A Character and a Climb

I woke up and headed for the breakfast building with Martha.  All the northbound hikers had left before dawn except a couple who were staying for a zero day (a day of no hiking).  There were the usual offerings of bread, cereal, and fruit.

Present at breakfast was the owner of Hikertown, Mr. Richard Skaggs.  He proceeded to tell me his life story, at least the parts of his 85 years that he wanted me to hear.  I had already read from on-line reviews that I should take everything he says with a grain of salt.

First, he brought up Quinn Martin, saying that he worked for him.  I told him that I have watched a few episodes of The Fugitive and Barnaby Jones, and many episodes of Cannon.  (Quinn Martin was producer of at least one prime-time TV show continuously from 1959 through the last week of 1979.)  Mr. Skaggs claims that he was there when Kirk Douglas showed up saying that his son had fallen in with a bad crowd in Malibu –  getting in trouble, smoking drugs – and could Quinn find him a role in his upcoming show The Streets of San Francisco.  It must be nice having a daddy who can move mountains like that.  (Michael Douglas starred with Karl Maulden for 5 seasons, then became an even bigger star in the movies.)

I asked if he was ever credited on any of Quinn Martin’s shows, and he mentioned some forgotten TV movie.  I got the impression that Mr. Skaggs’ job with Quinn Martin was at a low level.

Mr. Skaggs gave me his company business card OM Star, which has a resemblance to Quinn Martin’s old company QM Productions.  He told me that in the early 1980’s his company traveled around the country and filmed for Disney’s upcoming EPCOT center that opened in 1982.  Disney’s original idea for EPCOT was to make it like a World’s Fair with six pavilions.  Mr. Skaggs filmed for the Spaceship Earth pavilion.

This I confirmed on the web later in the day.  Evening newscasts from the early 1980’s are on-line.  I was most interested to see that he and his crew visited Norman, OK where I live to film at what was then called the National Severe Storms Lab.  He only brought up with me, his visiting the National Radio Astronomical Observatory in Socorro, NM and filming about their search for UFO’s and extraterrestrial intelligence.

Next, Mr. Skaggs brought up issues of Hikertown and Neenach, after I told him how I had been defamed in the newspaper and had to retire.  He showed me a framed copy from a Lancaster weekly newspaper that called him “Boss Hogg” of Neenach, a reference from the 1980’s show The Dukes of Hazzard.  This article was written by nasty developers who Mr.Skaggs claimed wanted to turn the whole Antelope Valley into a deluxe housing development, complete with a big shopping center right across the road from Hikertown.

When they found that Mr. Skaggs was president of the community board and owned a lot of land in Neenach, this prompted the article.  He got a lady in the community to write a rebuttal, saying that Mr. Skaggs was more like Andy Griffith than Boss Hogg.  He told me more things that he had done for Neenach and for Hikertown, but this is where I read that reality is not clear and not something that can be easily checked.

So at this point I told Mr Skaggs that I had to get going.  It was pleasant talking with him and hearing his stories – that he is a beach man from Rancho Palos Verdes who visits the valley where he can relax and wear what he likes.

The first things I noticed out of Hikertown were the colorful flowers before the trail started its upward incline.  I was looking for evidence of the San Andreas fault, but it was not obvious to my unskilled eye.  What I did start to see were pine cones as large as my foot, which I read may be from Coulter pine trees.

By late afternoon, after much winding around and switchbacks, I was at the top of the Sierra Pelona ridge.  This mountain range is not very tall (highest point less than 6000 feet), and pelona means bald in Spanish.

I continued a couple of miles farther to a curious water collection and storage apparatus, which served as a great place to camp.  The first two pictures show the top where water from rain or snow is directed into a pipe and a holding tank, and the bottom picture shows where you can scoop up the water.


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