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On The Trail! with Tim Tackett North Coast Off Road

Rubicon Adventuress with NCO

 

The group consisted of 16 vehicles including the two from Calmini.  There were two Kick/Trackers, thirteen Samurais, and a second generation Isuzu Amigo.  The trucks ranged from a basic Samurai Hardtop with moderate tires, lockers and a diesel, to the Coal Mole owned by Junior, and the infamous Wedgee owned by Eric Bewley , both from ZukiWorld which helped organize the event.

With garbage bags hung with care from the spare tires of several Samurais, the group left Loon Lake around 10 AM.  Proceeding at a leisurely pace to get everyone familiar with the terrain, it was off to Spider Lake.  Steve told me that as soon as we hit the trail, we would come to the first major obstacle that would quickly weed out any vehicles unprepared for the Con.  The trail narrowed right away, and directly in front of us was a twisting winding section strewn with huge boulders that each vehicle had to negotiate to be able to proceed up to Spider Lake and the Little Sluice. 

The new Calmini Sidekick surprised everyone with its ability to climb right over stuff I never would have dreamed possible for a well equipped Samurai, much less a Kick!

Steve made full use of the extra low crawl of the new TCase, and I quickly received a first hand lesson in the importance of a low crawl speed.  We made full use of the underbody skid plates and the Side Rockers, letting them absorb the punishment instead of the vehicle.

Once we cleared the obstacle, we stopped and walked back to help spot the other vehicles that needed it, and to start snapping pictures of the action. From time to time, Steve pointed out several obstacles that were strategically placed in the trail to make the wheeling far more difficult.  He called them Pirate Rocks, which were placed by the Pirates of the Rubicon, a local group which helps maintain the trail along with throwing in a few surprises to make the trail a little different for repeat travelers. 

Spider Lake is formed right in the ridge top, almost as if someone scooped out the rock.  Very peaceful with REALLY cold water.

The group unloaded their gear and several made their way down the hill to the Little Sluice. I couldnt believe the size of the boulders lining this short groove which was cut right into solid Granite. I was even more surprised when Junior and Jessica James drove off into this groove to try their skills at some extreme rock crawling.  To make matters more difficult, the Pirates of the Rubicon had recently pulled several VERY large boulders down into the narrow section of the crevice.

Junior made the first run, and even as flexy as the coil rig was, it was apparent that only a perfect line was going to allow success.   Several times it appeared that the big rig was going to turn on its side, but quick action by the spotters prevented that.  After several tries, Junior made it over and out.

Next it was Jessicas turn, and even though she tried numerous times to find the right line, eventually over she went.

 She was fine, a little body damage to the Zuk, and with a quick pull with a winch strap from the side, and she was on all four tires again.  She kept at it, and finally got the line and made it through.  Brian from Washington State was ready to make an attempt, but Junior had already left to start the Meatball Sub and Salad dinner provided by Calmini, and everyone wanted to be where he was, near the food!  With the spotters taking flight for a Sub and a beer, Brian decided it was a little risky without the proper support personnel around, so he pulled up and out of the crevice, and gave me a lift back to the FOOD!

With the sun heading down, and full stomachs, the attention turned to a roaring campfire; some well deserved liquid refreshment, and a lot of good-natured BSn.  I must say that I was a little unnerved later by an ungodly sound coming from near Skys tent, until he pointed out that the noise was Eric Bewely and his world-renowned snoring!  I guess we didnt have to worry about any bears coming around with all that racket!

 

The next morning, everyone was up bright an early for a little breakfast and to break camp for the days run.  For some reason, lots of coffee was brewing.  Steve took a few minutes to check out Mike Woods second generation Amigo, and the mods Mike had performed prior to the run.  Mike had designed and installed an IFS lift and a cargo rack, as well as several other modifications.

 

Leaving Spider Lake, the trail once again picked up where it had left off, with some off camber challenges requiring a bit of Human ballast, leading to the descent down the mountain towards Buck Island Lake and a planned stop for lunch.  There were two trails leading down the mountain, a more direct descent providing more of a challenge to the extreme vehicles on the trip, and a slightly longer but less radical terrain for the rest of the group.  Just prior to the split in the trail, the Coal Mole had one of its Boggers slide sideways off the edge of a depression, which led to a slow but dramatic tip over onto its side.  No one was injured, and the Coal Mole suffered some minor trail rash on the passenger side of the Samurai.

Everyone stopped, and pitched in, and it was soon back on its feet ready to proceed down the trail.

As the other group switched off to proceed down the more difficult trail, the main group paused a bit to take in some of the beautiful mountain scenery, and to snap a few pictures to remember the trip.

 

 

08/11/10 15:37

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