Today I joined my offroading friends for a day of wheeling in our “back yard” trails. It was a big day for me and my rig, as it marked the first time I was meeting up driving a Toyota. This group of friends had grown and bonded over our common JKs – build parties installing coil overs, and offroad/camping trips in Moab, the Rubicon, and elsewhere.
So it was a moment of truth for me – was selling my JK and buying a 25 year old Land Cruiser a good choice?
After the initial ribbing and airing down was over, we hit Archer’s Firebreak. This was an awesome trail choice – Archer’s was my favorite trail in the JK, and one I led every year for the Jeep Jamboree. So I had a lot of history with it and knew it well. However, I had never wheeled it in anything other than the JK. Now I was in a Toyota. And an automatic.
The biggest difference for me this time, was that I would bypass the burly stuff. I was without rock rails, skids, and confidence in the new rig.
This year’s Rubicon trip would be unlike any other we have ever taken. Maybe it was the seemingly countless trailer flops. Or maybe it was the legendary campsite. Or, the fact we started in Wentworth Springs instead of Loon Lake.
I always laugh at the often obscure names given to trails in our area. Some, I am sure have a backstory (Stick in the Nose is an actual trail name) while others I think are a lame attempt at sounding intimidating. But Crushers has always had that scary spot in my mind.
Not just due to the name, but due to the massive boulder field that is the trail. It is probably the ultimate rock crawling trail in this area.
The trail begins with a common filter that has a pretty easy line even though it looks menacing.
I have always heard about this mythical place called Sand Lake, but never really wanted to go there. Maybe it’s the name. A lake of sand doesn’t necessarily sound appealing. But when I had an invite from a couple of Jeep friends to camp for the weekend, I took the chance.
Sand Lake is a recreation area just South of Tillamook on the Oregon Coast. Getting there is a cinch and it is nice to pass Brown’s Camp should the desire for another type of wheeling strike you on your way home.
I headed toward “Derrick Road” where I would eventually meet my friends and set up camp. The road ends at the camp area, a small sandy (surprise!) enclave of trees with primitive campsites, fire rings, and pit toilets. The end of the camp area is basically the entrance to the recreation area.
Once my friends arrived, we aired down and headed out to explore this expansive play area.
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.
Once we returned to the campsite, we left Buck Island Lake, quickly encountering a fun series of ledges right out of the gate.
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.
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 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.
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.
Kane Creek Canyon is a trail that was highly recommended to us by a neighbor when staying at Canyonlands Campground in Moab.
“The only hard part is the climb out of the canyon, and that isn’t too bad” were the only words of hesitation.
So with reckless abandon, I hit the trail with friends Andy, Matt and Joe.
The trail follows Kane Creek Canyon road out of Moab, heading West. The road quickly turns to dirt and descends through a really nice canyon. The road was pretty dusty, so Matt in his JK had to drop back a bit.
Eventually the trail appeared on the Left, across from the Kane Creek/Chicken Corners pull off.