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:

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.

Huntington Lake

Huntington Lake Summer campout trip report – July 16>19 2009 –Gary Shelgren

A great weekend started with arriving at the campground late Thursday afternoon, setting up and visiting with members already there. The Dusy group was back in camp so heard tales of the fun and mishaps. The weather was perfect and a nice change from the furnace in the Valley.

The Friday afternoon run was to Brewer Lake. Darell led, Ed in sweep position, with Coby, and myself in between. This was a moderate trail for the others but, a great learning experience for me. There were a few easy dirt (DUSTY) sections interspersed between the rock gardens. With spotting help from Ed, and much to my own surprise, I was able to navigate through most of the rocks without serious damage to the TJ. However, as we got closer to the lake the rocks grew taller and closer together until I finally threw in the towel. The last 100’ to the lake wasn’t possible for my setup without the aid of a helicopter. We were looking down on the lake at that point. After letting a couple of other jeep groups pass we about faced and returned to the campground. -- Attendees: Darell & Kathy & Friend, Coby & Alicia, Myself & Marlene, Ed & Son

A Campfire was held at Darell’s campsite and run plans for Saturday were discussed.

The Saturday Run was to Red Lake, I think. There were so many lakes in the area I lost track. This trail made the previous day run look like pavement. Mostly rock gardens, with many more adult boulders and very few smooth sections. A “more challenging, more fun…6-flags” style run. I was able, with some spotting help, to navigate the rocks, bounce, lurch and smoke the clutch along to what would become the turn around and lunch spot. Again, the last couple hundred yards to the lake was the toughest part of the run and I would not have made it up the hill. The rest of the group did get “in line” to give it a try. There was a dozen or more 4-wheelers of all kinds lined up for the last hill and more arriving all the time. It was like a pre-game parking lot party with people scattered up the hill watching vehicles thrashing their way to the top. The sounds of hooting people, crunching body metal and running gear carnage would have gladdened the hearts of parts and repair shop owners everywhere….not to mention beer distributors. Our group turned around at that point. The return trip, over the same route, was like an all new trail and tougher it seemed. At one especially nasty rock drop off, I was proud of the good job of navigating I had just pulled off, thinking I had it made through. I then realized I wasn’t able to move forward or backward. I had quite skillfully lowered the jeep down onto a large boulder and was completely high centered. With a tow backward from Jim R, some rock backfilling and finger pointing from Ed, I was on my way. With a couple of exceptions, the rest of the trip went well. I did readjust (break) a running board mount and beat the crap out of the trailer hitch but, all the stuff is on the removal list anyway. On the plus side I didn’t leave a trail of oil or gas on the road so the differentials and gas tank are still intact. Great run!

- - Attendees: Darell, Jim H., Coby & Alicia, Dennis & Ava, John R., Myself & Marlene, Ed & Son

That evening (Saturday) a pot luck and campfire was held at Jason’s camp site. Great food, stories, and friends all around. The impromptu “So You Think You Can Dance” show bit was worth the price of admission. We need to keep that on the playbill. Now that it’s known what sort of stimulant encourages the dancing duo to ascend the car trailer stage, that shouldn’t be too hard to do.

Looking forward to more good times,


Summer Campout Pre-Run

This past Friday, Ed and I made a trip up to the campground area to check things out. Here is what we found. The campgrounds are very clean, they have 3 camp host on site.

There is overflow parking for trailers within the campgrounds.

There are pit toilet restrooms with lights in them.

There NO SHOWERS in the campground, however there are water faucets at various locations throughout the campgrounds.

There are no hookups.

There are Bears in the vicinity, bear boxes are provided at each campsite to store your foods in. Food left out, $300.00 fine.

Lots of trees at every campsite.

Fire wood is $8.00 per small bundle, be sure to bring some fire wood if possible. It is OK to gather wood in this forest, however no power tools are allowed in the campgrounds. This means cutting the wood with hand saw only.

Gasoline and diesel are available at the Huntington Rancheria store. Regular was $4.20 and diesel was $3.89, but it was available.

Low price Gas and Diesel was at Prather, $3.03 gas, $2.79 diesel. This is approx. 40 miles before Huntington. Gas is also available in Shaver Lake.

Upon arrival, you need to check in at the Campgrounds Headquarters. The campgrounds are on the left side of the hiway, but the check in is accross the big bridge and make a right turn. You have arrived at the Campground checkin.

Fire permits are available at the Ranger Info center next to the Campground Checkin. Fire permits are required for any kind of flames, BBQ, stove, campfire, or propane powered cooking stoves.

The trailhead for the Friday run is about 12 miles paved from the campgrounds. Trailhead for the Saturday runs are about 10 miles pavement and another 6 miles gravel/dirt.

I know that I have left out some other information, but if you have any other questions or concerns, Ed and I can provide answers.



On the basis of better late than never…here is my: Trip report for the 2008 Summer Campout and Newbie Run on Corral Hollow and Slick Rock

Since my wife wasn’t able to go this weekend I invited a long time co-worker Mike L. We arrived Thursday late afternoon at Horse Gulch campground to find it an RV ghost town save for Jason and James who were preparing to take off to go fishing. Picked a spot and got to setting up the pop-up.

Friday morning lined up and headed out with everyone to the Slick Rock trail head. Driving out onto the slab at the trail head brought back the visions of being there in my 4wheeling past life 15+ years ago, but the water crossing wasn’t what I remembered - I still have the memory of going through the water crossing in my Toy at the time with 7 inches of lift and 35’s and the water not being too far from the door seal, and having a stock Wrangler try to go through and getting flooded and having to be fished out and pulling the plugs to get it running.

The point I believe is known as the stair step proved to be a challenge. At one point having to do a sharp turn in the stock long-wheel base on a down slope put all the weight on the passenger front tire and the bead let lose, which was a new experience. Jason, without hesitation, offered get-dirty and jack up the front and with Jim H.’s offer of use of his PowerTank the bead was set in no time. With Jason’s clear and patient guidance was no problem to make it the rest of way through there. Spent a lot of time scrapping on rock rails and gas tank skid plate, but that’s what they are there for.

A subset of us, lead by Ed, then headed over to the Corral Hollow trail. We ran it opposite direction than I had ever done, which I’m sure influenced why very little seemed familiar. My memory of it was it was ‘just a dirt fire road’ but that came from driving it in setup Toy and now doing it in the stock long wheel base Wrangler was a little more interesting. We made a stop at the cabin, which I never knew was there.

Mike L. had forgotten his fishing license and was maybe going to buy one and I wanted to top off the fuel tank to be ready for Saturday so we headed into town. Not knowing for sure whether there would be a chance to go fishing Saturday Mike L. decided against spending the money to buy a fishing license. Topped off the gas tank and while doing so I noticed a Mexican Restaurant across the street - so we cheated and ate dinner in town.

Saturday morning lined up and headed out to do Corral Hollow, this time in the direction I used to do it - but still didn’t seem very familiar (they say when you get older the first thing to go is…, oh I forget).

Proceeded over to Slick Rock, but coming in the way we went out Friday. On the way in the Jeep started to pull hard to the right and why I immediately thought I had bent something and it never crossed my mind about possible having a flat tire. Whether the bead let loose again (same tire as Friday) or whether I did hit something that punctured the sidewall I’ll never know, but once I did stop the tire was shot and had to be changed out for the spare. This did give me the chance to try out the Arb XJack exhaust jack which drew a crowd. The XJack worked pretty good, but because my tail pipe was cut at an angle it was a little bit of a struggle to get it to make a good seal. Not having a spare I made the decision not continue on - just hung out at the river for awhile then headed back to camp.

After everyone got back to camp and rested awhile we busted out some grub and we had a group pot luck - tons of great food. Had to be careful though because every time I got up someone keep trying to snake my chair, but it’s not nice to name names … right Ed (smile).

It was a terrific weekend of wheeling and socializing. Thanks to everyone for the great food for the pot luck, to those that provided the means to have the slide show and movie, and especially to Ed for all his time and effort in coordinating the event and his trail leadership.



a.k.a. Views of a Newbie in the Woods… I signed up for the Esprit de Four Summer Campout/Newbie Run July 2008.

Ummm ok.. I haven?t camped since I was a little kid. And my only assignment at that time was to fetch wood & skip rocks. So this was going to be a real adventure for me.

I drove up on Friday the 18th encountering temps in the high 90?s around Copperopolis. I was warm but it was the Jeep that decided we needed to stop on the shoulder and cool off for a bit. Hathaway Pines is a nice little area. Note to self: No cell service in Hathaway Pines. Really need to get the CB radio out of the shipping box, sitting in the living room, and installed in the Jeep.

Made it into Arnold. Thinking that maybe my old radiator cap was the issue I picked up a new one at the Napa store. Not having all the equipment, nor wanting to deal with a grill & charcoal, I opted for purchasing a variety of sandwiches from a local shop. Tossed them on top of the block ice in the soft sided cooler and continued up the hill. Since it was getting later in the day I decided to go all the way up to Bear Valley Ski Lodge to see if the Jeep had anymore heating issues. I spent the night up there.

Early Saturday the 19th I drove down the hill to 7N09 to look for the ED4 gang. I had spotted the nice little sign at the beginning of the dirt road the day before, so I knew where it was now. I drove for a while and I guess it was the washboard and slow speed that made it feel like I had gone more than the approximate 4 miles to Horse Gulch camp. So I turned around and was going to check out the sign at the Corral Hollow turnoff I had passed earlier. I only got a short distance when some of the gang, led by Ira, came up behind me. Once they all passed by I fell in line.

At the trailhead before getting started we chatted as we all aired down. This was the second time I got to use my new Staun deflators. At the May How-To Clinic Dennis/Toyota introduced me to them. They?re so easy to set and use!

Mount Up! I think there were about 9 vehicles, but I?m not positive. Some people/vehicles I recognized from the Clinic. Ellen/YJ, Jim/Cherokee, Jodie/Excursion, Ira/CJ7 to name a few. I was behind a red JK and in front of Jim/Cherokee. Corral Hollow trail is very pretty. I had no idea there would be meadows of flowers. I don?t know what the plentiful yellows ones are called, but they looked nice with the occasional purple Lupine sprinkled in. I got to see the old cabin & outhouse that is pictured on the main ED4 webpage. Pretty neat.

There were a number of turns in the trail that provided me with a view of the vehicles farther up squeezing between the trees that bordered the trail. Especially that big Ford Excursion. What an amazing sight! And everyone was courteous if someone needed a little more time to navigate through or if a spotter was required. I really like the rule about ensuring that you can see the person behind you, and stopping if you can?t. For me all these little things add up and make me feel secure in what I?m doing, and knowing that help is readily available.

Jim H was nice enough to give us occasional elevation updates too. Nothing like knowing you?re at 8000ft to make you feel cooler. Jim, thanks also for the walkie-talkie loaner!

About 1.5 miles before the end of the Corral Hollow trail, a full size bronco popped its bead and shredded the tire. Everyone pulled off or to the side of the trail while multiple hands were available to toss on the spare. At the end of Corral Hollow I opted to go to Horse Gulch camp and pitch my tent.

No chance of missing the camp. A nice big ED4 sign was strung between the trees. Wow.. Look at the assortment of RVs! The camp area is really nicely laid out, like a court with the fire pit in the center. And it looks like the gang is pretty organized in their setup. I got my tent up and decided to take a nap. I later awoke to a cow bell. I thought Jim H was back early! I had gotten used to the cow bell on his Cherokee clanking throughout the day behind me. But then I realized I was hearing a LOT of cow bells. Was I back in Switzerland? No silly, you?re in a tent in the Sierras. Turns out there is a herd of cattle that run up/down the area a couple times a day. Funny to see & hear.

Slowly people from the overnight Slick Rock run started returning to camp. It was nice seeing the others. More people/vehicles I had met previously. Tom/CJ7, Ed/ToyPickup, Darrell/Bronco & Jason/CJ, Jim/CJ.

After a while the Corral Hollow group, that did Slick Rock after lunch, started trickling in. As they returned, lawn chairs were rearranged and stories of the night/day trips began. These are very entertaining. During this process appetizers appeared near the lawn chairs and Ira began downloading pictures from everyone?s camera in anticipation of the after dinner slide show. Yep, a slide show in the woods!

A time was set for dinner. Depending on what being cooked, different parties retreated to their RVs or tents to prepare for the potluck. I like the idea of everyone being responsible for their own meat or main dish, and bringing some extra of their side dishes to share. Yummo!

After dinner lawn chairs were once again rearranged, a fire was started in the pit [I noticed there are a few pyros in the group] and the slide show began! It was fun seeing pictures from the trail I didn?t do and different viewpoints of the one I did.

As it got darker we were treated to another kind of light show. Jim H brought out a few toys. I?ve never seen a handheld light with such a strong beam. I think it rivals the top of the Luxor (pyramid shaped) hotel in Las Vegas! Really! It?s like an aircraft landing light!

It?s funny how staring at the flames of the fire and listening to the repeated stories of the day really completes the day. I shuffled off to my tent and fell asleep to the murmur of the few night owls still sitting by the fire.

Sunday the 20th I awoke around 2am to the sound of something sniffing around my tent. By 3am I needed to make a trip to the porta potty. I emerged from my tent with my 65 lumen Surefire flashlight in one hand and my K-BAR knife in the other. Oh, did I mention I haven?t camped since a kid? And that I?m a wuss? Now I know why they call it the Critter Zone! Made it safely back to my tent and quickly asleep until 8.

A little after 8 I packed the Jeep and chatted with a few people that were up. Then I headed home. This was truly an adventure for me. I?m definitely not a camper. But I really wanted to try it because I enjoy riding the trails with ED4. The gang is wonderful to be around, I always feel safe and I learn something on every outing.

- Even block ice melts quickly in a soft-sided cooler. - Cheap baloney floats. - Bread disintegrates. - Mustard makes the melted ice a yucky color. - You won?t die if you eat pasta salad for breakfast, lunch & dinner.

All kidding aside: I learn something useful from the group on every outing and at the monthly meetings. Ed thank you for all your planning/organizing/support and making newbies feel welcome. ED4 members thank you for the constant opportunities and support you provide.

Connie 1980 Green CJ7


Campout photos Well, like I said at the camp fire last night, “Cheers to Ed for a great run”.

I am going to sum this up…

Runs: Thurs, Deer Valley Fri, Slick Rock (reverse) Sat, Corral Hollow — Slick Rock (forward)

Carnage: 3 blown beads 2 blown cylinders 1 transfer case shifter bracket thingy 1 shreded tire (We think as a result of one of the blown beads and then he drove on it too long.) 1 torn side wall 1 drive shaft U-joint

Almost sounds like the 12 days of xmas!

Evening entertainment: Fri, “Witless Protection, with Larry the Cable Guy” Sat, Slide show of weekends events courtesy of Mike (of Mike & Mike), Lorrie, Ed, and Ira

Photos to be posted in a while. I know that Mike (of Mike & Mike) took a lot of good ones with his camera. Lorrie got a lot as well, but she and I have to coordinate on where they get posted.

Thanks again to Ed for a great run… Ira


Little Jim’s trip report for the 2008 Summer Camp Out I got up to Horse Gulch early Wednesday afternoon, and, after expressing my difference of opinion, was convinced to comply with Ed’s vision of the parking master plan that he had in his head. As it turned out, this was a very prudent decision. Contrary to my initial impression, the spot I ended up in worked out much better for me than the one I thought I wanted.

Thursday was a great trip. We headed out of camp for the Deer Valley trail head right on time. Ed is trying his best to rid us of the “Esprit de Late” mentality. It was a really fun run - I only got stuck twice. The first time I had picked the perfect line, but just missed it by a couple of inches. The second time I had to choose between the lesser of two evils. Unfortunately, I picked the wrong evil.

Other interesting aspects of the Deer Valley trip for me were 1) I stalled in the middle of the second water crossing (the water was the highest I have seen it since I’ve been with the club), but, after an initial panic attack, managed to restart the engine and proceed, and then 2) I popped a bead when I hit a rock a little too wrong and a little too hard. Thank god for CO2. The bead was easily reseated, and we were on our way in less than 5 minutes.

Friday we did Slick Rock the reverse direction of what we normally run it. We did it the direction where the Stair step comes first instead of last. This was very interesting because, in this direction, the hardest obstacle is the ledge between the trail head and the stair step - not the stair step it self. I think the only causality this trip was a popped bead for someone going down the stair step. No problem - a little CO2 at 200 psi and problem fixed.

As it turned out for me, going down the stair step by pass was much more difficult than if I had chosen to go straight down the stair step. Just goes to show that one trail can be two different trails depending on the direction you go.

Yet again, on this run I got stuck twice and needed a little rock piling to proceed - Thank you, Jason for the excellent spotting and for all of you who contributed to the rock piling effort. I seem to get by with a “Lot of help from my friends”

Friday night was a lot of fun. With parts and pieces supplied from several different attendees we ended up with a projector, power for the projector, a projection screen, powered speakers (including power), and a really fun movie (Whoever said drive in movies were dead didn’t even consider camp-out movies?).

Saturday was the Newbie run, led by Ira. We did Coral hollow first then Slick rock. Again, I needed a “little (lot of) help from my friends to make it up the stair step.

All in all a very fun weekend. There is no way to express on paper what a fantastic job Ed did in organizing this event. And there is no way to properly thank Ed for all his efforts in rescuing broken vehicles. Let it just be said that his efforts were way, way above and beyond the call of duty. I feel extremely fortunate that Ed has chosen our club to be a part of.


Summer Campout

The campout out this year was small but fun. 16 People made it to there. John Ruiz and kids John Skier and his wife Ellen Loro Darrell and Kathy Mike and Dee Dee Tom Brian and wife from Salinas Brian and his friend from Arnold

The first run was the Pine something trail. This is a 3 mile trail the runs next to the river. 6 vehicles went on this. Ellen was having clutch problems and 2/3 of the Bronco owners in the club wanted to fish instead of 4 wheeli ng. So it was an all Jeep run with 1 token Bronco.

The run was not too hard. There were a couple tricky spots that were fun. Th e trail is right next to the river so at a couple spots you come close to a 50′ drop off. Nothing real bad but you do need to pay attention. The trail e nd at a large flat spot under the tree. It is a great camping spot.

The second run was up into the hills to see what was there. We made a left a t the Y were the pavement ends. It was a 2 wheel drive dirt road but we must of climb 2000′ feet in 6 miles. We proceeded to find lots of dead ends befo re we came to a nice over look. You could see Bear Valley from the hill top. After finding one more dead end we decided to head back to camp.

Going back to camp 3 of us decided to go to the Old Boards Crossing bridge. It is maybe 3 miles down stream from the campground but we had to go 4 miles up a mountain then take a dirt wagon trail 3 miles back down. Old boards cr ossing is a nice spot. There is an old wooden bridge you can drive across, i t also had a couple rope swings hanging from it. There were a few houses the re and a nice swimming hole. Saw a sign for pubic camping there also.

Summer Campout

Hi All Thanks go out to John Ruiz for the nailing down of a couple of campsites for the wine tasters.

Kathy and I along with Mike and Dede left San Jose around 10:30 on friday morning and arrived at our first destination, Murphys. We sampled several wineries offerings, did a little shopping, walked around town. We then headed up to Arnold to do a little last minute grocery shopping and on to the campout. You see I did promise John R. a couple of very cold beers for staking out a site for us. By the way it was well worth the beers. A good evening campfire was enjoyed. Saturday morning some of us bid farewell to those that were going wheeling. Mike and I tried to catch some fish, but did not have a lot of luck. MIke however did manage to catch one that was cooked up for the Saturday evening potluck. A great evening meal was enjoyed by all. I did enjoy hearing the stories from those that did go wheeling. A special thanks to Loro for representing the Bronco recovery unit on this trip even though it services were not needed this time. Sunday morning back up and goodbyes were said. Mike headed back to the stream with me following about an hour later. About 12:30-1:00, I caught my first fish and with in another 30 minutes, I had 3. It took another hour or so and number 4 was on the stringer following by number 5 within about half and hour. I had caught my limit! We fixed them for dinner that evening and they were very good.

Monday morning Kathy, myself, Mike and Dede said our goodbyes to Tom.

Another very good outing with wonderfull people.

Thanks again, John for a job well done.


Summer Campout

Trip Report, Summer Campout 2007, by Brian McMinn This was my second outing with the club and it did not disappoint. I was able to talk my wife, Thu, into joining me for her first camping experience on this trip. It was a good thing that we arrived Friday afternoon because the campsites were all filled that evening. I have to say that John Ruiz found a great site for camping. My wife and I pitched our tent on a hill above the Stanislaus River and soaked our feet in the water to cool off after the drive through a hot valley. Those that camped were John Ruiz and kids (Hope was home with one sick child), John & Lisa Skier and their future son-in-law Joshua, Loro Paterson and Sierra, Tom Vella, Ellen Layendecker, Darrel & Kathy Kroeker, and Mike & DeDe George.

The trail ride Saturday started at the Sourgrass Day Use Area and followed the river. There were six rigs on the ride: John R. (XJ), Tom V. (CJ7), John S. (YJ), Loro P. (Bronco), Brian Geranen & his Brother-in-law joined us for the day (TJ), and my wife and I (TJ). The trail was a little rockier than what I am used to at Hollister Hills. It made for an interesting drive with a trail crossing that was a little challenging. This is a trail worth returning to someday. After three hours driving out and back we stopped for lunch in the day use area.

The afternoon drive took us over some very dusty logging roads. After about an hour of chase the dust cloud my wife and I decided to turn back due to concerns about my wifeGÇÖs alergies.

The eveningGÇÖs potluck was a great spread of food and there was plenty for all. The fire lasted deep into the night by my wife and I turned in early so we could break camp Sunday morning and get out ahead of traffic. Overall it was a good relaxing time. I look forward to next years campout.

Summer Campout

To All, Thanks again to the members of ED4 for another run. It is always a pleasure when I have a chance to meet up with the group for a run. A special thanks to John Ruiz for being the trial boss.

My trip began Friday @ 5:15 when I picked up my Brother-in-law (Brad) in San Jose and joined the rush hour traffic heading out of town. We arrived in Arnold @ 8:45 and luckily the Snowshoe was still open so we could grab a cold beverage and a late dinner. We were staying at a cabin in Blue Lake Springs (just out of Arnold) so we did not join the group at the campsite.

Saturday morning, after strapping down and fueling up we headed the rest of the way up Hwy 4 to Dorrington and Boards Crossing Road. We arrived at the Boards Crossing day use area @ 8:15. After hanging out for a few minutes, we decided to head across the river to the campground to see who was out and about. We ran into Darell, Tom Vella and Mike and Dede. Again, always a pleasure to meet up with the ED4 members. Darell let us know that the trail head was really close so after visiting for a few minutes we went ahead and aired down. As 9:00 arrived we headed back across the river to the day use area where the trail head is for the Pine Needle Flat trail (the sign said - trail to Pine Needle Flat). Joing us for the run were: 1) John Ruiz and kids 2) Brian and wife (McMinn??) 3) Loro Patterson - (and Sierra) 4) Tom Vella 5) John Skier and Joshua (son-in-law to be?)

Shortly after 9:00 we headed out on the trail. It was a fairly mild trail with a couple of decent Rock Gardens and one slightly tricky river crossing. Loro, after going through the rock gardens decided not to complete the trail and rode the rest of the way shotgun with Tom. At the end of the trail (Pine Needle Flat?) there is a large area with decent river access unfortunately it was still a little early for a lunch break, so we just hung out for a few minutes and then headed back. We arrived back at the Day Use area a little before noon and stopped for lunch.

After lunch we hit the forest service and logging roads in search of some early 1900’s era logging cabins. Unfortunately we only found the end of the road a few times and an absolutely unbelieveable amount of dust due to recent logging activities (keeping sight of the member behind you or even in front of you was not an option most of the time.)

We returned to the campground @ 3:00? And a few of us decided to head over to the original Boards Crossing, that was myself and Brad, John Ruiz and kids and Tom. After that it was back to the campground. After a short but nice visit and despite an outpouring of gracious invitations, we headed back to Blue Lake Springs to wash up and have dinner on our own.

Sunday - Unfortunately, I could not find any takers for a Slick Rock run Sunday morning so Brad and I decided to head up on our own (I needed a little bit more 4-low). We left Arnold @7:30, drove into Uttica reservoir, aired down, ran Slick Rock from bottom to top, aired up at the Bear Valley gas station and were back in Arnold by 10:30. Then it was time to head back to San Jose.

Thanks Again ED4!!

Brian Geranen Prospective Member


Summer Campout

The campout out this year was small but fun. 16 People made it to there. John Ruiz and kids John Skier and his wife Ellen Loro Darrell and Kathy Mike and Dee Dee Tom Brian and wife from Salinas Brian and his friend from Arnold

The first run was the Pine something trail. This is a 3 mile trail the runs next to the river. 6 vehicles went on this. Ellen was having clutch problems and 2/3 of the Bronco owners in the club wanted to fish instead of 4 wheeling. So it was an all Jeep run with 1 token Bronco.

The run was not too hard. There were a couple tricky spots that were fun. The trail is right next to the river so at a couple spots you come close to a 50′ drop off. Nothing real bad but you do need to pay attention. The trail end at a large flat spot under the tree. It is a great camping spot.

The second run was up into the hills to see what was there. We made a left at the Y were the pavement ends. It was a 2 wheel drive dirt road but we must of climb 2000′ feet in 6 miles. We proceeded to find lots of dead ends before we came to a nice over look. You could see Bear Valley from the hill top. After finding one more dead end we decided to head back to camp.

Going back to camp 3 of us decided to go to the Old Boards Crossing bridge. It is maybe 3 miles down stream from the campground but we had to go 4 miles up a mountain then take a dirt wagon trail 3 miles back down. Old boards crossing is a nice spot. There is an old wooden bridge you can drive across, it also had a couple rope swings hanging from it. There were a few houses there and a nice swimming hole. Saw a sign for pubic camping there also.

Summer Campout

This was my first summer campout with ED4 and only my 3rd trip with the club. My first trip was the work on your rig weekend that Ed & Ray hosted and the other trip was to attend the safety clinic in May (I’ll send in reports on those trips soon). I drove up to the campsite Friday meeting Eric at the first split in the road off 108 (we both originally headed out the wrong direction but after digging out Darell’s directions we headed off in the right direction after Eric put up a directional sign at that intersection). When we arrived in camp we found Tom was already there & there were also couple of other occupied campsites (not from ED4). Did our best figure out how many others were coming & what type of sites they needed & they parked rigs & left a chair in spots for others (in the future to be in closer compliance with regulation it would be best to get peoples license plates in advance to be able to register for each site before people arrive). We met USFS employees that advised us that it’s first come 1st served no saving sites but they didn’t enforce that & gave us nice OHV maps. The ORV campground was a nice USFS place with vault toilets & garbage cans & picnic tables & fire rings (but no running H20) set on the edge of a meadow with Niagara Creek at the edge of the meadow.

When Ira & Lorrie arrived we heard about the trouble they were having with their tow rig. They also said Darell wasn’t arriving until Sat AM. We had a nice campfire Friday night.

On my way up on Friday I had stopped at the USFS Ranger Station in Miwok and picked up some forest info and also asked about 4×4 routes. I was directed to a 4X4 book & looked up the Niagara Rim Trail seeing how that author rated it including mentioning some class 5 spots. Also the OHV map the USFS employees gave us showed some black diamonds on the route. With this info in mind and the limited modifications to my 70 Bronco + my only time ever having it out off road being at the safety clinic in Hollister, I talked to those in our group that had recently traveled the trail to see if I really should take my Bronco out. All the recent travellers said that it should be ok and that they would get me through it helping out if needed. I cross tied my Black Lab, Sierra, in the backseat & after a photo of rigs lined up to head out for trail & started out. As promised, shortly on to the route we encountered the first, and for me at least, significant challenge - a rocky steep descent & long ascent (the OHV map calls the section “Heartbreak” hill). With great spotting by Ira & Lorrie & help from Ed & others too, we all made it through the spot. The next major challenge for me was getting Bronco positioned correctly (without power steering assistance) on tight turn for long steep descent. Both Ira and Lorrie again were of great help in spotting for me to get lined up for the plunge. Eric gave very good heads up on CB too and also hiked up to point out the shelf we needed to watch out for midway down the steep plunge. I wished I had better gearing on the steep spots + power steering in the tight turns throughout the trip but especially in this section. After these 2 challenging spots we climbed up to about 8,000′ and had lunch above the “Lions Butt”. The weather was great & the views were super. A USFS employee on a quad ATV stopped by to see us & gave us some info on the forest & use & the trail ahead. After lunch most people did the “Lions Butt” obstacle then we went on to look at the next expert rated obstacle the “Rock Pile”. Several people on various ATVs were also there but it looked like the first step would be too big for anything with less than 37″ tires. A couple of weeks ago Eric & Darell from our group + Steve P. I heard did do the run. Eric & Darell said it looked different then & that first step wasn’t quite as big.

We left the “Rock Pile” & headed back to the camp arriving midafternoon. It was a challenging but fun run for me and I’m very pleased with how well my relatively unmodified old Bronco with only 31″ tires on it now did on the trail. I do want to get it set up to be better able to tackle serious 4wheeling but for now it did pretty well I think. We relaxed in camp and prepared for a very good potluck meal. Just before we started to eat dinner, it started to rain but the drops were not coming very fast or hard so it didn’t wreck the evening. After a very tasty dinner & dessert we had another nice campfire and also DVD 4X4 viewing on Eric’s TV on the picnic table by the fire. People left a different times Sunday AM. Tom had to leave early to meet friends to head up to camp at Lake Alpine before going on to do the Rubicon next weekend. After thanking people for their help & encouragement and saying goodbyes, I saw same USFS person we had talked to near “Lions Butt” at the campground entrance and stopped to ask him directions to the “Trail of the Ancient Dwarfs” a self guided nature trail I wanted to visit which was nearby. He gave me directions - it is just a bit beyond the main Niagara Creek Campground not far off Hwy 108. My dog & I enjoyed the hike through a nice forested area and on to the old Mono Pass Road with views of the Dardanelle’s and down on to Hwy 108. We didn’t see anyone else out on the hike and even the nearby Niagara Creek Campground only had one or 2 campers staying there. Next I stopped off at Pinecrest Lake to let my dog have a quick cooling off swim. I couldn’t believe how crowded it was there especially after the uncrowded forest we had just spent the rest of the weekend in.

I would like to thank everyone who made the campout happen & got us safely through the trail. I also want to say how welcome I felt & how nice it was to have my dog Sierra get so much attention from so many people too. We really enjoyed ourselves!

Thanks again, Loro Paterson


Summer Campout

  My morning started out really earlier. The morning of July 24th, I drove up to the Midge Creek Campgrounds to meet up with other club members of Esprit-de-Four. I choose to run the top portion of the Dusy Trail with Kelly Swanson, as trail lead, along with club members John Cameron and Eric Nelson.

The trail was challenging enough, we probably didn’t go more than 3-4 miles, and once I broke my Jeep, which was timed just so, we all stopped for lunch. I managed to break a centering pin, passenger front, this time. Actually it looked like an old break in the U-bolt, which allowed movement of the leeve(?)springs, and probably caused the centering pin to break. What a mess!!! After lunch, Kelly, John C. & Eric all came to my rescue and got the Jeep repaired and driveable. After the trail fix….

We left the trail, and went back to camp to start our BBQ and Pot luck. Food and conversations were excellent. I do enjoy this outing.

My Sunday morning started off with a headache, so I left camp as quickly as I could.

I wish to “Thank” Darell and Kathy Kroeker for all their work in reserving the group camp grounds; trail picks, BBQ and Raffle. Great job. Thanks goes to both Darell and Kathy for all they did to make the weekend a success. Sherry Stortroen

Summer Campout

I am getting the photos up fast today before I forget. Note there is a great shot of Jim ACTUALLY blowing the right front beed!

And some nice shots of red lake.

The photos

Anyway, this was a great run. Full of up’s and down’s. No one can say there was not enough adventure on this trip.

Lorrie and I made good time up the hill Friday night. The mods I have done to the Dodge make it a whole new truck. One has to wonder how long it will last with the stress we put on it. Some of us had a rough Friday night as a Mini cooper tried it’s hand at flying, only to be stopped abruptly by a large tree. Seriously, thanks to Dirk, Matt, and Eric one of the 2 people in the car will live. I defer to them for more details.

One group lead by Kelly did some of the Dusy. I am sure that Sherry can fill you in on the details of that trip. She broke a centering pin and they had a heck of a time fixing all the things wrong with the right front suspension.

Lorrie and I “lead” the intermediate/advanced run. We only had one person interested in the SUV run so we convinced him to tag along on the “intermediate” run which basically did almost everything we did, lead by Darrel.

Only 3 people in my group made it out of the parking lot, Jim, Richard and Carol, and Lorrie and I. Steve’s Blazer just did not want to stay running. It was too bad as they would have liked the trail I think. Later Mike and Dede joined them and I think they had a good time hanging at the camp ground.

When asked if I had anything to add to my group at the drivers meeting, I asked that no one break as I was wearing my Sunday best. Sure enough on the 2nd hard patch Jim decides to break something… I thought it was a drive train component as for all the noise. But we were lucky and it was only a tire beed. He had turned and pinched at just the right moment. Lorrie actually got a picture of it blowing as there is dust blowing up from it in the picture! A ratchet strap and that CO2 that he carries made short work of a fix.

We pretty much made it to Red Lake without any more incidents. We met a nice group of 3 Jeeps coming out. They said it was their first time out. They seemed to be doing fine but I offered them a clinic card and more information on Cal 4 as they were from Bakersfield.

Richard and Carol in their Xterra are to be commended. He has put on a lift, bigger tires, and sway bar disconnects. It did a wonderful job. They did need lockers in one spot where Jim had to winch them back to get a better line. Other than that, good driving and a couple of rocks here and there and they got through with minor scraps. Carol drove out from Red lake and shows a lot of promise.

On the way in we were starting to hear horror stories of the stair step leaving Red lake on the way to Coyote lake. Last year I got Jim up, as he was the least capably vehicle of our group and after waiting for a broken U-joint being fixed from a group coming down we decided to head back. This year we heard of 3 major breaks on this stair step, a broken tie rod, all hub bolts “sheared”, and apparently someone broke the exhaust manifold off the head? Don’t know how that happened. So after lunch at the Lake I decided I would try my hand at this obstacle. In my opinion it did not look any worse than last year and in fact seemed to have some of the major holes filled in. With the aid of my locker front and rear, a great line, and luck, I walked up it. Jim said that he would go up if I did so he started up. I tried to get him on my line as it was basically a straight shot up if you made it. He slipped to the right and got into one of the large holes. As is often the case now he could not back up more than a few inches. Rock piling ensued. There were many times we had to back off as the components were sure to give way with a heavy throttle.

During this effort Richard pitched in with rock stacking and I made the very hasty mistake of throwing a rock into a hole where his hand was. He pulled back and held his hand. I was in shock that I had done such a stupid thing. Richard went back to his vehicle where Darrel wrapped up his finger. I and Jim took a short break to asses the situation and calm down. I can not stress enough how sorry I am to have done this. Accident or no we all need to remember to not get in a hurry and take our time. Long story short, Richard and Carrol had to go all the way to Clovis to get stitches in his finger. Apparently there is no other emergency services closer. Sunday morning he reported that he was going to be ok. I am very happy of that.

More rocks and effort later Jim made it up the hill without breakage. I walked, or sort of dropped down as did he. In retrospect we feel the carnage from earlier must have been at the hands of heavy throttle and/or just bad luck.

Saturday night found us at a pot luck, raffle, put on by Cathy, and a warm fire. The raffle was a nice touch. Cathy made sure there were plenty of things for the little ones. Lorrie and I did well as did Richard and Carol through tickets we bought for them. They were down in Clovis getting his finger put back together. A little wine and a couple of beers later and Lorrie and I were in bed, got up this morning, loaded, and here I am.

As I said, this was a GREAT run. I for one was exhausted with all the activity on trail. I know there are more stories to be told but I will leave them to their respective owners…

Have a great rest of the Summer. Lorrie and I are going to be planning our Europe trip and then be in Europe for 3 weeks in Sept. This means our next trip will be Blue Lakes or Garcia Ridge in October.

Have fun, Ira and Lorrie