Photo (c) Jason Martin

Trail Review: The Rubicon Trail Part 2 [California]

August 2014, Days 2 & 3.

Miss part one?  Find it here!

Everyone slowly woke to the familiar smell of coffee and the sound of hushed voices.  Once caffeinated and packed up, we decided to cross the dam and take a look at the helicopter crash site.

Just days before we arrived, a chopper that was ferrying supplies for the Jamboree crashed on the shore of Buck Island Lake. Fortunately, everyone survived.  It was still a very surreal scene, with bloody clothes visible and even the pilot’s headset resting in the cockpit window frame.

The crash site. Click to enlarge.

Once we returned to the campsite, we left Buck Island Lake, quickly encountering a fun series of ledges right out of the gate.

While Jeff took a more challenging line to the right, the rest of us stayed left.  The trailer made it around the dogleg turn, and we all made it up without much issue.

Matt climbing the ledges at BIL. Click to enlarge.

As a group we were pretty fortunate when it came to trail damage. But, on the previous day, one of Jesse’s expensive Icon shocks was smoked by a rock, and today would see the demise of the second.  As no one happened to bring along a spare, poor Jesse and Thana had a pretty bouncy ride for the rest of the trail.

Some shocks are just not meant for the trail. Photo (c) Jason Martin.

The trail soon dropped us at the Big Sluice – traditionally one of the hardest parts of the Rubicon (devoid of a bypass) but the section has been neutered in the past few years.  It still poses some serious challenges and interesting lines.

Jeff tackling a challenging line choice on the Big Sluice. Click to enlarge.

Here is some raw video of my Jeep and trailer navigating a fun line, with Chad’s expert spotting.  Apologies for the brake noise!

My Jeep and trailer dodging boulders in big sluice. Click to enlarge.

Once we all cleared the grips of the Big Sluice, I popped out of the forest into a turn that placed the trailer on some wet, slick rock with the potential to flip it if it slid.  Thankfully, Robert lended a safety winch line and I easily dropped down without issue.  It was one of those instances where it probably would have been fine, but the consequences of being wrong were pretty harsh.  So, playing it safe was preferred.

Yep. Trailer got a little tippy. Thanks to Robert for the winch line. Photo (c) Jason Martin. Click to enlarge.

The next section was a pretty serious rock garden.  It was in this spot on last year’s excursion that Chad blew his bead on a front tire.  The granite boulders here are formidable, and careful tire placement is mandatory.

It’s not every day this is the view out of your windshield. Line placement is key. Click to enlarge.

When the trail turns left at the bottom of the pile, your passenger side tires are very close to a precarious drop off, and tree scars tell the stories of others that got too close.

Drone footage of Matt and Jesse crossing the famous bridge.

Shortly after this section, we all crossed the Rubicon River bridge and made our way into Rubicon Springs.  The place was packed, in preparation for the Jamboree.  We passed through and claimed our campsite for the day at the base of a huge granite slab, right on the river.  We found this spot last year, and I was really excited to stay here.

Camp for the night. Photo (c) Jason Martin. Click to enlarge.

I quickly whipped up some of my favorite trail sandwiches for lunch: the infamous Beyond Meat BBQ Chick’n Sandwiches.  These are packed with protein, are easy to make, and taste awesome.

Chef Scott, making some kick ass Beyond Meat sandwiches. Photo (c) Jason Martin.

After a filling lunch, there was not much else to do but spend some R&R time in my hammock, and then take a swim in the beautiful glacial pond at the campsite.  The rope swing was a blast.

This is what Jeeping and the Rubicon is all about. Relaxing. Photo (c) Jason Martin.
Yours truly taking a plunge.

Another benefit of staying here is that it is actually private property.  Be prepared to pay $10 per night per vehicle, but the cost is worth it.  While the rest of California is drier than a popcorn fart, this place allows campfires.  We had a beautiful fire under the stars, reliving the stories of the day and enjoying some ice cold Oregon brews.  This is what offroading is all about – the friends you make.

A beautiful fire wrapped up an amazing day. Photo (c) Jason Martin. Click to enlarge.

We woke to a frosty Sierra morning and a cacophony of Canadian Geese that were probably just as hungry as we were.  With steam rising from coffee mugs, I made some breakfast burritos and we slowly broke camp.  Another dip in the pond acted as both an additional caffeine shot and a bath.  It might have even helped with the IPA-induced headache from the night before.

A beautiful Sierra morning. Photo (c) Jason Martin. Click to enlarge.

As we headed back to the trail the ominous Cadillac Hill still loomed in the distance.  Cadillac climbs about 1200 feet in a half mile.

When we first planned this trip, and I committed to bringing the trailer, the only spot that really concerned me was the tight corner at the base of Cadillac.  Now it was finally in front of me and I had to tackle it.

Winching on the turn I expected to winch on. Photo (c) Jason Martin. Click to enlarge.

To save time, I opted to winch after a couple of failed attempts.  The trailer was anchoring the Jeep and I just couldn’t get enough momentum to clear it.  I was still stoked though, as this was the first time my winch was deployed, on the entire trail.

Even Jesse got some winch-inspired hang time. Photo (c) Jason Martin. Click to enlarge.

After a couple more winch pulls, we all cleared the final challenge on the Rubicon trail, and grabbed a quick lunch at Observation Point.

The 2014 Rubicon crew! Photo (c) Jason Martin. Click to enlarge. From L-R: Jason, Scott, Robert April and the kids, Alex and Chad, Matt, Jesse and Thana, Jeff and Brian.

Many people think Observation Point is the end of the trail; not true.  There are actually about 5 miles of slow, bouldery trail that lays between you and the hotel.  Eventually, we ended up at the staging area where high fives were exchanged, and tires were aired up.

Back on pavement, as our caravan of weary vehicles drove on with the dust of another Rubicon trip blowing off the Jeep, I realized just how awesome times like these are.

Some people will never know why I spend so much on gas, or why we spend so much time on our Jeeps.  And for some, they will never know the bliss of beating a hard line, or spotting a buddy through a bad spot.  Or, pushing yourself and your Jeep to the point of failure, only to come out a stronger team in the end.

For them, that is sad.  For us, it was amazing.

Photo (c) Jason Martin

Trail Review: The Rubicon Trail Part 1 [California]

August, 2014, Day 1

The Rubicon is not just an offroad trail, snaking through the Sierra wilderness of Northern California.  It is also a river in Italy.  More importantly, the saying “crossing the Rubicon” is a direct reference to when Caesar’s army crossed this treacherous river, knowing they could never go back.  It is now a reference to a point of no return.

And, while there many points along the Rubicon trail that seem like a point of no return, the metaphor is larger than that.  The Rubicon is more of a pilgrimage (pardon the oft cliche’d jeeping phrase) for people that are looking to challenge themselves and their Jeeps, spend quality time with great friends, and experience some of the most beautiful wilderness this country has to offer.

As far as the offroad community is concerned, spending time on the Rubicon Trail is a spiritual experience.

So, it is, actually a point of no return.


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Trail Recipe: Spaghetti with Meatish Sauce

You’d be amazed how many calories you burn when wheeling.  Yes, you are sitting down quite a bit.  However, you are constantly climbing in and out of your Jeep to scout obstacles, running ahead for that photo, scrambling up hills with winch lines, etc etc.

So it is important to eat well.

On the Rubicon trail earlier this month, I decided to use some Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles and Field Roast Italian sausages to whip up a sauce so meaty, it would make Ted Nugent blush (disclaimer: He’s an a$$h*#! and I can’t stand him).

Beauty shot of fake meat awesomeness. Photo (c) Jason Martin.

Anyway, even though this is a simple recipe, it bears writing as it is super easy, delicious, and will be the envy of your camp.  Trust me.

1. Start with prepping the spaghetti as usual.

2. Slice and pan fry 2-3 sliced Field Roast Italian sausages (I used olive oil).

Pardon the messy kitchen, my table was propped on a granite boulder. Photo (c) Jason Martin.

3. Add sauce to a pan, heat on medium.  Once the sauce is hot, pour in 3/4 of a bag of Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles.  Feel free to use feisty if you want.

Add Beyond Meat liberally. Photo (c) Jason Martin.

4. Once the sausages are hot, add them to the sauce.

Me, cooking in the woods. Photo (c) Jason Martin

5. Drain the spaghetti, and pour the meaty deliciousness on top of it.

6. Add Parma, nootch, or anything else you want on top!

Mangia! Mangia!

7. Enjoy.


Trail Review: Gold Lake 4×4 [California]

On our way to the Rubicon trail this past August, I was looking for a camping spot where we could break up the drive a bit, and also enjoy some camping.

After a bit of Googling, I found out about the Gold Lake OHV trail in Plumas National Forest, in California.  I plotted the coordinates into my GPS, and our small group of rag tag Jeepers soon departed from Oregon.

The trail is well signed.

The trail was easy to find, after a long climb into the mountains.  After following the signs, we met the trail head.  We all decided to air down (even though it is a short trail) however the number of people that were passing us combined with the fact the campground can fill up quickly led us to abandon the air down and get to the campground.

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A Day In The Life Of Something I Know Nothing About: Vegans


I was recently interviewed for a POV on veganism for the BDC blog!

Originally posted on The Big Dick Chronicles:

Let’s talk about meat. No, not that. You guys think all I write about is sex, but that’s not true. Those are just the only articles you read. Don’t argue with me; I read the stats.

I’m talking about food meat.


Our mantra here at the Big Dick Chronicles is “live life like you are in charge” and sometimes that means making decisions that don’t necessarily conform to the norms of society and culture.

For our fourth installment of the “Things I Know Nothing About” series, I decided to stretch my comfort zone a bit and explore something that I might fundamentally disagree with.

So I thought about some of the things I am passionate about. I’m passionate about sex and I am passionate about meat. (NO! Not that meat. Really you guys, stop it)

So, in my efforts to expand my horizons and open my mind to…

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Product Review: Victoria Vegan’s Arugula Alfredo Sauce

Hold the flippin’ phone.

That was my first thought when I both tasted this sauce AND read the nutritional facts.  I never liked dairy-based Alfredo.  Honestly, the 400 grams of fat (#exaggeration) per milliliter was gross.

So when I saw only 5g of fat per serving for Victoria Vegan’s alfredo, I jumped on it.

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Product Review: Factor 55 Flatlink

If you Jeep anywhere worth Jeeping, you know the feeling:  You’re stuck, and grab the hook on the end of your winch line, running it out to whatever anchor point you need to use.  And you have a hook.

What the heck are you supposed to do with a hook!?

Enter the product line of winching accessories from Factor 55.

I was interested in their Prolink “thimble” that acted as a quick attachment point for the end of the winch line.  After the install, I noticed it protruded out quite a bit, and I worried about that first careless person that nosed into the parking spot a little too far.

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Trail Recipe: “Ruburritos” for Breakfast

When jeeping for a long period of time, nothing is more important than a hearty breakfast.  On our recent trip along the Rubicon Trail, we woke to a chilly Sierra morning and I decided to warm up with some breakfast burritos.

Said chilly morning at Rubicon Springs.

These are a twist of my friend Andy’s amazing breakfast burritos from Moab.

So what do you get when you merge the Rubicon with burritos?  Ruburritos (thanks Jesse!)

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Defining Manliness in a Meat-Eating World

Yesterday, I was fortunate to hear a great piece on veganism and Masculinity (I highly encourage you all to check it out).  Of interest, was a quote by Triathlete Dominic Thompson,

“Compassion is the new cool.”

And while there is a bit of Ghandism and cliche in that statement, personally I feel it really defines my interest and core of being vegan.  Not the cool part, (I could care less about being cool) but the fact that being compassionate is in the open.  It’s OK to care for something insignificant.  It’s the new closet us men can come out of.

I remember way back (in my meat eating days) when a fly was drowning in a day old cup of coffee on my desk at work.  I asked a co-worker to quickly grab a fork, while I tried to rescue it with a pen.  My coworker ridiculed me for weeks, for “saving a stupid fly,” calling me “Fly Guy.”

Image courtesy djltaga on DeviantArt
Image courtesy djltaga on DeviantArt

At the time, it was a source of embarrassment and I found myself questioning my actions.  Maybe my friend was right.  Why was I worried about this “stupid fly?”

Initially, my defense was based on karma.  Maybe some day I’ll be drowning and I’ll wish for someone to take a moment of their day and pluck me from the proverbial cup of coffee.  But over time, I realized that saving that fly was good for my soul.  It made me feel good to help something else without placing a value on it first.

I moved on in my compassion journey from insect saving to a fully vegan lifestyle.  Knowing that my diet causes no animals any suffering or death is more nourishing for my sanity than my waist line.

So how exactly can we as a society fall on such polarized ends of this issue?  While mainstream marketing screams at real men to eat beef (It is, after all what’s for dinner) and meats, the other side eats soy and smoked tempeh strips.

A recent google image search for "Man food"
A recent google image search for “Man food”

Some of my friends actually refuse – flat out refuse – to even try a vegan meal.  I am not sure if this is out of concern I am attempting to “convert them” or out of a fear they might actually like it and would have to think about a lifestyle change.  Ignorance is a precious resource in this world and even harder to get back once lost.

Personally, I feel they worry about their man card.  That someone they know might see them biting into a Veggie Grill Buffalo Bomber and sound the man alarm, agents streaming in, taking them away only to waterboard them with A1 steak sauce and chicken stock while watching all the Rambo movies.

So how do we turn that corner?  How do we show to men on the larger scale that it is OK to be compassionate, healthy, AND actually enjoy good food?

The NPR piece mentioned a new blog that I think is really making headway in this space.  It is called The Discerning Brute and it is a high-end men’s vegan blog.

The home page of TDB.
The home page of TDB.

Another great point of the article was that confidence has always been “manly” in our society.  Ex butcher and now vegan chef Dan Strong stated,

“There’s an illusion that manhood is this confidence that is exuded at all time,” Strong said. “Veganism is that kind of confidence. It really is. It’s a choice that we make that guides us on our lives. I can’t think of anything more manly than that.”

I’d also add that as vegans we must have thick skin.  We need to deal with ridicule and ribbings.  And I think that even makes us more resilient.

And perhaps a little more manly.



Trail Review: Golden Spike [UTAH]

Golden Spike trail is part of the trifecta of trails in Moab which consists of Gold Bar Rim, Golden Spike, and most of Poison Spider.

On our recent mantrip to Moab, Andy and I actually ran all three of these trails (alone) and (almost)without incident.  There were many cases where we took the easier option as we had no other rigs with us.

The trail officially “begins” on the Poison Spider side, but we ran it in reverse from Gold Bar Rim. The area is very well signed.  I am actually glad we traversed it in this order, as some of the descents we made off ledges seemed pretty difficult if we were climbing them.  The “point of no return factor, however was a bit daunting.

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