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Barrett Lake
Sept 11-15

Trip Report: Rubicon Trail '04

July 2-5, 2004
Writeup by Dan Peck

See Dan's Pictures

Well, I knew we were going to end up missing the group starting Friday around noon, but I’m not sure how we missed the Saturday group. My brother’s YJ had a crankshaft sensor go out on the ride to Georgetown, so we unexpectedly spent Thursday night in the Sacramento area to hit a dealership Friday morning. By the time they figured it out and had us running again we just missed the group leaving Friday as we pulled into Georgetown about 12:30 on Friday. So, figuring we were still an hour from Loon we took our time getting our final supplies and seeing my Uncle for a bit, then headed up to Loon early evening. I’d say we were set camp no more than 100yds from the gate-keeper by about 7 p.m. Well we were up and packed waiting our go on channel 15 from about 7 a.m. until almost 9 a.m. By then we figured the 8 a.m. Saturday time had either changed or we missed you. So the two of us, who have never been to the Rubicon before, headed in by ourselves.

It didn’t take long to figure out that my brother really needed the lockers he told me he was getting but somehow never got installed before the run. He was on about 3” of lift and 32s open/open so we were catching hell and I was doing more than a bit of yanking him with the tow strap or piling rocks. Anyway, we made it through gate-keeper fairly well actually, and were doing pretty well to make Spider Lake by about 1 p.m. on a leisurely pace. We watched the mayhem there for about an hour then set out to Buck Island, and thought maybe set camp at Rubicon Springs if things were going well, either way I still figured we’d find someone from the club by Saturday night. We stopped behind a large log-jam of rigs waiting to press on only a mile or so from Spider and decided to just enjoyed the view in the valley past spider for a while when finally 20-30 rigs started turning around and heading back to Spider at about 2:30 or 3.

Everyone said there was a really bad roll-over in a choke point and no one was able to get through. Just about then my brother’s rig suddenly lost power to his front axle. His front drive shaft was turning, but nothing at the wheels. We thought for a while he might have an axle broken or something but couldn’t figure things out. Either way with him down to 2 wheel drive and a big pile up in front of us, we figured we better get back to Spider where we had talked to a guy with a welder and find a flat spot incase we were going to spend the night pulling parts. It took me more than an hour (And I blew another rear drive line U-joint in the process) to drag him back up through less than a mile of some rough spots to the flat rocks just above the little sluice. Well, after checking, his axles were solid, and we couldn’t find why he had lost drive to his front wheels.

Considering how hard it had been to get him back to Spider and that we weren’t sure if we had ‘fixed’ his 2-wheel drive problem, we figured we better head back the way we knew and try again next time. After all I had a trailer, but my brother Jim has to rely on his YJ to get him back to Houston by this weekend, and we had already banged it up pretty hard. So I guess it sounds a bit like a horror story, but all in all it really wasn’t that bad. We had a blast, but definitely have to take another shot at the Rubicon. In the mean time I’m going to relook my drive line angles and find out why I’m blowing so many U-joints, and I have a little steering linkage to repair as well.

I hope y’all had a blast, and I am truly sorry I didn’t make link-up with the club because I think it would have been a blast. It was some awesome camping in a beautiful part of the Sierras and some great wheelin’. We met some great folks, but mostly met our match and headed back out the Loon Lake side Saturday night vowing to return better prepared.


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