Side Wall Blowout

Sooner or later it will happen to all of us. This is my third off-road flat.

This morning, I headed out on the Rubicon to try and clear a water bar on Cadillac Hill and to try to improve the mud hole on the Tahoe side.

Staging Area at 8:30; the 03-04 intersection by 9:02. but at 9:40, I blew out the sidewall of the front right tire.

This is just past the Barker Meadow OHV Route and just before the usually wet obstacle before Hummer Bend.

Double throw bottle jack underneath, rather than a Hi-Lift jack under the bumper. Tire under rig for safety.

I tried to refill it, hoping I just lost the bead long enough to flatten it, but upon closer inspection, I wasn’t going to fill it.

10:08 I was back on the trail. Not the same tread but the same size. I turned around and headed home. The maintenance will wait.


Rubicon Ronin

Long Lake Trailhead Sign

Several years ago, the Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s installed a trailhead sign at the entrance to the Long Lake Trail (16E12). It’s the left turn just before the graves on the Rubicon Trail.

Well, over those years the sign was a little neglected. That changed this past weekend at the Hi-Lo’s returned and installed new posts for the sign and updated the information on the sign.

It was truly a team effort. I provided the signage, Michael brought a power auger, Gary brought hand and power tools (and the trailer to haul all this stuff), Scot provided the cement, Carlos was do everything man of the day. Kade served as the finisher making sure everything was squared away at the end.

Hopefully, fewer people will take a wrong turn there as they head to Cadillac Hill and Lake Tahoe as probably six rigs did while we were there! I do want to add a small “Dead End” sign.

The post and sign are not going anywhere with the concrete, pipe and brackets used!

It needs paint and a piece of plexiglass but it looks great.

I personally want to thank everyone that had a hand in this project. It was really a team effort and with so many people stepping up, it didn’t take a whole lot of effort. The hard part was getting our act together before hitting the trail to make sure we had everything.


Rubicon Ronin

Should We Still Be Driving CJs?

I have owned four different CJ’s over the years. I still own a 1985 CJ-7. They are the vehicle that defined Jeeping. I love them. But I’m thinking about letting my CJ-7 go because I fear it’s not safe.

This is not a lecture. I’m taking an opportunity to tell a story and to get you thinking about what you drive and where you drive it.

My neighbor’s name is Mike. He’s a machinist and CNC operator at work. He’s a really good fabricator and a great neighbor. He finally got ahold of a CJ-8 and has been building it up to do some overlanding in the Nevada desert. He was prepping his CJ-7 to sell.

On May 27th, just before 5am, Mike was driving to work in his CJ-8. He got cut off and the two vehicles collided sending Mike’s Jeep off the road, rolling over and crashing in to a tree. The Jeep caught fire. Mike was caught inside. A near-by Sheriff’s deputy was first on scene and pulled Mike to safety. But Mike wasn’t alright. He suffered head trauma, crushed C5 vertebrae, broken foot and more. Everyone who has saw the accident site says the roll bar saved his life.

Although it had a roll bar (not a cage), it did not have any air bags or crumple zones. It wadded up like stepping on an aluminum can, with Mike inside.

Miraculously, Mike is up and walking with a walker. His spirits are very high. He came home the other day and has a long road to recovery. But Mike is selling his CJ-7 and will not replace the CJ-8. He’s selling his 60’s era Ford Falcon wagon. Mike’s plan moving forward is to buy a newer Toyota Tacoma, with multiple airbags and several crumple zones. He’s swapping rigs because he wants his family to be safe driving with him. He’ll build up the Tacoma to do overlanding across Nevada.

The CJs are great rigs for wheeling. I would love to see them continue wheeling forever. But I’m thinking we should avoid driving them on the road if we don’t have to. That would include to and from the trail.

I’m thinking, if I keep my CJ-7, I will set it up to flat towing. I’ll pull it to the trail, wheel the heck out of it and tow it home. But I’ll no longer use it to drive across town to go to the hardware store or to swing by Super Burrito. It’s just not safe in a high-speed collision.

Mike’s family has set-up a ‘Go Fund Me’ account in order to deal with the medical costs associated with Mike’s accident. I didn’t write this article to solicit funds but if you can spare $20 please do. I wrote it to get those who own older rigs to think about not driving them on the street. I don’t want to see any wheeler lose their life. I want them to wheel forever.

Go Fund Me link:

Mike’s page

Please be safe out there!

Rubicon Ronin

Tahoma Bathrooms to OPEN!

Okay, after the downer news of the lack of paperwork between agencies in my last post, I’m now happy to report some great news.

The bathrooms at the Tahoma staging area have not yet opened. I put it to all of the agencies and organizations who have anything to do with the Rubicon to come up with a solution. I offered several solutions.

The line from the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) was that they had not yet hired their seasonal staff who normally perform bathroom duties. My counter was that the users except the toilets as the bathrooms on the other side are open and the toilets ON the trail are open, both El Dorado County controlled. If the users can’t use the toilets, they will do their thing in the woods.

On Friday the 12th, the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit will contract with an outside company to service and open the two pit toilets at the Tahoma staging area. The contractor will continue to service the toilets every Friday unit such time that the LTBMU seasonal staff is in place to take over the duties.

Thank you to the LTBMU for getting this done!

Hopefully, we can work with the LTBMU in the future to utilize either this contractor or volunteers or a combination of both, in order to open the toilets as soon as users can get to the staging area towing their trail rig.

I know you guys like photos so here are some Rubicon toilet photos:


Rubicon Ronin

Rubicon Management :-(

Starting at the end of last season, management of the Rubicon Trail was changing. Placer County had officially backed out. The Tahoe National Forest (TNF) officially stepped in. A ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ was signed by six agencies.

Then the Tahoe National Forest went out on their own and built rolling dips with heavy equipment in late November.

Over the winter, El Dorado County organized an effort to fly rock to Cadillac Hill and Observation Point to save Cadillac from slipping off the mountain and to harden the rolling dips from November. The TNF told El Dorado County to cancel the project as there was more paperwork needed between the agencies before any work could be done.

CA State Parks stepped in and rock was flow until the weather shut down the operation. The Cadillac work was done, the rolling dips were not.

Just recently, and I’m talking days ago, the TNF presented El Dorado County with a stack of forms that need to be filled out. Unfortunately, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors need to approve those forms once they are filled out before El Dorado County can work on the Rubicon. We’re talking MONTHS.

Vickie Sanders posted this on ‘The Rubicon Gazette” Facebook page. It’s a pretty good source of Rubicon info:

County Update:

Placer County Side:

There has been a recent change that I want to communicate with you. In February El Dorado County, Placer County, California State Parks Off-Highway Division, Eldorado National Forest, Tahoe National Forest and The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit entered into a Memorandum of Understanding for the Rubicon Trail. This agreement was to provide a seamless experience on the Rubicon and enable El Dorado County to assist with project on the Placer County side. El Dorado County cannot assist until we complete one more Forest Service agreement. I am working on that agreement but it will take a few months to execute.

So in the meantime, if you have any projects, questions, or volunteer efforts for the portion of trail within the Tahoe National Forest please contact Joe Chavez- Trails/Recreation Specialist at the Tahoe National Forest at, phone 530-478-6158. This would be 5.3 miles from the El Dorado/Placer County line heading to Tahoma.

The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) manages 1.9 miles of trail which includes the staging area in Tahoma. If you have any projects, questions, or volunteer efforts in this portion please call me Vickie Sanders at 530-621-7538 or email at I will coordinate with LTBMU.

El Dorado County Side:

On the El Dorado County side of the trail, I am looking for frequent Rubicon Trail users that would like to volunteer to stock the restrooms on the trail with toilet paper. We keep the back of the units stocked with TP. We are out once a week cleaning, stocking and pumping but it has come to our attention that mid-trail staff will not be assisting with stocking of the restrooms. If you are interested in assisting, please let us know and we will get you a key. Any assistance is appreciated. You can contact Justin Williams at 530-621-5554.


Just received an email from Rubicon Trail Foundation that mid-trail will assist when they can. Thank you RTF.

Thank you

So, in typical government fashion, one step forward, two steps back. I’m trying to stay positive and think long term. Maybe in a few years they’ll get it figured out.

Over the last few days, an effort has been made to get all of the agencies who signed the MOU, property owners along the Rubicon and users groups to start communicating. Everybody now has everyone else’s contact information at their fingertips. Hopefully, things will happen faster.

On a different note, The TNF is going out on the trail to look at water issues within the TNF. Hopefully, they’ll get something going to start fixing the issues. I know that one deep, thick mud hole is high on their list.

Stay tuned and be ready to support Friends of the Rubicon (FOTR) when they ask for volunteers.


Rubicon Ronin