Buck Lake (cliff) Jeep Recovery

So, I get a random phone call late Friday afternoon. I actually missed the call and just listened to the voice message. I didn’t get all of the details but something about a guy, Dan, stuck on the Ellis Peak Trail, a side trail off the Rubicon on the Tahoe side.

I called him back and got the short story. Slipped off to the side of the trail, rocks gave away underneath, slipped farther off to the side. No winch points anywhere to be found. Could I help him out?

An email and a few phone conversations later. I had a friend and fellow Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo, Paul, lined up to take two rigs out (never travel alone) and get this guy a winch point to get him unstuck. Saturday morning 9am we were at the staging area ready to help this guy out.

I should mention that I was running later that expected as I left my phone on the charger and had to go home after fueling to get it. Only a 15-minute dely. I actually picked up the guy where he was staying and gave him a ride to the staging area and then his rig. But wait, he forgot his keys to the stuck rig and we met his wife half way back. Now 30-minutes late.

Paul and I pulled up on the rig which ended up being on the Buck Lake Trail. We got out, surveyed the situation and then I said to Dan, “if you had sent me a picture, I would have brought more help”.

This guys Jeep was completely off the trail on a 45-degree slope. I have no idea why this thing hadn’t tumbled down the hill. Then I heard the story of his wife and two large dogs bailing out the passenger side, the high side, and then the driver, Dan, climbing out.

Paul and I had a plan but didn’t like it. So, we decided to drop back, punt, call in reinforcements and come back the next day.

Note red circle around Jeep hanging on cliff.

More phone calls and emails, this time with pictures. The Hi-Lo’s stepped up and we went back in at 8:30am the next day with six rigs. One of which was a bright yellow, 8900 pound Unimog!

The initial set up, using the Unimog as the anchor and a winch and snatch block on each end to pull the Jeep a little sideways, just pulled the Unimog toward the Jeep.

Both winching rigs had a back up rig anchoring them to prevent them from getting putted forward.

I have to admit it was a beautiful place to spend a day at Tahoe.

To prevent the Unimog from getting pulled sideways, I had to drive up the trail and work around to a position above the Unimog and send down a 200’ winch line extension to secure the Unimog.

A second rig would have been nice to anchor me but all I had was a boulder with a tow strap around it.

That allowed the Jeep to be pulled side ways to get two tires on the trail, sort-of. The lines were reconfigured to pull the Jeep forward. A come-along from the bumper of the Unimog to the rocker guards of the Jeep was used to keep tension sideways.

Three hours onsite and the Jeep was back on the trail. No body got hurt and no further damage took place.

It was a very rewarding day working with a bunch of great guys and helping someone had had only met the day before.

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Rubicon Ronin


Winch installation

So, it’s been a long time coming but the winch is finally mounted.

So this is the ‘project’ Jeep. I thought a simple project like getting the winch mounted would be quick and easy and a good motivator for the next step, replacing the leaking freeze plug.

It’s a Warn HS9500i. I got a screaming deal. Sneavy’s Off-Road was the source for the winch line. It’s mounted on a Warn winch plate with a modification. I’ll need to get out and re-wind the winch under a load to get it tight.

Winch 2

With it being a high speed winch, and looking to double the capacity of the pull, I often use a snatch block. On the current trail rig, there is a standard hook that I connect back to on the winch.

On this install, I decided to upgrade to a D-ring. I had to cut down the face of the winch plate for better access to the D-ring. I cut a 1/2″ plate to size and bought a D-ring mounting point online.

I outsourced the welding because although I can weld (sort-of), I didn’t want to have second thoughts every time I used the D-ring.

Winch

This project took WAY too long, but don’t they all. Although it looks like a stock bumper, It’s actually a 1/4″ plate bent to look stock. I cut down the bumper to 46″, that’s like 4″ off each side of a stock bumper. Then I had it powder pointed.

For those looking REALLY close at the details, yes, I still need to snug up the frame bolts.

Not sure where the front license plate will mount, if it gets mounted. Maybe just a magnet mount somewhere for to and from the trail.

Now to move on to that freeze plug.

 

Rubicon Ronin

 


Rubicon conditions

Rubicon

I’m continuing to follow the saga of the stuck rigs on the Rubicon. An effort was made this past weekend to reach them but it fell short due to mechanical failures. But they got to in quite a ways considering conditions.

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Yes, that is the staging area and the two twelve foot tall pit toilets!

I’m assuming the photo below is the creek at water bar number eight, the first Arizona crossing on the trail.

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That would be a cold, deep crossing on a Quad!

Please remember that this will be a very late OHV season. All trails will be very wet and probably not open on time. One can be cited for damaging the forest even while on an OHV trail. Always Tread Lightly!

Be patient, summer will get here.

 

Rubicon Ronin

FYI – Lake Tahoe has already risen three feet this year! And Spring isn’t here yet!

 


Snow at the trailhead

For those of you following the saga, the past practice of Placer County piling snow at the Tahoma entrance to the Rubicon should have stopped.

Unfortunately, not everyone got the memo. This was today, 1/4/17.

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Now we don’t know who piled the snow here but I’m working on it.

For the record, the Rubicon Trail doesn’t close during the winter.

If you are prepared enough and brave enough to try the Rubicon during the winter, realize there may still be issues at the trailhead this winter.

On your way in, feel free to break-down any piled snow or shovel the snow away all together. Do not throw that snow in to the street. If capable, drive over the berm.

Remember that there is no street parking from November through May. A sheriff in a bad mood may try and cite you if your rig is in the street as you work the berm. My advice is be polite and don’t fail the attitude test.

On your way out, make sure the berm has not been altered. Get out and check before driving off the edge.

On a side note, there are currently two rigs stuck on the Rubicon. A recovery team is going in on Friday to get the vehicles out. All the people are safely out.

The first rig is near Miller Lake, in a water hole, on the trail (35″ tires). Please do not go off trail to get around this vehicle.

The second vehicle is almost to Observation (40″ tires). It lost one tire off the rim. They plan on bringing out a spare, swapping it on to the rig and driving out. That rig is off to the side of the trail.

 

Rubicon Ronin


New trailer hitch

For those of you following my website, you know of my issues with off-road hitches. Here is a link to the two previous postings:

https://theotherrubicon.com/?s=hitch

The “Lock N Roll” Great Lake Forge hitch didn’t seem to like the tight turns and difficult terrain of the Rubicon Trail. I bent two of them! Though I must admit, I did roll the trailer twice with that hitch.

So I’ve moved on to the Max Coupler hitch by Kilby Enterprises:

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After unbolting the previous hitch, I inserted a 18″ ‘receiver’ tube and drilled two vertical 5/8″ holes to mount the receiver tube to the trailer. A third horizontal hole mounts the unit in the receiver tube and trailer.

FYI, the wheeled trailer stand gets removed before hitting the trail.

I lucked out and the first hitch configuration I used to mount the unit to the Jeep got the trailer pretty level. If I hadn’t bent the stock Jeep ball hitch, I think this would be dead level.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll get a chance to test the new set-up this season. Although I will be out on the trail, I don’t think I’ll be needing the trailer. I’ll post up again after I test it out.

 

Rubicon Ronin