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Stuck on the Sunset Ridge


It was a fine day in the early 1990’s when I was headed to Sunset Ridge to perform some service work.  It seemed like any other day, especially when I left the office and began heading to the top of the mountain around 8AM.  I traveled over the freeway to the Pomona area where I exited.  I then headed towards Mt Baldy where I turned off on Glendora Ridge Road.  At the top of the hill is the turnoff to the dirt road that goes to Sunset Ridge.  After passing through the gate, I proceeded on the long tedious trek to the top of the mountain.  When I was five minutes from the top of the mountain, I noticed that some fluid shot all over my windshield.

Sunset Ridge Road

I stopped to investigate the fluid to determine what went wrong with the vehicle.  After a short time, I determined that it was transmission fluid.  I searched under the hood of the vehicle to determine what happened and why.  After about 15 minutes of investigation, I found that a rigid line on the transmission cooler broke from metal fatigue and the transmission fluid had been pumped out of the broken hole.  A significant amount of the fluid ended up on my windshield.

I called into the shop on the two-way radio to notify them that I had not made it to the site.  I figured out how to bypass the broken transmission cooler, so all I needed was some transmission fluid.  Fortunately, I stopped the vehicle quick enough so that I thought that the transmission would still be functional once I had some transmission fluid.  I looked up the type of fluid used by the vehicle and radioed the information to the office.  They sent someone to the auto parts store to purchase the transmission fluid and then headed up the hill to bring the fluid to me.  This would take about 4 hours, so once I had the transmission cooler bypassed, I thought that I would try to get to the building to do some of the work that I came up to the mountain to perform.

I started hiking to the building and found that it was too far for me to hike carrying tools, test equipment, parts, etc.  I could hike there with the keys and perform a few simple tasks, but I could not carry the materials that would allow me to finish everything that I had planned to do.  I completed the few things that I could and then headed back to the vehicle to meet with our man with the transmission fluid.

When he arrived with the fluid, we poured the fluid into the transmission and started up the vehicle.  After several attempts to get the fluid level correct, we closed the hood and proceeded to drive down the mountain.  The next day, one of our other men went to Sunset Ridge to complete the repairs while I took my vehicle to the automotive repair shop to have the car repaired correctly.

I have been stuck on several mountains over the years, but I have always been able to fix the problem and get the vehicle back on the road.  This has continued into 2021 where I can claim that I have never had to be towed off a mountain in spite of everything that has happened over the years.

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