Archives for category: — California

This video made by YouTube user Robbie Bircher‘s dad back in 1989, offers a rare glimpse of basically stock trucks navigating one of America’s most difficult 4×4 routes, the Rubicon Trail. Along for the ride are a couple of Jeep CJs, a Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40, and an International Scout.

The pace of the video is slow but you feel like you’re there. And thankfully it’s been stabilized so you don’t have to sit through any camera shake. Really good stuff.

Here’s a well-shot video of Pinzgauer 710M negotiating the Defense Mine / Cummings Cutoff trail in south-eastern California’s Panamint Valley. The driver doesn’t always choose the best lines, and the trail is pretty tough, but the ability of the vehicle is unfailing. It’s amazing to see what these trucks can do.


A couple of weeks ago I dropped by Thorson’s Off-Road in Santa Rosa for a quote on a new skid plate. We got to talking and I was given a quick tour of the shop. They were prepping an insane looking Jeep for the King of Hammers, a 165-mile desert race in which teams must blast through open terrain at 100+ mph and also negotiate difficult, slow rocky sections.

The week-long event takes place in Southern California near Twentynine Palms, features motorcycles and buggies, and starts on Friday, January 30th. The main event takes place on Friday, February 6th.

See the rest of the post for links and photos of Thorson’s crazy Jeep.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Rubicon Trail is one of the toughest in the country. Though some of the most truck-destroying obstacles have reportedly been made less trecherous in recent years, the trail is still a grueling, 12-mile challenge. If you’re interested in tackling it, check out this video review from Terraflex. It’s one of the first I’ve seen that gives a good overview.

This is a 10-out-of-10 difficulty trail. Stock trucks can make it with difficulty but should expect damage. According to the video, 35″ tires, lockers, and 3″ of lift could be considered baseline for making through without undue stress.

If you do go, do your research, and don’t go alone. I’ve included some links below to get you started.

Thanks to Greg from gadmachine for suggesting this video.

Rubicon Trail Foundation (vehicle and general prep.
County of Eldorado (trail conditions)

WCXC: Rookies on the Rubicon (a 7-part series on this site of man’s first time on the trail)


About a year ago the forgotten ghost town of Seneca made national news after Paul Reubens (of Pee Wee Herman fame) tweeted about a long-idle Craigslist ad listing the town for sale. This year the “town,” which is just three rundown cabins and an old bar, sold. The bar, once called “The Gin Mill,” did come with an actual liquor license, so who knows, maybe it’ll reopen one day.

I mention it here because, if you live anywhere near the Sierras, it might make a good overlanding trip. The town sits at about 3600′ elevation in a canyon along the Feather River, about 50 miles northeast of Oroville and about 75 miles southwest of Redding. It’s actually just south of Lake Almanor, if you know where that is. Here are the coordinates: 40.112083,-121.0848

The roads to the site, though not that rough looking, are said to travel along 1000′ dropoffs, so if you go in winter, bring chains, shovels, and another friend with a truck.

Keep me posted, if you go check it out!

Craigslist ad

Google Map

LA Times article

Facebook page

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This is what I love about heading into the wilderness, having experiences that not many other people have, like these guys. They hike into the Sierra Nevada, fish, and just skate the smooth, 100-million-year-old granite. Pretty awesome.

Hollister Hills • WCXC
Photo: Nik Schulz

In early April WCXC got together for a day at Hollister Hills OHV near Gilroy, California, for a couple of days of camping and trail skills practice. It had been raining so the trails were pretty muddy. Still, we had a good time driving the obstacle courses and playing in the mud.

Given all of the rain, and that this was our first outing as a group, we decided not to head down any of the intermediate difficulty trails. After we had our fill of the two obstacle courses, and were on our way back to camp, a ranger asked us if we wouldn’t mind helping a guy out that had not been so cautious and had gotten stuck on one of the intermediate trails. We said we’d go have a look and see what we could do.

What we found was a full-size, crew-cab 4×4 pick-up on 80 psi street tires, that had slid completely off the trail, down a slope that led down to a small ravine. It had sunk into the mud up to its door sills. Mas had a winch on his truck and we offered our help. About two hours, 3 or 4 winch pulls, and a rain and hail storm later, we had the truck back on the road. As the rain picked up I got concerned that he—and we—would be able to get back out (as his truck blocked our exit). He got his truck turned around though, and we all made it out. Sheesh. It was a little more than we bargained for.

Still it was a great trip. Here are some photos from that day. Read the rest of this entry »


A big thank you to Greg, Mas, Bryan, Ismael, Jesus, and David & Sadie, Lola, and Bee, who all came out to Hollister Hills for WCXC’s first trail day. It was great to see everyone enjoy the food, camping, and a day on the trails.

We had fun despite the rain checking out the various obstacle courses and working on our driving skills. Then, as we headed back to camp, the day took as serious turn when we learned that a man and his small boy had slid off the mud-slick trail and had gotten their full-size pick up seriously stuck. A full report soon.

California-Nevada Border • WCXC
Photo: Nik Schulz

What’s your favorite overlanding moment? I’d love to hear about them. If you send in a brief description and some photos (1400 pixels wide), I’ll publish the best ones here on the blog.

OK, I’ll start. My favorite overlanding moment was on our Twain trip. Natalie, Greg, and I were in the Sierras, close to the California-Nevada border, about 15 miles north of Bridgeport. Maybe half an hour earlier we had been lost in open country. The map for the obscure road we were on (Forest Road 067) had an error, and we weren’t able to find our way through the mountains. Every trail we tried faded into nothing. Then someone on an ATV pointed us in the direction of a steep, rock-strewn hill, saying something like, “That’s where you need to go, if you can make it up that hill.”

It was 067, the road leading to Bridgeport, our next supply stop. It was pretty loose and fairly steep but not only did we make it to the top and now know where we were, we were rewarded with stunning views to boot. Here are some more photos.

What’s your favorite moment? Send ’em in to westcountyxclub. I’m on gmail.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Overlanding in the Land of Twain, Part 3 Read the rest of this entry »

Rookies on the Rubicon• WCXC
Photos: Caleb Knight and Jeremy Knight. Story editing: Nik Schulz

This is an multi-part post written by Jeremy Knight about his 2013 adventure on the Rubicon as a first-timer.

Rookies on the Rubicon, Part 7

Cadillac Hill

The sound of rain shook me awake. It was just after 1am and I was immediately hit with panic. Cadillac Hill in the wet! A feeling of dread hit me in the pit of my stomach. For two-and-a-half days I had been beating this gnawing fear into submission and now rain was falling on the polished-rocks of Cadillac Hill. All of my vehicular, and driving-skill, inadequacies popped back into my mind.

We had stayed up rather late, enjoying Erik’s birthday and explaining things like “Juice” and “Barter Town” to young Caleb, who didn’t understand the Mad Max movie plots at all—he thinks that post-Apocalyptic means zombies. So when we retired for the night, we left the camp in a bit of disarray. I knew that my camera was out, and maybe some other things, so I scrambled down the ladder from the roof-top tent to grab things that I shouldn’t have left out in the rain. Read the rest of this entry »