Monday, September 13, 1999
You are beautiful beyond description,
Too marvelous for words;
Too wonderful for comprehension;
Like nothing ever seen or heard.
Little Sluice Box, the "go around" Slab, Buck Island Dam & Lake, Big Sluice Box
Camping Sunday night certainly was a needed rest. Everything was going well - better then anyone was expecting. No serous truck damage; No one got lost around Loon Lake; Nothing forgotten; No bug problems; Not much traffic on the trail; Looks like our first day has been successful! Now for a new day.
Early sunrise on a clear morning awoke many of us around 6:00am. By 7:00 most were just about ready for the trail - packed up and had eaten a quick bite.
The Little Sluice Box
Following yesterday's scouting of Little Sluice, much discussion around the camp fire was made to do the by-pass on Little Sluice. No doubt a couple of trucks would have attempted it; a few including me (WildHorses) concluded we needed our trucks to drive 800+ miles back to Seattle. Others just wanted to start early Monday morning for Rubicon Springs and not be delayed "possibly hours" by the attempts on Little Sluice. We missed the challenge, but looking at our progress that day it was smart we didn't spend the time.
Before reaching the Little Sluice Box entrance or by-pass granite slab, the Rubicon takes us along some rocky and at times steep drops of trail.
The Little Sluice Box by-pass in off the left side up a hugh granite slab and in all directions! Our choice for the line was not easy. A rock face drop, some 20 feet into the bottom then immediately back up and over a ledge climbing some 20 feet on granite face. Nice by-pass and great for pictures.
By not doing the Little Sluice Box, our entire group had other challenges to face. A significant vertical drop down either granite and rocks or dirt and rocks was required. Either way, the drop was steep and from the approach angle somewhat difficult to make.
Beyond the By-Pass and before Buck Island Lake
The Rubicon never eases up much. From clearing one difficult section of trail, just around the corner is another! Each mile is filled with breathtaking beauty, views of valleys and distant mountains on the horizon, and at times, mouintain lakes in-between. Never a dull moment for us.
Just at the bottom of the rocky trail dropping a few feet, another more difficult section of trail opens up! A common practice on Rubicon appears to be individual vehicles are carried along in a larger group - such as ours. At the Little Sluice Box by-pass, we picked up another Joe. "M38 Joe". Him and the passenger were driving a nicely equipped military vehicle with paint and spec sheets to boot.
Buck Island Lake
Toyota Joe, Joe Coppick, Berne, Eric all take the more difficult rocks up and over. Rade, Keith, and Jamie opt for the alternate route which - again isn't easy either. Now the trail opens up some and as it drops into Buck Island Lake, runs down a granite slab - off camber but more easy and time / distance is improved from the morning two miles in five hours.
Joe Coppick blew out a side wall (BFG Mud Terrains) on this section of trail halfway down. We said "Hi" as the slower folks passed him on down the granite trail. He caught up with us at Buck Island Lake for lunch.
Lunch at the lake ended up being a nice stopping place. Many of us found a remote area of rock to cliff dive 10-15 feet into the lake. The cool water and warm sun quickly refreshed us. Everyone was now ready for the Big Sluice - true Sluice Box! The Big Sluice --- one mile of down hill with plenty of rocks - more ROCKS.
True Big Sluice
Around Buck Island Lake and down a few tight switch backs drops us smack into the entrance of Big Sluice. Guess what was plentiful in Big Sluice.... rocks - mostly very big ROCKS. The start has a difficult rocky approach into a left corner then drop down five feet off a few hugh rocks. Awesome!
Following the entrance to Big Sluice the trail dishes out a serious rocky maneuver and drop down over big boulders. There are NO BY-PASSES around this stuff Rade and Keith! They really were looking worried about body damage to their "perfect" Bronco panels now. The Bronco "rocker panel guards" proved there value in this section as well.
Getting Berne fixed up with the blowen tire bead; Jamie, Rade, and Keith down through rocks without body damage had taken us a very long time - we were now pushing 5:45pm and not clear of Big Sluice yet. Oh... and a thunderstorm was rolling in upon us! The rain began to fall just as Keith was clearing the most difficult rocky section. Enought rain fell on the trail to keep dust down and the rocks slippery. Moving was slowed up a bit now. Toyota Joe leading the way to Rubicon Springs was determined to find just how far down was camp; We pushed on down while Joe found camp and radioed back we were within a 1/2 mile!
That .5 mile was not easy. What should we have expected - it's the Rubicon. Everyone was moving as quickly as possible to reach camp before dark but we were tired. The rocks were tiring for Eric and Rade/Keith in their "stock" Broncos w/33" tires and no lift were moving extra slow.
Rubicon Springs famous Bridge
Making it to the Rubicon Spring's bridge is a nice surprise. This indicates we are entering Rubicon Springs Campground area - "just a little mud hole" to cross before camp is reached. That mud hole - in the dark took us 1.5 hours to cross (and we didn't see or know of a by-pass around the mud hole). Rade following vague directions from the two Joes, hit a deep section and couple rocks grabbed the rear differential - stopped. After a few minutes, updates on the route, and attempts to backup, Rade was able to continue using another route through. Reaching camp and the fire Toyota Joe got started was now nearing 9:00pm (or somewhere around there; it was dark and we were all very tired!!).
Tuesday - the Mud Hole, Rubicon Springs, Cadillac Hill, the "V" Rock
Miscellaneous - Lake Tahoe, Packing up
Introduction to Rubicon - Planning, Fuel Stops, Loon Lake Campground
Saturday - Wentworth Springs, Post Pile & Granite Slab
Sunday - Grante Slab, Ellis Creek, Walker's Rock, Spider Lake