Rubicon Trip, July 2003

Ru·bi·con       n.

1.  A limit that when passed or exceeded permits of no return and typically results in irrevocable commitment.

2.   A small river which separated Italy from Cisalpine Gaul, the province allotted to Julius Caesar. By leading an army across this river, contrary to the prohibition of the civil government at Rome, Caesar precipitated the civil war which resulted in the death of Pompey and the overthrow of the senate; hence, the phrase to pass or cross the Rubicon signifies to take the decisive step by which one is committed to a hazardous enterprise from which there is no retreat.

These are some photos from a trip to the Rubicon. We were on the trail July 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17. Our group had 4 Jeeps:

Dan Williams - 1951 Flatfender

Jim Williams & Jim's niece Hanna - 1980 CJ-5

Dale Mosby & Mary Jo Mosby - 1993 YJ

Todd Brooks - 1999 TJ

We camped the 12th a bit past Ice House before the start of the trail. We arrived at Spider Lake the 13th and spent two nights there. We arrived at Buck Island Lake the 15th and spent two nights there We arrived at Rubicon springs around noon on the 17th and visited with the caretaker there for a bit. We rolled into the Tahoe rim area late afternoon on the 17th. I strongly recommend driving the trail with a couple days in one spot as we did the trip. The lakes are quite scenic with some nice falls at Buck Island. That is an easy hike and well worth seeing.

Lockers seem like a necessity. With lots of rock stacking and/or strapping you might drive the trail without lockers but that would be lots of work. We stopped for some spotting (thanks Jim & Todd) in a few places, but for the most part you just have to drive the trail and only stop to spot at the more difficult obstacles. We didn't do any strapping or winching other that one spot where we pulled Dan back to level ground for an easier engine start (and to reduce the excitement of a nose down decent). I don't think driving speed is ever faster than walking pace until you approach Rubicon Springs. The trail is tough, no doubt about that. Unlike Moab, where your tires stick to the rocks so well you can darn near drive straight up the side of a vertical face, the Rubicon rock is pretty smooth and has a nice coating of dirt to further reduce traction. It is often hard to keep tires where you would like them.

Protect your food from bears. We didn't think about that and lost a bag of marshmallows, box of graham crackers, and back of chocolate chip cookies to a bear at Spider Lake. Todd woke up and scared him off before we lost more food. (Had Todd not survived that encounter I would be praising him even more for that deed.) Bring mosquito repellent for this trip. There was an hour or so each day where they appeared at Spider Lake and two or three hours at Buck Island each day where they were really thick.   Photos on this page thanks to Mary Jo.

Jim carefully centers a tire as he works his way up "Gatekeeper" entering the trail while Jim's niece, Hannah, checks tire position on the right.
Dan gets a back tire in the air.
"Rock? Was there a rock in front of me?"

Todd reconsiders a second run at this with the tires on the rock.

Jim crawls over a rock pile on the way to Spider Lake.
Todd easily navigates a rock on the trail.
Interesting rock formations.
Jim ascends a rock-strewn road on the way to Spider Lake.
Dale descends the trail into Spider Lake. Jim has his thumb out looking for a ride. Or was that a suggestion on turning the tires?
Dale on the drive into Spider Lake.
Todd enjoys a warm afternoon in the cool water at Spider Lake.
A Spider Lake resident comes to see if Mary Jo is willing to part with some food (yes).
Dale on the trail out of Spider Lake.
Dan on the route to Buck Island Lake.
Buck Island  Lake.
Buck Island Lake.
Some of the many cascading falls on the stream feeding Buck Island Lake. The easy hike up this stream is rewarding with beautiful views and cool water.
One of the many deep clear pools above Buck Island Lake.
Jim and Dale try and keep Dan's rig on the ground while Todd repositions his rig for another pull with the winch. That first line down the hill was getting a bit unstable.

Dan and and Jim had many discussions about the best method of converting this rig to fuel injection. The float wasn't too happy about going nose down.

Dale on the trail out of Buck Island Lake.
Rubicon Springs Bridge. Good thing there wasn't a three Jeep weight limit.
Observation Point. Left to Right: Jim, Hannah, Dan, Todd, Mary Jo, Dale.

This was a pretty easy-going group. Todd demonstrated just how unflappable he is when he rolled out his sleeping bag at a rest area on the drive down and found out (at 2 AM) that the place had automatic sprinklers. No complaints. His new air mattress sprang a leak on the second night out. Still no complaints. We had a fairly uneventful trip. No rig damage though we came prepared with lots of spare parts and tools. Jim did a bit of welding on a Cherokee we met at Buck Island Lake. Jim shared his on-board shower at Spider Lake and that was a welcome accessory.

As our group was made up of amateur radio operators (Jim - W2JEP, Dan - KD7LTV, Todd - KD7OSZ, Mary Jo - KB7NJE, Dale - K7FW). We used the national calling frequency of 146.52 for our communications. At a couple points on the trail when we were high I heard some other activity but for the most part it was quiet. Repeaters can be difficult to hit. I used 147.15 (tone of 123.0) from Buck Island Lake. That is located on Tahoe at Incline Village and linked to another repeater from information I was given. A friend near Carson City in Nevada and I were able to communicate using that repeater. I could not hit that from Rubicon Springs but was able to hit 147.195 (tone 123.0) at Rubicon Springs.

The round trip drive for this adventure was 1453 miles. That is a lot in a Jeep built for the trail, and it was quite hot both down and back. Todd and I drove our Jeeps, Jim and Dan hauled their Jeeps by trailer. Mary Jo and I spent a couple days in Nevada with a friend after the trip and then took a more scenic route home than the I-5 route we drove down.

This was a great group for such an outing. A big thanks to all for great company.