Rubicon Reopens, sort of!

Below is a press release from the Forest Service. All northern California forests, except the Eldorado, will open tonight at 11:59pm, 9-15-21. That’s two days earlier than the original closure order. Hat’s off to the forest service for opening earlier rather than just waiting two days.

Immediately below is a link to the El Dorado County Rubicon page stating that the Rubicon is now open within the Eldorado National Forest for day use only.

U.S. Forest Service
Eldorado National Forest
100 Forni Road
Placerville, CA 95667

News Release

For Immediate Release
September 15, 2021

Public Inquiries:

Regional Hotline: 707-562-9113

Media Contact:

U.S. Forest Service Pacific West Region News Release

Eldorado National Forest Emergency Closure Continues through September 30th as USDA Forest Service Reopens Other Forests in California

** This modified version of a regional news release issued yesterday is to emphasize the separate closure order for the Eldorado National Forest which is still in effect.**

VALLEJO, Calif., — The USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region will end the regional closure order affecting most National Forests in California at 11:59 pm today — Wednesday, Sept. 15 — two days prior to the original end date of Sept. 17. This change does not apply to the emergency closure order for the Eldorado National Forest which remains in effect through September 30, 2021.

Forest-wide closures will also remain in place and will be extended until midnight on September 22nd on the Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino, and Cleveland National Forests in Southern California due to local weather and fire factors, as well as a temporary strain on firefighting resources supporting large fires in other areas of the state.

In addition to the four National Forests that will remain closed in Southern California, some National Forest System lands throughout the state will be closed under local closure orders in areas of ongoing wildfires to ensure public safety. The Eldorado National Forest emergency closure is due to ongoing hazards associated with the Caldor Fire. Fire restrictions also remain in place across all National Forests in California to prevent new fire starts. Please refer to the local National Forest that you plan to visit to obtain specific information on closures and restrictions.

“We are constantly evaluating weather and fire conditions in California, as well as regional and national firefighting resources available to us so that we can ensure the safety of the public and our firefighters,” said Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien. “Some factors are more favorable now, which is why I decided to end the regional closure order. I want to thank the public and our partners for their patience and understanding during these challenging times.”

Factors leading to this decision include:

  1. Anticipated increase of firefighting resource availability to California due to fire danger lessening in other areas of the country.
  2. Regional weather systems and related climate zones becoming more variable as the seasons change, leading to less uniform conditions across California. Where weather and fire danger remain high, tailored fire restrictions and closures remain in place locally and may be added where necessary.
  3. Peak summer visitation has tapered off significantly since the Labor Day holiday weekend. The public is a critical partner in mitigating risk and recreating responsibly on our National Forests.
  4. We recognize the important role of National Forests to peoples’ livelihood and quality of life.

Favorable fire conditions remain throughout many parts of the state, and the public’s role in recreating responsibly has never been more important. We remind visitors to practice self-sufficiency during visits to National Forests, be aware of fire conditions in the area you are visiting and follow guidelines to prevent human-caused fire starts. Best practices include:
• Heed local information regarding trails and campgrounds, especially fire restrictions
and closures. Generally, camp stoves with a shutoff valve will be allowed.
• Be proactive in your thinking about preventing fire starts. Smoking, parking in grass, flammable material, and other activities could cause fire ignition under dry conditions.
• COVID-19 remains a concern. Maintain at least six feet distance from others.
• Do not gather in groups and please follow the latest guidance from officials.
• Communicate with others as you pass. Alert trail users of your presence and step
aside to let others pass.
• Pack out your trash and leave with everything you bring in and use.
• All services may not be available, so please plan accordingly.

More than 7,404 wildfires have burned over 2.25 million acres across all jurisdictions in California. The nation remains at Preparedness Level 5 (PL5); the Northern California Geographic Area is at PL5, and the Southern California Geographic Area has moved up to PL4.

The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest is largely in California but is in the Intermountain Region (R4) and is not impacted by the previous closure order.

The Forest Service thanks our partners and the public for their cooperation and understanding. Citizens with specific questions within their area should consult their local forest website or social media pages for more information.

The U.S.D.A Forest Service is an equal opportunity employer. The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.


So what does this mean? It means you can drive the Rubicon within the Eldorado but you can’t go outside the 50′ easement. They don’t want anyone camping on the easement hence the day use only.

The Tahoe side will be open, both the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and the Tahoe National Forest.

My understanding is that the Springs was closed down for winter when they pulled out due to the fire. There is probably more to be done to close up for the winter. Please respect the private property.


Rubicon Ronin

How the Fordyce Trail kicked my A$$

This was my 5th Trek. The last time I did Trek and the Fordyce, it was the toughest trail I had ever done. This year, new rig with an automatic, selectable lockers, fuel injection, etc.; I was bringing more rig this year, so I figured I was good. Wrong. Over the years, due to weather, use and abuse, the trail had deteriorated to being tougher than ever.

We set up our camp at Meadow Lake Wednesday night. We then drove to Tahoe for the night. Our family cabin at Tahoe was a better night’s sleep than a tent. But it was a short night. The alarm went off at 4:30, out the door before 5am and arrived at staging 6:15. We were the last to arrive.


Driver’s meeting at 6:30 and at 7am we were moving. Let me cut to the chase. We made main camp at 8pm. That was not a typo, 8pm. It was a 13-hour day to drive the Fordyce Trail.

Approach to 1st creek crossing
1st creek crossing

The trail is 12 miles long. The first six miles were your typical rock crawling trail. We made good time as only two and a half hours had gone by. The Trek guys had broken us in to groups. Our group was small at five rigs. All 4-door JKs, except me in my 2-door TJ. We all figured we’d have minimal issues. Our leader was in a new to him JK that could have used a little more lift or a little more tire or both.

I passed on Winch Hill One.

That’s how our issues started to pile up. Overall, our leader had more hang-ups than anyone in the group. But we stepped up and played rock rollers and spotter as needed. The problem was when one of us needed help, he wasn’t too fast to return the favor. Maybe that wasn’t in his agreement with Trek as this is advertised as an unsupported run.

The bigger issue was the difficulty of the trail. My honest opinion is that the trail is currently too difficult to run this type of event. The Thursday group was a 13-hour drive. The Friday event was a 15-hour drive. There were medical issues both days which didn’t help.

The other issue that didn’t help was the guy who wouldn’t pull over. One individual on the run lost his starter somewhere after winch hill two and wouldn’t pull over to let others pass him. He and his buddies winched and dragged this guy all the way through the trail without letting others pass. Why not park the rig, let people by, keep the event running, run to camp and get a starter out of another LS rig and run back down the trail and install it?

This guy knew better. He was asked, and as I understand it, harsh words were exchanged. This guy is a Cal4 member. He’s worked as a volunteer on Sierra Trek before. The word is that he even chaired Sierra Trek for two years. How is it that someone who knows better can be such jerk to so many other wheelers?

Honestly, our group didn’t encounter this guy until winch hill five. The trail was so tough, we were going stupid slow anyway. We were having our own issues along the way. Although there are five winch hills one through five, we found winch hills 2.5, 3.5, 4.5, that could easily be added to the list of winch hills and staffed with spotters to keep rigs moving at a normal pace.

I had been boasting how nice it was to have a short wheelbase, compared to the 4-doors, most of the day. Bad Karma. The rain had started, things got slippery. At the beginning of a climb, my rig slipped right and the passenger side hardtop window came to rest on a rock, mid window. Not good. I turned left to get the glass away from the rock but I knew I was doomed. As soon as the rig moved, the window shattered. But that was just the beginning.

With the rock inside the rig about three inches, I couldn’t go forward. I couldn’t go backwards because I was up against a rock. My group had to winch me sideways so I could back up. Karma came back to bite me for boasting earlier.

After being winched sideways and backing up.

The window was no big deal. Not stupid expensive to replace. I was more bummed out that my group had to step up and work, in the rain, to get me out of my situation. And I was stuck in the driver’s seat and couldn’t help. Thanks again guys!

I think this was the third crossing?

The group idea is great. Many runs use it. At Trek, there were two guys going pretty slow in front of our group. They were so slow, they dropped away from their group and we took them in to ours. How did the group in front of us lose two rigs and not stop to make sure they were okay? That’s the point of grouping rigs.

We all know not to lose sight of the rig behind us in case they have an issue. We should also know to keep up the pace with the rig in front of us without riding them too close. These guys dropped off our group a few times but we tried to make sure they were at least still rolling along. Ham radios were key to that.

Although Sierra Trek is a great event, well run, great food, scenic views and gets you across a few rivers that are usually running too high to safely cross, I won’t be doing it again until the trail is repaired to prevent another 13 hour drive. I’ll probably be back with my club and just five rigs to do it again.

Not the line I ended up taking

Trail maintenance for the Fordyce Trail falls on the Tahoe National Forest. There are many clubs that have stepped up and helped the Forest Service in maintaining the trail: Friends of Fordyce comes to mind but there are others.

Winter storms and heavy snowfall changes the trail. But users who don’t Tread Lightly also contribute to the deterioration of the trail. There was erosion in many places. One of the iconic winch hills could no longer be run because the terrain had changed so much. The bypass was now the trail.

Winch Hill 2?

Main camp was a party as usual. Good food and plenty of it. The vendors were out on Saturday. The showers were warm and very welcoming after 13 hours on the trail.

I hope the trail can get some seriously needed maintenance and repair over the next few years.


Rubicon Ronin

Tires, tires, tires…

They wear out. They need to be checked with every trail ride. We air them down and then we air them back up. We abuse them on the trail, then scream down the freeway at 60mph.

It’s arguable that they are THE single most key component on our rigs.

I’ve had a bad run with tires this summer. But it started last summer. Below is the flat I got on the Rubicon.

Being a little cheap, I did not buy four new tires. I bought two in 2020 and figured I’d buy two new tires to match in 2021; spreading out the pain a bit.

Then, early this year, while washing my rig, it took out a valve stem and had to use my Colby Valve Stem to repair it.

So, in March of 2021, I went shopping for two more tires. BFG was backordered or not available until July. I said order them up, let me know when they’re in. I called in June and the tire shop said they were out until September. Not good as I was planning to run Sierra Trek (Fordyce Trail) in August.

I found a set of (5) used BFG mud terrains (KM2) online. They were priced fair, so I checked them out. Four were great, one had some sun cracking but it would be the spare. $700 later, they were mine. $125 later, they were mounted and balanced.

One trip down and back up Cadillac and one of the sidewalls had split and was leaking.

I got out and home on the sun cracked spare. Nobody repairs sidewalls. I never really trusted the spare. Now I don’t trust any of the three remaining ‘good’ tires.

My advice, be very weary about buying a used set of tires. Check the date code. Check for damage; any cracks and the entire set of tires should be avoided. Don’t even consider tires with uneven wear.

Time to bite the bullet, step up and buy four new tires. I’m serious about rock crawling so I went for the Goodyear MTRs. Great traction, but wears out quicker than others. Not in stock in my size. Pivot to Pro-Comp tires as they have like a 40,000 mile guarantee. Again, my size was not in stock. Let’s change the question, what tire do you have in my size?

Meet the Cooper Discoverer STT:

So, days before Sierra Trek, I got a new set of tires (4). Never before had I wheeled this tire. I’ve run Coopers on my pick-up for years, so I had high hopes. I barely had a chance to get them up to speed on the freeway, let alone trail test them, before I headed to Meadow Lake to set up camp.

Sierra Trek is THE hardest trail I’ve run and this year it was even harder. And I was doing it with a tire I wasn’t familiar with. Look for a report on Trek in a few days. Spoiler alert: the tires did awesome.

Bottom line, take our sport seriously. When you know you need tires, don’t delay, buy a set of four.


Rubicon Ronin

Region Five closes all northern CA forests

Let me try this again…

Now Region Five is jumping on the close everything bandwagon.

LTBMU goes overboard

RUBCION TRAIL CLOSED within Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.

I get there are fires across the west but that is no reason to close public lands tens of miles away.

As far as I know, and I just checked, the Tahoe National Forest has not been closed. And that’s in between the Eldorado and the Basin.

No photo description available.
May be an image of map and text that says 'Exhibit C: West Shore Area, Road, & Trail Closure 15N35 Granite Chief Wilderne 03 15N38 15N38 Lake Tahoe Û PACIFIC 2021 BACKCOUNTRY & WILDERNESS CLOSURE USDA Forest Order No. 19-21-05 Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Closure 0.5 Stream/River: Perennial Waterbody LTBMU Miles Boundary Forest System Map August LTBMU'

I’m going to reach out to local authorities to challenge this decision.


Rubicon Ronin