Signs, signs, everywhere signs

Last week I sat down with Susanne Jensen of the Truckee Ranger District of the Tahoe National Forest (TNF) to talk OHV trails for the 2016 season.

She has procured two new signs for the Rubicon Trail area.

Signs signs

The first is for Forest Road 03-04 where it meets the Rubicon. As you come in from Tahoe, Forest Road 03-04 continues straight while the Rubicon is almost a 90 degree turn to the left. Forest Road 03-04 (if you continued straight) is closed seasonally from November 5th through June 14th. With this sign, we’re trying to prevent someone from thinking they can get out that way after November 5th and get lost, stuck or run out of fuel and not have anyone driving by regularly.

The second sign is for the same intersection but to be posted for those driving the Rubicon eastbound. This is a replacement sign as the original is long gone.

Susanne assured me there is funding to continue to install carsonite signs for all the side trails in the area. That will be one of my goals this season.

Headed out on the 1st and I’ll post up with a full report on the Rubicon and the side trails.


My Rubicon OHV season has started

This afternoon I took out my, new to me, Kawasaki KLZ250s, dual sport on the Rubicon Trail.

Now, I have quite a bit of Jeep experience and quite a bit of mountain bike experience but not much experience at all on a dirt bike. So, of course I decide to take out the bike on the Rubicon in early Spring with snow drifts, running water and a deep water crossing. Yes, I got wet but I didn’t fall over.

No snow to the staging area. I drove the truck and had the KLX250 in the back. While there I filled the “Free Maps” box with my flier and the RTF flier. After heading out of the staging area there was snow on the sides of the trail at the first climb, stalled it. Once on the flats, past the Buck Lake Trail (still closed until June 1st), it was easy going but only got to second gear.

Lots of water on the trail. Most all of it is in sections that are rock covered so erosion is minimal. Please stay on the trail and drive slowly through water.

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A snow drift here and there with Jeep ruts in them. Still the motorcycle didn’t have much traction on the packed down snow, go figure.

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Then there was water bar #8. Let me explain. None of the water bars are actually water bars, they are rolling dips. Well, WB # 8 is actually an Arizona crossing. That is a concrete lined water crossing. There are many along the Rubicon and a few on the Richardson Lake Trail.

WB#8 at full flow, which it was, is 18” deep, or more! I knew this going in and just barreled through in second gear. It’s got to be ten feet across. I got wet. Not really bad, but wet.

Again, the trail is very wet but in this area rock covered. Further up the trail, around water bar #11, the snow covered the entire trail.

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Hiking up a little bit, to see how far the snow covered the trail, I saw it was impassable for my skill level. The trail was covered, side to side for about 100 yards. Then no snow for about 40 yards, then twin ruts in the snow. I turned around.

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Headed down the wet slope, trying to figure out the foot brake versus compression braking, I approached the water crossing. This time I stopped and took a picture.

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Back on the bike I was more nervous crossing this time that the first time. I stalled it twice just trying to get a quick start. I don’t know what I did differently, faster or slower, but I got wetter than the first time. But I made it.

The result of my scouting trip is to recommend that most users wait a few weeks before heading out on the Rubicon. The long snow drifts will cause most a lot of trouble. The better equipped rigs will be able to get up on the snow and Tread Lightly! I fear the less built rigs might spin their tires and dig up some sedimentation which will flow downstream.

Further up the trail, in higher elevation, there will be more snow. Deeper snow. Wetter conditions. Stay home and check over the wheeler: fluids, belts, charging system, cooling system, loose bolts, leaks, etc. Set up the camping gear and see where the mice stayed the winter. Wait until June to hit the Rubicon.

If you go and have trouble, take a strap or pull the winch out. A few shovels will also help. Let’s not give the anti-OHV people ammunition to use against our sport.