OK, so this trip was a big deal... I feel like I won't be able to do the actual trip justice with my report! Running the Rubicon trail has been a bucket-list item for me, for a long time... although parts of the trail have been made easier, it was still very challenging for my JKU on 35's.
Alright, lets back up a bit.... last year an old friend that lives in Sacramento, CA mentioned on FB that I should come to California, run the Rubicon trail and stop by to visit him. Another Jeeping friend (Jeremy) saw the comment, then messaged me about planning a trip for the next Summer. We started laying the ground work, picked a date and invited a few close friends that we knew were great drivers, capable with a wrench and had appropriately built 4x4's. Most of us have known each other for a LONG time, 15+ years thru RME4x4.com and the 4WD community. We've competed against and with each other in rock crawling comps, build rigs and sold parts to each other and spend many trail miles together. For me personally, it was nice to see friends and hang out with them since moving out of Utah... I now live in CO and it was real nice to catch up, hang out on the trail and spend time around the campfire with old friends.
We joked about the Donner Party, but concluded that we were hitting the Sierra Nevadas at the right time, unlike the ill-fated group that turned to eating each other to survive a brutal Winter attempt at making the Pass.
Our group had 7 rigs;
- Marc & Marnie with their 2 kids in a White JKU on 35's
- Catherine and myself in our White JKU on 35's
- Jeremy with Troy riding Shotgun in a White JK on 35's
- Todd and his boy Cory in a black JK on 35's
- Carl and Mandy with 2 kids in a Green TJ on 35's puling a camp trailer
- Davy and Jamie also with 2 kids in their Red TJ on 37's
- Bryson and his friend Nate in the FZJ80 Land Cruiser on 37's
Day 1 -
We met in Lake Tahoe bright and early then started making the drive over to the Wentworth Springs trailhead. We had some minor issues on the rough road before the trail started, so we took a little break while some minor tuning was done. Pretty quickly we were in 4WD, the first obstacle we were greeted with was a steep, long climb up a Granite hill. The trail got more and more challenging, we were on THE RUBICON!! We passed Loon Lake and caught a glimpse of how beautiful the Sierra Nevada's truly are. The first real challenge we saw was Post Pile, we quickly saw how the different vehicles worked on the Rubicon's boulders... the shorter Jeeps had it easier, the longer JKU's and FZJ80 had to work harder with the longer wheelbase. Carl motored right up the Post Pile with his trail trailer bouncing around right behind him! Davy had to take his well-built TJ up the hardest line. His TJ was the most capable rig in the group and seemed to be built perfectly for this trail. Both Marc Bryson and myself had a little trouble, the JKU's were wide and low... we were sliding around and taking the lines that gravity had dealt to us. I slid down off my line and was right next to a massive rock on the passenger side... as I was making my 2nd attempt the drivers tire reached for the sky and I heard my tail light break on the rock! It wasn't the cleanest line, but I made it up.
A little further up the trail Carl got a little sideways after sliding off his line. He backed up a little but the trailer was starting to jackknife behind him, making it difficult to straighten out the TJ. After a quick winch pull, the TJ was moving forward thru the big boulders.