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Thread: California | Rubicon Trail l Aug 4-6, 2019

  1. #1
    Trail Leader AEV_LJ's Avatar
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    California | Rubicon Trail l Aug 4-6, 2019

    On Saturday evening Dave, Vinnie & Mike made it safely to my Mom's house to drop off doors for the Rubicon Adventure the next day. Everyone made it there without any hick ups. Vinnie was pleased with his ~10 MPG with the new 40s & 1 tons, while I was pleased with the ability to hold overdrive with my 5.13 gears installed last year. I got 13.5 MPG for comparison on 35s.

    Day 1
    We met at 8:30 am and were on the road by 8:45. We stopped in Georgetown for gas and some additional Gatorade. This year Vinnie planned the dates to follow the Jeepers Jamboree. The trail was listed as closed Friday through Sunday, but he learned that the trail is actually open on the Loon Lake side on Sunday, since they run the trail from Loon Lake to Tahoe over the 3 days. As a result, it was practically empty! We made it to the start of the trail by 11 am, took some obligatory pictures of the sign, talked to the volunteer and got some bandannas and hit the trail. We made great time and passed a group of 7 Jeeps and two mildly modified 4 door Tacomas on our way to Buck Island.

    The Slabs were picturesque as always! On the way up, I decided to hit the optional Toyota Graveyard obstacle. I had attempted it once before, but backed out of it after the fear of rolling got the best of me. This time, I took it slow and searched for the right line. After some slightly hair raising failed attempts, I found a line that worked to the left that limited the double bump ledges that were catching both my front & rear at the same time. Vinnie followed and with 40" tires and a little extra "Vinnie pedal" he walked right up. Dave followed and made short work on the same line to the left.

    The next challenging obstacle (that I remember) was Little Sluice. It always surprises me how the front left tire can climb a vertical rock that is about 2 feet tall. Dave's run was entertaining to say the least. He slid sideways and got high centered between a rock and a hard place. After some unsuccessful attempts with about 6" of movement forward and back, we decided to pull out the winch.

    The next stop was Soup Bowl. Vinnie wanted to play on that obstacle, but he noticed his new rear ARB locker was blowing air and not locking up. After some unsuccessful attempts to try to fix it, he determined that it was something wrong on the inside of the diff (maybe a air collar). With no rear locker, he decided to be prudent and skip the obstacle.

    Near the overlook camp site that we have stayed at a couple times, we attempted the hard line to the right beside the huge boulder. I made it up on top, but the I realized that the break over angle at the top was too much to handle without drive line damage, so I backed out. Vinnie attempted it and eventually also backed out of it (likely due to lack of traction with no rear locker). Dave took a line that put his passenger side tires on the hard section to the right that became quite entertaining too. He drove his passenger side very high on the rocks to the right and had to re position his rig a few times to slide it to the left and up the normal line.

    At Egg Rock, Dave entertained us again with some high centered action! His rig rotated at least 90 degrees with no tires touching for more than about a second at a time.

    We rolled into Buck Island by about 4 PM and we had the WHOLE PLACE TO OURSELVES!!! We chose our favorite campsite right next to the dam and headed to the lake. The water level was much lower than in previous years. Mike jumped down onto the dam and at one point he got all of our attention just in time to slip, fall on his hip and bounce into the lake about 8 feet below fully clothed with his hiking boots on! I wish it was on video, but we will just have to remember it for years to come and pass down the story from generation to generation. He didn't seem to be hurt much, but a day later the pain set in after a long drive from the Rubicon to our campsite on day 2.

    Around the campfire that night Vinnie suckered us into trying some "insta-salsa" (a.k.a. some plain Serrano Peppers) that he had brought. Maybe we were fooled by his light complexion, but we all took a bite and instantly burned our tongues! I can imagine a burn mark on the part of my tongue where I let it sit as I decided whether to spit it out or continue to chew and swallow it. Some fun was poked at us by Vinnie. Our only comeback was to search for chips or a beer to calm the fire. Every other year, we could have poked fun right back at Vinnie for not jumping in the lake, but he actually got in this time. Later around the campfire we discussed life, boundaries, Jorden Petersen, Cats with special powers and more.

    Late that evening a plan was hatched to finish the trail on the 2nd day and make our way over to Fordyce for day 3. We had made such great time that it didn't seem to make sense to drive <2 hours to Rubicon Springs to set up camp again. The only risk was that we didn't know what the water level would be.

    Day 2
    The next morning we all slept in until about 7:45 am and enjoyed the birds chirping, the lake that was like glass and started preparing breakfast. When I went to my Jeep earlier in the morning I was surprised by a gravel foot print on my back trunk area. I know the kids wouldn't have stepped there, but I brushed it off. Then I noticed that my large bag of dry food was missing from my back seat. I thought someone was playing a joke on me at first, but then I realized that an animal had climbed into my Jeep and removed it the night before! It was a large and strong Ryobi tool bag that must have weighted 20-30 lbs. We looked for tracks and searched the campsite in all directions, but there was not a trace to be found. Luckily the Bear (most likely a bear anyway) didn't take the cooler or a smaller bag with fruit in it. Dave saved the day by offering us a couple large potatoes that turned out to be better than the dehydrated hash browns I was going to make anyway.

    We broke down camp and hit the trail around 10:30 am. The obstacles along Buck Island were a bit more challenging in some places than we remembered. Gas Can Hill is always a bit intimidating, but fun! I took a picture of Sierra in front of the rock wall we would all climb and it was around 5 feet tall! We met a few Jeeps coming from Rubicon Springs, but in general we had the whole trail to ourselves. We made short work of Big Sluice and decided to stop for lunch and to wade in Rubicon Springs a little before 12:30 pm. The water was refreshing and the girls enjoyed climbing up some cascades. We talked with someone who had camped there on Sunday evening and they also exclaimed about how they had the whole river side to themselves.

    We left Rubicon Springs around 1 pm and were at Observation Point by 1:35 pm. We were excited to have completed the hardest parts of the trail and took some pics to memorialize our journey. Of the 5 years we have come to the Rubicon, we have only gone all the way through to Observation Point 3 times.

    The most annoying part of the Rubicon trail is the section from Observation Point to the maintained (or better maintained) dirt road. The obstacles are not difficult, but too big to drive quickly. It is a bit of a grind for about an hour and a half to reach the pavement where you air up. It was arduous, but by 3:15 we were driving along Lake Tahoe with air in our tires and sway bars reconnected on our way to Truckee for dinner, gas & to resupply for the next leg of our adventure.

    We stopped for dinner at El Toro Loco in Truckee, which turned out to be a great little Mexican restaurant with outdoor seating. Wiping my face while eating made me realize just how thick the layer of dust was and how I was ready for a shower or dip in another body of water. At dinner we researched Fordyce and checked the water levels. We learned that the water was at 320 cfs, which was above where Robin suggested he likes it to be (<250 cfs) and way higher than the 50 cfs they lower it to for Sierra Trek. We were unsure what to expect, so we looked up some YouTube videos and quickly learned that 300ish would result in our rigs being flooded with water. Given that we didn't know the best line to cross the water and that we were heading to Moab in 2 weeks, we decided to execute Plan B.

    Plan B was to head down Hwy 20 towards Nevada City where I grew up and find a secluded spot to camp. Plan B was originally to find the Blue Hole with an optional drive down some switchbacks to a secluded spot along the Yuba River in the morning, but after a call to my Uncle Dave he directed us to an even better spot where we could camp along the South Fork of the Yuba River near the town of Washington. Driving through Washington there were comments about how it reminded us of a scene from a murder mystery or maybe Deliverance.

    A few miles up the river we found a campsite and started to settle in around 7:30 pm. The area was completely deserted, but the mosquitoes were viscous! Luckily Dave found an old tub of 30% deet wipes that saved the day! After lathering ourselves up, no one wanted to rinse it off by jumping in the river, so we set up camp and played some cards before the sunlight was gone.

    Day 3:
    Sierra and I woke up around 6 am and we had about 2 hours to explore and hang out before the rest of the group got up. We found an interesting old suspension cable car that could allow one to get across the river when it is rushing during spring. Coffee tasted great after missing it the day before due to the bear taking my coffee with him (I hope he enjoys Starbucks Pike Place as much as I do). We hopped from rock to rock and Sierra counted 177 rocks before we moved on to other activities.

    Once the group was awake, the sun was starting to warm the air and we all took some time to swim in the Yuba before breaking down camp. Mike collected a few rocks and my kids did too. The water was brisk, but you got used to it quickly and could swim in it comfortably.

    We all packed up and headed out by 11 am. I was staying in the area for another couple weeks, so I ended up taking the girls to the Blue Hole for a dip on our way out. The water was probably 80 degrees, but I'm glad we chose the Yuba for our campsite, since it had plenty of shade in the morning vs. the Blue Hole that is quite exposed.

    As always, it was a great adventure! Getting to hang out with Vinnie, Mike, Dave & my daughters for a few days was a blast! Until next time, happy trails!
    Last edited by AEV_LJ; 08-13-2019 at 08:27 AM.
    ~Rodney
    '05 LJ Rubicon. 3.75" suspension + 1.25" body lift with Currie adjustable links tuned to fit 35" MTRs.

  2. #2
    Trail Leader Vinnie's Avatar
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    Gotta say your trip reports are always a great read! Look forward to reading the rest even though I was there!!! LOL

    It was an awesome trip. It was great wheeling with you guys as always. We definitely have to try our luck and see if we can have the place to ourselves again.

    The trip helped me identify a bunch of tweaks that I'll want to do before Moab. I'm less enthusiastic about the ARB issue though.

    I haven't begun to dig through my vids/pics, but will post them when I get to them.
    2005 Jeep Wrangler LJ on 40" MTRs. King Pin Dana 60 with RCVs. Shaved 14 bolt. ARBs. King 14" coilovers. Busted knuckle links.

  3. #3
    Trail Leader AEV_LJ's Avatar
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    Me taking a picture of Mike taking a picture of Vinnie taking a picture. :-)


    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G935A using Tapatalk
    ~Rodney
    '05 LJ Rubicon. 3.75" suspension + 1.25" body lift with Currie adjustable links tuned to fit 35" MTRs.

  4. #4
    Trail Leader AEV_LJ's Avatar
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    More from day 1 - Loon Lake to Buck Island

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G935A using Tapatalk
    ~Rodney
    '05 LJ Rubicon. 3.75" suspension + 1.25" body lift with Currie adjustable links tuned to fit 35" MTRs.

  5. #5
    Trail Leader AEV_LJ's Avatar
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    Day 2 - Buck Island, Sierra at Gas Can Hill, Rubicon Springs, Observation Point and Lake Tahoe

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G935A using Tapatalk
    Last edited by AEV_LJ; 08-07-2019 at 04:40 PM.
    ~Rodney
    '05 LJ Rubicon. 3.75" suspension + 1.25" body lift with Currie adjustable links tuned to fit 35" MTRs.

  6. #6
    Trail Leader AEV_LJ's Avatar
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    Day 2-3 camping outside of Washington along the Yuba River.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G935A using Tapatalk
    ~Rodney
    '05 LJ Rubicon. 3.75" suspension + 1.25" body lift with Currie adjustable links tuned to fit 35" MTRs.

  7. #7
    Drives like Grampa cjsrebiff's Avatar
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    Looks like a good trip. I'm actually down here now. Not for wheeling though. Just a vaca.

    Any breakage?
    Biff - short for Bifford aka - Byph
    There is no best vehicle. It depends on the terrain, tires, driver, luck, and lots of happenstance.
    84 Wagoneer 'Trail Tank' - 35 SSRs, 8274, Detroits, FrankinLift and soft leather.
    Check out my Tank Thread - http://gitout.com/showthread.php?222...ion-Trail-Tank
    barefootrunnerd:
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  8. #8
    Trail Leader Vinnie's Avatar
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    My rear ARB blew a seal on the air collar (had less than 1000 miles on it). Have to remove the locker to get to it. Learning the hard way that ARB warranties the hardware but not the labor. So I'm having to pay for a locker reinstall to get it fixed.

    Dave took some fender damage, but I think that's it for the trip.
    2005 Jeep Wrangler LJ on 40" MTRs. King Pin Dana 60 with RCVs. Shaved 14 bolt. ARBs. King 14" coilovers. Busted knuckle links.

  9. #9
    Trail Leader AEV_LJ's Avatar
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    Only minor scratches on my rig like on the front driveline and I pulled the grease collar off. I probably need to replace the zerk fitting.

    I'll get back to the trip report when I have time. I'm in the Yosemite area now.


    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G935A using Tapatalk
    ~Rodney
    '05 LJ Rubicon. 3.75" suspension + 1.25" body lift with Currie adjustable links tuned to fit 35" MTRs.

  10. #10
    Drives like Grampa cjsrebiff's Avatar
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    Bummer on the ARB. It seems for the price they charge, there are always leaks which shouldn't be. Unless it was an install issue. The shop going to work with you on that?

    Rodney, you still running the stock Driveshaft?

    20190810_080511-1612x907.jpg
    S. Lake Tahoe
    Biff - short for Bifford aka - Byph
    There is no best vehicle. It depends on the terrain, tires, driver, luck, and lots of happenstance.
    84 Wagoneer 'Trail Tank' - 35 SSRs, 8274, Detroits, FrankinLift and soft leather.
    Check out my Tank Thread - http://gitout.com/showthread.php?222...ion-Trail-Tank
    barefootrunnerd:
    "No helmet needed on this run, only on some of Biffs"

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