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post #1 of 21 Old 07-09-2016, 08:59 PM Thread Starter
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The Rubicon with Old friends

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.































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It's hard to beat a full tank of fuel and a desire for adventure!

Last edited by [email protected]; 07-10-2016 at 08:36 AM.
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post #2 of 21 Old 07-09-2016, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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It was getting late in the day and some of us were getting hungry, it didn't feel like we had put much of a dent in the trail but Troy (our Rubicon trail guide) assured us we were on track and doing fine. We found a decent campsite, pulled the rigs off the trail and began the process of setting up camp, then worked on a campfire and dinner. A couple of the boys got out their fire-making tools and without using matches or lighters, we had a roaring campfire in about 10 minutes! Everyone settled into camp-life, ate their dinners and consumed beverages. Jeremy and Troy climbed to a hill above camp and took some pics as the sun set. We went about placing coolers & food under tarps, sprinkled Cayenne pepper around in preparation of keeping bears out of our stuff.








Day 2-

Morning came, luckily no bears were heard in camp so we made breakfast, loaded up camp and were back on the trail bright & early! We climbed up the loose, rocky hill right off the bat then quickly arrived at the Soup Bowl. Everyone but Davy bypassed the hard line, it was pretty brutal! Even the bypass had your 4x4 leaning into a huge rock wall, some careful driving was required if you wanted to keep your mirror in place! I knocked my GoPro off, but it wasn't filming! The rocks in the trail seemed to get bigger and appeared more often, challenges awaiting around every corner.















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['12 JKUR | Automatic | 3" TeraFlex Outback Suspension, Alpine long arms, Falcon shocks | 35" BFG KO2's | Warn Zeon 8 | Truck-Lite Headlights and Rigid D2's]

It's hard to beat a full tank of fuel and a desire for adventure!

Last edited by [email protected]; 07-10-2016 at 08:35 AM.
post #3 of 21 Old 07-09-2016, 09:01 PM Thread Starter
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Eventually we came to the Little Sluice, a very well-known and not long ago a brutally difficult challenge. Recently the biggest rocks were drilled and blasted and tons of small filler rocks were added.... the Little Sluice has been nurtured. Initially I wasn't planning on running the Little Sluice, but after walking it all but one in our small-tire'd group decided to run it!
















Everyone that ran thru the Little Sluice made it thru without trouble, matter of fact there were unnamed parts of the trail that were more challenging.... if was fun, but sad to see the Little Sluice reduced to something so easy.


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It's hard to beat a full tank of fuel and a desire for adventure!
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post #4 of 21 Old 07-09-2016, 09:02 PM Thread Starter
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We worked our way to the top of the Slabs above Buck Island Lake and walked the Old Sluice to see what it looked like. In the end, we decided to drive down the Slab. It was getting close to lunch time and we were starting to see traffic & rigs from the upcoming Rubithon event, so we found our way to Buck Island Lake and took a break for lunch and those that were brave jumped into the lake for a swim and to clean up. The water was FREEZING cold, all the first jumps in resulted in great reactions as they swam back to shore ASAP! Apparently the water felt better with each trip in, so some swimming was enjoyed by the brave. Jeremy's dog Shelby jumped in and freaked out a little, it looked like she almost pushed him under the water as she tried to climb on top of him!


















We hit the trail again after drying out and right away ran into traffic coming in and some challenging obstacles. Some careful driving and spotting was required, at one point Marc Bryson slid into a boulder on the passenger side and it forced his rear flare into the tire, promptly tearing it right off. We worked real hard for the next couple miles, trying to keep everyone moving. Soon enough we make it to the Big Sluice, with features massive boulders and a steep downhill slope. One by one we picked our way down the hill and thru the big, beautiful pine trees that were right in the middle of the trail. At one point Bryson got hung up, couldn't go forward and wasn't able to back up I believe Todd winched him backwards, while Davy turned back uphill to go help. Bryson was freed quickly, and the rest of the group worked their way down the hill. The boulders on this part of the trail were some of the biggest we'd ran into, requiring careful driving.


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It's hard to beat a full tank of fuel and a desire for adventure!
post #5 of 21 Old 07-09-2016, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
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post #6 of 21 Old 07-09-2016, 09:04 PM Thread Starter
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As we continued to work our way off the Big Sluice the call came over the radio that the Land Cruiser had bent his drag link and it wasn't moving anywhere until it was fixed. Most of the guys headed to the Crusier and started working on it, Todd donated his HiLift jack handle to sleeve the drag link and it was a perfect fit, after the drag link was straightened out. About an hour later we were back on the move, crossing the famous Rubicon River bridge and then into the Rubicon Springs campground. It was close to dinner time and had been a long, grueling day on the trail.... I think everyone was glad to be off the trail, setting up camp. Once again dinners were made, tents and bedding set up and a fire was built... my favorite part was using the Zodi hot water shower, to get cleaned up after 2 days w/o washing up! Marc Bryson also seemed to enjoy the shower!









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It's hard to beat a full tank of fuel and a desire for adventure!
post #7 of 21 Old 07-09-2016, 09:10 PM Thread Starter
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Day 3-

We had a little more relaxed morning, since we knew day 3 would be pretty short. We took our time packing up, but eventually wandered out of the Rubicon Springs campground, where they had this awesome fence made up of broken axle shafts! We headed towards the steep Cadillac Hill, climbing it's way out of the valley. I wasn't really sure what to expect on the Hill, but it was more challenging than I expected! Lots of big rocks (yeah, nothing new) combined with lots of pine trees growing right in the middle of the trail, plus a bit of water running down the trail making for some mud here and there. There were a handful of challenging climbs, but only one that really required spotting and careful driving. Everyone made it up the hill, topping out at Observation Point! We had survived the Rubicon Trail!!! We celebrated, took lots of pics and breathed a little easier... looks like we wouldn't have to resort to cannibalism after all! The drive out included the most traffic we had seen all trip, lots of Toyotas headed in for the Rubithon. Eventually we hit the gravel road and found one of the staging areas, where one of the Poly Performance / Synergy Suspension employees was waiting... because he was helping support the Ultimate Adventure 2016! They had been in Death Valley a day or 2 before where it had been 116 degrees!! Now they were enjoying the crisp mountain air of the Sierra Nevadas. Unfortunately the UA '16 group went in a different way than how we came out, so we never crossed paths. I would have loved to run into that group on the trail!




















We headed into town for one last group meal, then said our good-byes and parted ways. Some headed back to Utah the next day, we drove down to Sacramento to see my old friend (Mekeli!) and others headed to the Redwoods and Davy's family continued on to Alaska! From the looks if it on FB, they're having a great time!

My own damage tally included a broken tail light, destroyed steering stabilizer, front driveshaft CV joint clicking loudly, dented & leaking rear diff cover, smashed exhaust tip and lots of scrapes on the undercarriage. My TeraFlex bumpers and sliders took a BEATING and held up like a champ, really glad I had them to help protect the JKU! That said IMO a JKU with 3" of lift on 35's isn't ideal for the Rubicon trail, it was too wide and low. I think I would have fared better with 5" lift and 37's or even 38's, but I built this JKU to be road-trip friendly. It survived the Rubicon, drove out and back from Colorado without issue so I'd call that a success! One of these days we'll have to do this again!


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post #8 of 21 Old 07-09-2016, 09:10 PM Thread Starter
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And a video from the trip... I cut it down to 12 min and feel like it still doesn't do justice to how challenging it was!



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It's hard to beat a full tank of fuel and a desire for adventure!

Last edited by [email protected]; 07-09-2016 at 09:12 PM.
post #9 of 21 Old 07-10-2016, 05:01 AM
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It was a fantastic trip!
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post #10 of 21 Old 07-10-2016, 08:28 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Hickey View Post
It was a fantastic trip!
Yes it was, thanks for being the one that got the ball rolling!


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post #11 of 21 Old 07-10-2016, 10:52 AM
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i need to do this.
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post #12 of 21 Old 07-10-2016, 12:01 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ryan505 View Post
i need to do this.
You really should, you're a lot closer than I am!! I'm very happy to be able to say that I've had my Rubicon across the Rubicon!
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post #13 of 21 Old 07-28-2016, 05:54 PM
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Looks like Ya'll had a great time. Thanks for sharing.
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post #14 of 21 Old 07-28-2016, 06:32 PM Thread Starter
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Looks like Ya'll had a great time. Thanks for sharing.
We sure did, can't wait to do it again!

Thanks!


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post #15 of 21 Old 07-31-2016, 10:43 PM
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We sure did, can't wait to do it again!

Thanks!
What he ^ said.
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post #16 of 21 Old 08-08-2016, 11:18 PM
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Great Video. One of the better Rubicon videos out there.

Mike B. in Watsonville Ca.
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post #17 of 21 Old 08-09-2016, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
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Great Video. One of the better Rubicon videos out there.
Thanks for the comment Mike!


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post #18 of 21 Old 08-10-2016, 11:06 AM
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Awesome trip report! Looks like you guys had a great time.

I cannot believe they blew up little sluice. That was such a great place to watch the big rigs try and maneuver it. I ran the Rubicon trail more than 5 times when I lived in California and only saw a few rigs make it up little sluice.

If you plan to run it again, try and make a bit more time and run Fordyce. As far as I know, Fordyce is still gnarly and has not be watered down.
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post #19 of 21 Old 08-10-2016, 07:18 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by nocoastfocus View Post
Awesome trip report! Looks like you guys had a great time.

I cannot believe they blew up little sluice. That was such a great place to watch the big rigs try and maneuver it. I ran the Rubicon trail more than 5 times when I lived in California and only saw a few rigs make it up little sluice.

If you plan to run it again, try and make a bit more time and run Fordyce. As far as I know, Fordyce is still gnarly and has not be watered down.
Yeah, it was sad to see the Little Sluice reduced to little more than a slightly challenging gravel road especially with the reputation we've all heard about over the years.

We talked about Fordyce, I think it would be a blast! I think I'd want to outfit my JKU a little better if the trail was any more challenging, the Rubicon kicked my ass!


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post #20 of 21 Old 08-10-2016, 09:10 PM
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Yeah, it was sad to see the Little Sluice reduced to little more than a slightly challenging gravel road especially with the reputation we've all heard about over the years.

We talked about Fordyce, I think it would be a blast! I think I'd want to outfit my JKU a little better if the trail was any more challenging, the Rubicon kicked my ass!
A JK on 35's makes a formidable foe for the Fordyce. I tried it in an XJ on 32s...well built but still 32s. Needless to say my XJ was never the same after that trail (2 blown tires, one destroyed heater hose, and a boatload of body damage).

While I was in Cali though my friends from CO made the trek out and we had a similar Rubicon trip. Was a great time and you brought back a lot of good memories with your trip report!
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post #21 of 21 Old 03-13-2018, 07:35 AM
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Always wanted to run this trail but its a LONG road trip from Kentucky.

Thanks for sharing.
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