Trip Report: Hermit Valley - Deer Valley Trail
August 20-23, 2004
Trip Report by Eli Casey
View the pictures at: http://www.justmypics.com/eli/DeerValley-Aug-04
8-20-04 Brian, Lael and family, Johnny B and Judi and Eli all meet at the Scotts Valley Safeway parking lot around 9:30 am Friday morning. Everyone was all gassed up and ready to go. After everyone said there good mornings and what not, we headed towards the Deer Valley campgrounds. IT was a very uneventful trip and we drove all the way to Arnold with out making one stop. We stopped in Arnold at 1:20 pm and everyone gassed up. We decided that we would stop to get some lunch before getting to the campground. However as we drove we did not see what we wanted and we continued down the road. Eventually we were at Lake Alpine. We decided to stop at the Lake Alpine Lodge for lunch at 2:15 pm. The food was great! Now everyone was all ready to hit the campground and make camp. We left the Lake Alpine lodge at 2:55 pm and then arrived at our camp spot at 3:20 PM. Already at the camp site was Rick and Caroline Frier and guests Alain and Cory in their stock 67 CJ5. Everyone said their hellos and got caught up on how everyone was doing and how the trip there had went. Then we all started setting up our camp sites, weather that be leveling the motor home or pitching a tent. Around 5:00 pm we decided to leave camp and head towards the slick rock trail for some late afternoon 4 wheeling. On the way Rick’s fuel pump started having issue’s, it was decided to head back to camp and swap it out. By 6:00 pm we were ready to head out again, only this time we decided to head up the Deer Valley trail a ways and then turn around and go back to camp. As we started up the trail, it was obvious that is was more difficult then in previous years. One by one we made it through. Dean was driving his Toyota pickup that had a brand new 4” lift on it but was open front and rear. He worked it with some help from the rest of us spotting and stacking some rocks as needed, but made it through under his own power. (Good job Dean!) Next up was Alain. As he was getting ready to walk back down to his rig and give it a shot, he advises me that he thinks he will pass, I advise him he has to at least give it a shot and not to worry, we were all there to help out if need and that this spot was one of the hardest on the trail. Alain said he would give a try. With some good spotting by the SC4WDC members, Alain made it through, making it look easy. I could see that this was a huge confidence builder as Alain was stoked and ready to wheel it up. We continued up the trail with only one other spot that required some spotting for the opened rigs, till we got to just about the top of the first ridge. By now it was 7:15 pm, we all turned around and headed back to camp, arriving at 8:00 pm. By this time it was just about completely dark out. Just about 5 minutes after getting back Jeff and Camille and the kids arrived. We all said hello and asked how their trip up had went, apparently it was not smooth sailing. On the way up, Alex’s fuel pump had gone out in his Chevy truck. To make a long story short, it ended up being a 3 hour repair. Anyway, they were at camp now and were happy to be there. As the Ellis’s leveled their brand new motor home, everyone else returned to their camp site and started cooking dinner. It had been a long day for all and after dinner was enjoyed most started hitting the sack early to rest up for the next day ahead.
8-21-04 Everyone was awake or awoken by 7:20 am or so when some of the dogs decided to let everyone know they were awake by barking. I was already awake and wondering around when this happened. I headed back to camp and saw that people were starting to arise from their tents / motor homes. We all ate breakfast and packed up some lunch to be eaten on the trail. At 10:00 am we started to line up at the trail head. I took the lead and Jeff took up the tail. We started in on the trail at 10:15 am. The first 2 tough sections took a little bit of time to navigate the whole group through, but nobody broke and only Dean needed a small pull on the second spot. We continued along stopping at some of the more difficult spots to watch the group make it through. We got to the first river crossing at about 1:15 pm or so. We all talked about weather to head to the second river crossing for lunch or eat where we were at. It was decided to continue on to the second river crossing for lunch. We arrived at the second river crossing at about 2:15 pm. We all relaxed along the river shore and ate lunch. After lunch some went for a cool off dunk in the river while others enjoyed the beautiful scenery. At about 3:30 everyone was ready to head back to camp. Alain advised me that he would not be going back the way we had came and that he would be continuing on towards the paved road and then driving around back to the campsite on Hwy 4. I was not comfortable with Alain doing this by himself. I did not want him to be alone in case he had any problems. I asked everyone what they wanted to do and found that Dean also wanted to drive out and then around on the paved road. This made me feel a lot better, knowing that 2 rigs increase the odds of them making it if anything were to happen or if someone were to become stuck. So Alain and Dean continued on and the rest of the group headed back towards camp the way we had came in, with Michelle driving Jeff’s rig and Danielle driving Brian’s rig . We all motored on with no real issues until about 6:00 pm. We were about a mile or so from camp, when over the radio I heard we have stopped and something about a broken control arm. I responded on the radio asking for more info. I was advised that Jeff’s rig had a broken control arm and that Rick’s rig died and would not start. Rick was asking for a fuel pump and I had one. I asked over the radio if Jeff needed anything from camp as I was only a couple hundred yards from the end of the trail. No response came back, so I headed back up the trial to see if I could help in any way and to get my spare fuel pump to Rick. Upon arriving Jeff had his rigs almost trail worthy by using his winch line to pull the rear axle into place and keep it aligned. I proceeded to walk up the trail to where Rick was and found out that his fuel pump began working again after a few persuasive bumps from a hammer. At this point, the 2 rigs were ready to finish out the trail and head towards camp. And that is exactly what we did, arriving to camp at 7:00 pm to find that Alain and Dean had beat us back to camp by an hour. So if we would have had no issues on the last mile of the trail we would have gotten there about the same time. By the way, the girls did a excellent job of driving their dad’s rigs. Way to go! It had been a long 9 hours on the trail. Camille, Leal, and Caroling walked the whole day there and back. It must have been somewhere around 10 miles, if not more. Way to go ladies! Jeff also walked almost the entire way back from the lunch spot. Talk about walking off your lunch! Anyway, we all stood around and talked about the days events. Camille and Caroline served up some wonderful ordourves for everyone to enjoy. As it started to get dark everyone returned to their camp spots to cook up dinner. After dinner most were already for bed and did so, others sat around the fire and talked some more about the days events. Johnny and I both had brought smores for everyone, so those who wanted enjoyed them around the camp fire. I went to bed about 10:30 pm and the only ones up at that point were the all the kids enjoying their own fire near their camp spot. It had been a long day for all as while laying in my tent thinking about all the fun that had been had, I realized that silence had settled over the camp and all were now in bed.
8-22-04 Everyone slept in a little longer this morning. Getting up around 8:00 am or so. I arose and made some morning java and enjoyed the peaceful scenery. I could see that Johnny was already breaking down camp and packing up. I wondered over and said good morning. We talked about the plan of attack. We decided that we would pack up and head out together as it looked like we would be ready to go before everyone else not to mention that everyone else would be towing their rigs and would most likely be traveling at a lower speed then we could. I went and started to break camp, pack up and eat some breakfast. Jeff came by and advised that everyone was talking about running the Slick Rock trail before heading home. I advised I wasn’t too sure if I would be going on the trail or heading home but would let them know soon. I then advised Johnny of this and asked if he wanted to go since we had already talked about other plans. Johnny and I decided that we would pass on hitting the slick rock trail as we had both done it before, the Jeeps were all packed up, tires were all aired up and it was getting close to 10:00 am already. I advised Jeff and Brian that Johnny and I would be heading home and not running Slick Rock. By 11:00 Johnny and I were ready to hit the road and head for home. We made the rounds saying good bye to all and wishing them a safe journey on the trail and on the way home. At 11:30 Johnny and I pulled out of the campground and started for home. We drove all the way to Tracy before we stopped and fueled up, both the rigs and ourselves at 2:10 pm. By 3:00 pm we were back on the road. We split up on 680 when I headed for 237 via Mission Blvd to cut across the valley floor and Johnny was heading for Hwy 17. I arrived home around 5:00 pm.
Over all it was a great trip. Alain and his wife Cory had a great time, learned some valuable off road skills and they vowed to be back with some possible vehicle modifications. I know Judi and I had a great time. The weather was perfect, the scenery great and the company wonderful. Thank you to everyone who was able to make the trip such a wonderful time for everyone.
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