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Latest Report

Barrett Lake
Sept 11-15

Trip Report: Hermit Valley

Deer Valley Trail Run
6-17 through 6-19, 2005


Judi and I met Bob and Johnny at the Safeway parking lot in Scotts Valley departing at 10:00 am. Seeing how we were all gassed up and ready to go we did not make one stop until we were at Angels camp where we stopped at Burger King for lunch at 1:15 pm. Once we were finished filling ourselves up, we stopped at a gas station and filled up our Jeeps. During the gas stop I noticed my Jeep had ripped the passenger side lower shock mount in half. Since there was nothing we could do about it at this time we hit the open road at 2:00 pm with the next stop being the Hermit Valley campground.

We arrived at the campground around 3:40 or so to find Dan and Debbie Periera, Lance and son-n-law Nick and James and Cheri already there. We were very happy to find very little snow at the campground as driving over the pass from Lake Alpine there were 5 to 6 foot snow drifts along side the road. I personally was getting a little worried. What was at the campground, was drifts that were in the shade and had not melted yet. Everywhere else was looking good. Dan advised that it had snowed the night before as when he and Debbie awoke there was 2 inches of standing snow on the ground. We were all happy to see it had melted as no one really wanted to setup their tent in standing snow. James and Dan had their motor homes and were already setup to enjoy the weekend ahead. Lance had just arrived and had picked a camping spot to start setting up. Johnny, Bob and I all picked ourselves out a camping spot and started setting up our tents.

During our campsite preparations a nice hail storm started just to make things interesting. While we were setting up our camp sites Terry and Amy arrived and started doing the same. Once I had my campsite setup enough I pulled my Jeep over to James campsite where he was able to use his new ready welder to fix my broken shock mount. “Thank you James”. Once we were finished fixing my rig it was decided to see how the trail was and take a short afternoon trip up to check conditions. Just about the time we were going to pull out of camp, Robin and Michelle arrived. I advised them that we were getting ready to hit the trail and wanted to know if they wanted to go. Robin replied he needed to tweak the carb on the bronco and wanted to get his camp setup, so they would pass. Bob also decided to pass on the afternoon trip so he could get his rig ready. So around 4:30 pm, Dan, James and Sherrie, Johnny, Amy, Terry, Lance, Nick on his dirt bike and Judi and I hit the trail. We went through the first two harder spots, playing with different lines and then through the rock garden on the left where the trail has two lines, a little farther up the trail. After the rock garden it was decided to turn around and head back to camp to make dinner. Overall, what was seen of the trail was in great condition. Upon returning to camp everyone started cooking up their dinner. Paul, his wife and two daughters showed up and started setting up there camp. After dinner we sat around a fire Johnny had made and talked of the adventures the next day could bring. People went to bed relatively early to be well rested for the next day.

Everyone got up at their leisure, cooked up some breakfast, packed up their rigs for the day ahead and started lining up at the trail head at around 9:50 am. John form the South Valley Trail Riders Club came out to play with us and also to check the trail conditions for his club to see when they may be able to plan their spring opener trail run. Introductions were made and we started up the trail at 10:10 am. Altogether there were 11 rigs (9 members and 2 guests) and one dirt bike. We all worked our way though the first obstacle right out of camp and up to the second one where Lance broke his steering coupler at 10:45. By 11:10 we had bypassed the steering coupler and did a direct bolt from steering box to steering shaft. With Lance back in action we moved on. By 12:00 pm we had hit the top of the ridge where everyone else that had tried the trail was turning around. We got out and walked down the trail. It went from no snow to a 3 foot drift and appeared to get deeper the farther we walked the trail. John from the S.V.T.R.C. thought this was going to be our turning around point as well. I advised that we were going to see what we could do as long as he had no objection. He said to go ahead but be prepared to winch. So we decided to stay within winch distance from each other and give it a try. John, Amy, Dan and Terry decided to leave there rigs on the side of the trail and walk in with the rest who elected to give it a shot. Robin was elected to go first since he had brand new IRok tires and a new taller lift.

At 12:40 pm Robin was aired down and gave it a shot. Much to everyone’s amazement the Bronco got right up on top of the snow and stayed there with no problems. The first 20 feet into the deep snow proved to be the hardest as it was off camber and caused everyone except for Robin to slide down into a tree. So next was James and after some sliding around in the first 20 feet on the trail, he also decided to air down and then drove right out of where he was having a tough time. At this point everyone who was attempting the snow decided to air down. I think the common air pressure was 5-6 pounds. Next was Lance and he broke a fan belt in the same place James had stopped to air down. A new belt was put on and some snow excavated by shovel and then Lance continued on his way. I was next and also came to a rest next to the tree. I was able to back off of it and then go around it. At this point since everyone was sliding towards the tree, John advised to just go around it, which we did. We continued on traversing the snow drifts and the occasional water crossing which provided some vertical drop offs and climbs out the other side. It was a blast. Bob needed a couple of spots by over all given his experience with 4-wheeling did a GREAT job of keeping his Jeep moving it the right direction. “Good job Bob!”. By 2:45 we reached the end of the road for us when we hit the downhill shady side of the mountain and 6-8 drifts that went on as far as was walked. So we decided to turn around and head back to the rigs along side of the trail for some food and to air back up to around 12-15 pounds. We were back at the rigs by 3:00 pm and everyone started to air up and enjoyed some food and drink. We hit the trail back to camp at 3:45 pm getting there around 4:15 to 4:30.

Arriving back to camp we were welcomed by a local ranger who stopped by to check on things and wanted to ensure that environmental protection efforts were being addressed and enforced. This will be discussed at the next monthly meeting as valuable information needs to be shared. With her on her way we all talked about the day’s events. At around 5:00 pm Terry, Amy, Lance, Nick and Judi and I headed off to find an area we could do some target practice. Arriving back to camp around 6:30 pm. Back at camp we found out that Dan and James had headed back up the trail for some more fun. Everyone cooked and ate their dinner. Johnny then built another great fire. James and Dan arrived back into camp a short while latter reporting no issues on their second pass. That night we all sat around the camp fire and Nick shared smore’s with everyone. It was a lively night around the campfire. A few went to bed early and others talked around the campfire. Johnny built up the fire to an awesome 7-8 foot flame height and everyone started taking steps back as it was HOT. So hot Johnny almost got the nick-name “nature boy” Everyone had a great time and I believe was in bed by midnight.

Everyone again awoke at their leisure, made some breakfast and started packing up for the trip home. James and Sherrie were the first to leave, followed by Dan and Debbie and then by Paul and his family. Next was Bob, Johnny and I who left camp at around 11:30 am, leaving Robin and Michelle and Terry and Amy at camp, as they were enjoying a nice slow morning. Johnny, Bob and I drove straight from the campground to Tracy arriving at 2:00 pm where we gassed up our rigs and ate at In-and-Out Burger, hitting the open road again at 2:45 pm. At 3:50 pm Johnny and I split up from Bob at 85 / 280 as Johnny and I were headed to Boulder Creek and Bon was headed home to Campbell. Johnny continued on Hwy 9 when Judi and I turned onto the road we live on at 4:30 pm.

Overall, it was a great trip. I believe everyone had a wonderful time. It was the best snow wheeling I had ever done and personally had a great time and would do it again in a heartbeat. The weather was a bit cold at night but everyone was prepared so it did not bring down the experience. The wheeling was great even though we did not get to run the entire trail, and as always the company was terrific.

I would like to say a special “Thank you” to John from the S.V.T.R.C. for coming out and being so very helpful to us on the trail as well as being an all around very nice guy.
I would also like to thank Glen from S.V.T.R.C. and ranger Lonnie Allison for their input on trail conditions as I tried to find out in advance on what to expect when we would be there. You guys were right on! Thank you also Lonnie for calling me after the fact to find out how it went and that we all had a great time and made it home safely.

Now, on to the next adventure…


Eli Casey
President of S.C.4W.D.C.

Thanks for 4-wheeling responsibly.


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