Archives for category: TRAIL RATINGS

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.

Links:
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)

Oregon Dunes, WCXC
Greg out on the dunes. All photos: Nik Schulz

WCXC is back, albeit on a very limited basis while I make a living and write a book about spending a few months living on a mile-wide British island. (More on that later.) Still, adventures are being had and it’s time to get some photos up.

A few days ago, Greg, his wife, Abbey, and I, went to the Oregon Dunes in southwestern Oregon. See the photos after the jump. It was nice camping there, if a bit noisy.

Link:
Oregon Dunes

Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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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.
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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!

Link:
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 »

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 6

The Big Sluice

The run through the Big sluice was going to be our “short and easy” day. It was Erik’s birthday and he was spending it on the trail. Pretty cool. I cooked a birthday breakfast frittata, overland-style: baby potatoes, sweet onions, bacon, eggs, and cheese in a Snow Peak cast iron pan, on my Partner Steel folding stove. I was so happy that we were finally getting this done. What a privilege, what an experience!

So we got off to a lazy start, not really expecting much trail resistance, though I’m not clear why. I think we figured we had seen the worst of it until Cadillac Hill, which we’d hit the following day.

Most of the research I had done about the route, talks about Cadillac as being pretty stressful, but really doesn’t show many pictures or video. The blog “Last Great Road Trip,” sort of apologizes for not having many pictures. “With no room to negotiate, other rigs on my heals, and the thought of tumbling down the hill buried deep within my subconscious, pictures are a bit scarce of Cadillac Hill.”

I knew that the “Hill” is polished slick rock in some critical places, deep and narrow in others. I’d also heard two pieces of relevant wisdom: “Better stay left,”  and “Don’t do it when it’s wet.”

Today we weren’t expecting much, just an easy day to relax at Rubicon Springs, go for a swim, grill some birthday steaks, watch a movie, and enjoy the last night of our adventure. Low pressure, no stress.

I felt extremely blessed. We had been challenged beyond what we had expected but hadn’t gotten stuck or broken anything. Sure, my skids and sliders had paid the price, but that’s what they’re there for: peace-of-mind. Erik’s Jeep had performed well beyond his expectations. He had done a great job preparing it. I was very impressed. He was driving well beyond his experience, and didn’t realize that he had the ability. He would understand better by the end of the next day. My brother is a natural. Read the rest of this entry »

The center of the Milky WayForest Wander from Cross Lanes, USA
Photo: Forest Wander from Cross Lanes, USA, Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. 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 5

Midnight Buggies at Martini Tree

Later on that evening, after an wonderful, restoring swim in Buck Island Lake, a dinner of hot-links with sliced tomatoes and onions on hoagie rolls (with sweet mustard), and a beer or so, we decided to walk down the hill, towards the Big Sluice Box. A challenge that we would not be able to by-pass. It was twilight, so we took flashlights to explore what we would be forced to drive the next day.

Turning around, at this point, was out of the question. We did not have the appetite to return the way we had come—that wasn’t going to happen. That would also be admitting defeat and wasn’t going to happen either.

We had walked just past the second switchback, when we began to see lights flashing up through the tunnel of trees, way down the trail below us. Soon, we heard music and then we could hear voices. It sounded like a party, except that it was moving up the hill towards us rather quickly. Read the rest of this entry »

Rookies on the Rubicon, Part 4 • 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 4

Buck Island Lake to Martini Tree

So far we had stuck to the plan we had agreed to before the trip:

  1. We will always discuss the safest way to accomplish the task and not act impulsively.
  2. We will walk ANY questionable trail and discuss the best line.
  3. We will stack rocks, discuss other recovery options—and rehearse them prior to execution—whenever there is a question of vehicle damage.
  4. We will bypass riskier sections whenever possible.
  5. We will not succumb to pressure, personal or outside.
  6. We will not rush the trail.

This is our first time on the Rubicon we can come back later and take the toughest line, but only if we are successful this time—there is no honor in stupid luck!

Preserve our people—protect our rigs. Good driving makes all the difference, and good driving is the result of good planning, and executing that plan.

This will be fun, we will take our time and the outcome will be awesome!

(Sorry for the repeat, but this became very important as we progressed—it kept getting tougher.) 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 3

Little Sluice

The beer is done. The greetings are over. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Erik, my younger brother by seven years, but it’s time to drive trail. When I lived in the Bay Area, we used to do quite a bit together, mainly backpacking and fly fishing in the Sierras. Then in 1994, I moved my family to Bellingham, Washington for a job (lousy reason to move, but good place to live). Erik and I met at Mount Shasta a few times, until we finally succeeded in climbing it and then things kind of petered out. He has his family; I have mine; we had to “get on with it.”

In January of 2009, I bought a used FJ Trail Teams (out of nostalgia for an FJ-40 our father owned) from a really cool guy in Pittsburgh, PA. I took a Jet Blue red-eye out of Seattle (so that I could sleep on the plane and save on a hotel). After a few hours at the dealership, the paperwork was done. I headed west in the dead of winter with my new prize. That trip was an adventure in itself.

Later, Erik purchased his Jeep JK. “This was going to be our reconnect,” I told myself. Fast-forward to August and here we are: Rubicon Reconnect. Rookies on the Rubicon. Time to drive. Read the rest of this entry »