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Rubicon Media Run '99
It seemed only moments later, that the wake-up call came. Out the door and off we went. I can't help but imagine the puzzle on the face of the poor cleaning lady. Skunk? We arrived at the meeting hole...I mean, headquarters. We checked in and got our chocolate lunches (don't ask). The place was crowded. We were at Olson's Garage in Placerville. Radio personalities, photographers, reporters for the Internet and print were all present, along with multitudes of volunteer drivers, cooks and CA4WDC, OHV and other state office Representatives. Most of the media types did not know the difference between a T-Case and a Trail Closure.
We volunteered to leave early from Olson's. Breakfast was scheduled at the trailhead and we were determined to find it ASAP. Got gas and headed off. Steve had driven the Rubicon many times ,but usually backward. Then again, that was 20 years ago. We saw some wheelers all loaded up like us. Fifteen minutes later they passed the turn-off Steve swore we should take. Sounded right to me because I, too, had driven the Rubicon, but that was when the '97 TJ was new and unrolled! Ten minutes later, we concluded they were not part of this run and we U-turned back to Ice House Road. Now we were going the right way...we thought!
After what seemed like an eternity of really doubting our senses of direction and memory, we arrived, alone, at the trailhead. Loon Lake Dam. Ah...the first to breakfast, pastries and coffee. But, now, others started roaring in as well. All the J's were represented (CJ,YJ & TJ), as well as some nice Toys, Chevy's and other bastardized creations. Lots of very capable looking trailers, too. We were in with a real rockcrawling crowd.
Jake Raudy, an avid 'wheeler and an executive of Fleishman-Hillard, is the mastermind behind these recent media events. He called all of us together for a meeting. Folks were introduced and history lessons taught.
Trivia - what road/trail in the 1930's had one hundred men working on it daily all summer long so folks in their Caddy's and Buicks could traverse between two big mountain resorts? Yep, the Rubicon Trail. Hmmm, Cadillaclac Hill. Makes since now. More on that later. This trail is old! Rubicon Springs, our final destination, was once a resort, built in the late 1800's.
If you have not traveled with women much, here is an etiquette lesson for you. When Mother Nature sings her tunes and you've got to go, it's men on the left of the trail and women on the right! See? You do learn something new everyday.
Finally, we were off! Rubicon, here we go! Our first victim came quickly. While traversing the Granite Bowl, we saw Carl Brandt; President of Lost Coast 4x4, starting his walk up some steps in his YJ. Vroom, creek, SNAP! Hmmm. Sounded too loud for a locker kicking in. Wow! Do you see that! Neat trick! This guy's got an expando axle kit on his rig. Oh, guess not.
It was another stressed C-clip axle in a Dana 30 with a big locker, kind of thing. That spells broken axle to you new folks out there. One smart soul offered his extra front axle hub and spindle. The plan was to match it up to the bolts that mount the rear brake housing, put on a tire and drive out on three axles. Would of worked but the hub and spindle was for a Dana 44. Neat idea. Make one of these for your rear C-clip axle for when you break one. Dont forget to clamp off and tie the brake housing way up out of the way and DON'T leave it behind, because you are guaranteed to break your axle when wheeling if this thing is still on your shelf at home. Anyway, it would beat dumping oil on the ground while trying to pull the axle apart on the trail.
The final decision was to have Carl's co-pilot run up the hill for better cell phone reception and call Danny Warden's Auto in Placerville. Rumor is, that he will drive parts into Loon Lake. I can only guess that is was what happened because everyone else had moved on and I did too, reluctantly! I was reassured that Carl would be fine and that he was capable of dealing with this on his own. I never was comfortable with that! Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but that Marine mentality of never leave a down man behind, is my way of thinking. Later that evening I checked with Jack and Carl had checked in via CB and was now trailering back to town.
Little Sluice? How do you call something with a big Samurai-sized boulder in the middle of it little? Since we waited awhile behind with Carl, we were one of the last to reach Little Sluice. Apparently, we missed much of the action. Story goes that there was a roll-over in there. He was not from our run. It was righted and off it drove. Later, we were mistaken for the one that rolled. Gee. Does my rig look that bad?
We watched Chuck Smith of "All Season Wheelers" in his Bronco trying to Sluice it. He, instead got sliced on his passenger rear tire and driver's front door. After a sluicey change of the tire and after gallant efforts to drive out on the spare, he finally did an exit stage left via a winch, up over the side of the Sluice. The media witnessed good winching techniques and safety procedures.
Only one secret to the Little Sluice was revealed. EXPECT DAMAGE! Otherwise, no secrets to making it thru the Little Sluice. You just can't figure it out once and tell all, because each rig requires a little different line and each year the harsh winter changes the location of the boulder. No one conquered it in our group. Read on!
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