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Mark A. Smith Rubicon Trail Adventure

Story By Michael Cohn
Photos by Michael Cohn and Todd Moore

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Morning came and we awoke to the sound of Bob's distant piano. We wandered, bleary-eyed to the dining area, where fresh coffee was on the stove and the best bacon in the world was on the fire. I'll never forget the bacon. Never. Oh! The bacon!

The drive to camp was very dusty and Mark had the perfect fix - camp shower tents, complete with their own changing "room" and solar-heated shower bags, warmed to a wonderful 110 degrees. Can you even really call this camping, I wondered.

The day would be spent in camp. We were free to do whatever we liked, with meals provided and the bar open all day. This was our day to escape the rigors of daily life and be free and relaxed.

JJUSA flew in a fly fishing instructor, who gave lessons in the campground (but not in the water), as well as a regional geology expert and a Native American historian. The latter two gave talks on their areas of expertise while we sat on the rocks and listened. Interestingly enough, arrowheads were actually found that very morning in the camp ground!

The group was also offered rides in the helicopter for $50 a head, which was well worth it. I managed to score a front seat since I had my camera ready to go. I had never been in a copter before and was offered "door in or out." I figured it had seat belts and I have never fallen out of my doorless Jeep so why not, right? Doors out. We were given an aerial tour of the Rubicon Trail and we got to see where we had driven the day before. The flight was amazing and I got lots of beautiful photographs (and arrived safely back at the camp's heliport).

Mark A. Smith Rubicon Trail Adventure
Copter taking off from upper pad at camp
Mark A. Smith Rubicon Trail Adventure
Mark Smith's camp site
Mark A. Smith Rubicon Trail Adventure
The helicopter ride was breath taking
Mark A. Smith Rubicon Trail Adventure
Mark Smith's camp site

The rest of my day I enjoyed myself, lazing away on the rocks by the river, sharing a canoe ride with Todd and hiding out by myself on the porch at Mark's private log cabin.

That night, Texas-sized steaks were made on the fire, some lucky drivers won goodies during the raffle, and we all got fat, full and lazy while Bob tickled the ivories with a friend from the Sierra Vista Symphony Orchestra sitting in on fiddle.

Mark A. Smith Rubicon Trail Adventure
Steaks. Yum.
Mark A. Smith Rubicon Trail Adventure
The music played on until late in the evening

Rockin' Out
Morning came and it was time for us to hit the trail again. We loaded up and hit the gas station (no, wait, that was another trail ride). We loaded up and hit the trail, heading out through mosquito-infested wooded areas and stream crossings.

Of course, we hit Cadillac Hill and wound our way up to Observation Point, where we all got out for the photo op and to look out at the trail we had driven up. Meanwhile, we watched the helicopter air-lift the camp out one net-full at a time.

Mark A. Smith Rubicon Trail Adventure
A driver catches air on Cadillac Hill - swaybars connected.
Mark A. Smith Rubicon Trail Adventure
Fighting up a wet Cadillac Hill.

The ride out past this point was really pretty easy, wrapping up on several miles of small-rocked 2WD roads, which about beat us to death. By the time we got back to Lake Tahoe, we were good and ready to get out of the Jeeps.

Mark A. Smith Rubicon Trail Adventure
Observation Point
Mark A. Smith Rubicon Trail Adventure
Todd (left) and I at Observation Point

We headed back to the hotel where we said our goodbyes and thank yous and loaded our filthy, dust-covered bodies into the limos, which took us back to Reno, where we'd catch our flights home.

The Greatest Four-Wheeling Trip I've Ever Taken
This comment really sums it all up. The Rubicon Trail is a must-do trail for any self-respecting four-wheeler. It's also a rite of passage, of sorts. West Coasters take the Rubicon for granted, as it's close by and relatively easy to get to. But those of us on the other side of the continent have a tougher time making it. Time constraints alone mean spending 2 or 3 days just getting there and another 2 to 3 days back if we drove our own rigs. And what if something happened to our rig so far from home?

Mark A. Smith Rubicon Trail Adventure
Sorry guys.

If you did the Rubicon on your own in 2 days, it would likely mean 6-9 days of being gone from home if all went well. On top of that, for me, anyway, it would mean nearly 5,000 miles of driving and roughly $1,000 in fuel costs. So you add all that up, including unpaid days off from work to travel and the price of admission starts looking better.

Add in the convenience of flying out, taking limo rides, and basically being treated like a king, eating the best food and driving someone else's Jeep and it looks a LOT better!

Being able to take only 5 days to spend 3 days on the trail in a borrowed Jeep is one of the best deals around. If you've ever priced expedition outfitters you'll understand that this really is one heck of a sweet vacation package. And the bonus, of course, is that you get to go with people who know the trails and you don't have to worry about breaking your own stuff. Heck, you may not even have your own rig in the first place, which makes it all the better!

To learn more about Jeep Jamboree USA's Mark A. Smith Rubicon Trail Adventure, visit www.jeepjamboreeusa.com.

See you on the Rubicon!


Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn is the founder and Editor here at Rockcrawler.com. Michael enjoys photography, music, and driving other peoples' 4x4's.

Contact Michael at comments@rockcrawler.com






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