Friday, July 22, 2016

The Great Rubicon Trail Adventure



Before I start the tale of the Rubicon Trail, I have to acknowledge the work of our guide, Dennis M.
He not only organized and lead the trip but busted his butt to make sure we all made it through the roughest trail that any of us has ever encountered, safely and in one piece.
He also took a lot of falls while trying to spot for us as we crawled over obstacles.


You may laugh at this picture but falling on these rocks is no laughing matter. I am surprised that he made it through without serious injury.
Thanks Dennis; we’ll follow you any where.

Cheryl's nephew, J.J. his wife Tara, 3 year old daughter, Josephine and 8 month old son, Sebastian came with us in their 1999 Jeep Cherokee 
What a great family.
The children were very well behaved and were a delight to have in camp. I have to say that I had my doubts when I heard that the little ones were coming but they were troopers.
Josephine even told her dad that she loved going over the rocks. She’s a keeper.


Our friend Dave, and his son, Lynn came all the way from Twin Falls, Idaho to join us on this trip. Lynn did all the driving and took very good care of his dad.


This was Lynn’s first experience rock crawling and he did well. From his excitement I think Lynn is hooked.

Getting There.

Rubicon or Bust

We left Santa Rosa around noon on Sunday heading to the town of Placerville in the foothills of the Sierras. We were to meet the others in the group there and the next morning head for the trail.
There was a lot of traffic between home and Placerville so it took us about 4 hours to make a three hour trip.

We eventually got to our motel (The Placerville Inn ) and got checked in.
Cheryl and Dennis were in a different motel.
Dave and Lynn arrived at the Placerville Inn around 6:00.
J.J. and Family were staying in Pollock Pines.


Once Lynn and Dave arrived we all decided to meet at the Placerville Brewery for dinner.
We got in the jeep, I turned the key and nothing happened. WTF!!All the lights on the dash worked, the head lights worked. That meant the Battery was good.

What could it be?

Let’s eat.

Lynn and Dave had trailered their Jeep so they had Dave’s pickup. We got in their truck and went to supper. While we were there we found out that the local Auto Zone was open until 9:00 so after dinner we went to Auto Zone so I could buy a starter for the jeep.

No Joy.

There was still a little daylight when we got back to the motel so I crawled under the jeep and replaced the starter.


I tried to start the jeep again and it still wouldn’t do anything.
We decided that we would tackle the problem in the morning.

The Trail, Day One

A Solution Arrives in the Night.

During the night Dennis came up with a solution.
He had some stiff insulated wire in his jeep so we could use that to actuate the starter by holding one end of the wire to the solenoid hot side while someone touched the + terminal of the battery with the ignition on.
The jeep should started right up.
The only down side was that I had to crawl under the jeep every time I wanted to start it. Not optimal but reliable.
I would just have to not turn the jeep off any more often than necessary.

In the morning when we were ready to leave I got in the jeep turned the key and it started right up. WTF!! again.

I hate spooks in my car! It’s bad enough when something breaks but intermittent problems will drive you nuts.

Okay, we have a back up system so lets go.

We drove the 20 miles from Placerville to Pollock Pines and connected with JJ in the Safeway parking lot.


Next Stop the Rubicon Trail Head.

From Pollock Pines to the trailhead is about 30 miles.
We took Ice House Road off Highway 50 and follow it to Loon Lake.


Here we crossed the dam,


and drove down below it to the trailhead where we aired down the tires. Of course I forgot and shut off the jeep and it wouldn’t start so before we could go I had to crawl underneath and with Dennis’s help to jump start it.

These large granite mile stones are all along the trail.


Slick Rock, Cool!

Finally we are on the trail and it is already after 10:00.
The first part of the trail crosses a large area of granite dome. It is just like the red slick rock in Moab and is a lot of fun to drive on.


This stretch of slick rock doesn’t last long and we find ourselves in the boulders.


With Dennis’s guidance we slowly work our way through this set of obstacles.


We eventually came to another area of slick rock and were able to relax for a little while.


Not to say that there weren’t some interesting spots along the way.


There are plenty of beautiful views as we go along.
Some times though, your attention is so fixed on the trail that you have to stop every once in a while to take a look around.



We continue to travel along; climbing steep shelves


and working our way through boulder fields.


occasionally needing a tow strap assist.


Eventually we came to a spot where we could get off the trail and have lunch.


On a rock near by Patti noticed this cross.


After lunch we continued on our way. Just a short distance away we came to another mile stone


A mile and a half in over two hours. That might give you some idea of the difficulty of the trail.

Okay, break’s over back to work.Smile

The trail for a short distance is fairly easy.


But that doesn’t last long.

That’s right, we have to climb up there.


More boulders.


We continued along this way for the rest of the day; climbing steep rocky grades,

and negotiating incredible boulder fields.


The Little Sluice.

By 3:00 we had traveled another two miles to the turnoff for the Little Sluice.


Dennis checked out the Little Sluice and decided that it was too rough.
Rougher than what we've gone through already today?
That’s hard to imagine.
We decided to bypass the Little Sluice so we continued along the trail.

More Slick Rock.

Just past the turnoff to the Little Sluice we came to more slick rock. It is always a little relief when we get to drive on the slick rock for a little while.


At the top of this one there is a squeeze between two trees with a hard right turn down hill on the other side.


Lily Ponds.

On the other side of the trees we passed some lily ponds; there were several along the trail here.


Another Hour, Another mile.

We continued along slowly crawling up slick rock,


through narrow slots,


over and around boulders


and eventually past the mile stone for the Old Sluice.


Our camp spot appears in the distance.

As we start down hill we can see Buck Island Lake in the distance; this is our destination for today.

How beautiful is that?!


And it will only take another two hours to get there.

Here are just a few pictures of the rest of the way to Buck Island Lake.




JJ had to have a little assistance here.


Yes, it is possible to get stuck going down hill. Especially where boulders are concerned.

Buck Island Lake.

As we approached Buck Island Lake we crossed a pretty little creek.


We crossed over the dam.


Around 6:00 we got to our camp spot, hungry and exhausted from the drive.

We set up our camps and had supper.


Later we were treated to the sight of the rising of the full moon over the mountains.


It had been windy all day which wasn’t bad as it kept it cool and blew away some of the dust as we drove along. But after the sun went behind the mountains it got very cold.
As fires were prohibited we all went into our tents and our beds early for a well deserved rest. Tomorrow is going to be another rough day.

Okay, that Is the end of day one of the Great Rubicon Trail Adventure.

What an awesome day!

Stay tuned for Day 2.

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