More snow issues

For years, I’ve reached out to Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery and her staff regarding the piling of snow in front of the Rubicon Trail on the Tahoma side.

At first, Placer County denied they had anything to do with the snow pile and accused local snow removal contractors. After many meetings, photos and emails, Placer admitted their plows were pushing/piling snow from that intersection in front of the Rubicon Trail.

Last year, a fieldtrip was made to the Rubicon entrance with Lindsey, Montgomery’s assistant, and John Briggs to look at the situation first hand.

At that fieldtrip, it was agreed that piling snow well to the left of the Rubicon Trail entrance was a simple, easy, no hassle, no cost solution to the problem. At a subsequent meeting, Montgomery agreed to pass along this solution to those who control the plow drivers.

Just last week, we finally got a decent dumping of snow that I ventured out to see how the plowing issue was going. I was disappointed that it was not going the way we had solved it.

Although it’s not a lot of snow, their is more snow piled between the stop sign on the left and the road signs on the right, than outside that area. Bottom line, Placer still blocking the Rubicon Trail.

So, I fired off a letter to Montgomery’s office…



Lindsey,

This past month, I have monitored the snow conditions in Tahoma. Last week I was frustrated to find snow piled in front of the Rubicon Trail, specifically on McKinney-Rubicon Road. This situation is past being a just a nuisance or inconvenience to Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) users.

For more than three years I have tried to use the official system to voice my concerns to the supervisor about past instances of snow being piled at the Rubicon. You and I even did a fieldtrip to the site and agreed there was a simple, no cost, no hassle solution. We agreed that pushing or piling the snow from the intersection to the left of the road would keep the Rubicon clear and not be an inconvenience to the plow drivers.

Somewhere along the lines of communication, the solution we came to was dropped and never reached the drivers of the snow plows. It appears that the snow plow drivers are still intentionally piling the snow specifically on the Rubicon Trail, as the snow piles are centered on the road, not evenly spaced along the snow berm. I do not know where the breakdown occurred but it needs to be discovered and fixed.

Piling snow on a roadway is a criminal act. It needs to stop. The excess snow currently piled on the Rubicon, although minimal, needs to be removed. We have a full week of storms coming in this week. The plow drivers need to be informed that the Rubicon Trail entrance needs to be treated like any other street in that neighborhood or a driveway in that neighborhood. Although the Rubicon does not get plowed, it should not be intentionally blocked. That information needs to be passed along TODAY, not next week, not at the next supervisors meeting, not the next time the supervisor bumps in to the right department head, TODAY.

Attached are photographs of the situation I found on Thursday, January 10, 2019. Although small, it is clear that there is excess snow piled on the road, not to either side of where the Rubicon Trail starts from the residential area. In the wide view shot, you can see the difference in the snow levels. You can see the stop sign further to the left of where the road is and the old signage further to the right. In the other photos, my two snow skis outline where the road lies and off to the sides you can see less of a snow berm.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the next coffee day with the Supervisor. I am hoping that John Briggs will be able to attend.

Please keep me informed as to the progress of solving this situation.

Doug Barr

Lindsey did get back to me quickly regarding my email. She said she had forwarded my email to Montgomery and the head of Public Works and that they would be discussing it yesterday afternoon. I have yet to hear back from anyone after that meeting.

With the increased ability of off highway vehicles, I will continue to fight for our year ’round access to the Rubicon Trail. It doesn’t help that people got out unequipped for the conditions.

Rubicon Ronin


Newbies in the snow

Let me start by thanking my friends who are getting out on the Rubicon Trail much more than I am. They keep me informed of trail conditions and occasionally pass along a good story. Here is the latest story.

So, last week my good friend got with one of his friends and they headed out for a day of snow wheeling on the Rubicon. My friend is on 38’s with lockers front and rear. I’m sure his friend was running something similar. I do need to teach them to take pictures.

They came across another guy at the Rubicon trailhead they didn’t know who was thinking about heading out on the trail. This guy was less equipped but they dragged him along anyway.

I guess it got interesting when they got to the intersection of the Rubicon and Forest Road 03-04. That’s the road to Barker Pass. As my friend and his buddy turned left down the Rubicon, they turned the lesser rig around and sent him back to the staging area.

Their thought was not to let this guy wheel downhill as it would be too difficult to get him back up that hill later in the day as the snow melts and gets really slick.

My friend, and his buddy, wheeled past the narrow section that looks down on Miller Creek and then another maybe ¼ mile. It was getting late, no reason to take chances, so they both turned around.

They reached the intersection where they turned around the lesser rig and headed to the staging area. Just a few hundred yards from the intersection, there was the lesser equipped rig they had turned around. While my friend and his buddy had wheeled about a mile out and another mile back, this guy had only gone a few hundred yards.

With one rig in front, again breaking trail and occasionally using his tow strap, of the lesser rig and the other behind (not easily done in the snow), they headed out to pavement.

Near the turn for Richardson Lake, they came across a few rigs also out to play in the snow. They had no shovels, no winches, no tow straps, no gear to spend the night. And they were stuck.

What should have been a quick drive out, turned into quite the exodus. Again, there is no room to maneuver one rig around the other to be able to pull rigs through tough spots but these guys made it happen. Five hours after my friend thought he’d be home in his warm house, he finally got there.

The question is, how do we educate these people about the seriousness of the conditions when you go snow wheeling? The unequipped rigs did well to get in as far as they did but it’s a four mile hike out from the Richardson Lake Trail. In deep snow, with out snowshoes, if they had tried to walk out, someone might have died or lost toes or feet to frost bite.

So I have a thought. What about yet another sign…

I don’t know what it will take to get this sign out there but I’m going to try. Even if I turn one rig around who isn’t equipped, it would be worth it.

Rubicon Ronin


Snow comes to the Rubicon

Although winter does not officially start until December 21st, snow has fallen on the west shore and put a white blanket on the trail.

The report I got was a fine sugary type of snow. The group made it to the turn for the Buck Lake Trail. That first climb out of the staging area can be a tough one.

Placer County has agreed to NOT pile snow at the entrance to the trail. If you see snow piled there, not just pushed to the side of the road like the rest of the residential area, please send me a picture and the date you found it. 

As always, if you go, please be safe. Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Never go alone. Bring proper supplies to spend the night, just in case.

The last few years have seen rigs abandoned on the trail in the middle of winter. One guy was prepared but had a string of bad luck. The other rig should never have been on the trail. Don’t be that guy this winter.

Rubicon Ronin


Ball hitch for RTF trailer

My truck is a little on the short/small side when compared to my Jeep. The truck is on 33s and the Jeep is on 35s. There’s two more inches of lift on the Jeep than the truck. When I tow the RTF trailer with my truck the trailer has a mean rake to it. It’s like six inches lower in the front.

So, I got creative:

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The adaptor pins on to the trailer like the swivel hitch it came with. The ball hitch is bolted to the tubing so my welds aren’t tested. The two nut/bolt combos are welded over a hole in the tubing and so can be tightened to prevent more play in the system. The spot welds around the nuts were rushed and look terrible. I’m out of practice and used the smaller 110v welder. It was raining. The dog ate my welding gloves. I’ll think of more excuses later.

When I use the hitch below, the trailer is just about level behind my truck. And it’s not too tall to hit the tailgate if I lower it.

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I’d like to add a box to the trailer but there’s no easy place to put one.

 

Rubicon Ronin

 


Rubicon Trail Marker Placed

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Okay, let’s go through the process first.

The block was brought over the hill from Plymouth by John Briggs last week. The day before it was placed, he dropped the RTF trailer, with the block, in the Tahoma staging area.

Yesterday, two different rigs were used to get it to the intersection of the Rubicon Trail and Forest Road 03-04. (We’re not going to discuss why we had to bring in an alternate  rig to finish hauling the block to the intersection.); where it was unceremoniously dumped.

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It didn’t land quite like we planned but we got it moved to the right place with a little winch work. We did have rigs blocking the trail for awhile but people understood why.

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So, the granite marker is along the Rubicon (the trail on the left), as pictured above but it’s also along Forest Road 03-04, below (the trail on the right).

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We had considered placing it down the Rubicon a little bit (and on the left) but it would have been harder to see as you approached the intersection and would have been much more difficult to place. The block still might get moved next summer, depending on feed back.

So, if you read the words on the marker, you know this block was placed by RTF in 2010. Well, not really. This is 2018 and there were no RTF representatives present yesterday. It was actually a Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s effort to place the block. I was actually still on the board of RTF in 2010 and I don’t remember discussions regarding the wording and placement of this marker.

Questions were raised as to why there was no arrow, why the mileage was larger than the “Rubicon Trail”, why was there any mileage info on the block at all, why was the block in Plymouth for eight or more years, why mention Barker Pass Road, where was RTF to help place it, and on and on.

Moving on, it says “Barker Pass Road”. Well, again, not really. Now, back in 2010, I might have been referring to Forest Road 03-04 as Barker Pass Road but it’s really not. Forest Road 03 would be Barker Pass Road as it runs from Lake Tahoe (at the Kaspian Camp Ground) up and over Barker Pass as you travel west. Sort of like Donner Pass Road does through Truckee and then over the pass. Barker Pass is at the intersection of the two Forest Roads 03 and 03-04.

Another issue is the lack of a directional marker on the block. It says Rubicon Trail but it also says Barker Pass Road. But it doesn’t tell the first time traveler which one is which.

We discussed several ways to improve on the message: add an arrow to the top of the block, place a metal plaque (with an arrow) over some of the words, grinding off some of the words, flopping it face down and starting over, etc.

Let me know what you think needs to be done, if anything.

There is concern with the holes drilled in the rock. One goes all the way through and is two inches in diameter. Three others are only 1/2 inch and aren’t too deep. If water gets in those and freezes, the block could split in half. We had a volunteer to come back and fill the whole to prevent that from happening.

So, in the end, thank you to everyone that showed up to help place this boulder, mostly John Briggs who got this whole project in motion, but also to Tony who is taking the picture below. Pictured: Galen, Kade, Doug, John, Mike.

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