[ED4] September Clinic Pre-run Trip Report (9/2/17)

Despite the weather forecast with it being 100+, even at 9am it was rather warm, but nonetheless the group meet-up at the Oak tree spot as planned with about 9 rigs (Mike D. had to drop out due to some shock trouble). I was a few minutes late and had just enough time to air-down before the group headed out. We ran through several loops, most of all the trails we pre-ran were in good condition with a few noted spots for the clinic. Some spots where turns were a bit tight and/or off-camber; so, for some folks may need to spot/coach but overall in my opinion the trails we pre-ran where exceptionally good with the clinic in-mind.  This is us getting started first thing in the morning.      


Mid-way through our morning, I noticed some folks trying to wave the group down from below the side ridge Garner Gulch trail we were traversing along the trees which is above the Adventure Track area, I got on the CB to inform the group that we were being summoned for help, and the group made our way to the Adventure Track to find this.


After a survey by the ED4 group, Joe & I went to task to get our rigs ready for winching duty, and with Big Mike taking lead with being our winching conductor we were able to get the WJ back on its own 4 tires. Truly a team effort, with Big Mike pitching in his nice hitching rope (Need to get one in my tool bag) and orchestrating the winching for us and Dennis preparing to anchor my TJ to his 4-Runner as I was starting to slide towards the end. Below is a photo of the mid-point of getting the WJ back up and out of the hole; as, it was a tug upward out of this hole/cup while it was on its side. I’ve been meaning to upgrade my alternator, I have spec’d out  & order one with Wrangler NW just last week, and looking forward to swapping it in soon. For those of wondering about the LED light bar, the LED light bar didn’t get a scratch. ;-)


Soon after this operation was complete, the group headed back onto the trail for a final loop with a little bit of frolicking in the old obstacle course of the pre-run, and by this time it was well over 110-degrees. We wrapped up near noon time. Quickly took a break and aired up and disbanded as it was truly one of the hotter Hollister Hill wheeling trips I’ve experience with my years wheeling there. Up there with Baja California where it can be >120-Degrees. Anyway, it was a good run, and I was glad that I was able to get out with the group on a day-trip being a prospective member. Looking forward to more runs and soon some overnights too!


2006 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (TJ)

[ED4] 4Wheel Parts Truck & Jeep Fest Trip Report (3/19/17)

        I volunteered for a shift on Sunday during this event, I particularly like opportunities like this with interacting with folks, answering questions, and helping the club get folks excited about the clinic. Magnus had a great idea with making candy being plentifully available. It helped draw in folks with small children that otherwise would of glanced and kept on moving along. I recall that we had a nice list of names that filled out the sign-up sheet. There were quite a few good deals being made available at the event. I managed to pick up a couple things during my booth break and recall Arline’s contentment with scoring a deal on her Cell phone holder mount she score there too. :-)

        There were a number of folks who stated that they had participated in the event years prior and mentioned how they really enjoyed it. I am curious to know if the group keeps track of folks who have taken it more than once over the years? Anyway, if you haven’t done a volunteering event like this I highly recommend it; so that, you can get direct questions/concerns/feedback about the clinic.

2006 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (TJ)
Prospective Member

Hollister Hills

Trip ReportDecember 4, 2016 Hollister Hills Mike Westley

What began as my asking on the email distribution list if any one wanted to go wheeling at Hollister Hills (HH) on Sunday, December 4 turned into quite a group of about 12 club vehicles. We met at the HH obstacle course bathrooms around 10am and slowly moved toward the obstacle course. While all of us used the time to practice, some more adventurous waded through the muddy water sloughs, and up/over large rockpiles. After moving on to the ravine and playing in and around there we headed up Fremont road, and more up, to the top for a great “view lot” for our lunch break. After lunch we were headed back down toward the quarry for what I thought would be a quick end to the day. But that was not to be. One of our club jeeps negotiating a large rock on the passenger side with the slope falling away to the driver side, sort of “fell over” settling gently onto its driver side. Fortunately the only “body” damage was to the jeep. Being a perspective member I got a great opportunity to see club members come together with gear, winches, and unlimited advice ultimately getting this jeep up, four tires on the ground and drivable to home. I thought this would be a fun run, little did I know I would also get a first hand winch recovery experience. With all up and going, we headed down to air up and home to end great day. Thanks to all club members who welcomed me and helped make this a really fun day. By the way, what is that “cow bell” thing any way? Did anyone earn the “cow bell” today?

Mike Westley Perspective Member

Summer Campout 2016

Story:I sailed up to Huntington Lake, Rancheria campground some time Friday afternoon to meet up with those Esprit De Fours folk who were still around the campground or pulling in for the three day weekend, like I was. Tent assembled I went around to see who was in, but found only John Ruiz and his family - others had been out on an overnight trek.

Another glorious weekend of camping, wheeling, exploring in God's country - that is, the country we haven't flattened for a freeway or turned into exclusive housing for the few. I never sleep this good at home. Must be all that good mountain air.

Saturday morning I got a quick breakfast out of the way and it was time to saddle up and run down to China Peak for some group photos and to get everyone together. Big Mike had plotted out the days course and he did a great job. We then headed on to Tamarack Sno Park for that last rest stop and to air down. I ran 18 lbs, as I usually do. It's good having the compressor on the rig, but I still need to get it mounted. Trail order was established and then we were off down Rock Creek Road. Shane Ruiz rode shotgun with me.

A few fits and starts before we were all on the way, but away we were. Early trail was mostly pave with a few potholes and plenty of dust. The word came over the radio the Jeep in front of me had some clunking going on up front and we paused while some loose hardware was replaced. It's a pretty good idea to carry not only tools, but an assortment of nuts and bolts for the trail - I'll need to stock up on some and add them to my trail kit.

The ride up to Bald Mountain was fairly easy and the weather could not have been better - clear views everywhere. I scrambled off to find a Geocache and then took several panoramic shots of the rigs as well as most of the party in the rebuilt lookout tower.

After the lookout we headed off to find a good spot for lunch with some shade. Another minor mechanical was taken care of on John's JKU when some plastic doo-dad on the transfer case shifter. Someone's ready supply of zip-ties got us going again. Shane gave up shotgun and camera duties with me to ride with someone else the rest of the way. The only real test of the day for me was near the end as we crawled down a steep and bumpy descent - a camera on the front would not go amiss there. I kept it in lowest gear and crawled down slowly with only a couple scuffs and one bump.

After the fun descent it was off to Dinkey Creek Road where a few would continue on to some further trail riding while others, myself among them, would take Dinkey Creek Road back to Shaver Lake, airing up and then rolling back to Rancheria.

After returning to camp and checking everything was still good under the Jeep I headed up to Kaiser Pass for a look see. Very nice up there and I'd head further east, out to Florence Lake on the single lane road on Sunday before heading home. Great trip and great people to hang out with for a weekend. Thanks again to Big Mike!

Original Post: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=3451406

Summer Campout 2016

I couldn’t have wished for a better campout. The Rancheria Campground has been remodeled a few years ago into a gem. The spaces are very large and spread out more than I’ve ever experienced. Unlike a lot of camp grounds, it was amazingly quiet. Ahhhhh. The weather was perfect; warm but not too hot. Connie and I hung out on Friday, watching the helicopters bucket water out of Huntington Lake for the fire on Auberry Road, not that far from the campground.I did not go on the Swamp Lake or Coyote Lake runs, but I did do the Bald Mountain run on Saturday. As a newbie, parts were harder than I have done in the past, but I had an absolute blast. Connie was by passenger and a real pro. She helped me so much and I thank her and all the members on the run. We had a nice lunch along the trail after summiting. Amazing views of Shaver Lake and the surrounding area. Some of the group continued on, but we went back to camp and rested up for a delicious pot luck (thanks to everyone for the contributions).

I am so glad I went and can’t wait for the next outing. Hope to see you all at Oktoberfest.

May 2016 Safety Clinic

Trip Report – Safety Clinic May 2016 I attended my first Club Safety Clinic this past weekend and had the time of my life.

Starting out I was way out of my comfort level to say the least. Through the sign-in process, meeting & chatting with club members & other students in my group was wonderful.

We had a very informative class room session with “the pros” of the club. Lots of questions from students that cleared up numerous questions that I had. We then headed back to “base camp” for lunch and then onto the trails. (I had an opportunity to go out on the blue trail Friday while trail bosses placed directional signs for the actual class on Saturday. So I felt very lucky.)

The class and the instructions we received during the clinic are invaluable. I can’t say enough about the club members’ knowledge & experiences.

And of course I had one of the most fun weekends in my life. Looking forward to trying out all my new knowledge.

Prospective Member Arline Abarr


Our first trip to Moab Utah! I’ve been wanting to attend EJS for a few years and with it being the 50th Anniversary I figured “Let’s go!”

My good friend PL and I left Fremont on Wednesday the 26th and drove to St. George UT. (Thank you Andy for the suggestion to stop over there.) We continued towards Moab on Thursday morning. Patti & Chris had mentioned a German Bakery/Deli in Tehachapi so we headed there for lunch. I had my tastebuds all ready for Bockwurst, Bratwurst or Liverwurst sandwich. They offer Tuna, Turkey, Black Forrest Ham & Roast Beef. They did have a predesigned Pastrami. I opted for that and it was really good. PL had the Bierocks (German Meat Turnover) which was also good.

Since neither of us had been to Arches National Park, and would come across that entrance just before Moab, we decided to visit it first. What beautiful country! it’s challenging knowing what area to be in during what time of day in order to get the best lighting for pictures. We didn’t do to badly considering the late afternoon arrival time.

Got into Moab around 7:00pm and was amazed at all the different Jeeps in town. Wow! We headed to the Old Spanish Arena to pick up our registration package where we discovered even MORE Jeeps. I wish I could have stopped and looked at each one more closely. I mean, where else can you see all the different aftermarket solutions mounted on Jeeps?

We were staying at the Hampton Inn. One thing I’ve never had to think about when staying at a hotel is parking. They were very organized and luckily we found hotel parking every night despite many people with: a truck, a trailer and a Jeep taking up 3 spots.

Copper Ridge was supposed to be our Friday Trail, however I had heard from Loro & Anton who ran it the day before, that there were a number of off camber steep ledges with loose rock. Considering they were in a lifted JK Unlimited with 35” tires, and mine is stock, we opted to visit Canyonlands National Park instead. We had never been there before.

Off to Canyonlands we went. Another amazing National Park with beautiful scenery. We drove through all the regular paved roads, stopped at just about every look out and even hiked a couple of short trails.

Afterwards we made our way back to the Old Spanish Area to look at the vendor booths, grab our Boy Scout BBQ and hang out for the raffle. I didn’t realize that the Vendor Expo was ending Friday at 6:30, and when we arrived around 4:30 a lot of them were in the process of packing up or had already packed up and left.

As we wondered around I spotted Ole & MichaelC up in the bleachers talking, and I waved. After we picked up our BBQ dinners we headed back over to that area and sat with Ole & Sherri. After a while MichaelC, TomV & JasonG showed up too. It was nice being with people I knew. I had tried to meet up with Loro & Anton but due to differing trail schedules and my getting tired and ending the days early, we missed them.

Amazingly I didn’t win a thing at the raffle. Yes JimO it’s true! I guess Winter Fun Fest is the Raffle Winning Vortex for me. 8-)

Big Saturday is the “Parade Day” for everyone. We were signed up for Chicken Corners and lined up at 8:00am, with our official Pink Flag on the CB antenna, in downtown Moab across the street from the Visitor Center. Once again it was great watching all the Jeeps getting ready.

I think we were the first group to head out and made an immediate right hand turn off of Main Street. So we’re probably not in any official videos.

It was a 21 mile run that would take 6 hours. We had about 29 Jeeps and 1 Toyota FJ. The Toyota had a pitbull that always growled at the five other Trail Dogs. Fortunately those five never paid any attention to the pit.

Our Trail Leader was Guy Brown, Mid Gunner Matt (sorry I missed his last name) and Tail Gunner Bob Humphreys. Their CBs were set up nicely and we could heard their narrations clearly as we made our way through the canyons and open spaces. The trail started out as asphalt but quickly became dirt, sand, rocks and a few short ledges. We didn’t really kick up much in the way of dirt/dust clouds as we meandered at a peaceful pace.

We stopped for lunch right after passing through Chicken Corners. There is a nice big area where we could put the vehicles in a circle and break out the food, camp chairs and chat with the others.

The return trip was on the same trail and as always it affords different lighting and views. More great scenery.

Patti had also mentioned the Sunset Grill so we drove up there but it was too early and they weren’t open yet. We remembered that Sherri had mentioned the Moab Grill, so we went back down the road and had dinner there. Great service and food.

Sunday we left about 9:00am and had planned to drive to Bakersfield CA. On road trips that take two days of driving I tend to prefer driving most of it the first day, making a shorter second day (4 hours). We anticipated 10 hours. I learned something new. There is a MASS EXODUS from Las Vegas on Sunday afternoons! Holy Smokes. It took us 10 hours to get from Moab to Barstow. Making Sundays driving a 14 hour trip to Bakersfield.

Monday we headed North on Highway 5 and were commenting on how SMOOTH the highways in Utah are compared to California. One more plus when scoping out a retirement place, eh?

On this trip we learned a lot about attending EJS and will definitely make a few scheduling changes for the next time. I hope to be able to get more time off work next year so that it’s not such a short stay. I’d like to do more of the scenic trails in the area AND see the Vendor Expo in full swing.

Wishing you all safe travels! Connie 1980 CJ7 / 2015 JKU Rubicon .

Death Valley

Death Valley Trip March 25-28, 2016Fremont -Trona Pinnacles-Ballarat-Goler Wash-Mengel Pass-Badwater-Stovepipe Wells-Panamint Springs-Saline Valley-Warm Springs-Steele Pass-Eureka Dunes-Big Pine-Fremont RT via Trona Pinnacles: https://goo.gl/maps/8xF892p3HV82

Participants • Detlef and Ursula Mews: • Dave (Detlef’s friend) • Jeff Bloxham (Greg’s friend) • Andy Mendonca (Greg’s friend) • Serg Kronrod (Greg’s friend) • Greg Youree: • Vidas and Jessie Mickevicius:

We met Detlef and Ursula in Pleasanton on Friday (March 25) at 8am, had coffee and breakfast in Starbucks and hit the road before 9am. We stopped for lunch and delicious peach/rhubarb (or cherry) pies at Murray Family Farms (https://murrayfamilyfarms.com/). Refilled gas in Ridgecrest and arrived to our first night camping at Trona Pinnacles (http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/ridgecrest/trona.html) before 5pm. We just selected our campsite when Greg, Jeff and Andy arrived. After dark Dave arrived; Detlef had to pick him up at the entrance. We shared stories by the campfire.

March 26 we left as planned at 8am, topped off gas in Trona and headed to Ballarat. At Ballarat we aired down, fixed recurring GPS problems and turned north on Wingate Rd. toward Goler Wash. Along the way we passed by C.R. Briggs mine – in 1990s one of 5 top producers of gold in California. Goler Wash was much easier than the last time I drove there: dry waterfalls were covered with gravel and did not require even 4WD. Our first stop was Barker Ranch, where Charles Manson and his gang were hiding and ultimately captured. The main building of Baker Ranch burned in 2009 – only foundations remain.

After short stop we headed to Mengel Pass. Ascent presented no problems. We made a photo stop on the pass (Carl Mengel’s ashes are buried on the pass named after him) and drove down into Butte Valley. Going down was more challenging – there were some tight rocky spots, but everyone made it with no problems. We ate our lunch by the Geologist Cabin nicely overlooking the landmark Striped Butte. After lunch we drove east through the valley on Warm Springs Rd. We made another stop at Warm Springs Talc Mine Camp. This site has well preserved buildings and even a swimming pool.

We decided to take unpaved West Side Rd. instead of highway going to Furnace Creek. Going 50+mph made us fly over washboard. We refueled in Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells. Camping was planned in Stovepipe Wells or nearby. Although campsites in Stovepipe Wells were available, we conferred and decided to camp at the entrance of Marble and Cottonwood Canyons, about 10 miles from Stovepipe Wells. This short sandy washboard trail was littered with recently broken cars: damaged tires, punctured oil or tranny pan, overheated etc. People underestimate the challenge of driving even on mild off-road with [rental] low suspension car with street tires. In the place we decided to camp there were no fire rings, and campfires were prohibited, so we were sitting by Greg’s portable grill. Everybody was tired but happy with the first day on the trail.

Next morning (March 27) we drove back to Stovepipe Wells and turned west on hwy 190. Past Panamint Springs we turned to Saline Valley Rd., aired down, split into two groups (fast and slow) and after a while descended into Saline Valley. We passed the turnouts to Hidden Valley/Hunter Mountain and Lippincott Mine Rd. and arrived to Saline Valley Hot Springs in early afternoon: http://www.totalescape.com/outside/hotsprings/saline-valley-hot-springs/#.VuEACvkrJMw; http://www.salinevalleyguys.com/

Our two groups reconnected in hot pool at the Palm Spring (middle of three hot springs). After good relaxation and lunch we hit the Steele Pass Rd. This road goes in the wash before ascending to Steele Pass. This winter’s heavy rains changed the location of the drivable route – I was continuously warned by my navigation program that I strayed away from the pre-set route. The entire route was relatively easy driving which Greg made in 2WD. Dedeckera dry waterfalls just before the descent to Eureka Valley presented only moderate challenge but plenty of photo opportunities.

We drove down into Eureka Valley with spectacular views of Eureka Dunes in front of us. Technically our trip was over. We made over 300 miles, most of them off pavement. We had two options: to camp at the dunes or drive to motel at Big Pine. Camping was attractive because Serg had big steaks for dinner, but the wind was strong and would blow sand into our tents. So those of us who camped in tents (Dave, Ursula and Detlef, Jessie and Vidas) decided to go to Big Pine.

On the remaining 10 mile unpaved road we drove wide spread to avoid dust. Jessie and I were on the pavement airing up while waiting on Dave and Detlef. My compressor was on, and I decided to start the engine to help battery. Suddenly dash lights started flashing and engine shut off. The battery went cold dead – there was not enough power even to use CB or HAM radios. I tried to reach Detlef on FRS, but to no avail. Half an hour passed, and Dave and Detlef did not show up. I assumed that something must had happened, but I had no radio connection to them. Then the truck drove by, and we stopped it for jump starting my Jeep. While a driver was positioning his truck, Dave and Detlef arrived. Dave lost his tire on sharp rock, and they replaced it. Now we thanked the driver of the truck and let him go. Dave gave me a jump start, but my Jeep was not holding idle and was shutting off. Detlef detected that the idle cable was loose. He suggested to tension it with some wire or other available stuff, so we manually tensioned the idle cable with a tie. This turned “Check Gauges” light on, but thanks to Detlef, I was able to continue my trip.

It was 8:15pm when we arrived to Big Pine and checked in Bristlecone Pine Motel. All restaurants were already closed on Easter Sunday. We had to microwave remaining camping food in our rooms. My battery did not recover even after hours of driving. I needed a replacement and then take care of the idle problem. Next morning, I got a jump start from Dave – thanks Dave for waking up early!, said farewell to Dave, Ursula and Detlef, and we headed early to Bishop. In NAPA Parts I got replacement Yellow Top, installed it – “Check Gages” light went off, and continued on NB US-395. We got into rain/snow storm couple of times but CA-88 was still open. We were hit by a serious snow storm on the way down to Central Valley, but arrived home without problem. Everybody else going to the bay Area got through CA-88 in the snow storm.

The idle problem fixed itself. Apparently ECU requires battery power to control idle. I am still puzzled how my battery went from full to stone dead in a second. Problems with this battery happened the second time (last time few years ago), so I replaced it. It served me 6 years. My OEM Jeep battery served me 9 years. I used ViewRanger for navigation for the first time. I pre-loaded area maps and created routs on my iPad. However, GPS did not work properly and I had to borrow from Andy (looks like permanently ;-) external Bluetooth-enabled GPS by Dual. This setup worked perfectly. I was happy with ViewRanger, but next time I will preload USGS maps instead of Topo maps with Trails. USGS maps have more details. Should iPad internal GPS work offline without access to network?

The trip was fun. Weather in Death Valley was perfect. No one had serious damage and everybody made home safely. We met new friends. Hopefully some of them will show up at ED4 meeting. Thanks to all participants who joined on a very short notice.

Below is the link to all pictures that Jessie and I took on this trip: https://www.dropbox.com/l/sh/ScChAWELbQq2IQxNkfboHu

Winterfun Fest 2016

Well it’s 5:00 AM Saturday morning and Jon and I are back for more fun, snow and ice with just one hour of sleep after completing the Friday night run. In reality we had both only had one hour of sleep in the last 24 since preparing for the trip and leaving from Sunnyvale Friday morning, thank God for Mt. Dew! Cal 4 Wheel started us off with a breakfast of pancakes and eggs with the rest of the fixings. Fueled up we headed out for the staging area off interstate 80 near the Yuba Gap. Weather this morning varied from light rain, drizzle, and snow flurries to crystal clear. The temperature was hanging around 38 degrees. The snow was much deeper on this run and although our leader Will and his team had compressed the snow on the track the day before the combination of fresh snow overnight and icing made for an exciting run. An important note made by the leader at the start of the trail was that Cal 4 Wheel had received a special permit to make this run as the trial was closed for the year and cautioned everyone to not leave the trail or get so stuck that the road was torn up because it could impact trail use in the future.

We aired down to 10 lbs with my 37” tires and headed out as the 3rd vehicle out of a group of about 36 vehicles. This had to be one of the longest caravans on an adventure that I had been part of. Looking at our leaders (Will’s) tires I thought he was running them flat but he later told us he had a couple of pounds of air in them. He was blazing the trail for us and occasionally had to be pulled or winched back but nothing compared to those behind him that were simply following in his track! By the way even with a partially packed track both vehicles differentials were breaking down the center track. I was getting worn out with the number of times we slid off the track and had to either winch ourselves or the jeep ahead of us out of the drifts which also include the both of us hooked in tandem to get the leader out occasionally! The hardest job has got to be breaking trail and the farther back you are the better packed trail but with it comes all the road rash and holes created by previously stuck vehicles! A CB message was relayed from the back of the group that they were have lots of fun digging out vehicles which resulted in the team getting split up into a few groups. We continued on with blazing the trail.

The snow was like sugar and would not compact so if you slid off the track you continued sinking deeper and making it harder to extract yourself. The three of us in the lead did manage to pass the guys who spent the night camping off the trail and completed about a total of 3 ½ miles and made an elevation of around 6,500 feet before leader decided it was time to turn around. At his point Will turned his Jeep into a snow plow and accomplished the feat of building a turnaround point for the driver ahead of me and myself. It was amazing to watch him go back and forth shaving off up to12 inches of at least a 3 foot snow bank on each pass. This was another action showing that with little or no air pressure in your tires combined with great skill these Jeeps go just about anywhere in a variety of conditions.

In addition to seeing the advantages that really low air pressure provides I also learned that lockers aren’t always the best option. Will suggested I turn them off and using them more judiciously because he suspected they were grabbing and pulling me off the track. Especially as the run got steeper, icier and was on more of an angle. Eventually I dropped my air pressure to 8lbs and prayed I wouldn’t break a bead. Happy trails everything worked better!

Once we managed a turnaround and were headed down I shifted up to 4 high and with less power to the wheels and lower air pressure had some fun skating down the trail but was able to get back on track whenever we slid to one side.

While we were waiting for other vehicles to be pulled free I looked in my mirror to see Will working through another humongous drift on my side. Up and back he went packing the snow until he was along side. I was checking out the depth of the snow and realized he didn’t have bead lockers on his tires. His explanation was one for the books and if I told you I wouldn’t be believed.

We learned a lot about driving in deep snow and ice on this adventure. If you haven’t made this event in the past I highly recommend doing it next year!

We headed back to the hotel for a quick shower and on to the Fair Grounds for the evening festivities. We started with cocktails, visited with ED4 and other club members and finished with an excellent dinner of steak, baked potato, salad, garlic bread, veggies and desert. At around 9:15 prior to the raffle and the rest of the festivities Jon and I called it a night and headed out for some much needed sleep. This was truly a great adventure and we look forward to next year. Dick

Winterfun Fest Part 1 2016

My buddy Jon and I arrived at the Grass Valley Fair Grounds early Friday afternoon and were greeted by a friendly and informative staff for the activities. We checked out the products for sale as well as the numerous items that were available for the secret auction. We walked around the camp grounds and introduced ourselves to several other club members, checked out their vehicles and in general had a good time learning and talking about trails and adventures we had all experienced. Cal 4 Wheel put on a good dinner of pasta, salad, garlic bread, desert, coffee, milk/juice etc. There were games for both adults and kids. I’m happy to report that there were no injuries from all the hip swing and head bobbing to either extricate balls from Kleenex boxes strapped to the back of peoples waists or from the tennis ball hung in panty hose which were slung from the persons head and used to knock over water bottles. With the games complete and stuffed from the meal we were both worn out from laughter and a little lethargic from the meal but rearing to go! The Friday night run headed out at around 8:30 PM. We started out with around 25 vehicles, aired down after crossing the old trestle bridge of South Fork Yuba River and headed towards Bowman Lake. At this point several of members of the group re-evaluated the time and decided to turnaround since they were going on the Avalanche Express first thing in the morning and it was nearing10:00 PM. Weather for the most part was cold and clear. We went through a couple of old towns of which I believe the 2nd one was Graniteville and by this time the snow drifts left and right were about 3 feet. The track itself had been run by the Mudsuckers earlier and was packed fairly well so the going was pretty good although you could still see differentials knocking down the snow in the center of the track. As the trail conditions started to get rougher the caravan started to stretch out and at this point the leaders found a place for everyone to pull off the road for a little play time while everyone caught up. We saw some impressive driving by our team leader Mike who was ploughing through snow higher than his winch. I had stopped in a drift at one point and Jon and I were discussing options only to hear the shill wine of a freight train (Mike’s Scout) headed towards us. As Mike blasted through the snow bank and pulled alongside me, close enough to kiss and leaning my way, he had a true shit eating grin!!!

A couple of other Mudsucker diehards joined in the fun and eventually buried two vehicles and so a new leader took over and we continued on while a smaller team dealt with extracting the two vehicles.

Eventually at what appeared to be the worst possible place to stall out we couldn’t proceed any further due to the depth of the snow and worse yet it was going to be a hair raiser to get turned around. Up and down the line vehicles were off the road, shovels were being used extensively and then came the winches and tow ropes. I was the 6th vehicle back and it took two of us hooked together to extricate the next vehicle up. We eventually worked out an area to make like a 10 point turn and managed to get 5 of the lead vehicles turned around and headed down hill only to find one of the group having tremendous issues. The driver and his mates were working very hard with shovels to extricate the vehicle and get it back on the trail and then turned around however without, lockers, winch or attach points from which to assist him it was an extremely long process. Eventually caution kind of went to the wind and someone cautiously hooked to his axle and extricated him while also getting him going in the right direction.

Needless to say we headed down the road at which point about half the team pulled off to enjoy a bonfire while the rest of us headed back to Grass Valley. Jon and I got to the hotel at ~3:45AM, hit the sack at 4 and were up at 5:00 AM and on our way to get fuel, breakfast and line up for the 7:00 AM start of the Avalanche Express run. We met some really great people on the run, learned about winching and digging at night all of which left us with some great stories and a wonderful adventure. Dick

Trains, trains, and more trains

Trains, trains and more trains both big and small. The South Bay Railroad Museum was a great venue for the Christmas Party. My date and I received a welcome greeting just outside the building from the campfire group responsible for the wonderful turkey and pork dishes. It was a mild evening with no rain and great for outdoor cooking.Inside the building everyone (approximately 45 people) were met with festive decorations complete with a model train, loud whistle and Christmas music. The set up crew did a great job of decorating and organizing the buffet and dining tables. I especially enjoyed walking around the back of the train museum which contained an elaborate set of train models running through mountain passes, hills, towns and train stations.

The food and camaraderie was similar to my last outing with the team during the October Fest i.e. very enjoyable. It’s always fun hearing and talking about Jeeping adventures and sharing what’s going on in one’s life!

The best part of the evening was the gift exchange! I have never participated in a white elephant gift exchange quite the way the club does it. When Ellen announced during the last club meeting that it would be a good idea to come with tennis shoes and be prepared for a fast and furious gift exchange she wasn’t kidding. Competition for the best wrapped gift was stiff. Congrats to all those who took the time to be so creative. Instructions given, tickets drawn and the gift exchange was off to a mild start. However after about 5 gifts were opened the crowd lost their bashfulness and the stealing began. I counted as many as 7 people running in different directions stealing from one another before the untimely whistle blew. Let me just say the NRA would have been impressed with how many times one of the gifts was stolen from one another. The Battery Booster, Bass Store gift cards, flash lights, knifes wine glasses and yes Blankets were among the most popular gifts to steel. With all the running around I’m happy to report there were no injuries or heart attacks just one heck of a great party!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. Dick

Mojave Road

The group assembled at the Safeway lot in Morgan Hill on Dec 3 at 7:30. At this point, I met Greg Youree, Ursala and Detlef , Jesse and Vidas,Greg and Tom. We proceeded as a group to Fort Mojave Arizona, travelling through Bakersfield, Tehachapi, and long the Southern edge of the Mojave.

We arrived at Fort Mojave just after dark, and proceeded to gas up at $1.82 a gallon. Here, we met Dave, who drove in from St George Utah to accompany us on this trip. I stocked the ice chest with ice and food, and we proceeded back out of town to air down at the start of the trail. We then travelled to our first campsite - Balancing Rock. We arrived just a bit before 8:00, and set up camp with another group that was also about to begin the trip across the Mojave road. Elevation 2,560 ft

In the morning, we packed up and were on the road, by 9:00 AM. Our next stop was Fort Piute, where we found petroglyphs amid a amphitheater of barrel cacti. It was at this stop where we last saw the group we shared Balancing Rock with the night before. From this point, we backtracked a bit, then went up a pass(which adjusted both side steps of my truck, and cleaned it's skid plates), then sidetracked over to a corral at 35.103936N, 115.012715W. We made a brief stop here, took some pictures, and continued on to the penny can and abandoned school bus and car. We stopped at this point also, to look over the vehicles and assess their suitability for repair, then continued on to Rock Springs, where we were met by a Park Ranger, Roland, who has a 3:30PM talk scheduled every Friday.

Along with a surprising knowledge of "Long Hair" contests and the previous employment of President Ford, Roland provided us with a private tour of the cabin at Rock Springs which had been built by a soldier returning from the First World War, who recovered from chemical gas attack wounds to outlive his prognosis of 5 years to live at the cabin for and additional 27 years. The cabin was then purchased by an artist who lived in it for decades, but has since moved on to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

After leaving Rock Springs, and the first indoor toilet of the trip, we continued on to our next campsite, hitting pavement for the first time since we left Fort Mojave. We soon left pavement, and hit the second night's resting place, very close to Marl Springs, on the western edge of a hillock where we camped for the night(Lat: 35.182116 Lon: -115.613958 ). This night was colder than the first, with the wind a significant factor in the relative chill. The stars were astounding, with a clear sky and an abundance of stars. The firewood made for a cheery campfire as the night progressed, with Mogley the adventure dog keeping the troupe entertained.

On awaking, we again broke camp by 9:00AM, and made our way to the actual Marl spring, through the frog/jeep/gnome/... shrines, and then on to the Lava Tubes, and Cinder Cones. We drove up and then climbed down into a lava tube and saw it from the inside. It was probably 30ft from the surface to the bottom of the tube. Leaving the Lava tube, we then made our way back to the Mojave Road, and continued on eating lunch on our way to the Green Mill, where we picked up rocks for the trek across Soda Lake. This was one of the more discussed portions of the trip, as Soda Lake can become impassible with rains. As it turned out, we had no problem making our way across it, and to Traveller's Monument, where we dropped of the rocks from the Green Mill and looked out over the expanse of the dry lake.

From this point forward, we were on our way to our night campsite, and made our way along the dry riverbeds to our Afton Canyon campground. At this point, we had two water fordings to accomplish. On the first fording, I chose a less than perfect line and had to correct as the front of the truck began to dive into the mud under the railway trestle. The second fording had a gravel bed, and was less of an issue for me than the first. I think I was alone in this assessment of the fordings, but all vehicles made both and we continued on to the campground and the final night of the trek.

On the final day, we arose, and again broke camp before 9:00AM, and finished out the final leg of the journey, again traveling down the sandy river bed of the Mojave River. Our trip on the Mojave Road ended at the site of Camp Cady. From here, we drove back to paved roads where we aired back up, and broke up for our trips to our homes.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip, and one that I had hoped I might be able to make. The planning for the trip was pretty astounding. We were able to see sights all along the trip, stopping for the iconic areas on the Mojave Road - corrals, shrines to frogs, jeeps, gnomes..., historic cabins, thousands of Joshua trees. The navigation was impeccable, and with six vehicles moving along as a group, we were able to keep moving and yet still enjoy the experience.

Thanks much to all my travelling companions for a great trip along the Mojave Road, and a big thanks to Greg for the fantastic planning and execution. I hope I've got things in order, but I'm certainly open to revision if I've forgotten something.

Mike Olsen


Attendees (apologies if I miss anyone or have forgotten names): Brian Geranen, Magnus, Dick, CJ w/Dad on Friday and friend on Sat, Rick, Big Mike, Mike Sickels, Howard and Sue, Gary and significant other, Clayton and Artem, Detlef and Ursula, Swanson Family, Joe Kennedy and Greg Youree. In total, there were 14 rigs on the trail Saturday, 12 jeep, an FJ Cruiser and the MOG. Friday: Left San Jose at around 7:00 am and made it to Arnold around 10:00, gassed up, met my dad who was my copilot for the weekend, got a little work done at our cabin and headed for the Snowshoe to meet up with anyone wanting to do the Deer Valley pre-run. I had not really heard from anyone so I was pleasantly surprised to get an email from CJ who would meet us at Camp Connell, Rick who would meet us at the trailhead and Magnus and Dick who were at the Snowshoe. After a quick lunch, we headed up the hill, met up with CJ and then on to the trailhead to meet with Rick. We were able to get on the trail @ 2:00 pm. There was a sign posted for the partial closure and the open portion being to 2.1 miles north of Hermit Valley. I did not think the trail was in too bad of shape, but did not seem as well defined as the last time I ran it. Definitely more exposed tree roots than I remembered. The first mile is a lot of rock crawling, tire placement and some tight turns. We had one quick stop to fix a leaky power steering line on Magnus' rig. We found a good turn around spot at the 1 mile mark and decided we would split into two groups for Saturday afternoon with a faster group going first and a slower group going second with the thought that we would all meet up somewhere around the mile mark with the first group heading back from the end and then head back. We did get a couple of really good dumpings from the thunder showers including hail at one point. I was hoping that would be enough to get the storm to pop over to the eastern side of the Sierras and clear our Saturday up. We made it back off the trail around 4:30. We aired up and headed back. We were going to top off fuel at Bear Valley but it was already closed when we got there about 5:15, so it was just back to the Tamarack (CJ to Dorrington). It was nice to see everyone getting in and look at the line of jeeps for Saturday!

Saturday: The storm did not pop over to the Eastern side! We woke up to some dumping rain. But at that point we were undeterred, everyone was awesome about being lined up and ready to go nice and early and I think it was around 7:35 - 7:40 when we pulled out of the Tamarack and headed for the Lake Alpine trailhead of the Slickrock trail. We aired down at the trailhead and headed out. For me, the most agonizing part of the trail was watching the rain. It was a tug of war in my head, the rain would dump and I would say "no way we are doing Deer Valley in this" and then it would lighten up or stop and I would be saying "well, if it stays like this, we will be ok" and back and forth it went for the whole trail. It was really dumping when we hit the stair steps and then the thunder seemed to say don't press your luck! Thank you to Kelly for being the main spotter at the top of the stair step. The last part of the trail getting to the Union/Utica trailhead was pretty cool as it seemed like you were running in a creek bed. Once we were off the Slickrock trail, it was decided to not do the Deer Valley trail. I did not want to risk body damage, trail repairs or even having to have someone out spotting in the downpour. I hope everyone was ok with that decision. Timing wise, everything went well, we would have had no problems with our timing of the 2 trails if the weather had been more cooperative. So, we were back at the Tamarack by noon, had lunch and everyone kind of did there own thing. There was a game being played in the dining area, college football on the TV, napping, cigar smoking, a few people headed down the hill to Arnold. And the thunder showers kept coming until @ 5:00pm (I was still doing the tug of war in my head about whether we should have tried Deer Valley)

The potluck was wonderful, we had Linguine and Clams, Meatballs and Kraut, Chili, Pork Loin and Kraut, Brats, Badassery Wings, Deviled Eggs, Potato Salads, Key Lime Pie, Baked Smores and cookies and more cookies. There was plenty of beer and wine and some JD and coke. I hope everyone had enough to eat, because I know I did (had to try everything)! The winner of the night for me was Clayton's linguine and clams, they were great. After dinner, Magnus had a couple of rounds of trivia which was fun and then we had a variety of music, with some good Oktoberfest stuff mixed in.

Sunday: I woke up to clouds but no rain. Unfortunately, I had already committed to being back in San Jose early, so I packed up and headed out. I hope that anyone wanting to get in more trail time was able to get out. I do not know if the rain stayed away all day or not. Made it back to San Jose by noon, and then got everything laid out in the driveway to dry and shopvac'ed the water out of the jeep. Wrapped it all up by 3:00, in time to watch the last of the niner game.

Thanks to everyone for coming! Brian

Trail Report for Deer Valley Trip on Friday 16 October 2015

It’s important to note that this was my first trip with the club and although I’ve had my Jeep for about a year and have complete about 5 or 6 runs this weekend was the most thrilling. The trail challenges and weather combined with the team comradely made for a great outing.Those who left the Santa Clara Valley early Friday morning to meet up with the pre-run trip for Deer Valley were greeted with grid lock on just about every major freeway. I left around 6:30 AM and as I listened to traffic report regarding collisions on Highways 101, 80, and 17 was thankful that 680 was in good shape. However I didn’t hear the news about an accident on 580 which blocked 3 lanes until I was in the thick of it. Luckily I made it to the Snowshoe Brewery in plenty of time to meet up with Brian, his dad Alan, Magnus and his friend Fred. We all had low cal burgers and fries topped off with a brew. Our host Brian really knows how to get everyone off to a great start, not to mention he also treated to the lunch! We then made a drive by stop at the Tamarack Lodge to meet up with CJ and then Rick at the trail head for the start of the Deer Valley Trail. Brian led the way followed by Magnus, Dick, CJ and Rick. I have to admit that since getting my Jeep about a year ago I’ve only completed about 6 trips none of which had the level of difficulty as this trail. Most trails give you a bit of easy to moderate to start before it jumps into Difficult. We aired down and went about 50 feet before we were full into what I believe is called climbing the Rock Garden. These are boulders not just huge rocks combined with tight turns and trees but also with tippy angles (at least for the novice like me). We proceeded for what seemed like at least a mile of boulders before we were faced with some regular trail combined with some tree sentinels that were looking to take off a mirror or two for the attention deficit disorder (ADD) or the too wide vehicle. We made one short stop to tighten a power steering hose and thankfully CJ was packing power steering fluid!

It started to get a little gloomy and then came a sprinkle and then a light rain which wasn’t bad on the way up but added challenge for the trip back down the trail. CJ had some additional fun and entertained us by taking a couple of more aggressive side trips up some steep sections with big boulders that added a couple more degrees of challenge to the trail. On the way back it was definitely slick from the rain and I for one ended up a couple of times on boulders in a tight turn headed down on a steep slope with no room to maneuver.

At the end of the day we all added a few more scrapes to the rims but it was a thoroughly enjoyable trip. Many thanks to Brian for leading the trip and to the rest of the guys for a great meet. Dick

Oktoberfest 2011: Deer Valley trail run report

I have been waiting for this event as Deer Valley is one of my favorite 4X4 trails. In the past I ran this trail only one-way: North to South (from Blue Lakes to Hwy 4). My son Lukas could not make it because of mid-term tests but my wife Jessie took his place. It took us 3 hours to get from Fremont to Bear Valley, and we were amazed how summer was turning into winter as we gained elevation. We arrived to Bear Valley Base Camp lodge around 4pm on Friday. We met Connie in the frozen parking lot; she also just arrived. After unloading, checking in and eating late lunch we drove to Mosquito Lake to see the condition of Hwy 4 past Bear Valley. It was wet in places but not frozen. When we came back to the lodge, Jason was showing the movie from Slick Rock run they did that day. We had some snacks, beer and wine, and retired early to our room. The beds were amazingly comfortable, and we woke up for trail meeting originally scheduled for 8am. However, trail boss Jason decided to postpone the meeting and the run by 1 hour to avoid black ice on Hwy 4. My Jeep was all frozen, so that I left the engine running while we were having a breakfast.

14 rigs departed from the parking lot at 9:10am. Sun was shining, and the condition of Hwy 4 was good at this time. We were joined by 2 more rigs in the staging area. We aired down to 15psi, disconnected, attached bull-bar-mounted video camera and waited for the start. Kelly and Tom were spotting the Gatekeeper – thanks for great job! The trail looks and feels completely different when covered with 10” of snow. Good that it was not dusty and was softer, but keeping the right line and placing tires on the rocks was more difficult because they were slippery. I was driving behind Chris (JK). The first obstacle after the Gatekeeper which required a spotter was the tight place between the tree and rocks on the right, and rocks on the left. Tom spotted me, and after several attempts I made it. The next obstacle was the fallen tree. Rigs in front of us made a very gnarly bypass but it was slowing us down. CJ suggested that I winch that log away. It was stuck between two other trees, and had to be broken by winching the far end of the log. My winch sweated, but the log was broken and removed. I thought I had this moment on my front mounted camera, but, unfortunately, I discovered after the run that some pieces of the movie were corrupt (still not sure if it was the fault of the camera or flash memory) including the winching episode.

The first water crossing was shallow but the second one was deep (we made it even deeper taking the left line!). My camera died at the end of the second water crossing (got some water) but recovered quickly afterwards. The meadow after the second water crossing was covered with fresh snow. Beautiful in summer, it was also beautiful under virgin snow cover. Felt like January. We had our lunch there. After the lunch Jason and CJ had every rig in our group lined up, and we took group pictures. Nice – 16 rigs on snow in October! Before turning back I aired down some more to 10psi expecting that the return trip will be more difficult. However, it was actually easier – we made it back to the trailhead in 2 hours. No damage to the Jeep on the trail, although I landed on my pumpkin at the end of the Gatekeeper when I already though that I am past it.

Back in the lodge the smell of food was making me and Jessie hungry. Beer did not help with hunger, so we much a little and waited. But the dinner was worth waiting. Thanks to the chefs for excellent Oktoberfest meals and beer! I had too many wursten (but Jessie though I had too much beer ;-) After dinner we watched movies and pictures from the Deer Valley and Slick Rock runs.

Overall, this Oktoberfest was a great success! Thanks God, we had snow, and thanks to organizers for cozy lodging, great trail guidance and excellent dinner!

This is a link to my video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoniIq8u4Mg


Octoberfest Trip Report

Patty and I left a rainy bay area on Thursday for Sonora. Our plan was to spend the night in Sonora, then have a liesurely drive up Friday to Bear Valley. Friday morning, we departed Sonora for Bear Valley (1 1/2 hr drive). We were somewhat concerned about all the snow up there since we have never done a snow run before. When we gassed up in Arnold, we noticed someone pulling a Samurai up the road (we thought it might be an ED4 person). We later stopped at a vista point, and rolling in comes the Samurai. It was Daryl!. We arrived at the lodge about 12:30 and there was snow most everywhere. Most of the parking lot had 6" to 8" of snow. It was definetly challanging to move around. As we brought our stuff into the lodge, we were met by Ed and his wife Toni. Ed pointed out the checkin sheet and mentioned that the rooms had name tags. Great organization Ed! Around 2 pm, we headed for Lake Alpine and the trail head for Slick Rock. Mike Cline was the trail leader. CJ agreed to be the tail gunner. At the trail head, we aired down and started. There were at least 10 rigs on the run. Patty and I ran Slick Rock earlier this year. The snow definetely add another dimension to the run. The snow filled in holes, hide rocks, and created a more slippery trail. The scenery was awesome. When we reache the stairstep, CJ spotted for everyone. A couple of the stock vehicles needed some help up, Mike C. doing the winching. I did see a piece of the Toyota FJ (rear bumper) laying on the trail. We all had fun getting up the ladder. At the end of the trail, Greg had a cloud of steam coming from the engine compartment. Seems he forgot to turn his cooling fan on! Robert did a great job of venting the steam so Greg could add more coolant. Fortunately, he had some cool;ant with him. We made a fast exit from the trail since it was getting late and cold. Utica Reservoir had a nice mist floating over it. After airing up, most of the group headed down to Arnold for gas and dinner at the Snowshoe Brewery. The restaurant was very accomodating, moving a number of tables together. They even gave us separate tabs. It was great to get to get to know CJ and his dad, Loro, and James.

The plan for the next morning was to meet at 8 am. As we went to the parking lot, we discovered that it had turned into a skating rink, black ice and slippery. Jason decided it best to wait for the ice to melt a bit before going over the pass. Around 9 am, we headed out. I think Connie's accelerator pedal was stuck, or she was really eager since she took off really fast!. At the trail head, we (17 vehicles) aired down and started thru the gatekeeper. I had Daryl, CJ, and Carlos in front of me and Vidas behind me. The snow again added a new dimension for me since it made things slippery. Past gatekeeper, the group ran into an area that required spotting. Tom was spotting, doing a good job. Things went well as long as I listened to him. We continued quite a ways (going slowly) until we came to a downed tree. I just barely squeezed around it. It was decided that we would be better off to winch the tree off the trail. Vidas stepped up and yanked it off the trail in a smashing effort! A little later, Jason also had to winch a tree off the trail.

Eventually we made it to the turn around point at a meadow and had a group lunch. After lunch, Jason organized a group photo, all the vehicles lined up. Awesome picture. The trip back seemed a lot shorter (1 1/2 hrs versus 3 hrs). Maybe because the snow was melting, or we were all growing bolder. Jason greeted us as we came off the trail. After airing up, I proceeded back to the lodge. I then noticed that my steering wheel was off center about 20 degree's. This caused havoc with the JK computer kicking in the ESP BAS system and the electronic throttle control. Slowly driving back to the lodge, I recentered the steering wheel. This did not clear the warning lights. Robert took a look and tightened up the drag link connector at the steering knuckle which was loose. The lights persisted. Oh well, there's a party going on in the lodge. After cleaning up, we came down to watch Jason's video of the run. Eventually the crew (Ed L, Jason, Tom, and Mike P) started on dinner. The Octoberfest feast was delicious. We capped off the evening with a slideshow from pictures taken during the weekend.

Sunday morning, we left around 9 am. Ed and his wife Toni had already cleaned the place up (great job!). As we left the lodge, the warning lights on the dash were still on, though the Jeep handled ok. We stopped in Arnold for a donut, and when I started the Jeep again...no warning lights! Go figure. The rest of the drive home was quiet, nice. We had a great time and appreciate all the effort that the ED4 group put out to organize and execute this fantastic weekend. We really appreciate how Ed and Toni worked hard the whole weekend so that they rest of us could play! Patty and I can't wait to do this again.

Sept 2011 Safety Clinic

Friday, September 16th, 2011:  We arrived on Friday at 9:00AM.  The gate was locked and the code had not yet been changed to 5050.  So I hiked in to see if anyone could open it for us.  After the gate was opened, we unloaded our jeep and tried unsuccessfully to get out of area 5 and into the park because the upper gate still had not been changed either, of course.  So we had to drive to the main gate to request that one of the rangers come and change the codes.  After getting the old code, Robert and I were able to get into the park to pre run the trails to make sure the ravine was behaving this season.  Around 11:15AM we got Ed, Darryl, and Greg to help us set up red trail.  We returned from red trail set up, and had lunch.  After, we got Bob, Jared (Bob’s guest), Rebecca, and Michael (our guests) to help Robert and I set up the blue trail.  When we got back we set up camp and made up the maps for the trail drivers.  By then, it was about time to start cooking dinner.  Around 6 we started getting together for our Friday night potluck.  My sister and her friend realized they had forgotten milk, so they headed into town in their very capable 4x4 Mercedes sedan.  On the way to town their car got a flat tire; and since they were already riding on a spare, they had to get back to camp another way.  Luckily, they were able to hitchhike back to camp because of the kindness of a nice lady in a pickup truck.  We enjoyed a great dinner with an amazing 3 varieties of meatballs, some yummy strawberry shortcake, and Mike’s wonderful cobbler which I vote gets on the dessert menu for next clinic.

Saturday, September 17th, 2011:  Clinic happened, no one died, and nothing blew up.  Dinner was yummy as always.  We were able to get a nice slide show going of the photos taken earlier that day.  We also enjoyed a campfire with several students in attendance.  We finally called it quits at around 2AM when the final 9 of us decided we should probably get to bed.

Sunday, September 18th, 2011:  After “sleeping in” until 8AM thanks to the very boisterous pond fauna and the fact that one has to hike 200 yards to use the restroom, we packed up and took off.  We enjoyed a good breakfast at Jerry’s on the way out of Hollister.

All in all, it seemed to be a very smooth clinic, and Robert and I would like to thank all of those that helped make it so.

Vidas Trip Report: Sierra Trek 2011

This was the first Sierra Trek in which I participated. I registered for SWB run on Fri. My sun Lukas and I left Fremont around noon on Thu. We planned to arrive to the base camp, go through vehicle safety inspection (4-6pm), hang out there for a while and then go camping by the trailhead. The first thing which went not according to our plan was the same TJ engine problem I experienced during Summer Campout: after refueling in Auburn my Jeep was hesitant to start, worked uneven (like some cylinders did not work), and built up oil pressure very slowly. When “check engine” light came up I decided to do diagnostics in Auburn. First, we tried Jeep dealership but they were booked until Fri. I headed to local service station SpeeDee. They ran diagnostics and found out that cylinder 3 was misfiring. After checking online records they found the possible issue with #3 injector being overheated from exhaust manifold. Recommended repair was to install a heat shield and insulate that injector which was done. In the end, it took us about 3 hours including search for service, diagnostics, and repairs to get going again. We arrived to the main camp near Meadow Lake past 7pm and missed the safety inspection. We met Dave in the camp and then had quick meals before driving back to the trailhead for camping. I underestimated the time it takes to get from Meadow Lake to SWB trailhead. Dave said there is another way instead of going around to hwy 89 to I-80 but we did not want to take chances. We arrived to the trailhead past 9pm and set our camp in the nice place near the creek. We have not seen any other campers around with the exception of the staging officers.

Next morning we lined up behind other rigs at the staging area at 5:10am. Our Jeep was 6th in line. I knew from my past experience that running hard trails in a group of rigs did not leave much time for taking pictures, especially in tight and technical spots. We decided to install action camera (I bought it at Fry’s for $85) on the bar above the winch. We turned it on and off along the way and produced some movies (links below). There was a safety inspection on the spot, then some coffee and group meeting where trail leaders explained the rules, what to expect etc. We started at around 6:30am. The first obstacle where our group had to stop was a steep rock step with the creek and 10-15’ drop-off on the right. One of our group, Ross, slid off the ledge on the left and had his rear right tire hanging over the drop-off to the creek. It took some winching to get that Jeep back on the trail. The first two “casualties” happened on the Sunrise Hill: one Jeep overheated and boiled, another shredded one tire, and yet another Jeep running Fordyce Trail on their own had their front driveshaft broken. However, the first serious delay happened when the Toyota truck driven by one of the event leaders broke down on Winch Hill 1. The front driveshaft disconnected (slid off the sleeve that was too short for this extreme articulation). Winching up did not help because the truck was leaning too much to the right. It was decided to fix it right there on WH1. It took more that one hour and many drivers chose to go around to bypass WH1. However, we waited patiently and attempted WH1. We made it almost all the way up but lost traction just trying to crawl over the final ledge. After two more attempts did not succeed I had to winch myself up. That was the only time I needed winch help. We made all other winch hills and obstacles on a first try. There were many times of metal to rock grinding under our Jeep but quick inspections revealed no serious damage. We became bolder as we proceeded and were running ahead of our pack. At 4pm we conquered Winch Hill 5, the final obstacle on our trail! We did it!

My son had to be home on Saturday morning, so that we decided to leave that evening. Before the pavement we reconnected, aired up, put Jeep top and headed back to our campsite where I did more careful inspection underneath of our Jeep. Just dents and scratches to bumpers, skid plates, rocker guards, pumpkins, control arms etc. as is supposed to be. Nothing required repairs. I lit my well deserved cigar. After that we packed and were back home in Fremont by 10pm.

It was a long tiring wheeling requiring constant concentration and care, but it was such an adrenalin rush! And overwhelming sense of accomplishment and relief! We made it! Not unscathed but without a breakdown or even serious damage. This was our hardest trail ever. It was nice to see some many dedicated volunteers helping in every possible way on the trail: excellent spotting, advice on correct line and tactics and encouraging words. Overall, CA4WD did exceptionally professional work organizing so many volunteers and coordinating so many runs every day.

This is one event to remember! Here are some videos: WH 3&4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58PZDKXC6Ck

WH 5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOS46q51CaI

WH 1&2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnZVWVioEVw

Regards, Vidas

Adopt a Trail / Campout Trip Report

Patty and I arrived Thursday (7/28/11) afternoon at the campsite. Thanks to the GPS coordinates and ED4 signs, we found the campground easily. Some members had already arrived, but Ole was at the campsite making sure that we had the space we needed. After setting up our tent / site, we walked around to introduce / greet those members at the campground. Dave came over and introduced himself and gave us a run down of the events to occur. As prospectives, we felt quite comfortable. After dinner, we walked over to the group campfire and joined in the "party". We finally called it quits about 10 pm. Friday morning was the start of the trail maintenance work. The forest rangers were on hand to give up a pep talk and explaining the forest service guideline's and new trail maps (someone mentioned that they should have brought their decoder ring to decipher the map... true). We broke up into 2 groups, one for Mattley Ridge trail (leader was Dave) and the other for Corral Hollow trail (leader was Jason).

The Mattley Ridge crew consisted of Dave and Loro (& Alpine), Ole and Sherry, John and Hope & family, Mike and Reynosa, Gary and Marlene (& Molly), and Chris and Patty. We followed the trail up to the ridge then took the right fork of the trail at the "hunters" staging area (?). Then the fun began. Our 1st tree was cut up to reveal a snow bank. We got thru this one easily enough, but then came the next snow bank. There was a LOT of snow to move. Everyone worked real hard to get it down to a level where the vehicles could get through.  All in all, I think we cut up 10 or 11 trees (Ole had the BIG saw, while John and I had smaller ones)  and dug out 4 snow banks (We destroyed at least one shovel). By the time we hit the bottom of the trail, the only thing anyone wanted to do was get back to camp. And that's what we did, very quickly I might add.

Dinner that nite consisted of  a Taco Dinner. Everything tasted great! It was great seeing 2 empty tables all of the sudden get filled with a large quantity of food. Rumor had it that Jason held the record with 4 taco's. The desert was two types of ice cream and some pie, cookies, and brownies. Thank you Dave for organizing this. After dinner, people sat around the campfire and talked about the day's events and jeeping in general. Since the Mattley trail hadn't been finished, it was decided to finish it up on Saturday. We finally agreed (reluctantly) on a start time of 7:30 am.

Saturday we hit the tail around 8 am. We broke up into two groups again. Dave's group (w/ John & Shane, Chris & Patty, Ellen &Loro) took the upper ridge trail while Jason's group headed lower. After a nice climb to the top of a ridge, we decided to clear an extra trail. Chain saws made quick work of a small tree. At the junction of another road, we turned around and headed back to the last trail junction and continued on the Mattley trail. We eventually came to a 30" plus log crossing the gravel trail. A bypass had been made around the log in the soft dirt. It was decided that we should clear the trail and close off the bypass. John's chainsaw and my chain saw were not long enuf to cut clear through the log in one cut, so it was done in stages. Eventually, we made two cuts clearing the log off the trail. John's chain saw got stuck in the log when the weight of the log shifted. We managed to use 2 hi-lift jacks to re-position the log and allow the chain saw to be pulled out. Since the log was so huge and heavy, we winched 2 sections out off the road.  It was gratifying to see some ATV's use the newly cleared trail shortly thereafter.

After lunch on the trail, we returned to the campground. We met up with Gary & Marlene, Vidas, Mike & Reynosa to determine if we were going to run slick rock. I was concerned about the trail since I was running stock tires, but everyone assured me that I would be fine. After some discussion, Dave, Loro (& Alpine) and I decided to go ahead with the run. We drove up to Bear Valley and gassed up. We then proceded to the trail head. All in all, I didn't find the trail to be too difficult. While I made bottom contact several times and scraped some paint off my driver side fenders (and rock rail), I got thru the run pretty good.

After the run, we aired up near the main road and returned back to camp. Vidas and Dave had to leave, but Gary, Marlene, Ellen, and Loro remained and we all had a great shared dinner that evening. Everyone packed up and left Sunday morning. Thanks to everyone at the campout and the trail run. Patty and I had a great time. See you all at the next meeting.

Summer Campout/Adopt a Trail

First, the event was a real fun! Thanks to all organizers for flawless execution. I arrived to the ED4 camp on Thu around 5:30pm. (The directions were very clear.) I was greeted by Dave who suggested me several camping options. I chose a campsite close to the main campfire. After setting my tent and having a quick snack, Dave came over to tell me about tomorrow's plans. He thought that trails probably had already been opened by rangers or other 4wheelers, and we will be done by 11am and will be able to run some trails, like Slick Rock in the afternoon. In the hindsight it was over-optimistic which probably reflects Dave's nature ;-) Then I joined the group of Jason, Jim, Mike P, Ole, and Tom to talk about tomorrow etc. Jason demonstrated some amazing articulation of his Jeep and his skill on the huge rock near our camp.

In the evening we gathered by the campfire with our drinks and had a lively conversation. I went to sleep at 10pm.

On Fri 8:30am we had forest rangers visiting our camp. They explained about the changing rules of trail use, handed us preliminary trail and forest road maps and posed for the group pictures. Then we divided into two groups: one led by Dave went to Mattley Ridge Loop trail, and our group of 5 rigs led by Jason & Mike - Jim, Tom & Daniel, Greg & Josh, and I went to Corral Hollow trail. Before leaving the camp Jason's Jeep experienced power steering problem. His hydraulically assisted steering was installed just before this campout and got some air in the system. The air evacuation caused us about 20min delay. We started from the eastern end of the trail; I disconnected, aired down to 20psi. In the beginning the trail was freshly cleared, probably by forest rangers or other groups. However, later on our way we encountered and cleared about 4 fallen trees. But the biggest obstacle and fun was crossing the snow drifts. We needed to use tow strap from the moment we encountered the first large snow drift. Jason was going first and was sailing through most of the snow drifts, but on one of them he got stuck sliding to the side of the drift and ramming his rear tire against the tree stump and his roll cage against the tree. I witnessed some technical finesse how Jason operating two winches from front (his) and rear (Tom's) got out of trouble without damaging anything. Tom and Daniel were the second "victims" following the same line as Jason (first unloading his dog Dusy) and getting into the same predicament. They got out of this situation the same way as Jason. The rest of our team took a bypass without any trouble but also with much less fun. Other snow drifts presented less problems or had bypasses. We were done around 1pm (I think). The team decided to go to Mattley Ridge Loop to check how another group was doing and offer our help if needed. We got on the top of the hill when Jim's engine stalled. Luckily it was just running out of gas. Jim was astounded when he discovered that his Jerry can was also empty. He had to borrow some gas from Tom and was back on track... but in a minute Tom's engine stalled running out of gas! Tom used his remaining gas in a can, and we continued.

We failed to make a contact with Dave but we saw that the trail was not cleared all the way through. We came back to the camp and had some drinks waiting for another group. Ellen just arrived and joined us. When another group finally arrived they were very tired. They removed 11(?) fallen trees and shoveled snow drifts, so that even Mini Cooper could pass. However, the did not finish all the way trough and they did not even start another loop in that trail. There was work to be finished on Saturday.

Dinner organized by Dave and contributed by everybody was great: tasty food, fine desserts, and fun people to talk to. We all gathered around the campfire and had really good time. I sat next to Greg, Dave and Loro, and we talked about 4wheeling and CAL4WD. I called it a night at 10am. Tomorrow we had to start at 7:30am.

On Saturday we departed to Mattley Ridge Loop trail around 8am. On the trail we divided into two groups. I joined the one led by Jason & Mike. Others in our group were Greg & Josh and Mike & Brittany. We had really exiting trail run through the loop that has not been touched the day before: tight, steep and off-camber in places, running in dense woods and traversing nice meadows. We removed 5 fallen trees and were done around noon. We headed back to camp. Jason, Mike and Jim were packing up and leaving, while Gary, Greg, Josh, Mike and I were planning to go to Slick Rock train once Dave's group returns. When they came back it was already too late for Greg and Josh but we (Gary and Marlene, Mike & Reynosa, and I) were joined by Chris & Patty and Dave & Loro with her dog Alpine.

We were concerned that the stream crossing the trail may be too deep for stock height of Chris and Patty's Jeep but decided to give it a try. There were numerous other groups on Slick Rock trail. I must say that the trail changed a bit since I last visited it a couple of years ago: more eroded in places, the was no bypass for the Slick rock itself, and there's only one way down among scattered rocks. I followed Dave & Loro over steep ledge at the bottom of the Slick rock and made some metal contact. The stream was not deep at all - it receded since Mike visited it a couple of weeks back. However, the steps at the end of the trail changes since my last visit. I was unable to make it all the way up the normal rout and took an easier rout over the rock on the left. Only Dave and Mike in longer wheelbase rigs made it straight up. Amazingly, Chris and Patty made the whole trail in their near stock JK unlimited 4d without damaging anything. Great work!

After Slick Rock trail we all went back to the camp. I packed and left around 5pm.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed this trip, and it helped me to get to know closer people from the club. Looking forward to the next adventure!