Holiday Travelers on Rubicon

After being stuck at home for more than a week, I finally ventured out to the Tahoma trailhead. Although I had no intension of driving out on to the trail, I brought the Jeep just because. The rig stuck on the trail with four guys in it were happy I did.

The neighborhood looks much better:

The berm is very doable and only a few feet tall:

But these guys needed help:

They had barely started up the first incline and got off of the compacted snow of the ruts and stopped.

A few gentle tugs backwards and they were free. I unhooked to get more distance between us and they almost drove out. They needed another tug or two to finally make the pavement.

The trail looks well-travelled but make sure you go prepared. As long as I was in the ruts, I felt very secure. When I got out of my rig, the snow off to the sides was obviously not firm enough to drive on.

The Sno-Park at Blackwood Canyon has been plowed out but remember, this is closed to wheeled vehicles until June 15th.

Be safe, be smart, don’t go alone, be prepared to spend the night.

Enjoy!

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Rubicon Ronin


Tahoma Trailhead Conditions 12-30-21

Once the highways opened up, after a record-breaking December snow fall, I ventured up to the Rubicon Trail trailhead in Tahoma to see what it looked like.

Before I could even get there, I had to drive through the neighborhood. Single track! The county plow had been through but only one time and right down the middle. It will take two more plow passes to clear the road and then the rotary blower will come through to clean up the edges.

From a distance, the trailhead looks unbreeched by wheeled vehicles.

Sure enough, only one lone snowmobile track over the berm and up the trail. I did not have the time, nor the place to park, in order to snowshoe up the trail. But many snowshoe tracks already there.

There is a new trailhead sign. I don’t know who put it up but it has Forest Service colors.

My suggested signage for the trailhead was much more in your face:

(Yes, I realize there’s a misspelling in there)

Looking back from the trail, you can barely see the roof of my TJ with a 5″ lift on 35″ tires.

The berm is probably six feet tall, but once over the berm the snow is probably four feet deep.

So, I had to try it, but I knew if I made it over the berm I’d be stuck. Single vehicle; no way to winch myself backwards; but I did have a shovel with me. What the heck.

It’s a bad picture but it shows I didn’t get far.

Snow plow work is so far behind, understandably, that the entrance to the Sno-Park (Kaspian Campground) at Blackwood Canyon has not been plowed at all. FYI, no wheeled vehicle access from here, only snowmobiles.

The Rubicon Trail is open year-round. Only go if you and your rig are overly prepared!

Once the rotary plow comes through, there could be a five-foot face to the trailhead. Knock it down, make a ramp, go have fun. Stay on the trail. But beware as you exit, if there wasn’t a sheer face as you went in, there might be a sheer face on your way out. Walk it first.

Enjoy our public lands but be safe.

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Rubicon Ronin


Out of towner caught in surprise snowfall

I just heard a funny story. It’s only funny because no one got hurt. The story could have had a very different outcome.

So, a guy and his wife are traveling across country in their modified Sprinter van. The wife has something to do all day and will be staying with a friend that night. So, the husband decides to camp at Tahoe for the night.

He drives up Blackwood Canyon, a paved road, and sets up camp only a half mile from the summit. It’s cloudy, it’s raining a bit but he’s in his Sprinter van that he and his wife have been living out of for weeks on the road.

It starts to rain.

He goes to sleep.

He wakes up with three feet of snow all around his van.

He’s wearing shorts and sandals.

He thinks he’s screwed.

He has one bar of cell coverage on his phone. He calls his wife. She calls the Sheriff. Placer County Search & Rescue rolls out their snow cat and goes up to rescue him. He asks about getting his Sprinter van out. They tell him it might be there until spring. They take him down the hill without his van.

He calls around and gets Nick of the Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s. Nick has a rescue service when he’s not engineering something or racing the Baja 100, literally. Nick was instrumental in recovering “Glacier Girl” which was buried under eight feet of snow some years ago.

The guy thought he was prepared. He had the traction block, tracks, boards things. The problem was that they were mounted UNDER the rig. Hard to get to with three feet of snow all around.

Nick was the hero again. It took some work. The Sprinter is only 4wd if the rear axle starts to slip. Nick had to literally pull the van DOWN the hill the snow was so thick even after it was packed down by the snow cat.

This should be a lesson to everyone. Check the weather before you travel.

Be safe, don’t be this guy.

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Rubicon Ronin


The Rubicon is WET!

A small group of Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s and a few others, ventured out on to the Rubicon last weekend (5/15-16) and it was still very wet. Our objective was make sure the Long Lake Trail, at the base of Cadillac Hill, was clear of dead fall and was safe to travel. It’s now clear. Please remember the trail ends at the 0.91 mile mark from the Rubicon and that camp ground is NOT a drive through loop.

So, yes, we are at the height of the snow melt. But with the amount of water on the trail, we need to Tread Lightly!

The word from those who are supposed to be maintaining the trail is that no work will be done on the Tahoe National Forest this year (2021) to prevent future water holes on the trial. The 2021 focus will be paving the staging area and rebuilding the rolling dips within the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.

On the way out, we documented the current trail conditions.

There were a few spots that we had to drive over snow. One spot was a large berm in a pool of water. A couple of people with a few shovels and it could be knocked down rather quickly.

Again, please Tread Lightly!

Stay on the trail.

Drive slowly through all water.

Be safe.

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Rubicon Ronin


Rubicon Staging Area Work Has Started

There was meeting yesterday with El Dorado County, Placer County Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and CA State Parks. Also in attendance were representatives from the Rubicon Trail Foundation and of course me.

The plan was to meet at the Placer County building in Tahoe City and talk about the winter snow berm, possible winter parking and work to be done at the staging area. Well, the invite list got so large that the meeting was moved to the Tahoma staging area. Outside and Covid-19 safe.

I was surprised to see that work had started in the area. Let’s start with the new kiosk. It will be going in just to the left of the current kiosk. The new kiosk will be twice as large as the current sign with the new FS map 4’x8′! You can barely make out the four steel stakes that will outline the concrete footprint of the kiosk base.

Paving the staging area has been in the works for more than five years but until now, always as a plan. Yesterday, it was clear that the FS is going forward with the paving. The trees within the staging area have been cut down and will be available for firewood some time soon.

The trees along the road, between the staging area and the road will remain. The removal of the trees will allow for more parking and make parking and paving a whole lot easier. At this time, there are no plans to paint any parking stripes. The plan is to let the users figure it out.

Right now, the dates for actual paving will be as early as possible next summer (2021). This will depend on the winter snowfall and air temperatures. Access to the Rubicon through the Tahoma staging area will be closed for a few days due to paving. Access to the Rubicon will be available through Blackwood Canyon.

The parking area might expand a small bit as a result of this work. The Rubicon itself will be paved all the way up to where the current kiosk stands. So that ever present hole at the end of the pavement will be gone. Other improvements will include picnic tables in the grassy area behind the bathrooms. El Dorado County and their grant work is also a part of the funding for the paving.

Winter parking was briefly discussed as a future project with no current plans to move it forward. The idea floated was to pave the quad rental parking area and to plow the trail in to that point. Again, there are no plans to make this happen, it was just talked about.

The real reason for the meeting was to discuss the snow berm that builds up at the entrance due to plowing the residential neighborhood. I have personally been at this fight for more than five years, closer to six.

Here is a map of the intersection in question. I left several of these with Peter Kraatz of Placer County.

This is how the intersection typically looks in the winter. The “Rubicon” is the fourth leg of the intersection not really show here as most people find it this way in winter.

Explaining my markings: the yellow curves show the ditch to the north of the Rubicon trail, the red arrow shows how users accessed the trail last winter as Placer plow crews pushed snow from the intersection to the southwest corner of Evergreen and the Rubicon, the red triangles represents the snow in the intersection, the green arrows are where I’m suggesting Placer puts that snow.

The next image actually shows the Rubicon. The orange dots are suggested snow stakes so the users know the best direction to access the Rubicon to stay on the pavement and out of the ditch.

We are not asking Placer to plow the Rubicon Trail nor are we asking for parking along Evergreen. We just don’t want Placer piling snow on the west side that blocks access to the Rubicon Trail.

No firm dates for the next step. Placer County is working on a public meeting to discuss the issue. Hopefully in November.

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Rubicon Ronin