Okay, let’s go through the process first.
The block was brought over the hill from Plymouth by John Briggs last week. The day before it was placed, he dropped the RTF trailer, with the block, in the Tahoma staging area.
Yesterday, two different rigs were used to get it to the intersection of the Rubicon Trail and Forest Road 03-04. (We’re not going to discuss why we had to bring in an alternate rig to finish hauling the block to the intersection.); where it was unceremoniously dumped.
It didn’t land quite like we planned but we got it moved to the right place with a little winch work. We did have rigs blocking the trail for awhile but people understood why.
So, the granite marker is along the Rubicon (the trail on the left), as pictured above but it’s also along Forest Road 03-04, below (the trail on the right).
We had considered placing it down the Rubicon a little bit (and on the left) but it would have been harder to see as you approached the intersection and would have been much more difficult to place. The block still might get moved next summer, depending on feed back.
So, if you read the words on the marker, you know this block was placed by RTF in 2010. Well, not really. This is 2018 and there were no RTF representatives present yesterday. It was actually a Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s effort to place the block. I was actually still on the board of RTF in 2010 and I don’t remember discussions regarding the wording and placement of this marker.
Questions were raised as to why there was no arrow, why the mileage was larger than the “Rubicon Trail”, why was there any mileage info on the block at all, why was the block in Plymouth for eight or more years, why mention Barker Pass Road, where was RTF to help place it, and on and on.
Moving on, it says “Barker Pass Road”. Well, again, not really. Now, back in 2010, I might have been referring to Forest Road 03-04 as Barker Pass Road but it’s really not. Forest Road 03 would be Barker Pass Road as it runs from Lake Tahoe (at the Kaspian Camp Ground) up and over Barker Pass as you travel west. Sort of like Donner Pass Road does through Truckee and then over the pass. Barker Pass is at the intersection of the two Forest Roads 03 and 03-04.
Another issue is the lack of a directional marker on the block. It says Rubicon Trail but it also says Barker Pass Road. But it doesn’t tell the first time traveler which one is which.
We discussed several ways to improve on the message: add an arrow to the top of the block, place a metal plaque (with an arrow) over some of the words, grinding off some of the words, flopping it face down and starting over, etc.
Let me know what you think needs to be done, if anything.
There is concern with the holes drilled in the rock. One goes all the way through and is two inches in diameter. Three others are only 1/2 inch and aren’t too deep. If water gets in those and freezes, the block could split in half. We had a volunteer to come back and fill the whole to prevent that from happening.
So, in the end, thank you to everyone that showed up to help place this boulder, mostly John Briggs who got this whole project in motion, but also to Tony who is taking the picture below. Pictured: Galen, Kade, Doug, John, Mike.
Way back in 2011, 42 OHV routes within the Eldorado National Forest were closed because someone filed a lawsuit claiming they were damaging near by meadows.
A few years later, 18 of those routes were reopened after it was determined that they NEVER were damaging near by meadows. Yes, it took years.
The Deer Valley Trail, although cleared of damaging near by meadows, took longer to reopen due to endangered species concerns.
Well, the ENF has finally finished repairs to all of the routes in questions and all of the once closed routes have now been reopened. Of course, most of those are approaching their seasonal closures so check for the status before you head out.
Here is a link to the Forest Service news release:
What I would ask all of you to learn from this is you need to need to develop a very close relationship with your local FS representatives.
What should have happen in this case was local OHV clubs keeping an eye on these trails to do maintenance in certain places to prevent damage to near by meadows. Now it’s hard for the basic Jeeper to know when that type of damage is being done but a few of these trails were obvious issues.
The Richardson Lake Trail was one case. For a few years I had notices a section that literally went through a meadow and it was looking bad. I had a plan in the back of my head to move small boulders to eliminate the mud by harden the crossing, but I never acted on it. My bad, the route was closed for years.
With a close relationship with your local FS rep, maybe there could be an immediate field trip to each meadow to evaluate, in a very public way, the condition of each trail and to develop a plan to repair each trail rather than close it.
The anti-OHV people will do anything to close our trails, we need to do everything to keep them open.
For those of you who also own a 2wd vehicle along with you 4wd rig, or for those looking to play in the snow with your trail rig, have I got a deal for you.
I just picked up a pair of tire chains for my daily driver, yes, it’s 4wd, but just in case. The beauty of this pair of chains is that they will also fit the tires on the project Jeep, which oddly enough is 2wd right now. A story for another time. The truck has 265/75R18 and the project jeep is 33×10.5R15. One set fits both sizes.
The guys name is Dave and lives near the south east corner of McCarran in Reno. He owns a Jeep (stock) but he’s in to old Harleys. Retired big rig driver who drove Donner Pass most of his career. Cool dude. He has an ad on Craigslist:
He finds big rig chains on the highway (free material) and resizes them to what you need. Since he doesn’t really have material costs, he only charges for his time. He claims it doesn’t take any more time to build chains for a set of 35″ tires than it does for 31″ tires, so the cost is the same. About $60.
He leaves the cam tighteners in place and for me included a homemade tool to work them. You can see from the pictures the cross links are not worn but there is surface rust. I guess if you wanted to you could clean them up and paint them.
I bet if you wanted a custom set with double the number of cross links and wider to drape down the sidewalls, he could build them.
Anyway, I just thought someone out there might need a deal on chains. I think CA law states you need to carry chains during conditions that might require chains. It doesn’t say they have to fit. But why not be prepared with a set that will fit your oversized tires?
Be safe and don’t be ‘that’ guy.
This is a photo looking northwest from Meeks Bay. The Smoke is coming from the west end of Sugar Pine State Park. I didn’t stop to take the more dramatic picture as I was travelling south on 89.
Here is the email I received because I subscribe to the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit’s prescribed burn email notifications…
Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team
October 17, 2018 For Immediate Release
Prescribed fire operations today on Tahoe’s West and South Shores
Contact: U.S. Forest Service, Lisa Herron (530) 543-2815
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Weather and conditions permitting, California State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service may conduct prescribed fire operations in Sugar Pine Point State Park on the West Shore and near Twin Peaks on the South Shore beginning today, October 17, 2018. Smoke will likely be present. A map with project locations and details is available for viewing at http://www.tahoefft.org. To receive prescribed fire notifications, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prescribed fire operations are conducted whenever conditions allow to reduce excess vegetation that can feed unwanted wildfires. Planned fires now reduce the threat of unplanned fires later, which helps provide increased community protection. Fire is a natural process in the Sierra Nevada and helps keep our forests healthy by minimizing the spread of insects and disease, recycling nutrients back into the soil and promoting improved habitat for diverse vegetation and wildlife.
Fall and winter bring cooler temperatures and precipitation, which are ideal for conducting prescribed fire operations. Each operation follows a specialized burn plan, which considers temperature, humidity, wind, moisture of the vegetation, and conditions for the dispersal of smoke. This information is used to decide when and where to burn.
Smoke from prescribed fire operations is normal and may continue for several days after an ignition depending on the project size and environmental conditions. Prescribed fire smoke is generally less intense and of much shorter duration than smoke produced by unwanted wildland fires.
Agencies coordinate closely with local county and state air pollution control districts and monitor weather conditions carefully prior to prescribed fire ignitions. They wait for favorable conditions that will carry smoke up and disperse it away from smoke sensitive areas. Crews also conduct test burns before igniting a larger area, to verify how effectively materials are consumed and how smoke will travel.
Before prescribed fire operations are conducted, agencies post road signs around areas affected by prescribed fire, send email notifications and update the local fire information line maintained by the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit at 530-543-2816. The Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team gives as much advance notice as possible before burning, but some operations may be conducted on short notice due to the small window of opportunity for conducting these operations
On Wednesday, August the 29th, I lead a tour of the Placer County portion of the trail for agency representatives responsible for maintenance on the Rubicon Trail. We had 23 people, nine rigs, one side-by-side and one quad. We had nine different agencies and groups represented.
There are plans in the works for El Dorado County, specifically Vickie Sander, to take over maintenance of the Placer County end of the trail. This would be done with a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MOU). There is talk that ALL the agencies would sign on: El Dorado County, Placer County, Eldorado National Forest, Tahoe National Forest, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, CA State Parks Central Valley Water Authority and Lahontan Water Authority.
This would streamline our efforts and get everyone on the same page. Funding for the Placer side should increase but matching funds could be tricky for the first few years. If you do any kind of maintenance on the Placer side (get permission first) document your work and the names and time spent for each volunteer. And turn them in to Placer County. Those hours add up.
We gathered at the Tahoma staging area around 8am. The safety and trip briefing were given at 8:30. The discussion started at 9am and by 9:15 we were on the trail.
Too many details to get in to here but we talked about everything from paving the staging area (May 2019) to work on hardening the ‘soft’ area west of Miller Creek.
All the agency reps stepped up, made constructive comments and sounded very positive about moving forward. The success of El Dorado in funding and work done on the trail had everyone leaving with very positive hopes.
FOTR should have a few smaller projects to be done before the snow flies. There will be more tours and we’ll need drivers. The Spring will bring a very early FOTR “Shovel Brigade” to clear the trail of major snow drifts to keep users on the trail. Spring tours are a must to see how and where the water currently flows during the spring melt.
Sorry for no pictures but I was talking most of the time.
We stopped a number of times on the way in to discuss current issues. Lunch at Observation was provided by the Rubicon Trail Foundation. We turned around near ‘Backdoor’ around 2:30. By 5pm we were back at the staging area. No break downs, no body got stuck, no body got hurt. It was a great day.
Again, thank you to my volunteer drivers, though most of the agencies brought transportation.