We just got through a series of major storms. Honestly, the biggest of the season. The summits got more than six feet of snow. The Homewood Mountain Resort claims about five feet over the last the last week. That means the Rubicon is buried.
So, I drove past Monday (March 5th) and took a few pictures of the entrance. I was up there just before the storms and took some to compare:
Last Monday the 26th: really no berm to speak of…
Again, this was before the storm just 100 yards up the trail:
After the latest storms: now the neighborhood probably got two feet of snow but notice the snow is piled higher than my six foot tall truck.
Compare that to berms around the neighborhood, maybe three feet tall. I have already sent an email to Placer County letting them know this is unacceptable (dumping snow on a county right of way) and that although the County probably didn’t do it, they need to remove it as they would a load of rock dropped on any county road. Don’t hold your breath.
Looking over the berm, where no motor vehicle has driven, yet; it looks like a good place for a fun day of snow play.
The berm will need to be taken down. Right now you could get a quad or snowmobile through the slot but not much else.
Let me get on my safety soap box…
I can’t say it enough but travel prepared. Figure something will go wrong and you have to spend the night, or two. Have food, water, clothing and shelter for multiple people and many nights.
Believe it or not, some people still don’t get it.
(Photo stolen from a post on Pirate4x4 by “The Fixxer”.)
This rig has been stuck on the trail for a few weeks now. It’s just east of Miller Lake at the water hole. There was room to go around but not much. Now think about this with 4-5 feet of snow burying it.
You might be wheeling along just fine and not realize the rig is underneath you. Honestly, it’s probably still visible but there is a greater chance of sliding in to it if you try and go around.
Some fellow Hi-Lo’s are reaching out to the authorities and the owner to see if we can help get the rig out or at least off to the side for the safe passage of others.
I’ll keep you posted.
So it’s been a mild winter. No where near what we all experienced last winter.
Yesterday, I ventured out to the staging area. The residential area has yet to have enough snow to bring any plowing issues but I’m keeping an eye on it.
The road in is both icy and down to the pavement depending on tree cover. Here is a shot of the bridge over McKinney Creek just before the staging area. Not enough snow so that you’d slip off the bridge.
Here is the view from the bottom of the first climb just past the staging area. It looks innocent enough. Hard packed snow with no signs of ice.
But just up around the corner, there is ice under the thin layer of snow. I was in my pick-up, alone, without a winch, sliding all over the place. So, I very carefully backed down the hill. With better tires and friends to encourage me I think I could have made it.
Last week, John Briggs and Dean Anderson (both of the Tahoe Donner 4wd Club) made it out to Observation. Here is a shot of Miller Lake.
Here is a shot of one of the last climbs before getting to Observation. It’s got a good west facing slope so the snow wasn’t too bad.
The unusual poser shot at Observation (looking the wrong way).
And the traditional poser shot at Observation, with the sun behind them washing out the shot.
Snow is forecast for Sunday and Monday (18th and 19t). Only five inches or so but should be enough to eliminate the ice issue and make for a nice day of wheeling on Tuesday. More snow next Friday so the weekends might not be the best time to go play.
Remember to go prepared. Bring enough gear to spend the night if something goes wrong: think food, water, shelter, heat, communications, etc, Always carry some kind of saw. Even if you wheel out without issue, you might encounter a tree across the trail on your way back. That’s where my “Turn Around, Don’t Go Around” catch phrase doesn’t really work. You’ll need to get home. A hand saw and a winch can move big trees, especially on the snow.
Please remember that at this time, all side trails off the Rubicon are seasonally closed. Just because there is not a gate does not mean the trail is open.
The first side trail to open is the Richardson Lake Trail on April 1st.
On my way to the annual Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s Christmas Party, I drove by the Rubicon trailhead. It was a little sloppy at the staging area with more than eight inches of slop.
Rain is expected over the next few days, so it’s going to get worse. Imagine this mess freezing up. The temperatures will drop below freezing over night this week but they warm up to the 40’s during the day.
Next weekend the temperatures drop dramatically. We’re talking single digits. Go prepared. And don’t go alone.
The deepest spot was over the bridge, maybe ten inches. With no ground warming, it just doesn’t melt. Be careful crossing the bridge as the ‘sides’ are only eight inches tall. If there is a crown to the snow, you may slide off the side. If you’re concerned about sliding sideways, dig two grooves/ruts to prevent sliding.
If you’re feeling like it’s too sloppy, you’re being a whimp. Theses two vehicle were parked along the trail and should have no problem getting out.
Weather conditions can change quickly. Always be prepared to spend the night in case of a breakdown. Tent, sleeping bags, winter clothing, water, food, change of clothes, warm snow boots, etc. Prepare for the worst case. You don’t want to be that guy.
The ham repeater system is in place year round. (Thank you RTF and Dennis Mayer!) Carry a radio in case of trouble as cell phones do not work out there. Tell several people where you are going and when you will return.
The side trails in the Eldorado and the Basin are closed. The Tahoe side trails close January 1st. I would suggest staying on the Rubicon at this time of year. That is because the side trails are narrow and off-camber and you could windup in the trees in the blink of an eye. Trust me, you’ll have plenty of fun on the main trail.
Please stay on the trail. Over the snow travel is not permitted for wheeled vehicles. Snowmobiles can go over the snow but don’t follow their tracks in your 4×4.
Get out there and do some snow wheeling but Tread Lightly! and be safe.