Trip Report First timers to the Rubicon 2019

LJTim

Active Member
Location
Herriman, UT
Some of you have seen some of this on Facebook, but I thought I would give a more detailed report on here.

We did the trail on July 4/5. Following some suggestions found here, and some research around the web, we decided to run the trail from the Wentworth Springs end instead of Loon Lake. We wanted as much of a Rubicon experience as possible, so I thought this extra bit of trail might do just that. Turns out, we got more than what we bargained for. We had a group of 7 rigs (My stretched LJ on 40's, a TJ-6 on 37's, a JK on 37's a JKU on 37's, 2 JKU's on 35's, and a JLU on 37's; all fully locked). Our group had a mix of friends of mine from the SLC area, a couple from St George, and another couple from California, which made some of the meeting trickier than it should have been.

A month prior to the trip, I sent an email with screen shots showing the route we would be taking on a map. routes included to the trail, of the trail, and after the trail. We were all splitting a large lake house in Tahoe after the trail, so I wanted to make sure we were all on the same page. 4 days prior to the trip, I sent GPS locations of the trail head and the meeting place, which was the parking area below Ice House Rd. It was important to include this because the friends that were coming from California had previously told me they were staying the night in Georgetown, so they wouldn't be following us to the trail head. We arrived to the parking area just after 8am and waited over an hour. After many attempts to text and call, with no answer, we decided to head up to the trail head in case they misunderstood the info I previously sent, and were waiting for us at the trail head. Before leaving for the trail head, just in case we lost cell service, we sent a text with the HAM frequency we would be using. We made the 30-40 minute trek up the mountain, stopped at the ranger station for one last pee, and landed at the trail head. Unfortunately, our CA friends weren't there. We were stumped. at 6:45 that morning, they had sent a group text to us all letting us know they were so stoked for today's day of wheeling. so we knew they were in town, and all was lined up to meet. We waited 2 more hours with no sign of them. I decided I would turn on my radio and head back out on the main road, and see if I could find them, and make a few calls on the HAM radio. After a little bit of this with no results, I decided, I didn't have the fuel to do any more of this. 2.5 hours went by, and we decided to hit the trail, and hope to see them at Rubicon Springs that night. The problem was, we were 3 hours behind schedule, and making it to the Springs would be quite a challenge, but our group of fairly capable drivers and adequate trail lighting felt up to the challenge.

The first bit of the trail was spectacular, with no major obstacles to speak of, just a bunch of fun water crossings - a LOT of water crossings. We called out to our friends every few minutes to see if by chance they were in range. After about 1.5 hours of trail, they responded! We were shocked. Turns out, they started at Loon Lake. He had never even looked at my location coordinates. Well, not until after they had tried calling us after waiting at the Loon Lake trail head for over an hour waiting for us. Turns out, they waited so long for us, that they drove back out toward the main highway to get reception. By then we had lost cell service, but they still got the message that we were waiting for them at the parking lot below Ice House Rd. So they decided to head there - which we had left long ago. This gave them a chance to top off their fuel, then head back to Loon Lake. After they started up the trail, and we were getting faint connection on the HAM radios, it was decided that we would meet up when the 2 trails joined. He had found a faster route to the Wentworth Springs camping area, and ended up catching up to us much quicker than we anticipated. I'll use this opportunity to plug HAM radios. If you have not yet gotten your licence to operate HAM radios, do so. Without this, we would have never met up with our friends from CA. The communication was crystal clear the whole time, and we all just have simple Baofeng $60 hand held units.

Up to this point, we had been making great time on the trail, with little to no spotting or stopping. After meeting up with our CA friends the drama began. My friend's dad has a JKU on 35" BFG all terrains (which are more like 33's) and the jeep was all set for overlanding - to the max. RTT, water tank and hot shower, full kitchen, fridge, and every other amenity imaginable. They were ridiculously loaded down. So any obstacle that I didn't have to pull the guy through, he needed spotting over everything even slightly technical. Not only was his jeep not suitable for the trail, his driving was no where close. This made the first day take longer and longer at every corner. As if running up and down hills with the tow strap wasn't exhausting enough, he blew a bead on a small boulder, and we had to jack him up, ratchet strap his tire, and re-air him up.

I had been looking forward to the soup bowl for weeks leading up to the trip, and have probably watched every video on YouTube attempting to study the line. Turns out, by the time we got there, and had a chance to watch a whole bunch of drunk toyota truggies spin their sticky tires all over that rock, I had decided my line would be much different than I thought. I ended up starting my climb much further right than anyone else, and it paid off. With only 1-2 small back-ups, the LJ climbed up without really leaving any rubber behind.

By the time we got to Buck Island, the sun had already set and daylight was fading fast. We were exhausted, and despite the hundreds of people that had already been partying there, and staged for an all night bash, we determined, it would be safest to stop here, and continue in the morning. fortunately, our friend decided to run ahead and see if he could find anything more conducive to caroling our group together with at least a little separation from the mass campers at the lake. Fortunately, not even a quarter mile ahead, we found a spot up ahead that separated us enough to not even hear any of the crowd behind. The problem was in that .25 mile, my friend in the 2 door JK blew his ring & pinion in his front axle. while i was pulling him over to the camp area, papa overlander blew another bead. Se we knew we had our work cut out for us the next day.

The camp was perfect. Heidi and I brought our hammocks, and a small backpacking tent just in case it was too cold. We never even set it up. We upgraded our sleeping bags last year, and they really did the job. Temps wend down to low to mid 40's. We draped a tarp above us to keep a little heat in, as well as any other elements that might unexpectedly come our way. We slept like babies, and the next morning we didn't waste any time making hot chocolate, breakfast burritos and cleaning up. we wanted to get an early start on the day knowing the challenges that awaited, now having 2 vehicles that would struggle all day.

The hill to get out of our camp was already too much for our now 2 wheel drive JK. I put my long strap on him, and it remained connected for nearly the rest of the day. It wasn't long before we were at the Big Sluice where we remained connected. It became less of looking for fun obstacles and things to climb, and more of how to get a 2 wheel drive as well as a low clearance tank through. We made it to the green bridge, and stopped just long enough for 3 of us to jump in the river. It felt so nice to wash off the dirt from the previous day's work.

Not long after that, we found Rubicon Springs, and let the ladies out to use the facilities. while we waited, the sprinklers came on, and we found ourselves in a panic to get out of there. It would have been nice to stay there as planned, but I have no complaints about the spot we ended up at Buck Island. Besides, it took us about 1.5 - 2 hours to get to the Springs, and due to the late start, and the drama of pulling the 2 problem rigs, we were glad we stayed where we did.

We could feel the darkness of Cadillac Hill looming ahead, and soon enough we would be facing it. The hill really wasn't bad. I navigated my way through the whole thing without backing up, or even getting out to figure out my line once. One problem was, pulling a JK behind me the whole way through it. There was one obstacle I was pulling him up at the same time I was faced with a tricky spot. I had to disconnect him, climb up past my spot, and add 2 more straps so I could reach him from the level-ish spot I had moved up to. The other problem was, once we were half way up the hill, just as we rounded the sharp right turn, before the actual fallen Cadillac, we saw a group of 3 buggies coming down the most narrow stretch of boulder obstacles we had seen throughout the rest of the trail. One side was straight up hill, the other, straight down. And one of the rigs had a off road trailer behind him. while we were struggling to winch my 2wd friend in a safe position that I could pull him up with the strap, 2 of the buggies managed to pull straight up the hill enough that we could barely squeeze past with a little rubbing of our tires. The trailer found a tiny notch that he could back into, disconnect, then drive up to another notch to wait for our passing.

Once we finished Cadillac Hill, it was like a ton of bricks had been lifted from my back, and even more lifted from my jeep. The rest was fairly easy. the 2-door was able to make the rest of the trail on his own, even through Dollar Hole, which was not as bad as we expected. What really surprised me about this trail was how many named obstacles there are the really didn't seem any more challenging than many of the spots that weren't named to our knowledge. Old Sluice and even Cadillac Hill were really not any more challenging than half the other areas we had already navigated through. Cadillac is just narrow, and the worry of another vehicle coming down in the opposite direction is a scary thought. The one spat we did choose to bypass was Little Sluice - simply due to the 2 problem rigs we had in our group. We had some buggies in front of us that warned us to bypass it, and since they chose to do so, we decided to follow. But I wish we would have split into 2 groups for that section though, so I could have seen just how nasty it really was - if at all.

On the final stretch the overlanding jeep lost it's spare tire completely two times. One of the JKU's busted his rear driveshaft, so he had to pull it off and finish the last few miles in front wheel drive. Another JKU lost a rear caliper bolt, so he snugged up the remaining bolt to limp his way home. We got off the trail and to the parking area near Tahoma at about 5:00pm. This took much longer than it should have. I was frustrated about the overlanding jeep. I don't think he should have been htere with that set up. On the other hand there was not much my other friend with the broken axle could do. He wasn't aware he had any issues inside there, he never engaged his front locker, and he was careful the whole time, because he knew his Dana 30 was not enough to support his 5.13's. So even though it was exhausting and tough on my jeep to pull him tall that way, I couldn't be frustrated with him.

We spent the next 2 days lounging around, eating and exploring Lake Tahoe and the nearby area. July 4th is the wrong time to be in that area. Nearly every soul from northern California is there, and somehow they invited every foreigner they knew to come along with them. I figured it would be busy, but my friends have much busier schedules than I do, so this was the only week that would work for our group. we had great plans to paddle board out to Fannette Island from Emerald Bay, but the traffic was a parking lot up the highway to get there and back, so we opted to spend the morning at Fallen Leaf Lake. We got there early enough to beat the traffic on our way up, but coming down was laughable.

Overall, this was one of the best trips I have taken in my life. It was a true adventure. Though we didn't see one firework, it was the best way I have ever celebrated our incredibly beautiful country. I'll never forget the challenges we managed to work out together with my friends, the time we shared around the fire, the breath-taking scenery that left us all in chills nearly the whole way. It was so strange to be so frustrated to drag these rigs through the rough, while at the same time I was completely rejoicing that I was even able to be there. We made it home without any damage, broken parts to the jeep, and had no issues with out old Expedition that continues to prove itself as the greatest purchase we have ever made, that somehow keeps on pulling. I should mention my wife Heidi. She doesn't love wheeling. In fact, she doesn't even really like it. But she loves me, and she supports me in doing what I love. She stepped up. She ran up and down every hill, grabbing straps, shackles, chucking rocks, spotting, taking photos, and she did it all with a smile on her face. I am so blessed to have been able to enjoy this experience with her by my side. She was an absolute rock star.
 

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Nappy

Nappystunts.com
I literally just got in at midnight from my Rubicon trip. We(my buddy Paul and I) did from Wentworth Springs to Loon Lake, Then Loon Lake to Tahoe to claim we did it all.. :) That trail is no joke!! Had to spend 19 hours in Sacramento on a parts hunt while my Jeep sat at Loon Lake. Your trip sounds way more intense than mine was, but it was worth every stressful moment. I don't know how anyone smaller than 4" and on 37" can even do that trail. It was rough.
 
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Nappy

Nappystunts.com
I'll tell ya, Sunday through Wednesday was for sure good timing. I maybe saw 12 rigs the whole time. And 3 of them were Rich Klein, Glen the mohawk skier dude from Truck night in America, and one other rig. Problem was, they were broken in I guess its called the Soup Bowl. I didn't get to even attempt it.
 

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LJTim

Active Member
Location
Herriman, UT
I'll tell ya, Sunday through Wednesday was for sure good timing. I maybe saw 12 rigs the whole time. And 3 of them were Rich Klein, Glen the mohawk skier dude from Truck night in America, and one other rig. Problem was, they were broken in I guess its called the Soup Bowl. I didn't get to even attempt it.
That's funny that you ran into them. Too bad you didn't get a chance at the Soup Bowl. That was my favorite obstacle - but doesn't really add or take away from the experience. How long were you guys on the trail running all 3 ends of the trail?
 

paul600f4i

New Member
Hey Tim. I'm the Paul that Nappy mentioned above. You and I have actually met before. We did the Sidewinder and Constrictor together and are friends on Facebook.
Not counting time to chase parts and camping. We were on the trail between 15 - 20 hours of driving and hanging out enjoying the experience. I personally wasn't to disappointed that we didn't get a stab at the soup bowl. The obstacle is definitely a good one and 4 door JK's are fat. I didn't want to risk part failure. We had already wasted a bunch of time dealing with that. We had also crossed paths with a Toyota that had pretty much ripped his whole front frame off in the soup bowl. He had it all ratchet strapped together and was tightening it all back together when we passed him on the Slabs. So, that was two broken rigs from the Soup Bowl. We didn't need any of that.
I wanted to chime in because based of off your trip report, I'm pretty sure you missed something near Wentworth Springs. You said that there wasn't any obstacles worth mentioning. That wasn't our experience at all. We were just heading down the trail like you said, but within a half mile I noticed faint tire Mark's on the left that went up a slab of granite. At the top of the slab we were in a boulder field that was nothing like I've ever seen in Utah, or ever for that matter. There was no dirt, just a wash of rocks coming through the trees down the side of the mountain. The size of the rocks ranged in size from basketballs to VW bugs and just when you think you're done you go around the corner for another series of obstacles. After 3-4 stretches of that there was a bypass for where things really got down to business. No bypass for us. I ended ripping off a rear plastic fender flare at the top. This could have been avoided if I had Nappy come spot, but I just drove through it. Lol... anyways, I dare say this section is at least as hard if not harder than the rest of the trail. There is a section of old sluice that we did skip because body damage seemed more than probable and there were no tire tracks in that section. Based of off tires tracks, I'm pretty sure most people skip all of old sluice. Back to Wentworth, somewhere above the wash I mentioned and before the intersection from Loon is an obstacle called Hidden Sluice. We looked for it, but I really dont feel like we found it. It has the name Hidden for a reason. This was my second time on the Rubicon and the need is not fulfilled. I will definitely be back!
P.s. I'm not really a new user lol... RME is literally the first account I ever created on this interweb thingy years ago, but this might be the first time I've ever said anything.
 

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Bart

Registered User
Supporting Member
Location
Arm Utah
Great trip report and pics. Thanks for sharing. When we went 2 years ago we had Brett Davis and myself with build CJs on 40s, a JKU (the one I own now) on 35s, and a TJ and a YJ on 33s. We had 2 minor spring pack issues, and one slight layover with minimal damage. Other than than I can't remember doing a strap or anything. I think driving skill and setting the rigs to be as light as possible are the keys to that trail.
 

LJTim

Active Member
Location
Herriman, UT
Hey Tim. I'm the Paul that Nappy mentioned above. You and I have actually met before. We did the Sidewinder and Constrictor together and are friends on Facebook.
Not counting time to chase parts and camping. We were on the trail between 15 - 20 hours of driving and hanging out enjoying the experience. I personally wasn't to disappointed that we didn't get a stab at the soup bowl. The obstacle is definitely a good one and 4 door JK's are fat. I didn't want to risk part failure. We had already wasted a bunch of time dealing with that. We had also crossed paths with a Toyota that had pretty much ripped his whole front frame off in the soup bowl. He had it all ratchet strapped together and was tightening it all back together when we passed him on the Slabs. So, that was two broken rigs from the Soup Bowl. We didn't need any of that.
I wanted to chime in because based of off your trip report, I'm pretty sure you missed something near Wentworth Springs. You said that there wasn't any obstacles worth mentioning. That wasn't our experience at all. We were just heading down the trail like you said, but within a half mile I noticed faint tire Mark's on the left that went up a slab of granite. At the top of the slab we were in a boulder field that was nothing like I've ever seen in Utah, or ever for that matter. There was no dirt, just a wash of rocks coming through the trees down the side of the mountain. The size of the rocks ranged in size from basketballs to VW bugs and just when you think you're done you go around the corner for another series of obstacles. After 3-4 stretches of that there was a bypass for where things really got down to business. No bypass for us. I ended ripping off a rear plastic fender flare at the top. This could have been avoided if I had Nappy come spot, but I just drove through it. Lol... anyways, I dare say this section is at least as hard if not harder than the rest of the trail. There is a section of old sluice that we did skip because body damage seemed more than probable and there were no tire tracks in that section. Based of off tires tracks, I'm pretty sure most people skip all of old sluice. Back to Wentworth, somewhere above the wash I mentioned and before the intersection from Loon is an obstacle called Hidden Sluice. We looked for it, but I really dont feel like we found it. It has the name Hidden for a reason. This was my second time on the Rubicon and the need is not fulfilled. I will definitely be back!
P.s. I'm not really a new user lol... RME is literally the first account I ever created on this interweb thingy years ago, but this might be the first time I've ever said anything.
Paul, I for sure remember wheeling with you and Zach. I occasionally meet up with Zach, so I'm sure we'll end up wheeling again. I think I saw you in one of Chad's recent FB pics.

I believe I know what section you are talking about. I'm thinking my 3rd pic is at the base of it. I do know there were a couple forks in the road, and we tried to scout them enough to take the tougher route, but I'm with ya. I'd love to get back there sooner than later, but I'm pretty sure it won't be for another 3-4 years.
 

paul600f4i

New Member
Tim, I'm glad you remember. Yes, we went and ran Diff Hanger with Chad two Sunday's ago. I'm thinking about going on the Vernal trip, so maybe I will see you sooner than later.
I looked through your pictures again. There is definitely no pictures showing the rock garden that I was talking about. I wish I would have taken a picture so I could show you. Probably just something to look for next time.
 
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