Molina Ghost Run
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Story by Troyce Severe


Molina Ghost Run, Clear Creek, CA

We were ridge-running now with our next obstacle fast approaching. Nestled at the top of the next obstacle was a well-prepared Jeep Commando. As we were guided up to a launching point, for what I thought was for hang gliders, we were told that the trail headed downward a bit and to the left. All I saw was sky... so out we popped to take a look.

A fairly steep downhill over a mixture of loose dirt and small rocks was a good test for our new low gears. So geared down, we popped over the ledge, feeling a bit tense, not being able to see where we where going. But both rigs made the climb down without the use of our brakes.

From there, the trail wanders over hill and dale, sometimes taking us over a rock-riddled path upward, or down a tree-lined dirt road with awesome views of the surrounding valleys. About twenty minutes later we arrived at a fork in the trail. To the right was the "Red Rock Loop" and the optional hard route was straight ahead. Decisions, decisions... Off to the right we went to face our next challenge.

Lockers were required for this loop as we traveled uphill over small red rocks, which were like traveling over a road bed of marbles. Our lockers made this challenge look easy, but without them we certainly would have struggled.

Back on the main trail, we headed to our second check point where we spotted several rigs off to the left crawling up a very steep hill. Boy, that looked like fun, but we seemed to be heading away from this trail climb. Had we missed a turn? How do we get to that steep hill climb? All of this was to be answered at the next check point, and location of the famous Molina mud bowl.

The mud bowl, alone, usually attracts a large gathering and special group of long wheel base 4x4 vehicles. But this year, the bowl was fairly dry where we were able to drive through. Normally, we wouldn't even dream of testing our rigs through six-eight feet of muck, but with only two-three, it provided a little play time.

The trail from the mud bowl was to head back to the hill climb we had seen, and then back to the mud bowl where we would start heading back to base camp. So, off we went, excited about the hill climb to come, but not realizing the challenges that were about to come. For what must go up, first must go down, and the downward path we arrived at was a also known in California as summer-time 4x4 skiing.

We came to another one of those pop-over a small ledge to a steep down grade spots, only this down grade was steeper than the last and there was no help as to the best line down. After reviewing several motorcycles slide their way down, my brave friend was the first to test the hill. Machine (actually low gearing) verses a hill of loose dirt. We actually both made the descent without the use of brakes, but the first part of popping over the legde got the blood flowing.




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