New OHV Recreation Specialist @ TNF

I had the honor of working with Susanne Jensen on the Tahoe National Forest (TNF), Truckee District for at least a dozen years. She was the OHV Recreation Specialist, and back then, I was the new guy just getting in to OHV trail maintenance. Susanne Jensen has now retired. She will be greatly missed as she was a pleasure to work with.

She understood OHV and what needed to happen to properly manage it. She was open to ideas regardless of where they came from and was very professional about getting back to people in a timely fashion. She was always willing to roll up her sleeves and get dirty to get the job done. She trusted those who had proven themselves.

The other day, I had the opportunity to sit down with the new OHV Recreation Specialist on the Tahoe National Forest, Truckee District, Sam Donahue.

Sam comes from 14 years in fire suppression and has a degree in Recreation Management. He’s an OHV guy as he rides snowmobiles. He day after I sat down with him, he was off to get certified on a motorcycle as part of the job requirement. There is rumor that the TNF has bought or will be buying another Rubicon for the Truckee District, so he could be out on the trail on any number of vehicles.

There was no specific agenda to the meeting, I just wanted to do a face to face with the new guy. I brought John Briggs, the Friends of the Rubicon (FOTR) Tahoe Side Lead along with me. We talked about what the volunteers had done in the Rubicon area over the years, the different “Adopt-A-” type programs in place and the great working relation between the volunteers and the Forest Service and Placer County.

Sam came across as open mined, respectful of the volunteers past accomplishments and ready to continue the success we have had with the TNF over the years.

Sam can be reached through the Truckee District office, where he is taking over Susanne desk. He got her phone number and extension but hasn’t changed the phone message, it’s still Susanne’s voice. Don’t let it throw you. Leave a message, Sam will get back to you.


Rubicon Ronin






Trail Conditions 4-26-2017: SNOW!

I had planned on a nice spring day of skiing Alpine Meadows but when I checked the weather, there was a “Lake Wind Advisory” out for the day. I went for a snow hike instead.

Around 9:30am, I headed up the Rubicon Trail. Although there is no ‘street’ parking until the end of May but there has been enough snow melt you can hide inside the snow stakes and not get a ticket.

The ramp is still very steep. Wheeled vehicles will have a challenge just getting on the trail.


Starting up the trail, you can see the odd melting near the trees creating tree wells that are just calling for a rig to side off the snow and in to the trees.


Many trees down or bent over the trail. The ones I encountered were already cut but there are surely more further up the trail.


The bridge over McKinney Creek is covered with four feet of snow. You can barely see the wood rail on the far left side.


The snow is melting. Previous pictures of the staging area had three more feet of snow at the toilets.


I did a quick check of the condition of the roof structure of the kiosk. Easier than bringing a ladder later in the year.


This is where I start to get concerned. The Rubicon Trail runs down the right side of this photo. You can see snowmobile tracks there. Unfortunately, someone has been driving a ‘wheeled’ vehicle to the left through the open area but off the trail. ‘Wheeled’ vehicles are not allowed off the Rubicon Trail. Tracked vehicles of any kind are allowed off the trail.

I realize how difficult it would be to drive on the trail at this particular spot on the trail but that’s what we need to do. We’re out for the challenge, why take the easy way?


Just a little further up the trail, the ‘wheeled’ vehicles again drive off the trail to the right. I understand they are avoiding the extreme off-camber section and the tree on the left but it is not legal. The motto of this website is “Turn Around, Don’t Go Around”. The anti-OHV people will use this kind of behavior against us and get our trails closed. Please stay on the trail.

Please stay on the trail.


I made it as far as Water Bar #8, the Arizona Crossing. I took a quick walk down stream and didn’t see a snow bridge across the creek. I probably wouldn’t have trusted it if I had found one. I took just under an hour to hike this far.


On the way out, I snapped this shot of the gate and bridge of the Noonchester Mine Road. Open to tracked vehicles. Those snowmobilers are a little crazy driving over that snow on that bridge. The snow was getting little soft and I almost wanted snowshoes.


To try and give you a better aspect of the steepness of the ramp, here is a shot from the side. It’s a full 45 degree slope if not more. The whole hike was under two hours.


I know everyone wants to get out and go wheeling. My advise is go east and explore the desert and some old mining towns while the sierras thaw out.

Always Tread Lightly!


Rubicon Ronin


OHV Season Preparations

There is still a ton of snow on our trails. Hopefully I’ll have a first hand account by tonight.

So, it’s time to go over your rig and get it ready for the OHV season that might start by July. Just kidding. It’s here now but is your rig ready?

Mine had/has a few issues I’ve been putting off until now. The other day I started in on the list: replace left knuckle, new front leaf spring bolts, new HD steering bars, power strip under hood (no more bundle of wires on the battery).

Well, I got in to it but it’s not done. It was a bit of a fight to get the knuckle off but I won.


The old knuckle got a little bent on a big boulder I hit a little too hard. Your not supposed to be able to see the under side of the steering arm from this view. It had quite a bend and twist.


The new knuckle went on without much of an issue.

On to the steering. Out with the old, in with the new (used).

Looking closely at the shorter component, you can see there is a weld at the adjuster and the threads. I noticed that when I bought the Jeep some eight years ago and new I had to replace it soon. Well this season, after multiple trips down to the Springs, Barrett Lake and Fordyce, I figured it was time.


I’ve already told the story about my Barrett Lake trip where I broke a U-bolt. Here is the result. A really tweaked center bolt from my leaf spring.


I’m also replacing the spring hanger/bottom plate set-up with a cool unit from Ruff Stuff. I’ll add those pictures later. I also have the parts for a auxiliary power strip but haven’t started in on that yet. Maybe after I replace the dead battery. It was a long cold winter.

Please take the time to go over your rig to find and take care of any issues that you may find. You don’t want to be that guy on your first trip out for the season.


Rubicon Ronin