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On the Rubicon

Don Schellenberg  | Published on Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Rubicon Trail


Dean Anderson, Drew, Richard and I set out on our adventure to do the Rubicon Trail the morning of Wed. Sept. 27th.  We made our way to the Loon Lake Trail Head and started the trip around noon.  Our goal for the day was Buck Island Lake where we would camp for the night.  Drew is very experienced having done the Rubicon several times before and it sure was a good thing that he was there to lead us.  Dean pulled his equipment trailer the entire way.

 

Many of the obstacles and sights tend to blend together in my mind but what I remember most is the constant demand for focus on the trail and the driving.  It seemed like as soon as one obstacle was behind you another loomed in front.  There was very little time to relax at the wheel.  I remember getting over some rocks and looking ahead to see Drew’s Jeep heading over another off-camber ridge directly ahead.  I thought for sure he was going to tip over but he didn’t and neither did Dean or I.  There were certainly some sketchy moments and very difficult places to negotiate. 

 

We made it to Buck Island around 5:30 so there was enough time to set up camp before nightfall. An excellent meal, adult beverages and many, many stories highlighted the evening as we recounted the events of the day.

Little Sluice
Little Sluice

 

The next morning we headed out to reach The Springs where we would meet up with Doug Barr, John Briggs and his friend Ricky.  A mere 5 miles or so but oh so challenging.  We did Little Sluice which has been filled with a lot of rock but the top section is a real bugger.  Then comes the Big Sluice which is quite long with a number of very challenging spots. So by this time we’re feeling pretty good about our progress and we come to a spot with a big tree in the middle of the trail with a huge boulder to the right and another straight ahead. The obstacle requires an exact approach between the tree and the boulder or you won’t make the turn past the boulder ahead.  Drew made it through flawlessly but Dean, with his trailer, could not get in the proper approach line.  We ended up winching the rear of his Jeep over against the tree with the aid of snatch block. Success!  I made it through unscathed by keeping my left rock rail against the tree and following Drew’s excellent spotting.  Whew!

 

We had a great evening at The Springs.  The evening included another excellent meal, plenty to drink and even more stories.  Dean and I, who were the newbies, were feeling very proud of our accomplishment thus far.  Friday morning we headed out on the final leg which includes CADILLAC HILL.  Many folks in our club have been to Cadillac but not too many have been down it and back up.  Well let me tell you that the Rubicon saves the best for last.  There are twists and turns and big obstacles with the mountain side on the right.  Not for the faint of heart.  Doug Barr did an amazing job of guiding Dean and me up the hill.  We stopped for lunch at Observation and enjoyed the view with a lot of talk about the hill we had just come up.  Exhilarating is putting it mildly.  Now we just had a few more rocks and tricky spots to get through with smooth sailing to the trail head. 

 

I was thoroughly exhausted after this incredible experience.  Dean suffered a little damage to his trailer but otherwise we came through unscathed.  We got congratulations from all the guys on a job well done.  It’s an amazing sense of accomplishment to have completed the Holy Grail, as Drew put it, of 4 wheel drive trails.  I can’t wait to do it again, that is, after I sleep for a few more days.