Deer Valley/Blue Lakes


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:


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 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.

Responding to Ocktoberfest

Great report Connie. There is little I could add, except that you are being way too nice describing my little mishape on the return leg. "That situation was caused by my losing concentration on the road ahead. The rock in question was in front of the passenger side tire and I simply forgot how big it was. Up the rock we went until gravity took over. It's surprising how tough these jeep tops are, not a scratch from leaning aganist the tree."

The best line of the trip came from CJ, at this point, as he jumps out of his jeep and yells:... "Gary, what do think you are doing...don't move... Connie, grap your camera and come up here quick". It's clear he has a media backgroud and never wants to miss a photo oppurtunity. Between Connie and Gary F. there are plenty of pictures.

An excellent event and looking forward to the next...I need the practice. CJ really went out of his way to make this a great, safe and successful run.

Gary S.

Deer Valley Run

Here's my belated Blue Lakes trip report (I'll send the Slickrock portion of the trip separately…) Blue Lakes Trip Report - October 17, 2009

7:00 AM

Our gathering place for the Blue Lakes run was the Dorrington Hotel parking lot. Five rigs showed up:

- Carlos in his XJ with two kids - CJ in his CJ7 (the run organizer and trail-lead for the weekend), with Connie riding shotgun - Gary F. (myself) in my recently lifted (2") 2007 JK with brand-new 33" MT2s with Doña riding shotgun - Gary S. in his recently-aquired TJ Rubicon, with Marlene riding shotgun and their dog, Molly, in back - Mike C. in his well-equiped 2008 JK, with his Dad, Herb, riding shotgun

Our departure was briefly delayed by last-minute errand running (we needed bread to complete our planned PB&J lunch!) I must have taken a little too long at the store, because as I was heading back toward the hotel I was passed by our caravan heading the opposite direction. A quick U-turn and I was bringing up the rear in no time.

8:30 AM

Our planned gas stop was in Bear Valley. Unfortunately the station was closed leaving at least one driver without a full tank of gas. CJ had a hose so, worst case, we could siphon fuel from one vehicle to another. We pressed on a arrived at the trail head at 8:30.

We aired down and headed a short distance up the trail to "Gate Keeper," the jumble of boulders intended by Mother Nature to keep timid 4-wheelers from reaching the trail beyond.

9:30 AM

We took our first break about an hour later. It was nice to stretch our legs, socialize and take in the view. I had an opportunity to confirm that I had, indeed, scratched all four new rims, just like Jeff Arabia requested. I also had a chance to scramble over boulders, which is fun too!

9:50 AM

Twenty minutes later we stopped to rearrange a log obstruction so all vehicles could pass. Ten minutes later we encountered another and did the same.

10:28 AM

Our first stream crossing! Of course it was on a few inches deep and a few feet across. I assumed this was not the stream crossing CJ had told us we'd encounter around noon, so we pressed on. ;-)

11:10 AM

The promised stream crossing. CJ ferried Connie across as we lined up our Jeeps for a photo op (note that the term "Jeep" is correct in this context, as we were all driving Jeeps.) Connie took a group shot and then, one-by-one, we forded the stream.

11:45 AM

Another stream crossing and we were just a short distance from Blue Lake. CJ informs us that the rest of the trail is a "piece of cake." I'm picturing a boring stretch of boulder-less dirt road, but in my estimation the rest of the trail was more of the same. I suspect CJ and I have very different opinions on cake, too.

12:12 PM

We arrived at Blue Lakes pretty much on schedule.

1:01 PM

After lunch most of us gathered in a circle a chatted a bit, learning a little about one another. I felt drawn to the water's edge and wandered off to take pictures.

3:00 PM

Around 2:00 we voted to see who wanted return back the way we'd come versus the taking the highway. Everyone voted for the trail, although Carlos had to head off down the highway in search of gas. The trail looked completely different from the opposite direction at times: new obstacles were discovered and minor technical difficulties were dealt with (such as a damaged valve stem cap which was releasing air from one of the tires on Gary S.'s Jeep.)

3:49 PM

Shortly before 4:00 I rounded a bend and saw an unexpected sight up ahead: a Jeep with one wheel high in the air. By the time I arrived CJ had already leaped into action, as this photo attests. Thanks to the hitherto unused winch on Mike C.'s Jeep, the errant vehicle was back on all fours in no time.

4:08 PM

Unfortunately, Mike's Jeep wouldn't start after the rescue operation, but CJ found a surprising solution to that problem and we were on our way again.

The remainder of the trip down the trail was uneventful, after which we heading back into town to clean up and go out to dinner.

Overall this run was a fantastic experience. My Jeep handled the run with aplomb (thanks, in part, to slightly larger tires and 2" lift prior to this trip.) I learned the the most improbable-appearing path through a given obstacle is usually the right path. Although I did a fair amount of scraping on the way up the trail to Blue Lakes, I found myself passing through threatening stretches of rocks with nary a scrape on the return trip. Which means either I learned something, or the trail is easier going back down. And the mini rescue clinic Gary S. unexpectedly scheduled for us during the return trip made the run that much more memorable.

Gary F.

Ocktoberfest Run

2009_1016_connie_01October 16th, 17th & 18th

Attendees: Carlos & the kids/Cherokee CJ/CJ7 GaryF & D/JK GaryS, Marleene & Molly/TJ MikeC, Herb/JK Myself/CJ7

Friday 16th - What beautiful weather for a trip! I left Fremont Friday morning heading for the hills. I stopped at the Pro Bass Shop off in Manteca for fun. When I got back to my Jeep it wouldn’t start. It sounded strong trying to turn over but just wouldn’t catch. Thanks to the detailed email CJ had sent out just before the weekend I knew roughly what time he might be passing through the area. It contained the contact info I needed too. Guess I’ll be keeping that Data Plan for my cell phone!

CJ was like a dog on a bone. He would not give up on my Jeep. And it was hot in Manteca. I decided on the last parts run that if that didn’t fix it I would hand the Jeep over to the towing service and take CJ up on his offer that I hop a ride with him up to Dorrington. Amazing! It was the last part that fixed it. The magnetic pickup in the distributor, a brand new part, less than a week old. CJ I can’t thank you enough for rescuing me! You are awesome!

It was because of me that CJ didn’t make it up to Arnold in time to organize the Friday afternoon Pine Needle Flat Trail. My apologies to all.

I stopped at the grocery store & sandwich shop in Arnold to pick up food items for the Saturday run. Then checked into my chalet at the Dorrington Inn.

Saturday 17th – At 7:00am we met up in the Dorrington Hotel parking lot. I was hesitant to take my Jeep on the run for a few reasons. I have no idea why a brand new magnetic pickup would fail, I didn’t have another one and I would have been the only vehicle without lockers. CJ offered that I could ride shotgun for him and I did. We left on time.

I see why they call the entrance “The Gate Keeper”. After airing down, we all walked up it and CJ pointed out the best line. He spotted everyone up. Mike C wanted to test his skills & vehicle on a different line and CJ spotted him through it. That JK is so dialed in it looked like he was floating over those big boulders.

The pace was nice and I got the added attraction of watching our progress on CJ’s laptop with Topo software. Pretty nice set up! I even got to enter a few Way Points to mark where the fallen trees were across the trail.

This was my first time riding through a water crossing that came up over the hubs. Right full rudder! Five degree down bubble! Dive! Dive! Dive! [I think I’ve seen too many submarine movies. But I could have sworn I heard the soundtrack to “The Hunt for Red October”.]

We stopped when spotting was necessary, at different areas to enjoy the scenery, discuss obstacles just tackled and where to have lunch. I think we reached Blue Lake around 12:10. Found a nice area with a picnic table in the shade and ample seating size rocks in the sun. A little something for everyone.

After lunch Carlos & the kids took the highway back to the RV park. The rest of the group returned via the trail. It was interesting how different the trail looked and felt going in the opposite direction. Some areas seemed easier and others more difficult.

We had a little excitement near the end when the rear driver side tire of GaryS’s TJ slide off a rock and he wound up in an off camber position. It was a perfect time for Mike C to try out his winch! We all got to see it in use. Well, maybe not Marlene, as she was sitting calmly in the passenger seat holding onto Molly [the lab] who was laying partially between the driver & passenger seat. Great job everyone!

After passing through The Gate Keeper everyone hopped out and began the duties of airing up and organizing items in the vehicles. We discussed dinner and decided on the Snowshoe Brewery.

It was a real treat for me to be riding with CJ. I had my own personal tour guide. His knowledge of the local history, sprinkled with stories of times spent at the family cabin, were wonderful.

Dinner time: Despite the restaurant being busy, we were lucky enough to be able to sit together for dinner, recapping the events of the day. I couldn’t believe it, but GaryF had already downloaded his photos onto his laptop and brought it in to show a few shots of when GaryS was in his off camber situation.

The conversation turned towards Sunday’s run. Slickrock was the plan. After the meeting time and place was determined, everyone headed off to their various abodes for a night of restful slumber.

Sunday 18th – I had planned on sleeping in and then heading home. I awoke in time to check out, drive over and wish the others a good day. Loro was there with Sierra & Alpine. I’m glad she made it as she was looking forward to the Slickrock run and missed the Deer Valley one.

My thanks to all for making it a fun event, and especially to CJ for hosting it and for rescuing me in Manteca! I’ll say it again You’re Awesome!

Sincerely, Connie 1980 Green CJ7

Blue Lakes

To All, Despite some threatening weather and a small turn-out, the trip turned out to be a good one!

Ron Frey and I headed up Thursday night and hit very little traffic. We made it to Arnold in @ 3hrs and arrived by 9:40 pm.

Friday morning we hit town for some breakfast and some forest service maps to plan alternate routes should the weather keep us from making the Deer Valley Trail.

Then it was off to check out the trail. We hit the Union Reservoir trail head for Slick Rock @ 11:00 am. The trail was in great shape and due to recent weather, No Dust! We then headed up to Hermit Valley and the Deer Valley trail head. There was no snow on the ground and again the trail was in great shape. It was @ 1:00 by then and I had promised an update to Mike Phorn and Jim O’Leary @ 4:00 so we decided to do an hour in then come back out. We made it to the 1st river crossing in an hour and then back to the trail head by 3:00. As we were driving back to Arnold the weather report was for a short bout of rain Friday night with snow levels above 8000 feet and clearing early Saturday morning. Back in Arnold, I called Jim and Mike and let them know we had at least an 85% chance of getting to the trail head in the morning. Because they were coming up late, we moved our Camp Connell meet time from 8:00 am to 9:00 am.

David Grubman made it up to Arnold @ 6:30 Friday night and after dinner at the Snowshoe, covering David’s jeep and some visiting, we hit the sack.

Saturday morning Ron, David and I and my friend Ted met up with Jim and Mike at Camp Connell. David was still towing his jeep so everyone headed up the trail and I waited for my cabin neighbors who wanted to give the trail a try in their early 80’s toyota pick-ups. They arrived a few minutes later and we headed up the hill. We caught up with the group just past Lake Alpine where David had had enough of the narrow road and was unloading the Jeep. Then it was off to the trail head and starting the trail @ 10:00 am.

Ron (Rubicon Unlimited) took the lead, Jim and Mike (CJ7)followed, then one of my neighbors Jeff(Toyota), Dave (CJ8), my other neighbor Tim (Toyota) and I brought up the rear (Rubicon). We had a little trouble getting the fairly stock Toyotas through the first obstacle and after they made the first turn, decided this was not the run for them. I got a little taste of how hard Mike has worked the last few years getting everyone through the trail. Thanks for helping get those guys at least onto the trail! After I had escorted them back out and catching up with the group we headed out, it was now @ 11:00 am. With all of the rigs pretty well set-up (I was now the “little guy”), we cruised through with no problems. For the first time, Mike and I were able to see Blue Lakes, we had never gone further than the second river crossing previously. After lunch we started the trip back @2:00 pm. I was the only one to get stuck on the way back by high centering about 400 yards or so from the trail head. A couple of quick tugs from Ron and a new line, we finished up the run by 4:00 pm.

We hit the Lube Room in Dorrington for a quick after-run beer and then agreed to meet at the Snowshoe for dinner. Again a first for Mike. We said our good byes, Ron, David, Ted and I were staying at my place, Jim, Mike and friend Rich at Rich’s place in Dorrington.

Sunday, Dave pulled out just after 7:00am and Ron replaced a bolt in his track arm bracket. Ron and Ted and I decided to do one more quick run on the Pine Needle Flat trail. I let my friend Ted drive, it was a good trail to break in on.

Shortly after getting back to the cabin and cleaning up, we hit the road for San Jose, making it back by @3:30.

Thanks to all who came up! And I have some great ideas for next year…….


Blue Lakes

Hello All, I’m finally getting to this trip report… Sorry to take so long, but I’ve just returned from a lengthy business trip. I actually got them to delay this trip so it wouldn’t interfere with the ED4 schedule!

I’ve been wanting to try out this trail since I read about it in one of my off-road trail books. However, I was reluctant to try it by myself — and I’m glad I waited to go with such an experienced group.

Friday: Ava and I left home about 10 am after loading up the 4runner and checking fluids and air pressures. We just kind of took a relaxed pace since I knew that starting on Monday work was going to be hectic for about 10 days straight. We stopped in Manteca for lunch and then continued north on 99 to 4. When we stopped at the stop sigh at the little town of Farmington, imagine my surprise to see Darrell climb out of his truck! We honked as we drove past and continued on our trip.

Since Ava and I had not done much hiking, camping, or exploring east of highway 89, we wanted to check out Big Trees Park and went on a great 5 mile hike to see the ‘Big Trees.’ We stopped in Arnold to top up our gas and have dinner. We ate at the Blue Frog, the Mexican food was actually pretty good.

We arrived at the Tamarack Lodge about 8pm and checked out our room. We met the rest of the group watching the NASCAR race and socializing. About 9pm I got my 4runner inspected and got a neat little “Octoberfest ‘06″ sticker on my windshield. Since it was going to be an early morning, we turned in at about 10pm.

Saturday: I got up much earlier than I usually do on Saturdays, but I was excited about the trail experience I was going to get. We had breakfast of toaster waffles and cold cereal and got lined up for the trip to the trailhead. I was in line behind Ed and Lonnie, which turned out to be a good learning experience as I attempted to follow his lines. It took about 20 minutes to travel from the Lodge to the trail head where we all aired down and whatever else we needed to do. While we were airing down, several others arrived and joined the group.

The first obstacle was the worst — at least for me — of the whole day. Perhaps it was because I had only aired down to 15 psi, or perhaps it was because it was my first time with a serious obstacle. Anyway, with the help of Darrell’s expert spotting and rock stacking by everybody else, I finally made it up and over. But, as I was moving ahead to give room to those behind me, I got stuck again. It was apparent at that point that I needed to further air down. So I went down to 12 psi which was much better from then on.

As we continued, at some of the more difficult little sections, Ed would get out and guide me through. As we progressed up the trail, I learned a lot just by watching Ed (and then Lonnie) as well as the all important ’seat time’. I had to have some help spotting at a narrow section where I sort of ran into a tree! No damage, but Stephen helped guide me through that and we continued up the trail. I only had one other bad spot where I chose a line that put me into a wedge where I couldn’t go forward or backwards (I think having lockers would have helped out here) and I had about have the group adding weight to the truck so I could get enough traction to continue.

There was one slightly downhill rock garden area where I took a bypass. Thanks again to Ed for checking it out (on foot) before telling me to go for it.

At a bit past noon we reached the second creek where we had lunch and discussed who was going back on the trail and who was continuing to see what Blue Lakes really looks like. Since Ava and I had wanted to see Blue Lakes we continued with that group.

We thought that the trail from the creek to Blue Lakes was just a forest road and not anything like the trail, so Ava started driving. It was soon apparent that the trail was more rough than a forest road, so I was back behind the wheel! Blue Lakes is nice, and a little smaller than I thought it would be. We aired up (and had a pit stop) and continued back to the Lodge on the asphalt.

We arrived back to the lodge at nearly the same time as the group the did the trail and we all cleaned up for the great meal and dinner. Since it was a tiring day, as soon as the dinner and raffles were over, I hit the sack. By the way, I won an Esprit de Four beer mug!!!

Sunday: Got up at a much later time (about 9am) and left for a leisurely drive home.

Thanks to Mike for leading a great run, for Ira for leading on the trail. Many thanks to Ed, Stephen, and Darrell for spotting and guiding me through the tough spots. And many thanks to all those that helped stacking rocks!!!

I learned a lot, and by the end of the trail I think I had improved my driving considerably. In fact, if we had run the trail in the other direction I think I would have done much better on the major first obstacle.


(Ava’s 2-cents worth! Yep, it was nerve-wracking watching the 4-runner do everything but run! And maybe next time I’ll have the wherewithal to grab the camera out of the glove box and take pictures to show off Dennis’ tense posture.)



Blue Lakes

Now, on to the actual trip report. For this trip, I actually had a co-pilot. My good friend Ted was able to join me and had a fantastic time. He has some four wheeling experience but as soon as he saw Dennis in the first obstacle he realized it was nothing like this. We arrived in Arnold on Friday evening and after a quick dinner and the Mets/Cards game at the Snowshoe, headed to my cabin in Blue Lake Springs @ 1 mile east of Arnold. After some sports center we headed to bed to get some sleep before the big trip.

dennis1.gifSaturday morning we left Blue Lake Springs @ 7:20 and headed up to meet the club at Tamarack Lodge. We arrived at Tamarack @ 7:57, pulled in behind Darell and before we knew it, we were on our way! We followed Darell over to the trail head in Hermit Valley and pulled in to air down and get ready. I really need to get a set of deflators because after airing down one tire at a time I was the last one to line up. Luckily, Kelly was right in front of me and took over the GÇ£tail-gunnerGÇ¥ position. So after watching Dennis and Rich go through the first obstacle, we mounted up and took our turn through with DarellGÇÖs able assistance and away we went. ellen2.gifIn attendance (all that I can remember anyway, sorry I am terrible with names) were, Darell and Kathy, myself and Ted, Mike, Ira and Laurie, Ed and Lonnie, Stephen and family, Ellen, Kelly and family, Richard and Carol, Dennis and Ava and Tom w/??.ira3.gif

The trial seemed a little easier to me this year. I donGÇÖt know if it actually was or if this year I wasnGÇÖt quite as worried as last year, which was my first trip in the new jeep. As was the case last year there was a stock vehicle, which slowed things up a little bit but with the trail crewGÇÖs assistance was able to make through the whole trail (with very little damage from what I have heard). While I thought the trail was easier this year it was still challenging and offered plenty of technical fun for my co-pilot and I. I think my favorite part of the trip out Stephen P.GÇÖs c.b. spotting for Richard. I think as long as Ted and I four wheel together we will remember the infamous line GÇ£EXTERRA, GO LEFT!!!!GÇ¥ or GÇ£EXTERRA, STOP!!!GÇ¥ Anyway, great fun and Richard did a great job, (with a little assistance of course). After successfully navigating the trail and the second river crossing, we took a break for lunch at around 1:00 p.m. After taking votes, trying to decide how long each route would take, if we could all go to Blue Lakes and then decide, etc., we decided to split into two groups of five and split at the second river crossing. Going out to Blue Lakes and back on the road were Kelly, Tom, Stephen, Richard and Dennis. Going back on the trail was Ed, Mike, Ira, Ellen and myself. For me this was a great run back. With all of the rigs well set up we were able to really run quickly. I think the fact that we were running quickly made the trail seem different as there wasnGÇÖt a whole lot of time to look at the trail. While I hadnGÇÖt bumped and crunched much on the way in, I definitely made some trial noise on the way out.

mike4.gifI was even told I (if a member) could have qualified for the cowbell. After backing off the trail for a quick break with the group, I got out of my jeep without leaving it in gear or with the parking brake on. This was brought to my attention when someone said GÇ£Hey, that jeep is movingGÇ¥ OOPS! At the end of the trail and back at the first obstacle, while everyone else took the low (harder) line, I decided to take the high (easier) line to finish the day.brian5.gif

Shortly after finishing the trail, we met up with the rest of the group, which had come back on the road. It was about 3:15 or so and the end of a good run. After airing up, we headed back to the lodge. After having a beer or two with the club and trying to solicit takers for Slick Rock on Sunday, Ted and I headed back down the hill to Arnold so we could enjoy a few alcoholic beverages without the drive.

Sunday GÇô Slick Rock richard6.gifMoving a little slower than Saturday morning, we arrived at the lodge a few minutes past 9:00 a.m. Ed had confirmed that he would do Slick Rock the day before as had Richard who Ted and I saw at the Snowshoe Saturday night. Unfortunately, everyone else had to get down the road, so it was just the three vehicles( Ed & LonnieGÇô Toyota Pick-up, Richard & Carol GÇô Xterra and Ted and I in my Jeep Rubicon). Within minutes of our arrival we headed up to Bear Valley to gas up and air down. Ready to hit the trail, we hit the gate @ 9:30 a.m.. We cruised through to the first obstacle, the notch with no problems, which was the theme of the morning. Ed and I both straddled the notch while Richard took the high right line.

richard7.gifAnd then it was off to the next major obstacle, the trails name sake, Slick Rock. We all made it down and Ted was able to watch Richard slide down that last few feet to see why it is called Slick Rock.

ed8.gifI think overall the trail was much narrower than last year and while not difficult, you definitely had to pay attention because some large boulders seemed to pop up right under your vehicle! ed9.gif

brian10.gifThen it was on to the last obstacle, the stair step. Last year, due to the way we parked at the bottom, I ended up doing this obstacle first and was very intimidated. But, you watch and learn. After seeing Ellen and Eric take a high right line last year, I decide that was the way I would go this year. I did stall at the top, but after engaging the front locker pulled over the top with no problems.

richard11.gifNext was Richard. I wonder if he knows I have done very little spotting? Anyway, He is a stud with the Xterra! (EXTERRA, GO LEFT!!!!!) He jumped right in and walked right up the obstacle with no problems.

ed12.gifThen came Ed (actually Lonnie) and with EdGÇÖs well set-up vehicle was able to climb with no problem.

brian13.gifOnce we had all conquered the stair step, we turned around and went back up the trail rather than take the windy road back up from Spicer Reservoir.

After we passed back through the notch, Richard and Carol split off for some outdoors enjoyment (I still have your FRS radio by the way) and Ed and I headed out. I aired up at the trail head gate and then headed back down the hill a few minutes after 12:00 p.m.

Again, thanks to all for your hospitality. I had a great weekend.

Brian Geranen


Blue Lakes

HereGÇÖs the perfect formula for fun: Sierras + great weather + 4×4 vehicles + Oktoberfest party.

Carol and I started our adventure Friday night braving the rush hour traffic through Milpitas and Fremont. This made us think of a line from a GÇ£you might be a 4 Wheeler ifGÇ¥ posting that we saw recently that went something like this GÇô {You are the type of person who immediately goes GÇ£postalGÇ¥ if you sit in a highway traffic jam for more than five minutes, yet you can spend six hours driving a total of one and a half miles and consider it a form of relaxation.} So TrueGǪ We made it as far as Arnold before we decided to get a room at the Meadowmont Lodge since our idea of off-roading doesnGÇÖt include launching ourselves off the side off HWY 4 in the middle of the night. I highly recommend the Meadowmont as it just happens to be directly across the street from the Snowshoe Brewery.


We pulled into the Tamarack lodge Saturday morning in time to greet Ira & Mike who were out getting their rigs ready for the days run. Soon after Daryl walked us through our safety inspection and before we knew it we were headed off towards the Hwy 4 entrance of the Trail.

Carol & IGÇÖd run this trail with the Northern Ca Xterra club last year, but from the other direction. This time it seemed like a whole new trail, even better then our last trek. IGÇÖd like to thank everybody for the great time w/ a special thanks to Stephen for spotting us through a few of the rockier sections.


Hmmm Slick rock!

Now Carol & I finally had the chance to return and finish what we started back on the Newbie run of 2004. Back on that trip the group turned around after letting all who wanted to cross V rock do so. Well, this was truly a kickass experience as we got a chance to come back and take care of some unfinished business. IGÇÖd like to extend a special thanks here to Brian for his excellent spotting.

We had a great weekend and canGÇÖt wait until our next excursionGǪGǪ.

1st-obst-deerv.JPGdennis.JPGdwnstps.JPGpa140006-medium.JPGpa140008-medium.JPGpa140009-medium.JPG pa140018-medium.JPGscaresteps_yota.JPGslkrk_slkrk.JPGslkrk_slkrk-_1.JPGstairsteps_slkrk.JPGstream-cross_slkrk-82.JPGstream-cross_slkrk.JPGupsteps2.JPGupsteps_slkrk-4.JPGupsteps_slkrk-4_1.JPGwheelwedgie.JPG 




Blue Lakes

I to would like to give a special THANKS to Mike, Darell and Kathy on a job well done! Everyone knows how Saturday went so I’ll talk about Sunday.

Our Sunday morning Slick Rock Trail went very well. Our group consisted of 3 rigs Brian’s Rubicon, Richards Xterra and my Toyota. We left the trail head at 9:30. Richard being the trooper he is made it through V-Rocks with very little guidance. He does a very good job with that Nissan! No one was on the trails so we made it to the stair step in good time with Brian’s lead. Once at the stair step as normal, we got out of our rigs and walked up the trail to check things out. There were 2 other rigs (Toyota P/U & Rubicon) parked in the by-pass and they were just sitting on the rocks waiting for people to come through. First was Brain and he walked right up with very little spotting from Lonny. Next was Richard in his Xterra. Guess what Ira? Richard made it up with NO rock stacking and made it up on the first try with Brian’s spotting. My job was to stack rocks Richard but I was not needed on this trip. Feeling lazy and not wanting to walk done to my Toyota I told Lonny to go for it. He did not hesitate on going down to get it. Saturday was his first trip ever out on a trail and he made the stair step look easy! How ever on his way down he did lift the right rear tire about 4 feet in the air that made his eyes very big. We made it back to the starting point by noon. There we said our good byes and we all went our different ways.

Blue Lakes

First, Major Kudos to Dennis and Ava. After a very rough start on the firstobstacle I could tell that Dennis had lost a lot of confidence. But he quickly regained it and by the end of the trail he was taking on some tough rock gardens without issue. Just to give you a clue he was carburetted, 31″ tires, stock gears, and open diffs! Those combined with a manual transmission made his day much more challenging than mine! ;-) It is really exciting to see new people go on these trails. I know it can be really intimidating for new people with stock, or semi-stock rigs. Again, kudos and I hope to see you both out on trail again.

As to my own experience; the Jeep seemed to be more capable this trail than ever before. I don’t know if the suspension has finally loosened up or if I just finally aired down enough. Perhaps the side walls on the tires are starting to soften? Whatever it was on the way out I seem to crawl just about everything I pointed it at! It was pretty cool. But at the same time I kept thinking something was wrong. It felt really loose. Anyway, that is why at lunch I found my bent spring. Looking back at it now I think it might have been that way for some time but the way the jeep was flexing in the morning I had to wonder if it was going to just break on the way back… Kelly looked at it as did Ed and the both felt it was not that bad. I decided to push it for a change and do the trail back. If not for that and the speed Lorrie and I had a pretty good time on the way out. I did end up taking a couple of “easier” lines on the way back to ensure my suspension was not twisted to it’s limit. This and the increased pace resulted in a couple of rock kisses with my diff and I think my drive shaft? I saw some white rock residue on it…

Anyway, the spring seemed to be just fine. But now I have to change it, because if I don’t you know it will break on me next time… ;-) All that and the jeep seemed to be running so great… :-(

Again, another thanks to Mike for a great trail run. I really enjoyed the trail. Honestly I don’t know why but for me the trail seemed easier than I remember. But I would like to think I am just getting to be a better driver… :-D

Thanks again, Ira

Blue Lakes

Friday:Navi and I left the house at around 10:30 Friday morning after packing up. I had to do some fluid checks and stuff on the Jeep in the morning as well, so it worked out. Driving up on 4, I saw Darell’s truck around Farmington, I guess he and Kathy were having lunch. Didn’t see them in the truck, so we kept on driving. After driving the ZJ, and really since my wife took “ownership” of the TJ, I hadn’t really been driving it, so it took some getting used to again. Our original plan was to stop off in Big Trees Park and do some hiking, but I was tired and feeling lazy, so that didn’t transpire. We got to the Tamarack lodge at around 1:30, saw that Ed & Spike(his dog) were already there. Caught up with Ed, apparently he had just gotten there about 15 minutes before us. The lodge was ready for us, Vicki & Tim (the inn keepers) left the keys out on the front desk ready for us. Tom & Pat, Darell & Kathy arrived a short time after. As stated at the meeting, we started the vehicle inspections that Friday. Darell even made some small stickers to those who passed vehicle inspection - had the Esprit de Four logo with “Oktoberfest 2006″ - surely to become a collectors item. Ole & Sherry rolled in a short time later. Around 5 o’clock, we started cooking dinner. Ellen & Stephen arrived around this time. Some of us used the gas grill that the Tamarack Lodge has to grill up some steaks & hamburgers. Some of us were then watching Nascar on TV. We were joking about how I needed a Dana 44, so that I can run bigger tires. There was a donator vehicle just outside (Thanks Steve), and since Ole was going to be up at 2 am, perhaps he could lend a hand in the operation - doh, it didn’t happen.

At this point, I believe Dennis and Ava had arrived. We were a little concerned, because Darell mentioned that he had seen them past them up as well back at Farmington around lunch. But as it turned out, Dennis and Ava took a little hike at the Big Trees Park. After Nascar ended, we did a “cold” inspection of the vehicles that came late.

I think I ended up turning in at around 9:30, as it was going to be an early following day. From what I understood, Ira & Lorrie came in after that.

Saturday: I was up at 6:30 and got ready. Ole & Ed were already and sitting in the common area. Breakfast was there waiting for us at around 7:15. Breakfast consisted of choice of waffles, hardboiled eggs, cereal, hot oatmeal, etc. By 7:45, most everyone was ready and started to line their vehicles outside for the departure to the trailhead. A quick inspection of the last vehicles, Ira, Richard, & Brian, and we were ready to go. Darell lead the group to the trailhead at Hermit Valley, getting us there around 8:30. As we were airing down, Kelly, Christine, Matthew, & David arrived just as we were getting ready. The vehicles we had were: CJ7 - Ira & Lorrie CJ7 - Tom & Pat 83(?) Toyota - Ed & Lonnie 87 4 Runner - Dennis & Ava X Terra - Richard & Caroline TJ - Mike TJ - Steve, Claudia TJ - Brian & Ted YJ - Ellen CJ5 - Kelly & Christine

The first obstacle was tough as usual, but with Darell & some others helping point the way, it made it for a much more easier time. Having trust in your spotter goes a long way. I think the only “funny” part was I chose the high line on the left side, and when my Jeep angled up, I could barely see the tips of Darell’s fingers telling me direction I should go. I don’t think any one suffered any major damage going over this. There was slight sheet metal damage on Dennis’ stock 4Runner on the lower air dam.

The rest of the trail went as ususal. I didn’t have a passenger this time around though, this made it a little more interesting as I didn’t have anyone to tell me how close I wasn’t getting to a rock on the right side of the Jeep. This was Dennis’ first time out on trail and he sure picked things up quickly. There were occasions where spotting was needed - thanks to Ed, who probably got more exercise that day than he probably anticipated. However the further we got down trail, I noticed that Dennis was choosing some great lines - kudos for that. There were a few sections where a by-pass was taken because it would have nearly been impossible with the stock rig to go through it.

We made the first river crossing around 11:45~12:00. Keeping a steady pace through all of the rock gardens, we made it to the second river crossing and our lunch area at 1pm. With a group of only 10 vehicles we were able to have somewhat of a lunch together. The next discussion came by way of those who wanted to continue to the Blue Lakes and then on to the paved road to drive back around and those that would turn back around and go back on trail. It was decided that we would split into two groups of 5 with those two options.

Tom, Dennis, Steve, Kelly, & Richard went to Blue Lakes and would continue around on the pavement. Ed with no swaybars and aired down, along with myself, Brian, Ira, & Ellen would turn around and head back out on trail. Ira, having discovered that his left rear leaf was slightly bent was not sure he’d do well on the trail, but decided to forego it anways - what a trooper. We each departed the lunch area at 1:30. The big motivation for getting off the trail quickly was to be back in time for the Kroeker hosted, Oktoberfest meal waiting for us back at the lodge.

Ed led the group that would turn around back the way we came in. With all well built rigs, we kept it moving. The gap between the vehicles were just about right. I didn’t feel rushed, or felt like I had to speed up to keep pace with Ed. There was only one section where I tried to take a high side left and ended up slipping off into the right. I just drove through it and it was fine - hehe, what a description eh? We only stopped a couple of times, just to water the foliage, but we were moving again. There was only one are of concern, that being Ed mentioned on the radio, “Did we come this way”, to my response, “I’m guessing we did”. As it turned out, we didn’t, it was slightly more difficult, but nothing our rigs couldn’t handle.

Before you knew it, we were at the “first obstacle”. For good measure it seems, Ed decided that his toyota needed to kiss a rock on the right side as he approached the obstacle. Ed made it through, with Lonnie helping me spot, I made it through on the low side going out. We were done! 1 hour and 45 minutes back to trail head, it was only 3:15 approximately.

Those who had onboard air began to air up. I didn’t so I just re-attached my swaybars and drove to Bear Valley Lodge to air back up. We called out on the radio to see if the others were back in the vicinity, but no one responded. As I was airing up, I saw Richard’s X terra drive by - I was like wow, we actually all finished around the same amount of time apparently.

Done airing up, I drove back down to the lodge, and I was getting out of the vehicle, Steve just happened to pull up as well. This was great! The first time in two years that I got back to the lodge and there was still sun out. Washed up and then cracked open my beer.

Kathy, Darell, & the crew who stayed behind at the lodge were preparing dinner as the rest of us were cleaning up and putting some snacks out on the table. We had chips and salsa as well as chips and bean dip (wow, these were awesome). Darell, Sherry, & Ole were pointing out the show, “Man & his Jeep”, how convenient.

Dinner was served at approximately 6:30. It was great! I was so stuffed that I could hardly move. Dinner was a conucopia of German/Polish Sausage, various pasta, salad, & drinks. I forgot what dessert was, yes I was that stuffed that I didn’t have room for dessert. It smelled terrfic though. As we were wrapping up dinner, the raffle prizes were being called out. Pat & Tom each one 1st & 2nd prizes. Darell then went to raffling off the beer mugs - Yay, my wife won a beer mug!

There was a lot of alcohol flowing at this point so excuse me if I don’t remember the details quite so good. We started the traditional casino night. Ira, Lorrie, & myself began giving some lessons on craps as well some craps etiquette (courtesy of the very anal Mike - how much space should you have between your pass line bet and your odds?). That went good for a while, Darell proved the point that when luck is on your side and you still decide to bet on the field, you’re not going to end up with a lot of money. As we were now totally emersed in Craps and gambling with play money (and mostly because the house started to clean up everybody), we decided to turn to some Texas Hold’em - with 9 people - wow, how did that happen?

Still scarred from last years tournament, where I lost my seat (a couple of times) even with 3 of a kind to Darell’s straights and flushes, I played a little more conservative. I’m not quite sure how it happened, but Tom was trying to knock me out of play :-P. After being losing his seat, Tom made himself useful by dealing the cards (some controversy to follow). The final 4 at the table was myself, Navi, Pat, & Ed. I changed some color for Pat and she was then on a roll of making some good hands. In the end it was me and my wife trying to make each other go bankrupt (nothing new here it seems). Within 4 hands, I took home the pot - she proceeded to hit me with one (just kidding). As we were cleaning up the chips and putting away the felt, there was an Ace that was found close to Tom - thank you Tom, hehe. 11:30, we all decided to call it a night after a long day.

Sunday: For Sunday, Ed & Lonnie, led Brian & Richard who wanted to do the slick rock trail. They left as soon as Brian had arrived. We were finishing up saying our good-byes, Stephen was parked close by, and my wife noticed his Jeep was rebuilt. Thanks to Stephen, I now have been “authorized” by my CFO to purchase some slider bars. Blue lakes is always a good trip for me, because every year I go on this trip, I get authorized for more and more stuff, hehe.

Finally thanks again to everyone who came!

Deer Valley

Participates: Approximately 20 rigs in three groups.Group #1 participates in order of trail position (I hope I get everyone & rigs correct. Sorry if I donGÇÖt) Mike & Navi, Black TJ Sport Ray & Cathy, Red YJ Tom, Gray CJ-7 Ron, Red Toyota Phil & Robin, Red Rubicon Ed & family, Brown and White K5 Blazer Chuck, Linda, & Emily, Green Grand Cherokee

The trip started when I left the Bay Area around 10:30 am on Friday, Oct. 21st. The drive going up was uneventful with two stops, one for lunch in Angels Camp and the other for gas at the Shell gas station in Arnold. I arrived at the Tamarack Lodge around 2:30 pm, with only one vehicle in the parking lot and no one around. This vehicle turned out to be Jim OGÇÖLearyGÇÖs camper and trailer. Jim had been on a bike ride and his friend Ron had taken JimGÇÖs CJ-7 and dog (jenny) for a ride down to Spicer Reservoir. Since I thought I had a little time before everyone would arrive, I decided to take a quick trip up to Lake Alpine (I spend a lot of time camping and fishing at this lake). The lake level was very low and there were a handful of people fishing.

When I got back to the lodge, Jim was relaxing after his bike ride. We introduced ourselves and got acquainted. About 30 minutes later, Mike and Navi arrived. It wasnGÇÖt much longer when Ron came back with JimGÇÖs CJ-7 and Jenny. After some time of getting to know each other, Jim suggested we take a quick run up to Corral Hollow trail. Jim & Ron in JimGÇÖs CJ-7, Mike in his TJ, and me in my CJ-7, took off for the trail. After a mile or two on the trail we decided it was time to head back to the lodge.

Friday evening rigs were coming in and folks were catching up on lifeGÇÖs events. Most enjoyed a dinner of some sort (many used the grill provided by the lodge for their meal). A lot of socializing and having fun took place. Rigs were coming in up until I went to bed and even later IGÇÖm sure.

Saturday morning, the lodge had a nice continental breakfast set up for us. More catching up and introductions took place with those that arrived very late. Mike had a quick run meeting and we filled out the necessary paper work. It was decided with this many rigs, we would split up into three groups. Mike Phorn lead group #1, Ellen Layendecker lead group #2, and I think Eric Nelson lead group #3.

Those that were ready to go were assigned to group #1. See above for who was in group #1. With all the rigs for group #1 lined up in the parking lot, the vehicle safety inspections took place. The caravan left the lodgeGÇÖs parking lot with Darrell & Kathy leading us to the trailhead. It took about 15 to 20 minutes heading east on Hwy 4 to get to the trailhead.

The weather was perfect, cool in the morning, clear, and very sunny. After airing down and disconnecting, group #1 was ready to go. Darrell was spotting the first difficult section, which is only 30 yards into the trail. At this obstacle you can go to the left and do more off-camber stuff or go to the right and do more rock crawling. Mike and Ray decided to go left and take the off-camber way. I took to the right and did more of the rock crawl section. All three of us made it through with no difficulty. Ron in his stock Toyota was next to go through and took to the right. He needed some rock rolling from the spotters to get through. I believe the rest of the group took to the right. Eventually all 7 rigs in group #1 were through and proceeding.

We continued up the trail with very little difficulty. Ron had a few areas where he needed some rock rolling help. He did very well for having a stock rig and had a positive attitude.

In our group we had one vehicle issue. That was when Ed got a flat tire. WeGÇÖre not quite sure whether he popped a bead or had a valve stem problem. But, in no time the tire was changed and we were on our way. The funny thing about it, 5 minutes before the flat, Ed and I were talking about his tires. He was thinking about getting 35GÇ¥ tires for the Blazer, but was going to wait because the 33GÇÖs still had a lot of life left on them. When I walked back to his rig the first thing we said to each other was how we were just talking about new tires and now he might need them. Turned out the tire was still good. During lunch Ed aired it up and remounted it.

We continued up the trail. This trail is fun because it has tight turns, rock gardens, off-camber, water crossings, and stair steps. Once we passed the second water crossing, we stopped to have lunch. The other two groups eventually reach this point and joined us for the balance of our lunchtime.

After lunch, group #1 headed back out the same way we came in. Coming out was a lot like coming in with a few areas where rock rolling and spotting was necessary for some. The first 2/3 on the way out was uneventful. It got interesting when word came over the CB that Carlos (in group #2) broke a brake line on his Grand Cherokee. We all stopped (on the trail) to assess how to proceed in getting Carlos back on the trail. Ray and Ed decided to hike back up the trail to see what they could do to help. Well, this took sometime for them to get to CarlosGÇÖ rig and do any repairs. Soon word came over the CB that we were holding up others that were not in our group on the trail. With Ray and Ed trying to help, that left RayGÇÖs jeep without a driver (so we thought!) and blocking the trail. With it getting late and us holding up others, RayGÇÖs wife, Cathy took over as the driver of their Jeep. This would be CathyGÇÖs first time driving their Jeep on a trail. It was decided that Mike would lead her in his Jeep. One other guy (Sorry, I didnGÇÖt get his name) would ride shotgun with Cathy, and I would follow to get her and the rig down and off the trail. Well, it turned out that Cathy is a natural at this sport of ours. She followed MikeGÇÖs line very well and took her time and even got through the last obstacle with no trouble. This was a GÇ£KodakGÇ¥ moment that was caught by Mike. CanGÇÖt wait to see it!

Mean while, Ray, Ed and others, did what they could do to get Carlos going. Soon he was moving. Ray hitched a ride with someone for the balance of the trail. It wasnGÇÖt long until Ray, Cathy, and Jeep were back together as one! (happy ending).

After airing up, Ray & Cathy, and I headed back to the lodge. We arrived around 7:00 pm just in time for dinner. That evening we had a lot of fun talking about the day, playing liars dice, craps, and watching the World Series.

On Sunday morning we had breakfast provided by the lodge. Some of the group was going to run Slick Rock. I decided to pass. I loaded up my Jeep and said my good-byes. I started back for home around 9:00 am. In Angels Camp I came upon Bill Farley (Toyota) and one other gentleman who was trailering his CJ-5 from our group. I donGÇÖt think they recognized who I was. I ended up following them the rest of the way home until we split up in the Bay Area. I got home around 1:00 pm. I had a great time and met a lot more of the club members and their families. Another A+ trip.


Deer Valley

Deer Valley Weekend Kathy and I left our house at 9:40 am on friday. We were joined by Mike and Dede. We decided to head up early and enjoy a relaxing time in the Murphys area. Our first stop was at Chatom Winery, where we sampled some nice wines and had a picnic lunch. We then headed to the town of Murphys and found several other wine tasting rooms to try. They were all very accomodating. Stevenot, Milliaire, Zucca, and Hatcher. Some of you sampled these at the dinner saturday evening.

Friday evening was an enjoyable time with friends having a potluck kind of dinner at the lodge. As people continued arriving, the volume increased and fun was being had by all.

Saturday morning seemed to come early. We all had our breakfast in the lodge. Vehicle inspection reports were done and everyone was ready to go. Our departure time was 9:00am, but we actually left EARLY, around 8:45am. The group of vehicles numbered 21 and were split up into three groups. Group leaders were Ellen, Eric, and Mike P. Since I was not going on trail, I made myself available to spot anyone that wished to have help getting through the “gate” to the trail. Having gotten all through, Kathy and I headed back down to the lodge. A call came over the FRS asking that I return to the trail head and help a disabled vehicle, yeh yeh, I know it was a fellow Bronco. Being it was a Bronco, it was easier to understand and running again in a matter of 15-20 minutes.

Kathy and I went back to the lodge and decided to relax the rest of the day by going down to Murphys and Angels Camp. Look through a number of interesting stores and returned to the lodge around 3:00pm. Just in time for a nap.

Cocktail hour started about 4:30pm till the rest of the group returned from the trail. Dinner was started about 6:30 with last of our group coming down about 7:30pm. World Series, games, conversation, Dust to Glory and more provided intertainment for all till the wee hours of the morning.

Sunday up and at them. Breakfast having been had it has time to say goodbyes and head back to home. Lost of talk about the new friends that we met and time shared with old friends filled the miles on the way home.

Looking forward to more great times with club and meeting new friends.

Darell & Kathy Kroeker

Deer Valley - Blue Lakes

Linda and I had a great time on our second Blue Lakes Run, mostly because of excellent people we are privileged to be associated with as members of Esprit De Four. The Tamarack Lodge is a nice place and accommodates our group well. The weather was perfect for the main run but unfortunately turned to rain and spoiled the Slick Rock run for Sunday. Linda is already talking as if we are going next year.

Thanks Ira and Lorrie for the Casino games after dinner. Expect me to forget most of what I learned over the next year. Thanks Jason, Kathy, Jim, and Ellen for the libation. I think several people enjoyed Linda’s cookies also.

I hope Ellen’s Jeep is OK now.

Linda and I got some nice photos, especially one of Doug nearly tipping over. I will give Mike Phorn a disk so he can get them on the WEB.

Thanks To Everyone Involved


Blue Lakes

Pieraldi Trip Report Blue Lakes Run


We drove up on Friday night to meet the club at the Tamarack Lodge. A very nice place for sure. We got in late and turned in for bed. We being Claudia, Lauren and I. The next morning we got up for breakfast, dressed and went for breakfast. We were late to as we took Mike at his word that there would be 30 minutes of slack time in the agenda. It was a perfect day, temperature was perfect, if a little chilly, and clear as a bell. After breakfast, and while at the lodge, we did our safety checks and were off.

The drive to the trail head was quite a way from the lodge. But a good drive to warm up the car. We gathered at the trail head to air down. The group was broken into modified and stock vehicles. I was in the back as the only stock vehicle. More on that later. Jason warmed up the crowed and John asked us to group up for the introduction. He told us the first part was the hardest, and then it worked it’s way along to the lunch spot. This would be past the second water crossing. With that, we all jumped into action.

I walked ahead to survey the trail entry. A gully on the right with a off camber on the left. Nice start…. Jim H. moved third in line. He moved well over the line clean and banged a rear bumper on the exit. Hard enough to click a light cover off the back. Recovered for his use later…. Others passed over with little trouble. Then came my turn. Jason, as always, set me on the trail with ease. I got over and in with little trouble. Little did I know this was not the hardest part after all.

On the trial, there are many changes to test a 4″-5″ lift. Something I later found out is a great asset. The trail was great. Sharp turns, but nice road bed with good rock to practice on. As we climbed the hill, the lifted rigs made easy going. I was Bang, Bump, Slip, Steer, Bang, Bump and position along. Not to mention my copilot asking why I did not put in the lift. This is when I realized I could not follow but had to choose my own lines. Then it was Scrape, Slide, Scrape and Bump a little.

Other tricks in the trail were some cool rock gardens that had by-passes where I would not dare try. This only accounted for three sections. Great stair steps, narrow passes and nice views. All of which I will enjoy much much more with a lift kit and the experience of doing the trail on a second run. The trail is a real good training course for a stock rig. You have to pick every, and I mean every line with care. But if you do, the reward is a slow, but steady run that you can be very proud of. We had to stop once to fix a busted fuel line on a Bronco. But it was nothing for Darrel to fix. While it took extra long for me and my pals to make it to lunch, we had fun picking our way to the lead group.

On the way back it was more of the same. Alas, as we were “the rear” of the pack, Ellen busted a position pin on her rear axle. This caused us to review the situation. Ellen had asked me if her parking brake cable look stretched. I said yes, more to the point, I should not be able to see if from where I was standing. That is when we stepped back and looked at the wheel, some 2″ rear of good. All that said, we, Mike, John, Carlos and I were ready to dig in and help road fix Ellen. It was then we decided to call for help and Erik was quick to reply and return to aid us. Carlos and I had our kids so we left to finish the trail. In the end Ellen was safely returned to the Lodge thanks to the club.

Carlos and I went it alone for the last part of the trail. He in a Cherokee and I in the Rubicon. Now, that really left me to fight over every line. I could not follow him if I tried. When I did, near the end, I ran head long into a tree root, right on the skid plate. Stuck like a rock! Well, Carlos and family were ready to jump right in. We tugged dug, filled, and pushed in every way. No luck. So out with the High-lift jack. A little bit more and help from my lovely copilot and we were off again. Kids playing in the forest all the while. Well, that was fine until I tried to get moving again and had the jeep at 36 deg trying to avoid the roots and make a off camber turn. OH FOR THAT LIFT KIT! But I made the gentle rocking turn and was off again.

At the end of the trail, back were we started, Carlos and I looked on at the final rock climb. He looked at me, smiled and said, “just over that, and we are home free”. We laughed noting that we were both tired and having fun, but this last bit was a trial. I took the role of guide and Carlos followed my lead like a pro. One shot and he was over the top, down the face home free. Then it was my turn to do the same. He and guided me over the top and down again with ease. It looked so easy now that we had done the whole trail, this almost seemed easy.

In the end, Jason and team went back up to see if they could trailer in Ellen. To her credit, they made it back under their own power. A good dinner, some drink and we all called it a day. Well most of us.

As for the post report on my rig. NO damage. Drove home with only minor scrape marks on the control arms, WHICH will be replaced in a long arm kit. The gas tank skid plate has some more modest little scratch marks, but I still could put in a full tank of gas, so no harm done there. It was so much fun “learning” the “real way” of 4×4 as Jason would say. But now I am more than every ready to do the Lift so I can put those hard earned skills to use while enjoying the view some.

Thanks to the whole crew for a fun and great trip. My family loved it and we will be back next year.