RANT warning: “My lack of confidence in the Rubicon Trail Foundation (RTF)”

A quick timeline of events:

8/14   Caldor fire starts in the Eldorado National Forest

8/17   The Eldorado National Forest is closed

8/18   El Dorado County closes the Rubicon Trail

8/19   The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) closes the west shore

8/19 I email RTF, asking what the “heck”? The fire is 12 miles away!

8/19   An hour later Region-5 closes all northern California forests

9/15 – Region-5 reopens the forests, two days earlier than expected

9/15 El Dorado County opens the Rubicon for day use only

9/20 – The LTBMU re-closes the west shore, the Rubicon Trail and wilderness areas

9/21 – I post about the re-closure on my website, linking to the LTBMU page

9/21 I post on the RTF Facebook page about the closure

9/21 Minutes later, RTF removes my post and about the closure

9/21 I emailed the entire RTF board asking why my post was removed and why they are not getting the closure info out to the users

9/21 RTF informed me they got yelled out for lack of complete information so they’re waiting until they have all the information. We’re still waiting, more than a week later.

Bottom line, RTF is not only holding back critical information from the users, they are actively suppressing information about the Rubicon Trail being closed.

I guess the big question is why would RTF suppress this information? RTF claims they wanted ALL the correct information before posting. I say, post the facts you can prove. Link to the LTBMU website and post the actual Forest Service (FS) documents and answer questions as they come in. To date, RTF has NOT posted about the Basin closure that runs through Oct 20th.

The Rubicon Trail Foundation mission statement: “To enhance the future health and use of the Rubicon trail, while ensuring responsible, motorized, year-round trail access.”

My personal assumption is that RTF doesn’t want to be seen as unable to keep the trail open “for year-round trail access” as their mission statement claims, so they just ignoring the closure.

Back when I emailed RTF about the early (8/19) LTBMU west shore closure, I wanted someone to push back on the LTBMU jumping the gun with an over-reaction and unnecessary closure. My feelings are that if these closures don’t get pushback, the FS will continue to put these closures in place, earlier and longer. I’ll point to campfire restrictions as my example. Think about full forest closures following the same closure dates as campfires.

Now, after Region-5 re-opens all northern California forests except the Eldorado. The LTBMU places a closure order on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, including the Rubicon Trail. Why?

Recognize that the Tahoe National Forest (TNF) has not closed the portion of their forest that lies between the Eldorado and the LTBMU! The Rubicon is open from Miller Lake to Miller Creek; the Hobbit Trail is open; Ellis Peak and many other trails are open but land locked by closures and restrictions.

The Rubicon Trail is still a county road within the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and the TNF. Does the Forest Service really have the authority to close a county road, with no “emergency” at hand? Remember the Caldor Fire is now 76% contained fire is 10-12 miles away.

Today’s FS press release scales down the Eldorado closure and reopens part of the Eldorado closure but the LTBMU closure documents are included without change. The Rubicon remains closed. Ironically, the Noonchester Mine Road is open off the Rubicon because the ‘closure’ is listed as “backcountry”.

So, the TNF is open, the Eldorado is starting to re-open but the west shore of the LTBMU remains closed!

The Basin has overreacted and needs to be told exactly that. RTF and others need to push back on the current closure and fight to keep the Rubicon Trail open for “motorized, year-round trail access”.

FYI, the toilets at the Tahoma staging area were closed this morning, so those going to check conditions or not knowing of the closure have nowhere but the forest along McKinney Creek to ‘go’ when visiting the staging area. Not good.

Staying with Tahoe side issues:

No word on where we stand with the snow wall at the Tahoma entrance. Last I heard, Placer County was going to continue to ‘prioritize clearing the residential streets over keeping the Rubicon entrance clear of snow’. (not a true quote, but close)

One RTF board member said he thought that meeting went well! How is that “ensuring responsible, motorized, year-round trail access”?

Lahontan Water Authority issued a “Cease & Desist” when a small group of trail users used commercial snow removal equipment to clear the Tahoma entrance of snow piled there by Placer County.

When asked what RTF was going to do about that order, another RTF board member said that it was not their fight. How is that “ensuring responsible, motorized, year-round trail access”?

RTF supported the reroute around “the mud hole”. They worked with the Tahoe National Forest, built a berm to control the water flow of the seasonal creek crossing, cut down trees, blocked the original trail, placed fencing & rock down to create the current bypass.

The reroute is much narrower and has tighter turns. It’s also a dust mess. Lots of erosion. I’d like to know what that reroute does to a possible future RS2477 legal challenge. Since it’s not the original county road route, can the FS seasonally close it?

Early this year, there was literally no water in the old mud hole, while the rest of the Tahoe side was a wet mess. The berm did an excellent job and the reroute is actually no longer needed as long as the berm is maintained. Are we going to go back to the original route?

As the title of this rant says, I have lost confidence in RTF to do the right thing for the users and for the trail. There is the possibility that RTF is working in the background to get things done but following the list of to-do’s mentioned above, and the length of time those issues have been active, I’m not hearing that the RTF has been successful.

I’ll even put my real name to this one…

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Doug Barr


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.

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Rubicon Ronin


Long Lake Trail Maintenance 7-28-21

The Long Lake Trail is at the bottom of Cadillac Hill and runs along the Rubicon River for 0.91 miles. Yes, I’m getting that specific as there is a definite end of the trail that we must adhere to or we could lose the entire trail.

The kiosk at the trailhead received some new paperwork as the old ones were wet and faded.

A few nuisance boulders were removed from the center of the trail. These were not obstacles that added anything to the trail experience, just something to go around and make the trail wider.

The campsite area had the old drive through route blocked off (again) and signed to explain why. The Forest Service has prohibited the area as a drive through. If we don’t play by the rules, we could lose the campsite.

This step got some reworking. There was an undercut developing which is nothing anyone wants to try and drive up. It only leads to breakage. And the boulder in the middle of nowhere is one of those nuisance boulders that was moved. This one was moved in to the undercut area and built in to a ramp.

Two routes were maintained. Easy towards the river (right side) and harder (but not tough) closer to the HUGE boulder.

The end of the trail has been blocked and signed to prevent travel and inform the users.

Please get out there and explore and enjoy your trails. The Long Lake Trail is adopt and maintained by the Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s.

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Rubicon Ronin


Work on the Tahoe side

Although I was told earlier this season there would be no work done on the Rubicon within the Tahoe National Forest in 2021, rock has been placed in some of the low spots.

As I was driving out on Wednesday, just west of the turn for Sourdough Hill:

Just east of the turn to Sourdough Hill:

Not remembering where this was:

West of Miller Lake:

Another west of Miller.

There were two or three other spots that had new rock placed.

It’s good to see this work being done. Hopefully, it will continue.

Work on the rolling dips within the Lake Tahoe Basin will happen next year.

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Rubicon Ronin


Trailer Tailgate Rebuild

Years ago, I picked up an old highway lighting trailer. I lined it with plywood, did a spring over axle, swapped to it 5 on 5.5 and put on a universal hitch.

Over the years, I’ve repaired and replaced the hitch, rebuilt the front side of the trailer after the my Jeep’s bumper fell off and replaced the tailgate and now it’s time for tailgate 2.0.

The trailer has served me well over the years. This is a very early shot of the trail and me hauling in the kiosk for the Long Lake Trail.

Bringing the new trailhead sign in for TKS-11

Though I’ve not always treated the trailer as well as I should have…

Story to follow…

That was an empty trailer, too much speed and one tire hitting a rock. Two snatch blocks and a winch and I had it rubber side down again.

I did replace that slide down tailgate but it was time for a new tailgate. What I had laying around was a Jeep tailgate designated for my ‘project’ Jeep. Well, the trailer needed it more than the project. Out with the old, broken (again), slide in set-up.

Mocking up the brackets, yes, it is an old bedframe. Cheapest angle iron around.

In with the new Jeep tailgate.

I tried to get fancy with an adjustable bolt set-up for aligning the sides of the trailer to the tailgate. It’s just too loose. I need to weld EVERYTHING.

It’s still using the stock latch system.

Next week, off to Pick-n-Pull to get some tailgate straps, so I can hold the tailgate level when open or drop it vertical to unload rock.

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Rubicon Ronin