Archives for category: —- Sierra Nevada
Rookies on the Rubicon• WCXC
Loon Lake trailhead and amazing overflow sluice (trail starts beyond the shack) Photos: Caleb Knight and Jeremy Knight. Story editing: Nik Schulz

This is an multi-part post written by Jeremy Knight about his first time on the Rubicon.

Rookies on the Rubicon, Part 2

Loon Lake Trailhead

As the day grew closer, I continued my internet research and Erik sent me YouTube clips. I could tell that he was having second thoughts. Some of the video was daunting: people breaking things, people rolling over and doing major vehicle damage, people getting hopelessly stuck. What were we thinking? Did we really have any business doing this sort of thing? Or would we be like hikers on Everest, wearing tennis shoes and looking really foolish while begging for a piggyback ride to safety?

One thing I noticed in the videos was that nobody was driving an FJ. They were all Jeeps, mostly modified Rubicon’s, or buggies, but no FJs. Well, there was one video in which a guy in an FJ tried to clear a nasty rock shelf and ripped his entire rear bumper off. I tried to ignore that one, it almost looked deliberate. I finally found a blog called Last Great Road Trip that told a story of a group of FJs that successfully went through during the 2013 Rubithon event, a sort of Jamboree for Toyotas. Unfortunately they were all highly-modified with long-travel kits, 35s, and re-geared axles. To top it off, they were guided by some guy named “Woodie” who apparently knew all of the trail’s rocks by name. Only one of them escaped without body damage. Read the rest of this entry »

Rookies on the Rubicon • WCXC
All photos: Caleb Knight, Jeremy Knight. Story editing: Nik Schulz

The off-road section of the Rubicon, the famous 4×4 trail in California’s Sierra Nevada, west of Lake Tahoe, is packed with 12 miles of boulders and almost non-stop obstacles. On the 1 to 10 difficultly scale that we, and others, use, the Rubicon is a 10. The trails don’t get much tougher than this.

What’s it like to tackle this grandaddy of the off-road world for the first time? Well, Jeremy Knight, an overlander from Washington State, will tell you. His account, first published in the Expedition Portal forums, is offered here with his permission.

Rookies on the Rubicon, Part 1

The Ground Rules

There were times in my life when, had I known how hard something was going to be beforehand, I probably wouldn’t have tried it in the first place. Caution would rule and I would be content reading about other people, more capable or better equipped, grinding it out. It’s almost always good that I don’t know in advance about the degree of difficulty, challenge, or stress involved in the endeavor, since life is much duller lived within my comfort zone. For me, attempting the Rubicon Trail in a relatively stock FJ Cruiser, with my brother, who has never spent much time off-road, was one of those times. Read the rest of this entry »

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The aftermarket Jeep parts supplier, Extreme Terrain, is giving away three separate 4 day / 3 night trips to major off-road destinations as part of a promotional contest. A single contestant will win the whole lot. He and his (or her) guest will be flown to California’s Rubicon Trail, Moab in Utah, and Ouray in Colorado. Once there, they’ll be given the use of a Jeep Wrangler with which they can explore the trails.

Read the rest of the post for additional details culled from Extreme Terrain’s press release.

Link:
Contest entry page Read the rest of this entry »

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Here’s a beautiful video of Bodie, the ghost town in the Sierra Nevada a few miles from the Nevada border. We visited there on our Mark Twain trip. Click here, if you’d like to read more about it.

Thanks for the tip, Greg!


I went on a nice little solo trip up to the Sierra Nevada this past summer, found some great back country camp sites, and thought I’d share them with you. Keep these in mind for next summer when the snow clears.

See the map at the end of the post for exact locations. Read the rest of this entry »


Photo: Gregory MacDonald

A couple of weeks ago I headed up to the Mormon Emigrant Trail in the Sierra Nevada with my friends Greg, Mas, and Ismael to get into the snow and practice our recovery techniques. We started with a plan that Greg had drawn up of the different types of recoveries we wanted to do: Pull Pall with winch, winching with Hi-Lift, Kinetic strap pull, etc. When we got to the snow though, we found that it was a lot of fun just to drive around. We were doing recoveries soon enough, however. Read the rest of this entry »


In the time it takes to have a cup of coffee, you can travel across Yosemite. Why not make a cup and watch this timelapse gorgeousness of one of America’s best places.


Photo: Flickr user, OpalMirror. Used under Creative Commons license.

There’s a Northern California HAM radio class on offer next month in the Sacramento Valley area. The class, sponsored by the Rubicon Trail Foundation, will take place on January 21st from 9:00am to 5:00pm and the test will be given on February 4th from 9:00am to about 2:00pm.

The cost of the class is $15 plus the cost of the book (ARRL Ham Radio License Manual, 2nd edition. published July 1 2010), which you’ll need to buy on your own after you register. The course instructors are adamant that you get this exact edition and publication date, as being able to follow along in the class depends on it.

Class participants will be offered group-rate prices on two radios, a Yaesu FT-60 portable and/or Yaesu FT-8800 mobile radio (the latter is pictured above).

Hat tip to Anthony for the info!

Here’s a link with info on how to register.


Photo: Greg MacDonald

After Twain’s first, large-scale, Western ruckus, his audience began to grow, as did his reputation. By 1864 he was honing his craft by writing 4,000-word political dispatches five days a week from Carson City. So much for not liking work.

In 1865 his story “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” submitted too late for inclusion in an anthology of Western writing, was instead published in New York’s Saturday Press. It exploded. Within in no time the tale of the jumping frog with the belly full of lead had appeared in newspapers across the U.S. and Europe.

He had stepped onto the world stage.

As we stepped out into the morning at Trumbull Lake, the sun cracked across 12,280 ft. Dunderberg Peak, a wall of loose rock, towering a good 3,000 ft. above our campsite. We’d completely missed seeing it in the dark the night before.

Prior to 1878 this pile of 100-million-year-old granite was known as Castle Peak. Here’s how Twain described it:

At the end of a week we adjourned to the Sierras on a fishing excursion, and spent several days in camp under snowy Castle Peak, and fished successfully for trout in a bright, miniature lake whose surface was between ten and eleven thousand feet above the level of the sea; cooling ourselves during the hot August noons by sitting on snow banks ten feet deep, under whose sheltering edges fine grass and dainty flowers flourished luxuriously; and at night entertaining ourselves by almost freezing to death.

Mark Twain, Roughing It, Chapter 39

Read the rest of this entry »


Photo: Greg MacDonald

When we last left Mark Twain he was slaughtering passers-by in the pages of the Territorial Enterprise. He wrote a similar story in the fall of 1863 meant to shame financiers for artificially inflating stock prices—yes, it happened back then too—and to embarrass San Francisco newspapers for their complicity.

Entitled “The Massacre at Empire City,” it told the story of a man who, in seeing no way out of a huge financial scandal (think 19th-century Enron), committed suicide after gruesomely murdering his wife and most of their nine children.

Twain intended it as satire but big-city papers reprinted the piece as fact, too caught up in the grisly details to catch the finer, cautionary tale. When he recanted the whole thing, cries for Mark Twain’s head could be heard up and down the west coast. Shocked, Twain offered to resign from the paper. “Nonsense,” his editor replied, “We can furnish the people with news, but we can’t supply them with sense.”

In making his first real mark on the West, Twain had, to his amazement, discovered the power of the media.

At our camp in the Bodie Hills, Greg had discovered the power of a wonky stomach. Marinated chicken and my lack of ice-chest due diligence had been the culprits. Back at Desert Creek I had grilled chicken. Natalie warned that it might not have survived the thaw. It had tasted fine but I spit it out anyway. Greg passed too, after swallowing a bite. That simple italics made all the difference. Now in the Bodie Hills he made excursions into the sagebrush with shovel in hand. Read the rest of this entry »