General Club Info
Club Awards
Member's Rides
Land Use
Picture Gallery
Links & Downloads
Contact Info

Latest Report

Barrett Lake
Sept 11-15

Trip Reports: Swamp Lake '03

July 3 - 6, 2003
Trip Report by Steve Prinz

Who Went (in no particular order):
Eli and Judy, Dan and Debbie, Jeff, Camille and Wes,
Brian, Lael, Dean and Danielle, Robin, Steve and Joyce
Where: Swamp Lake Jeep Trail

As I rounded the corner I saw that distinctive light-bar roofline. Gadzuks what could we have done, as we traveled down this pockmarked dirt road in the middle of nowhere and at midnight no less? Shana had long ago given up on ever getting home and was fast asleep in her seat. As I approached the Sheriff's SUV I could hear talking and an occasional laugh. Maybe this wasn't a bust. Possibly nothing more than the Ranger's visit of yesterday, that now seemed so long ago. Soon we were on the road again, only this time with a Sheriff's escort. The CB lit up with chatter questioning what had happened. Words such as search and rescue, CHP, Forest Ranger, 911, and mom barked out the speaker. Wow, we were heroes, well not really, but nowadays hero pops up quite often for non-hero acts. Whatever, it was better than a ticket.

As we traveled the narrow mountain road I had time to think about the last two days of exploration and innovation. Jeff had definitely raised the bar on innovation, and Dan was doing pretty darn well considering the CB report I received just a few hours earlier: a vehicle had run over Dan's ankle. Robin's Bronco once again lived up to its namesake: while bucking in a small nondescript rock garden it had some how (well, I know how) snapped a front axle u-joint. Brian made for a great rock taxi, as he was able to carry four of our five trail guests. Eli and Judy's Jeep mods had transformed a stock Wrangler into one impressive crawler. I also thought it odd that we would load a broken motorcycle onto a broken Jeep and somehow it all worked out. I recalled the three fishermen and the one's question to me if the two motorcycles were part of our group. When I told him no, he replied with; "be prepared to perform a rescue", a smart observation on his part. Jeez, our day started out so good as compared to yesterday's trip. But, yesterday we were back at camp at a decent hour and today dinner would come somewhere around 1:00am.

We left Scotts Valley Thursday morning and made our way to Dinkey Creek campground only to find it quite small and very, very reserved. So like Joseph and Mary we set off to find a place to call home. Our alternate campsite did not appear to be an option for the motorhomes that were to follow. Eli found a perfect spot not more than a mile and a half from the campground. We set up camp and placed notes in strategic locations in hopes that the motorhome brigade would find us. They did and we had a total of five Jeeps and one Bronco ready for a good time. Friday morning dawned early for the tent people, but I suspect that Camille was up before us standing by the generator switch and peering through the blinds, for as soon as we stirred the generator fired up! We loaded up the families and headed for Beverly, err no, we headed for the north end of Swamp Lake trail. A bunch of miles later we found the trailhead.

The Sierra's are beautiful and all was good. Warm sun. A slight breeze. Beautiful vistas and 4 low just for the fun of it. Life was good. Dan's Jeep suffered from fuel starvation and Jeff donated a spare pump to the ailing CJ. Later the Bronco suffered similar ills. This time Brian stepped up with an electric fuel pump to cure the Bronco's fuel problems. The trail maintenance took its toll on daylight and we choose to forego traveling the entire trail that day. We turned about and meandered home while taking in the beauty of the meadow and panoramic views. On the way back to camp Eli, Jeff and Brian volunteered to help a family get their Suburban unstuck. While they were busy with the burb I was entertaining the local Ranger. He had stopped by to introduce himself, distribute Smokey pins and most of all check for a valid fire permit. Back at camp we had an enjoyable evening. Zack had a great time dodging his big sisters and Shana got a good taste of Scruffy. She, Shana, is sorry for her overreaction and hopes that Scruffy is doing well. According to Shana, Scruffy tastes like chicken.

Saturday morning dawned and we were ready for another go at Swamp Lake trail. This time we traveled lighter as some of our party felt one day of wheeling was perfect and perfection should not be overdone. Today we would attack the trail from the south. As a bonus the south trailhead was much closer to camp. Although closer it was too far for Jeffs CJ. It seems the transfer case adapter had come loose. Jeff headed back for camp and said Ill be back or something to that effect. We pushed on. Just like yesterdays trip, beautiful vistas and yes more fuel problems. We made do and stopped for lunch at Mud Lake. The mosquitoes feasted too. As we prepared to hit the trail we joked that when we get to yesterdays turnaround point we could do that again, turnaround that is, and say we did the full trail both ways in two days how foolish we were. To our surprise we heard a motorcycle and Jeff! He had repaired his rig and caught up with us. We let the motorcycles pass, two bikes, mom, dad, son, daughter, and puppy in a backpack. Soon we passed a Yota. Apparently, the fan and radiator met while the engine was running. They said that all was well and no help was needed. We kept going.

Down the trail a ways some of us stopped to enjoy the river while waiting for the stragglers. On we went, making great time even though Dan's CJ kept having fuel delivery problems. We came upon three fishermen, they were not impressed with the family motorcyclists and that is where Dan got run-over. It was painful, duhhh, but apparently nothing was broke. Jeff and Dan swapped vehicles and Dan immediately fell in love with Jeff's coil sprung CJ. Jeff immediately realized he could drive like it was a rental. Mini Chicken Rock, or maybe a monolith, I don't know what to call it other than steep. Not only steep but also occupied by a guy pushing his motorcycle up.

About an eighth mile and two hours later we had all vehicles up and over the monolith and mom, daughter, son, and pup from the motorcycle family in Brian's CJ. Dad and Dean were riding the bikes. The CJ was still dying at every opportunity. It was late afternoon and we still had not reached yesterday's turnaround point. Hours later it was dark, well night, and the CJ ran really badly. It was decided to give the CJ an emergency fuel bladder in the form of a small water bottle. Shortly later one bike was DOA, and the Bronco had a broken front axle u-joint. We loaded the bike onto Dan's CJ and began to move out. Three of us didn't move. The Broncos' borrowed electric fuel pump had no electrics. Moving the wiring around restored the needed electricity, but also uncovered another problem. Seems the Bronco's mechanical pump had a rupture and was spewing fuel everywhere. Since we didn't have a truss, we rerouted the fuel line and were moving again. We caught up with Jeff and Dan as they were replacing the teeny-weeny bladder with a two-gallon Bubba bladder... Jeff was tired of stopping every 200 yards to fill 'er up.

Soon afterwards, if you can consider around 11:00pm soon, we hit yesterday's turnaround. We hit the trailhead at midnight and still had miles of dirt and narrow mountain roads ahead. Did I mention we meet the Sheriff? Oh yea, Mom and Dad work for the CHP. They missed their dinner call. Grandma dialed 911. You know the rest. And, last but not least when we got back to camp, tired and hungry, what greeted us? Loooo and food! The gals knew we'd be hungry, so they prepared a dinner that could be quickly heated. A big thanks to all who helped prepare that fine dinner!


Hollister 03

Hollister 03

©2003-2020 Santa Cruz 4 Wheel Drive Club.