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  1. #1

    Went to the Rubicon...finally

    I've been trying to do this for years and we finally went.



    We left on friday the 9th around mid day. My buddy Cam was a few hours behind so we took our time heading to Fruita. We spent the night there at Cam's mom's place. She treats my family like her family so we stop and pester her any time we pass through. Cam rolled in around 9-10 and we planned the next day. I wanted to drive across 50 west of 15, but I was persuaded to take 80 instead so we could stop at the salt flats.

    I love the stretch. both kids and the dog, plus a weeks worth of clothes, spare parts, and tools in the back of a beat old YJ.



    Salt flats stop, what a weird place. I got up to 70 and called that good.





    We rolled in to Elko in the dark on saturday night and slept fast.

    I'm based in LA with my job. I have a travel trailer there that is my studio apartment and a van to tow it around when necessary. I am taking a leave from the airline due to the beer flu, so I drove them up to Reno at the beginning of the month so we'd have a place to sleep while we were out there.

    We left Elko by 8. I figured we had 6 hours of driving left to get to Jones Fork campground. Sunset was around 630. That left us 4 hours of screw around time if we wanted to get there before dark. We stopped in Reno to pick up my duplex on wheels. I drove the van and my wife drove the jeep.

    Here is our caravan ready to pull out of Dodge...



    My copilot



    My caravan enroute.



    We stopped in Carson City to stock the coolers and then headed over the hill to Tahoe. The passes here on 70 are longer pulls than anywhere else I've driven, but the hills further west are definitely steeper. That pull westbound out of Carson City had me down to 15-20 MPH and the altitude didn't break 8000 IIRC. No BS steep!

    We drove straight through S Lake Tahoe and stopped for gas in Kyburz, CA. That is the closest gas to the west trailhead of the rubicon. Gas in CA is expensive.



    Damn, that's a long YJ



    It was 30 minutes from there to Jones Fork campground, which was the closest site to the trailhead that was open. From Jones fork, it was about 25 minutes to the trailhead. We met my buddy from work who drove his JKU on 37s out from San Jose at the campsite, set up and had a beer.

    The next morning we stuffed our faces and headed to the trail.



    There are a ton of write-ups on the Rubicon and I read a lot of them. It's tough to gauge a persons perspective through their description. We'd heard everything from you can run the trail in 5 hours if you're hustling to you'll need 3 days. They weren't allowing camping on the trail due to fire concerns, so we planned on running half out and back on day 1.





    Little Sluice











    Rubicon Springs.



    We made it to the lake and figured it was the same time to keep going or go back, so we pressed on. We made it to Rubicon Springs and then it got dark. Cadillac hill in the dark was interesting. We didn't factor in the drive from Tahoma where the trail dumps out back to Jones Fork was around 1:45. We got back to camp around 1130. My family was beat, but it was a pretty good day. We had run the whole trail and we still had 4 days to play.

    More report coming, need to upload more pics and get a few more from Cam and Dave.

  2. #2
    K2's Avatar
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    That's awesome! Can't wait for the rest and your perspective on the trail.
    95 ZJ, Lift, dents, and noise.

  3. #3
    vb's Avatar
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    nicely done!!

  4. #4
    We woke up on tuesday beat to hell after 11 days on the trail, and 1200 miles driving the 3 days prior to that. This was my view out the trailer window.

    Good dog



    While we were deciding what to do, I sent my kids down to the lakeshore nearby to throw the ball for my dog. On the way the 3 of them got swarmed by yellowjackets. My boy got off easy with just one sting, the dog got 4-5, and my girl took the worst of it with 9-10. They were not eager to go outside.

    We decided to take a break from the seat time and plot out the rest of the week. We enjoyed the west half of the trail, but the east half was a blur since we did it in the dark and we were so damn tired. We wanted to run the east half again in the daylight but it was 1:45 drive to the east side staging area. To remedy this, we planned to pack up and move to a campsite near Tahoma.

    Plans made for Wednesday, we headed in to town for lunch. Kids were still recovering from their argument with the local bugs so we distracted them with mini golf, restocked a few things for the cooler, and headed back.

    We got up wednesday and started packing up. The drives around tahoe are beautiful and I'm an airplane nerd, so I had to take this pic.



    We got set up near Tahoma and had enough time to play, but not enough to do the East half of the rubicon, so we ran Buck Lake and half of Ellis Peak trail.



















    The top of Ellis Peak was a great view. We parked the jeeps and hiked a hundred yards or so to the top.









    Drove from the peak down to Ellis Lake and enjoyed the view there. I have some cool pics of all three jeep posed for the `gram, but not sure where they went.



    We were running out of daylight, so we motored back to camp. Cam had steak for everyone that he wanted to burn before it started smelling bad.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by K2 View Post
    That's awesome! Can't wait for the rest and your perspective on the trail.
    The trail is relentless. That's the best way I know to put it. There aren't any obstacles like Penrose, but within a 1/4 mile of the trailhead you are in the rocks. There are no stretches between obstacles that you can run 15-20 MPH. It is constant 2-5 MPH rolling over large rocks from baby heads to appliance size for miles on end. It is just NONSTOP. The west half has a porta-potty every mile or so, my wife liked that. We had 3 pretty well equipped rigs. All of us were locked front and rear, 35's+, winches, rockers/bumpers, and a fair amount of experience. if you were on 33s and/or not locked, you'd be working harder. I can't imagine the chaos of jeep jamboree. I don't think I'd enjoy that at all. It makes sense why you'd want 3 days if you were waiting for 100 less equipped rigs with inexperienced drivers.

  6. #6
    Awesome report! No camping on the trail sure makes the trip a bit more difficult. I wonder if a Spring time run would be better for that?? One day... I'll get out there. One day!
    God Forgives, Rock's Don't www.ucora.org
    1973 Bronco, 351 SEFI, Locked, discs, 35's ZF-5spd and Atlas 4spd. 235:1 Crawl Ratio

  7. #7
    Thanks for the report Tony. Hopefully someday Wanda and I will be able to make the trip out there.
    "So the best way to get something done, if you if you hold near and dear to you that you like to be able to anyway " - Joseph Robinette Biden

  8. #8
    newracer's Avatar
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    Looks like a great time, thanks for sharing. Your description sounds a lot like the Dusy-Ershim trail which is another one on my bucket list.
    Have you ever seen a man eat so much fish?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by newracer View Post
    Looks like a great time, thanks for sharing. Your description sounds a lot like the Dusy-Ershim trail which is another one on my bucket list.
    Indeed. While you're in Rome...

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by newracer View Post
    Looks like a great time, thanks for sharing. Your description sounds a lot like the Dusy-Ershim trail which is another one on my bucket list.
    DE made it on my list when I was planning this one. Not sure I can do it with the whole family. I hear you need 3-5 days to do that one.

  11. #11
    newracer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 74BuckinBronc View Post
    Indeed. While you're in Rome...
    Quote Originally Posted by YJLopes View Post
    DE made it on my list when I was planning this one. Not sure I can do it with the whole family. I hear you need 3-5 days to do that one.
    Ideally I'd like to go out there for a few weeks and run several trails. My issue with DE is having enough fuel for my buggy or it being a very difficult time in my basically stock JKUR.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by newracer View Post
    Ideally I'd like to go out there for a few weeks and run several trails. My issue with DE is having enough fuel for my buggy or it being a very difficult time in my basically stock JKUR.
    I hear ya. Based on all the conflicting info we read, we had an additional 3 gallons for each rig. Never touched it, but it was a warm fuzzy rolling in to the unknown.

    On wednesday night, after getting off of Ellis Peak, we rolled back to burn the meat that Cam had. Just as we were finishing up the pot luck dinner with steak and some amazing instant mashed potatoes and pasta, my lab started growling. She has a really annoying excited bark, the protective bark when someone is at the door, and now we've seen the "there's a bear" growl.

    I shined a flashlight in to the dark and there was a big black bear 15-20 yards behind me. When I turned back to the table everyone had bailed, leaving me as the slow guy who gets eaten. He poked around for a bit and we ran him off, but it got our attention.

    Thursday morning we got up early to hit the east half of the rubicon. We decided to get back in time to have dinner before dark to avoid the bear sneaking up on us.

    This rig was about a mile past the staging area. Someone was having a bad day in a Toy.



    Counting down this time



    Not much all that interesting until we got to the observation point. We stopped here for lunch. Great views.



    When we had run this eastbound on monday night, we came across a group camping. One of them flagged me down. He was with the forest service, they were there working on the trail, and he asked if I knew that camping wasn't currently allowed. I told him we knew and were just trying to get back to our trailer.

    As we were descending from the observation point, we came across this rig.





    And shortly after that, this one





    The guy running the project came over to chat with us. He was showing us what they were filling in and other repairs. He said they'd be out of our way in 5 minutes. I said "no worries, we ran the whole thing on monday, but we didn't get to see this part before dark". Then he remembered us, "we met that night". We chatted for a bit while the operator finished up and got out of our way. We talked to them on our way out as well. They were genuinely interested in us having a good time. I thanked them and they kept saying, "we hope you're having fun". My wife commented on their job, how cool is that, you get to drive a jeep out here, operate cool machinery, camp, and get paid for it. Sounds good to me. The machine they were running was incredible. Articulated every which way with outriggers for the off camber work, and the bucket/arm would go anywhere you needed it at any angle. The operator was pretty good at running it as well.

    Shortly after that we came to the top of Cadillac hill. We had done this in the dark, so this view was all new.





    Not sure why, but I really wanted to find the Cadillac. I found this pile of parts, maybe this is it.





    Then just before Rubicon Springs, we went through this weird graveyard. I haven't done any digging to see if there's a story behind it.





    Lots of pretty places to camp near Rubicon Springs





    We turned around and motored out. My wife commented climbing Cadillac hill Monday night, I bet there is a ledge here I'm glad I can't see. She wasn't too far off. I've done way sketchier shelf roads, but it would have been an unpleasant drop.







    No more cool pics coming out. We saw this cool Lexus at the staging area. 42s and super duty axles I believe.


  13. #13
    Nice write up. Too bad about the camping restriction. Doing it all in one day makes for a long day. I thought Cadillac hill was easy with lockers. We had one guy with a broken front axle that almost made it up without assistance. Almost. That was fun to watch. lol.

  14. #14
    I still need to do this trail... maybe 2021...
    ****ing coward.
    Sweater
    Never play chess with a pigeon. The pigeon just knocks all the pieces over. Then craps all over the board. Then struts around like it won.

  15. #15
    Great write up. We too had plans to run the Rubicon, but covid and forest fires took care of that.

  16. #16
    vb's Avatar
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    what a nice trip

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