Holiday Travelers on Rubicon

After being stuck at home for more than a week, I finally ventured out to the Tahoma trailhead. Although I had no intension of driving out on to the trail, I brought the Jeep just because. The rig stuck on the trail with four guys in it were happy I did.

The neighborhood looks much better:

The berm is very doable and only a few feet tall:

But these guys needed help:

They had barely started up the first incline and got off of the compacted snow of the ruts and stopped.

A few gentle tugs backwards and they were free. I unhooked to get more distance between us and they almost drove out. They needed another tug or two to finally make the pavement.

The trail looks well-travelled but make sure you go prepared. As long as I was in the ruts, I felt very secure. When I got out of my rig, the snow off to the sides was obviously not firm enough to drive on.

The Sno-Park at Blackwood Canyon has been plowed out but remember, this is closed to wheeled vehicles until June 15th.

Be safe, be smart, don’t go alone, be prepared to spend the night.



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Education time

Okay, only the first half of this video is worth watching but I don’t have the skills to edit it. I wish someone could now add the articulation angle (pun intended) to this to really teach people how to build their rigs for the trail.

The order of improvements show in the video is not the order I would do them to my rig. And of course, there needs to be a balance.

I’m still driving a 2-door Wrangler. On Fordyce last year, I needed a line on my bumper to keep the front end down climbing one obstacle. The longer JL’s probably didn’t need that tug, don’t know if the 4-doors were getting high centered.

What I don’t want to give up is the mobility of the short wheelbase 2-door. I love that I can turn so tight on the trail, allowing me to take the line I want. My TJ turns so much better than my old CJ-7.


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Bing Maps Rubicon Closure

I often poke around the internet trying to find any new information on the Rubicon Trail. I specifically look for information on the Tahoe end of the trail. Surfing the internet is easier than an in person visit since I’m an hour and 20 minutes from the trailhead.

Here’s one of the latest things I found. I found it less than a week ago, so I waited until after the stated closure to post it. It has since been removed from Bing Maps:

“Closed road from Evergreen Way to Rubicon Trail. Start time: 11/3/2021 12:43am; Est. end time: 1/12022 12:00am.”

The red dashed line is the section of McKinney Rubicon Springs Road that is paved between the residential area and the staging area.

The map is from Bing Maps and the closure came up when I searched Bing Maps for ‘road conditions’. Someone had to input this information. I don’t think it’s worth reaching out to Bing Maps this time to ask who did this and why, but if it comes up again, I will definitely reach out to get it corrected.

Now in trying to figure this out, I thought it might have been done to prevent idiots from thinking they can drive to Sacramento on the Rubicon since Highway 80 and Highway 50 were both closed. But they were open when this closure was posted, 11/3/2021.

Recently, dozens of people have tried to drive through Dog Valley on Henness Pass Road to get over the pass even thought is does not get plowed. People in 2-wheel drive vehicles read their onboard GPS units and think they can use it. Local 4wd clubs have staged at the entrance to educate people about the road conditions there and to suggest that they turn around. Others have had to be rescued/recovered because they did drive down the snow covered road.

The Rubicon Trail is open year-round! Let’s all keep an eye on agencies or individuals trying to post that the trail is closed and speak up to get it corrected.

Happy New Year.


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Tahoma Trailhead Conditions 12-30-21

Once the highways opened up, after a record-breaking December snow fall, I ventured up to the Rubicon Trail trailhead in Tahoma to see what it looked like.

Before I could even get there, I had to drive through the neighborhood. Single track! The county plow had been through but only one time and right down the middle. It will take two more plow passes to clear the road and then the rotary blower will come through to clean up the edges.

From a distance, the trailhead looks unbreeched by wheeled vehicles.

Sure enough, only one lone snowmobile track over the berm and up the trail. I did not have the time, nor the place to park, in order to snowshoe up the trail. But many snowshoe tracks already there.

There is a new trailhead sign. I don’t know who put it up but it has Forest Service colors.

My suggested signage for the trailhead was much more in your face:

(Yes, I realize there’s a misspelling in there)

Looking back from the trail, you can barely see the roof of my TJ with a 5″ lift on 35″ tires.

The berm is probably six feet tall, but once over the berm the snow is probably four feet deep.

So, I had to try it, but I knew if I made it over the berm I’d be stuck. Single vehicle; no way to winch myself backwards; but I did have a shovel with me. What the heck.

It’s a bad picture but it shows I didn’t get far.

Snow plow work is so far behind, understandably, that the entrance to the Sno-Park (Kaspian Campground) at Blackwood Canyon has not been plowed at all. FYI, no wheeled vehicle access from here, only snowmobiles.

The Rubicon Trail is open year-round. Only go if you and your rig are overly prepared!

Once the rotary plow comes through, there could be a five-foot face to the trailhead. Knock it down, make a ramp, go have fun. Stay on the trail. But beware as you exit, if there wasn’t a sheer face as you went in, there might be a sheer face on your way out. Walk it first.

Enjoy our public lands but be safe.


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Out of towner caught in surprise snowfall

I just heard a funny story. It’s only funny because no one got hurt. The story could have had a very different outcome.

So, a guy and his wife are traveling across country in their modified Sprinter van. The wife has something to do all day and will be staying with a friend that night. So, the husband decides to camp at Tahoe for the night.

He drives up Blackwood Canyon, a paved road, and sets up camp only a half mile from the summit. It’s cloudy, it’s raining a bit but he’s in his Sprinter van that he and his wife have been living out of for weeks on the road.

It starts to rain.

He goes to sleep.

He wakes up with three feet of snow all around his van.

He’s wearing shorts and sandals.

He thinks he’s screwed.

He has one bar of cell coverage on his phone. He calls his wife. She calls the Sheriff. Placer County Search & Rescue rolls out their snow cat and goes up to rescue him. He asks about getting his Sprinter van out. They tell him it might be there until spring. They take him down the hill without his van.

He calls around and gets Nick of the Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s. Nick has a rescue service when he’s not engineering something or racing the Baja 100, literally. Nick was instrumental in recovering “Glacier Girl” which was buried under eight feet of snow some years ago.

The guy thought he was prepared. He had the traction block, tracks, boards things. The problem was that they were mounted UNDER the rig. Hard to get to with three feet of snow all around.

Nick was the hero again. It took some work. The Sprinter is only 4wd if the rear axle starts to slip. Nick had to literally pull the van DOWN the hill the snow was so thick even after it was packed down by the snow cat.

This should be a lesson to everyone. Check the weather before you travel.

Be safe, don’t be this guy.


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