My mom's parents are there. Also a Jeep or, by the way, had a flat fender and a Bronco sitting at the table. My dad goes, when are you going to cut that hair? Right in the middle of a Sunday dinner? And my mom once again defended me. My mom passed last year, so, bless her heart, she defended me. And my dad got furious. And the next thing I know, I'm holding his shirt. He's holding my shirt, and we both have our right arms cocked. And I looked at his arm, and I looked down at my little scrawny little arm, you know, five foot, 3105. And I let go of his shirt. He let go of mine. And, yeah, it was a very tense moment, my long hair.
[00:17:06.630] - Big Rich Klein
So then the four wheel drive started. Win for you.
[00:17:14.560] - Ken Hower
I said earlier, my dad had a flat fender. My dad did go on the Jeepers Jamboree. He actually took my Uncle Ernie, which a lot of wheelers in the area will remember. My uncle from the 80s, he had a 44 flat fender that was silver, and it had pinstriping all over, and he had chrome tie rods and chrome dip covers, which is pretty unusual for that time frame. And it said Hill Silver on the hood, and his license plate said one bad 44. And he was on the Sierra track, jeep or Shamboree. So my dad took him when he was a teenager in the late 1950s, took him on the cheaper Chamber E. And that was kind of the extent of my wheeling. We didn't really go that much when I was growing up, but my grandfather, he kept going. He sold his flat fender and he bought a 1969 Bronco and he ended up in four wheel drive magazine on the Jeep of Shambury going through V rock the Vnotch at Big Sluice. Back then when you had to go through it, and Jeeps could straddle it, but Broncos had to go on their side to kind of go through it because they were a lot wider.
[00:18:27.480] - Ken Hower
And so he ended up in the magazine with that. And when I turned 18, so I was 17, I graduated from high school. My cousin that summer took me 1979, it was like June or July. He took me in his Bronco. My cousin had built a Bronco, and it was fully capable Detroit lockers at the time. And he took me through the Rubicon for the very first time. We went through together. We stayed at Rubicon Springs. And then that summer, later that summer in July, end of july. My uncle in his hill, Silver took me on the Jeep of Jamboree for my first Jeep of jamboree when I was 17, just turned 18 because my birthday is July 29. So it just depends on where the jamboree falls, whether it's my birthday weekend or not.
[00:19:18.330] - Big Rich Klein
[00:19:19.640] - Ken Hower
So, yeah, so that's where I really started getting hooked. And I was going all the time with my cousin in his Bronco and his friend Neil, who also has a flattener now we would go weekend. And so I was the young guy because my cousin is four years older than I am and so he would take me. And the rule was you're going to eat whatever we eat and you're going to help pull your weight cleaning up and stuff around camp. But I just wanted to go drink beer. I would say anything to go wheeling and hanging out with them for the weekend because they could buy beer.
[00:19:55.920] - Big Rich Klein
[00:19:57.300] - Ken Hower
Yeah. So I did a lot of wheeling there and then. Actually we were there one time for a whole week and the high lows were over a dirty dozen. We were at the camp where the shower is kind of down. I think you have to kind of double back to go to it now because you go on the high road through the springs there now. Right. We were there and we went over to go see the HILOs with my cousin. I still don't own a Jeep at this point, but I'm really into it. And we go to visit the HILOs and my cousin comes through the bushes, which you can't do anymore. You can't go that way. And he cuts it too close to the little jump cliff there and sinks his Bronco water over hood done.
[00:20:41.530] - Big Rich Klein
[00:20:41.990] - Ken Hower
And all the HILOs are laughing hysterically. And I'm in the Jeep behind him and my camera is in the center console and it's my 35 millimeter camera. She gone.
[00:20:56.500] - Big Rich Klein
[00:20:56.970] - Ken Hower
And the HILOs pulled winch my cousin out. He's literally got a floating garage sale of empty beer cans and toilet paper. And these kids are in little rubber rafts. They're collecting all of his stuff and they pull it out. And Sal Sunzeri, who now here's your full circle story. Sal Sunzeri gets underneath and does the drain plug and they drain the oil. Water comes out of the engine. It's all water, then oil. Sal drains it. And then Sal and I now he's on the RTF board. Sal and I are talking and we realize that he's the one that drained my cousin's oil that day 42 years earlier.
[00:21:36.910] - Big Rich Klein
[00:21:38.100] - Ken Hower
Yeah. And so this year on the Jeep for Chamber and my cousin and I met, we went to the garage where Sal volunteers and they got to meet and hug for the first time in 42 years because it was 1980 when that happened. So it was a really neat moment. But yeah, I was hooked draining oil come on. I had spark plugs on a rock, trying to drive the spark plugs out. We got it working. My cousin's Pioneer super tuner cassette player still worked. I was in heaven. I was in heaven.
[00:22:17.130] - Big Rich Klein
That's awesome. That's awesome. So let's talk about field readiness. Architect.
[00:22:25.700] - Ken Hower
Yeah, so I worked for DHL as a supervisor loading the airplanes at SFO. And I got a little lead up to it. I got a job posting for a compensation analyst doing compensation analysis on Excel. And I had really learned Excel, like, really good at a very high level. And so I applied, I got it. And when I got there, I saw that DHL used PeopleSoft. And I didn't know what it was. I didn't know anything about it. And I had a really great manager. His name is Chris Mahar. And I had only had this job for, gosh, maybe a month or two. And I walked into his office and I said, look, I really love my job. I love what I'm doing. But this PeopleSoft thing, it's in your department. So if you ever have an opening over there, I really want to go over there. And so I did. I ended up being the Hrs manager for DHL running PeopleSoft. They moved to Florida. I didn't want to go. I got a job as a consultant at PeopleSoft. So I did that for nine years. And then the founder of PeopleSoft created a company called Workday.
[00:23:37.810] - Ken Hower
So more than half of the Fortune 500 companies use Workday, HR and Financials. And so I became a consultant there. I switched. And now Field Radius Architect is the group of people that help. They're the experts of the software that help the consultants that implement it. So when they're there implementing and they have a question that they don't know or don't know how something works, they come to us. And I support the mobile app. Our mobile app is quite popular, so I support that. So I become an expert in mobile apps, believe it or not. So, quite a journey, honestly.
[00:24:14.660] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. Okay. That stuff is all like speaking Arabic or reading Arabic to me. I barely can get my phone open.
[00:24:27.580] - Ken Hower
You were puzzled by another phone call.
[00:24:30.540] - Big Rich Klein
Exactly. There was too many options, and I didn't know what I would end up doing.
[00:24:35.260] - Ken Hower
[00:24:37.180] - Big Rich Klein
I remember when I first got a computer, which was 2001, we had started cow rocks, and everybody told me, you're going to need a computer. So I got a computer, and I was just struggling with a bunch of things, and I was typing a bunch of things out, and my son looks at me and goes, why don't you just cut and paste all that? And I'm like, what? And he goes, yeah, just do this, this and this, and then move it over. And I'm like, wow, that's the greatest thing ever.
[00:25:16.620] - Ken Hower
[00:25:18.080] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. So 2001, I learned how to cut and paste.
[00:25:23.180] - Ken Hower
Yeah, that's funny. 1992, I didn't know how to get my resume off a floppy disk. So all you old timers will know a floppy disk. And now I work for one of the largest software companies in the world. This is kind of a mind blow.
[00:25:38.960] - Big Rich Klein
That's awesome. So let's dive into the Rubicon Trail. And we know that you started doing that in 79. In the early years. My first trip was in 82, end of 82.
[00:25:56.840] - Ken Hower
[00:25:57.880] - Big Rich Klein
But you fell in love with the whole idea of wheeling and stuff. And how did you continue on and get involved with the trail itself?
[00:26:09.640] - Ken Hower
That's another great question. And just so anybody listening, we didn't, like, prep these in advance. He's coming up with amazing relevant questions all on his own. So I just want to give you props.
[00:26:21.200] - Big Rich Klein
That's good, because the other day at the Board of Supervisors meeting, I was like I was so mad, I just couldn't even speak what I wanted to say or anything.
[00:26:31.920] - Ken Hower
It's very difficult. Yeah. And actually, you asked that question, and we can get into that later. But you didn't get an answer on that ever in that they talked around it, but they never answered your question.
[00:26:42.520] - Big Rich Klein
No, they were afraid to. Anyway.
[00:26:44.370] - Ken Hower
[00:26:44.850] - Big Rich Klein
So let's talk about the trail and how you got involved.
[00:26:50.040] - Ken Hower
1982, I'm really into this. I love it. I tell my dad I want to buy a flat fender. And he just laughed. He said, you know, you're going to have to wrench on this. And I was like, yeah. So we looked at a bunch of flat fenders and Auto Trader, and I ended up buying it. And in 1986, I threw a rod in the original Lhead, and I put a V Six and Buick Sagin off four speed power steering, all that, the traditional super built 80s rig. And I started going and then I don't know the exact year, but it was probably around 1985 or so. Anybody probably knows better than I, but we were actually at the Springs when we started having a conversation around the fire that we had heard that somebody bought the Rubicon Springs and there was no Internet, none of that stuff. Right? I don't know how we even found out about it, but we were all like, they're going to put up a gate. This is going to be somebody's private property. This is bull. We were the typical conversation around the fire. And as I started getting more into the Rubicon, I started remembering back to that moment.
[00:28:05.890] - Ken Hower
And I heard the saying from Phil Harris, from Deadliest Catch, but it was really my motto, but I never really heard it articulated fully. He said, There are people that wonder what the f happened. There's people that and I don't know if you swear or not.
[00:28:21.290] - Big Rich Klein
It's fine. You can swear on here.
[00:28:22.920] - Ken Hower
Okay. He said, There are people that wonder what the fuck just happened? There are people that make shit happen. And then there's people that watch it happen, and he goes, I never want to be what the fuck just happened? As you are aware, whenever we want to get into it, you you started the Rubicon Trail Patrol. And I had just gotten a divorce in 2005. And in 2004, I went to one of your first meetings at Roundtable Pizza, I believe, in Placerville, where we had it. And you trained people on how to do Rubicon Trail patrol. And I heard about our FOTR, and I knew about the Shovel Brigade the year before or two years before, I guess it was like four years before 2001. But that really wasn't my thing at the time. But when I heard about the Rubicon Trail Patrol, I thought that was a really good way for me to ride around on the Rubicon and pick up trash. And that was kind of like what I did, and just go up and down the trail, talk to people and hang out and not really enforcing anything, but just educating people, which really was what became the mid trail staff, which we can talk about that later, right?
[00:29:35.340] - Ken Hower
So that's how I got involved with the Rubicon, because I didn't want to be in the I don't know what. Now, of course, the person that bought that was Mark Smith. I didn't know that, and I didn't know what Mark Smith's journey was about or why he bought it. But of course, he always said if they ever closed the room contrail, I'll make sure 3000 of my closest friends have a key. I didn't know that at the time, but that's what kind of got my direction towards making sure that we could save the Rubicon Trail. So that's really where that started. Was that okay?
[00:30:11.400] - Big Rich Klein
That makes total sense. So then you got involved with trail patrol and then took it over from.
[00:30:20.480] - Ken Hower
You when you got We Rock Going.
[00:30:21.930] - Big Rich Klein
Right. When I started that, it was a little different type of education.
[00:30:32.160] - Ken Hower
I'm trying to be kind, but it was a different time. It was a totally different time.
[00:30:37.350] - Big Rich Klein
There was still the dumb asses out there. It was just fewer of them. Everybody started to see the light that if we continued to use it as a war zone, you might say, for partying, that we were going to lose. Too many people were using it. The Internet happened?
[00:31:00.920] - Ken Hower
Yeah, the Internet happened.
[00:31:02.430] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, the Internet happened. I was just talking to a friend about it the other day when we went snow wheeling, and it was, you know, he he claimed it was the Internet, you know, killed the the radio or the whatever, you know, the MTV thing. But I told him, I said, you know, I thought it was they when they closed Bassett Falls. Yeah, because everybody then that had a $500 Toyota pickup truck and welded dips would go into the little sluice, and that's where everything started to go bad. But there's different opinions. And when it happened, yeah.
[00:31:50.280] - Ken Hower
For people that are listening and want to know about us old timers, that you did not go. You did not go. And back then, before the early 80s, when Mark Smith kind of perfected the Loon Lake entrance, you went in at Wentworth Springs Road. That was the way that you went in. And you didn't go to Little Fluce and turn around and come back. It was a journey. You started on the western side, and you crossed over and you camped at Rubicon Springs, most likely Buck Island Lake really wasn't a thing. You stopped there, maybe took a swim, but you left and you went to Rubicon Springs, and then you continued on out on Sunday, and that was your journey. You didn't go back and forth like a lot of people I tell I do it. It was really a different experience. And nobody trailered their rig. I mean, maybe one guy that lived in Tahoe trailer his rig to the staging area and did it that way, but super rare for a trailer rig. Everybody drove their Jeep to get there, and it was a journey. But that's when it started to change, like in the late 90s, early 2000s, was that back and forth, the Spider Lakes little sluice box kind of thing, and got overcrowded and overused, and eventually it was condemned by the Forest Service button four for human feces.
[00:33:13.480] - Ken Hower
And really, I think people started to realize how serious the problem was around that time frame.
[00:33:20.640] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And they tried to claim that it was damaging the drinking water or the water supply. And I can remember getting hold of Tim Webster disco and saying, hey, Tim, you're doing the water quality checks, right? And he goes, yeah. And I said, we need to test all the waters around the Rubicon for a base right now. And he already had that at the reservoirs that he was doing, but he went up and did checks at other places so that we had a water quality standard that we could use if we needed it. Well, we ended up not having to use it, but we did jump on that. And a lot of people besides Webster and I, I don't know if there's anybody else that even realized that RTF did as well.
[00:34:16.050] - Ken Hower
Scott Johnson, I believe, was one of the ones that did that. The Rubcon Foundation paid like, $5,000. So in order to do a correct illegal fecal and oil in water, you have a certain time frame that you have to get it to there. And they use the Jeep's jamboree helicopter, which we knew our enemies RMK rich, Monty and Karen would not be able to use the helicopter and they flew it to the RTF, paid for jeep for chamber, volunteered the helicopter. They flew the water from Ellis and other local Buck Island, I believe they flew it to the dam, and then they hauled off to Cameron Park, I believe it was, where the lab was that tested it, and that was big. You obviously remember the water quality board hearings back in, I believe, nine, they already had that water quality. That new ellis Creek had more sediment above Ellis Creek than it did below. So Mother Nature had more pebbles, as they say. It was a pebble count water test, they call it. We were really on to that stuff, like really early on, like you said, with testing the water yet. And Tim, obviously with the water, he was great being able to do that back in the day.
[00:35:35.920] - Big Rich Klein
Right? So when Dell started Friends of the Rubicon and kind of got everybody organized with the shovels and going out and doing the things to keep the trail open and all the cleanups involved and all the clubs that did that with, like, the pirate cleanup and stuff, when did when was the first time you got involved with any of that? Was it that after the trail patrol?
[00:36:06.200] - Ken Hower
It was with trail patrol. And so what I would do if you were on any of those FOTR or when they built the TLC bridge, I would go. Those days, whenever there was an FOTR project on the trail, I would go that day and I would be on my ATV with my trail patrol sign and I would usually have a couple of friends and we would bring trash bags and we would just pick up random trash and things that water bottles that were spell out, usually on accident. That's what we would do that day while those kinds of work projects were going on. And we would do that. And I know people, the trail is in such a great condition now. My first time going through on trail patrol, I had a black trash bag and I filled that thing a quarter of the way between the Kiosk and Spider Lake with trash. There is no way you could do that these days. Everybody is so much more conscientious with trash bags and spill kits and all that stuff from the county and RTF both donate those things for free. But yeah, the difference between now and back then is just literally night and day in terms of cleanliness of the trail and how people treat it.
[00:37:20.820] - Ken Hower
Not that people were mistreating it intentionally. It was just not knowing that what they were doing would eventually, for sure, get it closed 100%.
[00:37:31.530] - Big Rich Klein
Right. I get a chance to wheel all across the United States, especially Central and East Coast. There's a lot of parks, right? There are parks out there, and I'm not going to name them, but the people that when they hear my description will know which parks they might be because they've been to them, that the people don't care. Since it's private property, it's like, oh, I'm done with my beer or water bottle or whatever sandwich wrapper. And instead of thrown keeping it in their vehicle or trash bagging it, it just gets thrown out of the vehicle.
[00:38:17.540] - Ken Hower
[00:38:22.840] - Big Rich Klein
It really does amaze me. Back then in oh, God, six, seven went to a park and which has now been taken over by the county, and it's no longer private property. They did an enemy domain thing and cleaned it up, but we were going to put an event on there, and there were so many beer cans, the homeless could have been fed for a week if they had just picked up the beer cans and it was on their private property. And I was absolutely flabbergasted. I couldn't believe that people would just throw their shit out the window. And I crunched up a beer can, put it on the floorboard, and the guy goes, don't leave that in my truck. Throw it out. And I'm like, we're not near a trash can. It just blew my mind.
[00:39:19.320] - Ken Hower
Yeah. And that's what's been awesome to see, is that mind shift of the people on the Rubicon Trail over the years, just through an effort of a lot of people. No one portion, one organization, just a collaborative effort from everybody to change that mindset. And now the trail is just absolutely gorgeous. But if you told somebody in 2004 or five when they condemn little slew spider lakes, that £700 of human feces was removed from that area by the volunteers that went to go clean it up, including Jack Sweeney, who was there that day, they thought now they would be like, what? They wouldn't be able to even comprehend that was a thing. But it was, right? Yeah.
[00:40:06.420] - Big Rich Klein
The little white flowers is what we.
[00:40:08.280] - Ken Hower
Call little white flowers. Yes, little white flowers. So when did you toilet paper for those that people don't know, that may not know? We're familiar with that term here.
[00:40:18.250] - Big Rich Klein
Right. So you got involved with RTF. When did you get involved with RTF?
[00:40:28.940] - Ken Hower
So John Arns was the one who initially not recruited me, but said, hey, we have an open board seat. Are you interested? And the first thing out of my mouth was no. At that point in time, I had no interest in the political part of it. I wanted to be the boots on the ground guy, picking up trash, helping on projects. By then I was doing some projects, saw tooth and stuff like that with volunteers from FOTR, and I said no. And 2011, Doug Barr resigned. His seat opened up in the middle of his term. And John asked me again, and once again I said no. And I thought about it, and I kept thinking about it. And it goes back to that. I could wonder what the fuck happened. I could watch stuff happen, or I could make stuff happen. And I said I remembered back to that 1985 discussion where I didn't know what happened. And I thought for sure the Rubicon Trail was going to get a gate on it at the Springs, and it was going to be somebody's rich private playground. And I remembered that and I said, you know what, instead of just like, being involved or not knowing what's going on, I think I'm going to try to make stuff happen now.
[00:42:02.540] - Ken Hower
I felt like I had been around it long enough and talked to a lot of people and been to Rock meetings at that point that I was educated enough where I felt like I could help. And I immediately joined the Political Action committee with Scott Johnston and John Arms. Like the least desirable part of RTF is the political action committee of committees, kind of like finance department, marketing department. So anyway, yeah, I joined that because I just wanted to understand it more. And through that when that happened, when the county in 2012, a year later went for the easement. Even though I was on the RTF board, I had gone to training classes that FOTR had done at the Cal Four office on how to write substantive comments to the Forest Service for Forest Service actions. I e the 2005 travel management plan. I had learned how to write the comments to become an appellate. That means you can file a lawsuit because your comments are in good standing. And so I wrote my own individual comments. So on the wheeling side, I was the only individual person that was in the easement, meetings with the Forest Service, center for Biodiversity and all of those.
[00:43:33.390] - Ken Hower
So that's really where I got my political knowledge, was really through that process. And obviously now it's relevant with what's been going on recently and what's in that easement and why that's important.
[00:43:47.680] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. And you just became president of friends of the group. Not friends. Excuse me. The Rubicon Trail Foundation. This last year, right. 2022.
[00:44:04.580] - Ken Hower
July of 21, I was the vice president, and Chris Cowen stepped down. So I got it. They voted me in, and I'm up for reelection in January. And you are obviously familiar with all the things that are going on there's. Also, the tahoe side is important for other reasons, but I am going to run again in January for continuity. And the board has been asking me if I was going to run. They've been asking me. So I said yes, I'm going to run for a second term, which is pretty rare in RTF. I think there's only three that Dell, Scott, Johnson, and now myself are the only presidents that have ever run twice. I don't know what that says. Either I'm really dumb or they're smart, I don't know.
[00:44:57.200] - Big Rich Klein
So then let's go ahead and dive into what's happening right now. He's. In December, the weather started to come in and hit this weather cyclone, bomb, whatever they want to call it. But prior to that, there was a group of enthusiasts that went up toward Wentworth Springs and ended up getting snowed in.
[00:45:22.860] - Ken Hower
[00:45:23.520] - Big Rich Klein
And then kind of the proverbial shit hit the fan, but the local recovery group, which you can talk about better than I can, went up and helped them get out.
[00:45:38.480] - Ken Hower
Yeah, NorCal, four x four rescue. I believe they have Tyler Larson from Morflat, I think you've interviewed him.
[00:45:47.460] - Big Rich Klein
No, I haven't.
[00:45:48.980] - Ken Hower
Okay. He also has a podcast, so I get them confused when I listen to and who did what. Tyler organized that group that went in there and it was an extraction. People use the word rescue. It was not a rescue, it was an extraction. They needed help because of some water diverted from Gurley Creek, and it created a puddle that was four or five ft deep and it just needed to be cleared out. And that's what that group did and got them out. And I've seen the pictures, you can't even tell where it happened. You can't even tell. And they were extracted. They had food, they had all that stuff. They were not unprepared. I heard there was one person that ran out of cigarettes that was the most concerned.
[00:46:32.760] - Big Rich Klein
[00:46:34.100] - Ken Hower
Yeah. But as far as like life or death, that was never a thing. No agency got them out or anything like that. It was the community, which is the way it really should be, unless it's a life threatening situation. And that's what search and rescue is for, a life threatening situation. But they don't care about your rig. That's and these guys were all like, hey, we're fine, we just need to get past this thing and get our rigs extracted. And so that's really where that came from and that's really what caused this to happen. And then of course, the atmospheric river or whatever they call it, brought concern to the county. And do you want me to get into the whole legal aspect of it? Because I can do that now.
[00:47:16.150] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I think we need to touch on that because there's a lot of speculation online about why the resolution or why Dot did what they did and the resolution that was just passed by the Board of Supervisors. And one of my things is why was Parks and Recreation supposedly has authority, but they pondered off onto Dot, which to me all that.
[00:47:48.080] - Ken Hower
I can explain all that.
[00:47:49.290] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, go ahead, please.
[00:47:51.170] - Ken Hower
Yeah, I can explain all that. So what's really important and special about the Rubicon Trail? It's not a trail. Bob Sweeney, if you're everybody that's wheeled gigantic ambry is familiar with Bob Sweeney. And Bob, if you're listening, I apologize if I get the number of grapes incorrectly, but I believe it's his four great grandfather. So great great grandfather designated the Rubicon Trail as a county road. It's in the newspaper, there's maps about it back there. And I believe it was 1886. And why that's important is because in 19 seven, the US Forest Service was created and there was a law, I believe it's the real name, as the Wilderness Act. And part of that is rs. 2477, which grants the rights to government counties, essentially that owned a road through an area that is now part of the forest service, and it granted them the right to claim that as their road through Forest service property, which basically meant they own the road the forest service doesn't. So we all know the forest service names their road 14 n. 35 or 14 n. Five. That made the Rubicon trail an rs. 2477 route. But in order for that to happen, the county has to assert those rights.
[00:49:28.850] - Ken Hower
And they can assert those rights in two ways they can go to court and they can sue. And there's been counties in Utah and Arizona that have gone to court and asserted their rs. 2477 rights through legal means. Some have won, some have not. And Panama Valley, which everybody, a lot of wheeler should be familiar with, in Southern California, that was a road that was in a similar situation. And the difference between Panama valley and the reason why they lost was because nobody owned the road. So in the case of the Rubicon trail, there are four property owners that physically own the road. And the Rubicon trail foundation bought 316 acres from Mark and Patti Smith specifically to have legal standing so that we could be the legal entity that had the money to do anything. As far as legal action, we had legal standing for that road. And in 2012, Jack Sweeney was a board of supervisor. He wasn't responsible for the remote trail, but obviously he was emotionally invested because of his family's deep and wonderful history with the trail. He went to the US forest service and asserted the county's rs. 2477 rights as an easement through the forest.
[00:50:54.600] - Ken Hower
So that would be El Dorado National Forest. And so I was one of the appellants in there. There were eight. There was Rich Platt, Monty, Hendrix, karen Shaunbach. The center for Biodiversity. Corva. The county Rubicon Trail Foundation and little old Ken Howard. Those were the eight people that had legal standing for this easement. And it was two days of meetings. And through those meetings, the other side, we'll just call them the other side. They wanted seasonal closures like we're familiar with in Eldorado County, where December 1 through April 1, the forest is closed to wheeling in the snow. It's closed, can't do it. Part of that agreement were three conditions. There was water saturation, water depth, and the last one was mechanical action wheeling through the trail. And I wish I had it right next to me because I would read you exactly what they were. But when they were written, they were written as or so this condition, or this condition or this condition. So if any one of those three happened, the county would monitor and close the trail. That's what the law said. And at the last second, I mean, literally, people were around the table shaking hands and congratulating that we've come to an agreement that everybody could live with.
[00:52:28.070] - Ken Hower
Jesse Barton, the RTF lawyer, said, hey, do you mind if I make these ors? Ands instead and everybody said, yeah, sure, no problem. Well, that meant that condition number one and condition number two and condition number three all had to be present in the seven monitoring locations, which was essentially Wentworth Springs Campground, devil's Post Pile, climbing up Ellis Creek, which now has a bridge, soup bowl, winter Camp and Little Sleuth. And Winter Camp was the location that five out of six times in the last ten years, the trail has closed due to those monitoring protocols. So the county is required to go out and monitor the trail, check those conditions, and five times out of six been winter camp. In 2017, they added three or 4ft of rock to raise the road, which was wonderful, and they have not had to close due to those monitoring protocols. But the second part of that is the enforcement, and that is Resolution 015201, floor three. And the fact that I have all these things memorized.
[00:53:41.880] - Big Rich Klein
Now give me that resolution number again.
[00:53:44.480] - Ken Hower
Sure. It's resolution 01320. Excuse me, let me start over. It's Resolution 015-2013, and it's a county resolution that was passed in 2013, and that is the enforcement part of this monitoring protocol easement that was passed for winter access in 2012. And that resolution was written by Ed Nap, who was county counsel for the county at the time. And Ed understood the Rs 2477. So that's where that term comes in again, that the county is not legally allowed to close an Rs. 2477 route. So the county road from 1886 gets pulled from the Dot registry as a county road, and it now gets designated a public road under Rs 2477, it is no longer a county road. That means the county does not have the legal authority to close that road. And I know it's splitting hairs whether you close the access to the road or close the road. But it matters, the law matters. And the law says in the wintertime right now, that the only reason that this trail can be closed are those three conditions, all being met, which have currently not been met, and they close the Wentworth Springs or Ice House Road in the vicinity.
[00:55:10.740] - Ken Hower
If you go read that resolution, it says close the Ice House or Wentworth Springs Road in the vicinity of the Rubicon Trail. They are not allowed to legally close that trail. They can close access to it, but they can't close the trail. And like I said, I know it's splitting hairs, but that's really important for the preservation of those Rs 2477, right? So that the Forest Service is not part of this process, that it's just the county. And we as the public, like you did, could go up and speak about these issues in public meetings as opposed to the way the Forest Service does. They just write a forest order and sign it, and that's it. That's all she wrote. We have the ability to voice our opinion now because of that standing. And Rubicon Trail Foundation is very firm as we don't want those Rs. 2477 rights damaged in any way. And that's why we're fighting for this. It's not the situation that this atmospheric river. If the county had come to the foundation and said, hey, can you help us? Or Jeff, likeoff the new sheriff from previously Dice, he came to us and said, hey, we are stretched to the bone with this emergency.
[00:56:28.480] - Ken Hower
We need a break, we need the trail closed. So they would close like at Wentworth Springs and Ice House Road and put up a Blocket there and closed the trail for a few days. We would have absolutely gone out to our 50,000 social media followers of the Rubicon Trail and said, hey, please stay away, the sheriff swamped, blah, blah, blah. But that's not what they did. They closed it illegally on December 30. The Parks Department did, not the Dot. That's why if the Dot had closed it, we wouldn't have been in that meeting on Tuesday on the 10 January. We wouldn't have been in that meeting for the Dot to retroactively close it. If they had closed it, we wouldn't have been there because they had already done it. They didn't do it. It was the parts that did it and why and the reasons, I don't really care. You can't close the Rubicon Trail on a magic wand, and that's my stance. You can't close it on a magic wand because you feel like it or you think it's a problem. It's not in any of the documents that says that the county has the legal authority to do it, not saying that they shouldn't have it.
[00:57:38.220] - Ken Hower
And maybe we can negotiate and come up with a plan that everybody can live with, and that's actually what we're attempting to do. But it's got to be done correctly and this was not done correctly. That's our stance.
[00:57:50.160] - Big Rich Klein
Right. That's the sitting there in that meeting and listening to Martinez or whatever the guy's name is that runs county Dot for El Dorado County. I don't like the process of the Board of Supervisors, I guess is the big thing.
[00:58:12.500] - Ken Hower
It was a little janky.
[00:58:13.980] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. He got up there and made a comment, said why they wanted to close it, and they were saying safety, safety, safety, safety.
[00:58:25.480] - Ken Hower
It's not in writing. There's nothing in writing that says they could close it for that and you know that exactly.
[00:58:31.670] - Big Rich Klein
And so then they talk about it, then they give a comment period where everybody gets three minutes and then they get to ask, then the Board of Supervisors gets to ask from our comments questions, because obviously we can't ask a question during our three minutes. All we can do is state a purpose. That the reason we're there.
[00:58:57.760] - Ken Hower
Well, you actually did ask a question and anybody is free to go on YouTube and watch Rich walk up to that podium and ask them. So you say you're closing it for public safety. Can you tell me what the standards are or what the criteria is that you close for public safety? And I want everybody to watch that video on YouTube and listen very carefully to the dot not answer that question at all.
[00:59:21.190] - Big Rich Klein
He wouldn't even look at me.
[00:59:23.320] - Ken Hower
His answer should have been, there aren't any, and stop talking. But he went on and on and on, and he clearly did not know anything about Rs. 2477, and the supervisors don't, and that's fair, but that's why they should be asking these type of questions to the people that know the answer. Even their legal counsel didn't even know.
[00:59:42.590] - Big Rich Klein
No. And that was one of my they kept asking legal counsel, well, what about this? What about that? Turnbow seemed to be the only one supervisor Turnbull seemed to be the only one that was on the right page.
[01:00:01.460] - Ken Hower
But it was I want to stop you, Rich, for a second.
[01:00:05.210] - Big Rich Klein
[01:00:05.400] - Ken Hower
And I've already talked to Supervisor Turnbeau on the phone, and he is a wheeler. He's been on the Dirty Dozen Midnight Rubicon. He's a wheeler. I want everybody in El Dorado County that has a chance to vote. That is a wheeler vote. That man in if he runs for reelection. He understands the Rubicon Trail. He understands it. And his constituents are highly represented for the Rubicon Trail through George Turnbull. I just want to get that out there to make sure give them some street cred.
[01:00:40.880] - Big Rich Klein
Absolutely. And like I said, I didn't like the process, because after we did our comments and there was some really I mean, people were really prepared. I wasn't prepared to just I'm sitting back thinking, okay, I'm going to write an article in Four Low Magazine about this, and just so that I have some background. And I've heard it live. And then John Arts got up, started to did his statement, and when he got to the three minutes, he goes, I thought I was going to be able to maybe get five. And they just shut him down on that right away. No. And it was obvious that we couldn't donate our own time to John and let him finish.
[01:01:28.240] - Ken Hower
Yeah, Tom did, I like to donate my minute and a half to John and they denied the request.
[01:01:34.460] - Big Rich Klein
Right. So when I got up after arnz, I asked that question. Okay, why are you saying it's safety? Because that's why it was safe. They listed it in the newspaper and everywhere I read that it was a safety issue. What they came back and said after that, he had a chance the guy from Dot had a chance to then sidestep everybody's questions and throw out a bunch of BS about why and never really answer a question. Oh, well, we could do this and we'd be willing to do this. And he was playing Patti cake and it was pissing me off. I think I got a kink of my neck from shaking my head.
[01:02:23.200] - Ken Hower
I saw somebody in the room throw their arms up on the screen because I was watching it at home on Zoom, and I got the comment on Zoom.
[01:02:29.870] - Big Rich Klein
I think both John and I were sitting on other sides of the aisle, which we have done a lot, but not we were both really kind of demonstrative during the process because it was maddening. We didn't get another chance to ask questions that the Board of Supervisors didn't know the questions to ask. I guess what it should have been is we should have been taking notes and then handed it to Turn Bow and said, here, here's the questions you need to ask him. Yeah, because what he did is he said, well, it's the safety of our monitors, the people monitoring. We can't have them go up there and get hurt. We got to protect the roads, we got to protect our personnel, all this kind of stuff. And I'm thinking, you guys are so full of shit. And they flew the helicopter over, and that's how they made their qualifications or that's where they got their information, is the way I heard it.
[01:03:40.680] - Ken Hower
So, yeah, I'm not aware of that. It wouldn't surprise me. I want to give you the good news that's kind of falling out from that is Laurie Parliament, who is the supervisor for El Dorado County, is the one who's actually responsible for the trail. Obviously. She made another motion to edit or change 015-2013 from 2013. And several of the supervisors spoke highly of they mentioned the Rubicon on Trail Foundation many times as one of the groups to work with. To understand this better, I have already had a meeting with George Turnbow. I have a meeting actually today at 12:00 with one of the other supervisors, and I have another one scheduled for the week of the 23rd. So we are getting in front of them. We definitely want to make if safety is going to be one of the things that they're going to look at in the future, there has to be criteria and we want to make sure that that does exist. That was your question. What's the criteria? Answer there is none. And if that's going to be something that we need to give and take a little bit on, I want to make sure that we all agree that it's something that we all could live with.
[01:05:04.180] - Ken Hower
And I think a reasonable person. And I'm not saying that the conditions were extreme, especially a few days ago, and maybe during all that snow storm where the county had a state of emergency that wasn't a good time, that we should just stay away for a few days. But the way it's written right now, it's kind of open ended. It has no. Real end. It says 60 days or until the conditions change and repairs have been made on the trail. Well, that could be June. I'm not saying that that's what they want to do. I'm saying that's what it says. And I always say words matter. Words matter.
[01:05:40.210] - Big Rich Klein
That's what I was concerned about walking out of there because they said, okay, Dot needs to be back here with a new county resolution over that, work with the user groups and then come up with new wordage, new verbiage in it. And it said it needed to be done by May 30. And right away I'm like, well great, dot is just going to sit on it and say, guess what, guys? You're not using the trail till then, until that agreements, at least until that agreement is read by Board of Supervisors.
[01:06:21.340] - Ken Hower
It's very possible not, it's very possible. It's is. It likely that that's what they want to do or, or plan on doing. We don't know. But that's what it says in the words. And that's the part that concerns the Rubicon Trail Foundation. And that's why we've been raising money all this time, so that we have the ability to go, to do whatever we need to do. And we're going to 100% be nice, work with them, be collaborative, come up with something in writing that everybody can live with. That makes sense and it has actual criteria. We're going to do that. If they don't, or if they pass something that actually tries to close the Rubicon Trail legally and usurping their Rs 2477 rights, the current resolution is against the law. The county is not legally allowed to close the actual physical trail. They're not allowed to. But the resolution they pass, and that's a problem. It's a problem. You're not allowed to break the law or pass a law. And they did that and they don't even know that they did. Well, one did. One supervisor, George He, understood that, but the others, they just didn't know and they didn't get the good answers from their staff, which is unfortunate, and we didn't get a chance, like you said, in the process, to help them with that.
[01:07:34.360] - Ken Hower
But we're going to do that on a one on one basis with each supervisor to make that happen and make them understand why things were done the way they were ten years ago and they weren't there, which is fair, I get it right. So we're going to try to make that, make that happen and come up with something that we can live with.
[01:07:53.770] - Big Rich Klein
Well, as a non member the Rubicon Trail Foundation or Friends of the Rubicon or any other organization that will be involved in this, I can tell you that if they come back and it's closed, I am going to make sure that somehow I get the legal term is injured, but not physically injured.
[01:08:18.670] - Ken Hower
I know exactly what you're talking about.
[01:08:20.820] - Big Rich Klein
I will go up there and sit until somebody gives me a ticket. Yeah, I've positioned myself where I can do that. Now, if Shelley will let me out of the house long enough, I'll go up there and I'll wait for the sheriffs to write me a ticket or Forest Service or whoever. I'm going to sit on the other side of that closure and wait until I'm going to force their hand.
[01:08:46.940] - Ken Hower
For the legal eagles that are out there listening and want to know exactly, kind of like what we're really talking about here. When something happens, like the trail being closed illegally, the community is injured. And if we were to file a lawsuit stating that we were injured the next day, if they lifted that closure, we would no longer be injured and that lawsuit would not be able to continue. However, if Shelley let Rich out of the house and he went up there and got a ticket for it, he would be injured whether the trail was open or not and would be able to take legal action because he was in a continual injured state. So just how I've learned all this stuff really a head scratcher because I was not interested in law at all when I was in college.
[01:09:37.900] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And one of the things that I tried to put across is that I think as society in general, we have too many warning labels. There are signs up there that say that these roads are not maintained, that you travel at your own risk. So there's already warning labels in that area.
[01:10:04.200] - Ken Hower
Yeah. And so, as you may or may not know so Rubicon Trail Foundation is actually a 501 c three educational nonprofit. That's like our true tax exempt status designation. And we have a lot of information about winter wheeling on the thing on our website. But what we've came out about it, we're getting more into video. One of our directors, John Larson, he's got a project working on little small video, educational bid yet, like lockers and just things. Because there's a lot of people that visit the Rubicon Trail from all over the United States and the world that don't have the Wheeling acuum that we do and they don't know. We get those questions all the time. Can my rig on 33s with blah, blah, blah make it through the Rubicon? I would say anything can make it through the Rubcon if you know how to drive. But I know what they're asking. And so we're going to be doing a lot of that. But recently, I believe he's a member. I'm not going to call out his name. I'll wait until the video comes out. But people around here know who he is. He is a Wheeler.
[01:11:06.400] - Ken Hower
He's racing in King of the Hammers, by the way. He's racing in TV class because I've talked to him and he was recently in a literal life and death situation, snow wheeling. And he posted that he made so many mistakes and we're going to come out with a seven part educational series on equipment and things you can do, communication. And we're going to interview this person and we'll learn his name then. I just want to be respectful to him until it actually happens. I'm not calling him out by any anybody can make mistakes, and he admits his mistakes, which is half the battle. But he is not a snowflake tourist that went wheeling and nearly died. He is a Wheeler. He's one of us. And he made some mistakes and nearly died. If it wasn't for his three dogs, he would have died of hypothermia. And so we want to tell his story along with this educational series to get the word out there. I've been a winner Wheeler on the Rubicon for a long time, years. Scott Johnson is one of the famous ones. Tim Green. A famous one. These are all Wheelers. I mean, to the point that when we're out there, we can see tire tracks and pretty much know who it is that's out there.
[01:12:25.450] - Ken Hower
But with the capabilities of rigs and tire dimensions growing and rig capabilities getting greater, more and more people have access to it, and they need that education on how and how they can get in trouble and how it can turn into a life, that life threatening situation and how they can avoid it.
[01:12:45.400] - Big Rich Klein
[01:12:47.000] - Ken Hower
So that's going to be an important component of this whole thing, is getting more education out there for that.
[01:12:53.820] - Big Rich Klein
Good. Yeah. Because there's a couple of us, a couple of my friends and I, that back in those early two thousands, as soon as the blizzards would come in, we'd head up as far as we could.
[01:13:09.600] - Ken Hower
Yeah. And to discourage people, snow camping is terrible. It's awful.
[01:13:14.410] - Big Rich Klein
Yes. But you have to be prepared. Were we prepared to go overnight? Well, yeah. We had Anna freeze with us. We had extra clothing. There was three of us. We all had vehicles with Winches. We all knew the dangers of snow wheeling in blizzards, and we don't want to go up there when the sun is shining. It was more fun going up there when there was blizzards and there was nobody else around.
[01:13:49.280] - Ken Hower
Yeah, nobody else. And no bugs, no mosquitoes, no meat, bees, none of that stuff.
[01:13:54.630] - Big Rich Klein
[01:13:56.240] - Ken Hower
It's quite different. So I was actually on the trail in March of 2012 when the little slut tree fell. It was a huge blizzard situation. I have a photo of me on top of the dam, like, leaning at a nearly 45 degree angle because the wind was blowing 75 miles an hour full blast. It was Scott Johnson, Desmond and myself. And that's another thing. When you go snow wheeling, you can have a plan, but you better be prepared to throw your plan out the window. And we went there completely prepared. And people always ask, like, aren't you cold when you go snow wheeling? And my answer is if you throw enough money at it with your $400 pants and your $1,000 sleeping bag and your $800 tent, no, you're fine. But we were there and we immediately threw our plan out the window. And in order for us not to have any issues, we slept that night in the kiosk for safety. We wheeled a little bit the next morning, but there were 6ft of snow that came down that night. I had an ATV at the time on snow tracks and it was gone.
[01:15:05.890] - Ken Hower
I knew where I parked it, but it didn't exist. It was a couple of little lumps in the snow where the handlebars were and that was that. It was insane. But we ended up throwing our plane out the window. And for personal safety, we went in the kiosk that night. And I know it's not a place people are supposed to stay, but it was a situation where we could have survived. But let's do the smart thing and that's what we did. But people have to be prepared to change their plans when that stuff happens to hold other animals.
[01:15:37.800] - Big Rich Klein
Agreed? 100%. So anybody listening to this, I am going to make a statement right here, right now. There's a lot of organizations that I talk about that I am not a member of, and I'm going to become a member of those organizations. Whether I believe 100% in their I almost always believe in the message. It may be the methodology of getting the message out there or how things are done that I don't agree with. But like you said, you can either go, what the fuck just happened? Or you can say you are going. They're trying to make things happen, make stuff happen. And so I'm going to get re involved with everything out there around the United States. I'm a member of the Offroad Motor Sports Hall of Fame, but there's other organizations like Blue Ribbon and Tread Lightly.
[01:16:38.980] - Ken Hower
Tread Lightly. Corva, California. If you're in California, they exist.
[01:16:44.040] - Big Rich Klein
All of those organizations, the Alphabet, including RTF. I'm going to become a member. Don't ask me to be on the board.
[01:16:55.800] - Ken Hower
I won't. I love you, buddy, but I won't.
[01:17:00.200] - Big Rich Klein
Because I'm not the guy that's going to be politically correct. Yeah, I've had to the last 20 years because I was an event promoter. Well, I'm stepping away from that mold a bit and so I can go back to being a little more politically uncorrect, carry the two x four, that kind of thing. But anybody else out there, if you don't like what's happening, you got to get involved.
[01:17:35.220] - Ken Hower
And here's my advice, Rich, and this is for your listeners that are listening out there, and I know they're all over. Look at their mission statement. So the Rubicon Trail Foundation, I'm going to read you our mission statement. Every nonprofit has to have a mission statement. And that's your guiding principle of what you spend your money on. And our mission statement says to enhance the future health and use of the Rubicon Trail while ensuring responsible motorized year round trail access. That's our mission statement. So if anybody wants thinking like, why are they trying so hard to care about winter wheeling or whatever, the log, splitting hairs, all that stuff? That's our mission statement. That's what we have to do as part of our mission statement. So if we were going to abandon that, we would have to change our mission statement in order to do that.
[01:18:29.030] - Big Rich Klein
Right, and I agree with that mission statement. What I don't agree with is the wait and see attitude. I think that that's playing the political game. And what I've noticed over the years is if you wait and see what happens or negotiate too easily, you lose.
[01:18:51.600] - Ken Hower
Yeah, exactly. And I said it earlier in the call, but the magic wand closure or whatever it is, no. We have protocols in place, and if you want something different, you got to come and work with the users to lay out what it is you'd like and we'll come up with something that we both can live with, but it's definitely going to have criteria and not a Juan.
[01:19:19.890] - Big Rich Klein
Right. Well, Ken, I want to say thank you very much for coming on board and talking about your life and the Rubicon Trail Foundation and everything that's involved, especially going on right now with this county resolution and this closure, illegal closure of the Rubicon at this particular moment.
[01:19:44.000] - Ken Hower
Yeah, thanks a ton for having I obviously didn't get a text out of the blue. Hey, Ken, you want to be on my podcast tomorrow? And so I made it happen. But I just wanted to tell you, you told me about Four Low and I'm giving you a little feet pimping you out there. You told me about Four Low magazine. We read WFO together. Trevor Huskins shop here in Auburn. WFO concepts. We met there, me, you, and Shelley, and you said, hey, I'm doing this magazine and it's going to have really good paper and really good pictures and all that stuff. And it's kind of magazine that we really want. And why I didn't subscribe, I have no idea. But I want to personally apologize that I didn't subscribe you right off the bat because I got my first issue in December and it was everything that you said it was a year or two years earlier. So I'm sorry. And if you're a wheeler for Low magazine is a great publication, really nice, the kind of magazine that we like to read, not junk.
[01:20:52.250] - Big Rich Klein
Well, thank you very much. It is a labor of love. Shelley is working on it right at the moment because it's that time of the month that we have to get all the articles put together and get the magazine ready. But I really appreciate you coming on board and helping me understand a little bit better and hopefully everybody else that cares about places like the Rubicon. There's a lot of trail systems out there that are unprotected. You might have clubs that are caretakers. They've got to deal with the Forest Service or BLM or whatever to maintain the trail and do cleanups and stuff like that. Adopt a trail type programs. But if the trail isn't protected properly, like, what the Rubicon is, you really don't have the rights. And right now, we're we're trying to save our rights up there because it is protected under, you know, under the law. So we need to keep working on that. So thank you.
[01:22:05.820] - Ken Hower
Words matter, Rich.
[01:22:07.140] - Big Rich Klein
Yes. And with that, thank you so much.
[01:22:10.860] - Ken Hower
Thanks, Rich. Appreciate it.
[01:22:12.410] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, bye bye. Well, that's another episode of Conversations with Big Rich. I'd like to thank you all for listening. If you could do us a favor and leave us a review on any podcast service that you happen to be listening on or send us an email or a text message or a Facebook message and let me know. Any ideas that you have or if there's anybody that you have that you think would be a great guest, please forward the contact information to me so that we can try to get them on. And always remember, live life to the fullest. Enjoying life is a must. Follow your dreams and live life with all the gusto you can. Thank you.