Trip Reports

Hollister Hills
Trip Date: December 4th, 2016
Author: Michael Westley

Trip Report
December 4, 2016
Hollister Hills
Mike Westley

What began as my asking on the email distribution list if any one wanted to go wheeling at Hollister Hills (HH) on Sunday, December 4 turned into quite a group of about 12 club vehicles. We met at the HH obstacle course bathrooms around 10am and slowly moved toward the obstacle course. While all of us used the time to practice, some more adventurous waded through the muddy water sloughs, and up/over large rockpiles. After moving on to the ravine and playing in and around there we headed up Fremont road, and more up, to the top for a great “view lot” for our lunch break. After lunch we were headed back down toward the quarry for what I thought would be a quick end to the day. But that was not to be. One of our club jeeps negotiating a large rock on the passenger side with the slope falling away to the driver side, sort of “fell over” settling gently onto its driver side. Fortunately the only “body” damage was to the jeep. Being a perspective member I got a great opportunity to see club members come together with gear, winches, and unlimited advice ultimately getting this jeep up, four tires on the ground and drivable to home. I thought this would be a fun run, little did I know I would also get a first hand winch recovery experience. With all up and going, we headed down to air up and home to end great day. Thanks to all club members who welcomed me and helped make this a really fun day. By the way, what is that “cow bell” thing any way? Did anyone earn the “cow bell” today?

Mike Westley
Perspective Member

Summer Campout 2016
Trip Date: July 16th, 2016
Author: Richard J. Adams

Story:
I sailed up to Huntington Lake, Rancheria campground some time Friday afternoon to meet up with those Esprit De Fours folk who were still around the campground or pulling in for the three day weekend, like I was. Tent assembled I went around to see who was in, but found only John Ruiz and his family - others had been out on an overnight trek.

Another glorious weekend of camping, wheeling, exploring in God’s country - that is, the country we haven’t flattened for a freeway or turned into exclusive housing for the few. I never sleep this good at home. Must be all that good mountain air.

Saturday morning I got a quick breakfast out of the way and it was time to saddle up and run down to China Peak for some group photos and to get everyone together. Big Mike had plotted out the days course and he did a great job. We then headed on to Tamarack Sno Park for that last rest stop and to air down. I ran 18 lbs, as I usually do. It’s good having the compressor on the rig, but I still need to get it mounted. Trail order was established and then we were off down Rock Creek Road. Shane Ruiz rode shotgun with me.

A few fits and starts before we were all on the way, but away we were. Early trail was mostly pave with a few potholes and plenty of dust. The word came over the radio the Jeep in front of me had some clunking going on up front and we paused while some loose hardware was replaced. It’s a pretty good idea to carry not only tools, but an assortment of nuts and bolts for the trail - I’ll need to stock up on some and add them to my trail kit.

The ride up to Bald Mountain was fairly easy and the weather could not have been better - clear views everywhere. I scrambled off to find a Geocache and then took several panoramic shots of the rigs as well as most of the party in the rebuilt lookout tower.

After the lookout we headed off to find a good spot for lunch with some shade. Another minor mechanical was taken care of on John’s JKU when some plastic doo-dad on the transfer case shifter. Someone’s ready supply of zip-ties got us going again. Shane gave up shotgun and camera duties with me to ride with someone else the rest of the way. The only real test of the day for me was near the end as we crawled down a steep and bumpy descent - a camera on the front would not go amiss there. I kept it in lowest gear and crawled down slowly with only a couple scuffs and one bump.

After the fun descent it was off to Dinkey Creek Road where a few would continue on to some further trail riding while others, myself among them, would take Dinkey Creek Road back to Shaver Lake, airing up and then rolling back to Rancheria.

After returning to camp and checking everything was still good under the Jeep I headed up to Kaiser Pass for a look see. Very nice up there and I’d head further east, out to Florence Lake on the single lane road on Sunday before heading home. Great trip and great people to hang out with for a weekend. Thanks again to Big Mike!

Original Post: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=3451406

Summer Campout 2016
Trip Date: July 12th, 2016
Author: Arline Barr

I couldn’t have wished for a better campout. The Rancheria Campground has been remodeled a few years ago into a gem. The spaces are very large and spread out more than I’ve ever experienced. Unlike a lot of camp grounds, it was amazingly quiet. Ahhhhh. The weather was perfect; warm but not too hot.

Connie and I hung out on Friday, watching the helicopters bucket water out of Huntington Lake for the fire on Auberry Road, not that far from the campground.I did not go on the Swamp Lake or Coyote Lake runs, but I did do the Bald Mountain run on Saturday. As a newbie, parts were harder than I have done in the past, but I had an absolute blast. Connie was by passenger and a real pro. She helped me so much and I thank her and all the members on the run. We had a nice lunch along the trail after summiting. Amazing views of Shaver Lake and the surrounding area. Some of the group continued on, but we went back to camp and rested up for a delicious pot luck (thanks to everyone for the contributions).

I am so glad I went and can’t wait for the next outing. Hope to see you all at Oktoberfest.

May 2016 Safety Clinic
Trip Date: May 21st, 2016
Author: Arline Barr

Trip Report – Safety Clinic May 2016

I attended my first Club Safety Clinic this past weekend and had the time of my life.

Starting out I was way out of my comfort level to say the least. Through the sign-in process, meeting & chatting with club members & other students in my group was wonderful.

We had a very informative class room session with “the pros” of the club. Lots of questions from students that cleared up numerous questions that I had. We then headed back to “base camp” for lunch and then onto the trails. (I had an opportunity to go out on the blue trail Friday while trail bosses placed directional signs for the actual class on Saturday. So I felt very lucky.)

The class and the instructions we received during the clinic are invaluable. I can’t say enough about the club members’ knowledge & experiences.

And of course I had one of the most fun weekends in my life. Looking forward to trying out all my new knowledge.

Prospective Member
Arline Abarr

Moab
Trip Date: March 26th, 2016
Author: Connie Wilson

Our first trip to Moab Utah!

I’ve been wanting to attend EJS for a few years and with it being the 50th Anniversary I figured “Let’s go!”

My good friend PL and I left Fremont on Wednesday the 26th and drove to St. George UT. (Thank you Andy for the suggestion to stop over there.) We continued towards Moab on Thursday morning. Patti & Chris had mentioned a German Bakery/Deli in Tehachapi so we headed there for lunch. I had my tastebuds all ready for Bockwurst, Bratwurst or Liverwurst sandwich. They offer Tuna, Turkey, Black Forrest Ham & Roast Beef. They did have a predesigned Pastrami. I opted for that and it was really good. PL had the Bierocks (German Meat Turnover) which was also good.

Since neither of us had been to Arches National Park, and would come across that entrance just before Moab, we decided to visit it first. What beautiful country! it’s challenging knowing what area to be in during what time of day in order to get the best lighting for pictures. We didn’t do to badly considering the late afternoon arrival time.

Got into Moab around 7:00pm and was amazed at all the different Jeeps in town. Wow! We headed to the Old Spanish Arena to pick up our registration package where we discovered even MORE Jeeps. I wish I could have stopped and looked at each one more closely. I mean, where else can you see all the different aftermarket solutions mounted on Jeeps?

We were staying at the Hampton Inn. One thing I’ve never had to think about when staying at a hotel is parking. They were very organized and luckily we found hotel parking every night despite many people with: a truck, a trailer and a Jeep taking up 3 spots.

Copper Ridge was supposed to be our Friday Trail, however I had heard from Loro & Anton who ran it the day before, that there were a number of off camber steep ledges with loose rock. Considering they were in a lifted JK Unlimited with 35” tires, and mine is stock, we opted to visit Canyonlands National Park instead. We had never been there before.

Off to Canyonlands we went. Another amazing National Park with beautiful scenery. We drove through all the regular paved roads, stopped at just about every look out and even hiked a couple of short trails.

Afterwards we made our way back to the Old Spanish Area to look at the vendor booths, grab our Boy Scout BBQ and hang out for the raffle. I didn’t realize that the Vendor Expo was ending Friday at 6:30, and when we arrived around 4:30 a lot of them were in the process of packing up or had already packed up and left.

As we wondered around I spotted Ole & MichaelC up in the bleachers talking, and I waved. After we picked up our BBQ dinners we headed back over to that area and sat with Ole & Sherri. After a while MichaelC, TomV & JasonG showed up too. It was nice being with people I knew. I had tried to meet up with Loro & Anton but due to differing trail schedules and my getting tired and ending the days early, we missed them.

Amazingly I didn’t win a thing at the raffle. Yes JimO it’s true! I guess Winter Fun Fest is the Raffle Winning Vortex for me. 8-)

Big Saturday is the “Parade Day” for everyone. We were signed up for Chicken Corners and lined up at 8:00am, with our official Pink Flag on the CB antenna, in downtown Moab across the street from the Visitor Center. Once again it was great watching all the Jeeps getting ready.

I think we were the first group to head out and made an immediate right hand turn off of Main Street. So we’re probably not in any official videos.

It was a 21 mile run that would take 6 hours. We had about 29 Jeeps and 1 Toyota FJ. The Toyota had a pitbull that always growled at the five other Trail Dogs. Fortunately those five never paid any attention to the pit.

Our Trail Leader was Guy Brown, Mid Gunner Matt (sorry I missed his last name) and Tail Gunner Bob Humphreys. Their CBs were set up nicely and we could heard their narrations clearly as we made our way through the canyons and open spaces. The trail started out as asphalt but quickly became dirt, sand, rocks and a few short ledges. We didn’t really kick up much in the way of dirt/dust clouds as we meandered at a peaceful pace.

We stopped for lunch right after passing through Chicken Corners. There is a nice big area where we could put the vehicles in a circle and break out the food, camp chairs and chat with the others.

The return trip was on the same trail and as always it affords different lighting and views. More great scenery.

Patti had also mentioned the Sunset Grill so we drove up there but it was too early and they weren’t open yet. We remembered that Sherri had mentioned the Moab Grill, so we went back down the road and had dinner there. Great service and food.

Sunday we left about 9:00am and had planned to drive to Bakersfield CA. On road trips that take two days of driving I tend to prefer driving most of it the first day, making a shorter second day (4 hours). We anticipated 10 hours. I learned something new. There is a MASS EXODUS from Las Vegas on Sunday afternoons! Holy Smokes. It took us 10 hours to get from Moab to Barstow. Making Sundays driving a 14 hour trip to Bakersfield.

Monday we headed North on Highway 5 and were commenting on how SMOOTH the highways in Utah are compared to California. One more plus when scoping out a retirement place, eh?

On this trip we learned a lot about attending EJS and will definitely make a few scheduling changes for the next time. I hope to be able to get more time off work next year so that it’s not such a short stay. I’d like to do more of the scenic trails in the area AND see the Vendor Expo in full swing.

Wishing you all safe travels!
Connie
1980 CJ7 / 2015 JKU Rubicon
.

Death Valley
Trip Date: March 25th, 2016
Author: Vidas Mickevicius

Death Valley Trip March 25-28, 2016
Fremont -Trona Pinnacles-Ballarat-Goler Wash-Mengel Pass-Badwater-Stovepipe Wells-Panamint Springs-Saline Valley-Warm Springs-Steele Pass-Eureka Dunes-Big Pine-Fremont
RT via Trona Pinnacles: https://goo.gl/maps/8xF892p3HV82

Participants
• Detlef and Ursula Mews:
• Dave (Detlef’s friend)
• Jeff Bloxham (Greg’s friend)
• Andy Mendonca (Greg’s friend)
• Serg Kronrod (Greg’s friend)
• Greg Youree:
• Vidas and Jessie Mickevicius:

We met Detlef and Ursula in Pleasanton on Friday (March 25) at 8am, had coffee and breakfast in Starbucks and hit the road before 9am. We stopped for lunch and delicious peach/rhubarb (or cherry) pies at Murray Family Farms (https://murrayfamilyfarms.com/). Refilled gas in Ridgecrest and arrived to our first night camping at Trona Pinnacles (http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/ridgecrest/trona.html) before 5pm. We just selected our campsite when Greg, Jeff and Andy arrived. After dark Dave arrived; Detlef had to pick him up at the entrance. We shared stories by the campfire.

March 26 we left as planned at 8am, topped off gas in Trona and headed to Ballarat. At Ballarat we aired down, fixed recurring GPS problems and turned north on Wingate Rd. toward Goler Wash. Along the way we passed by C.R. Briggs mine – in 1990s one of 5 top producers of gold in California. Goler Wash was much easier than the last time I drove there: dry waterfalls were covered with gravel and did not require even 4WD. Our first stop was Barker Ranch, where Charles Manson and his gang were hiding and ultimately captured. The main building of Baker Ranch burned in 2009 – only foundations remain.

After short stop we headed to Mengel Pass. Ascent presented no problems. We made a photo stop on the pass (Carl Mengel’s ashes are buried on the pass named after him) and drove down into Butte Valley. Going down was more challenging – there were some tight rocky spots, but everyone made it with no problems. We ate our lunch by the Geologist Cabin nicely overlooking the landmark Striped Butte. After lunch we drove east through the valley on Warm Springs Rd. We made another stop at Warm Springs Talc Mine Camp. This site has well preserved buildings and even a swimming pool.

We decided to take unpaved West Side Rd. instead of highway going to Furnace Creek. Going 50+mph made us fly over washboard. We refueled in Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells. Camping was planned in Stovepipe Wells or nearby. Although campsites in Stovepipe Wells were available, we conferred and decided to camp at the entrance of Marble and Cottonwood Canyons, about 10 miles from Stovepipe Wells. This short sandy washboard trail was littered with recently broken cars: damaged tires, punctured oil or tranny pan, overheated etc. People underestimate the challenge of driving even on mild off-road with [rental] low suspension car with street tires. In the place we decided to camp there were no fire rings, and campfires were prohibited, so we were sitting by Greg’s portable grill. Everybody was tired but happy with the first day on the trail.

Next morning (March 27) we drove back to Stovepipe Wells and turned west on hwy 190. Past Panamint Springs we turned to Saline Valley Rd., aired down, split into two groups (fast and slow) and after a while descended into Saline Valley. We passed the turnouts to Hidden Valley/Hunter Mountain and Lippincott Mine Rd. and arrived to Saline Valley Hot Springs in early afternoon: http://www.totalescape.com/outside/hotsprings/saline-valley-hot-springs/#.VuEACvkrJMw; http://www.salinevalleyguys.com/

Our two groups reconnected in hot pool at the Palm Spring (middle of three hot springs). After good relaxation and lunch we hit the Steele Pass Rd. This road goes in the wash before ascending to Steele Pass. This winter’s heavy rains changed the location of the drivable route – I was continuously warned by my navigation program that I strayed away from the pre-set route. The entire route was relatively easy driving which Greg made in 2WD. Dedeckera dry waterfalls just before the descent to Eureka Valley presented only moderate challenge but plenty of photo opportunities.

We drove down into Eureka Valley with spectacular views of Eureka Dunes in front of us. Technically our trip was over. We made over 300 miles, most of them off pavement. We had two options: to camp at the dunes or drive to motel at Big Pine. Camping was attractive because Serg had big steaks for dinner, but the wind was strong and would blow sand into our tents. So those of us who camped in tents (Dave, Ursula and Detlef, Jessie and Vidas) decided to go to Big Pine.

On the remaining 10 mile unpaved road we drove wide spread to avoid dust. Jessie and I were on the pavement airing up while waiting on Dave and Detlef. My compressor was on, and I decided to start the engine to help battery. Suddenly dash lights started flashing and engine shut off. The battery went cold dead – there was not enough power even to use CB or HAM radios. I tried to reach Detlef on FRS, but to no avail. Half an hour passed, and Dave and Detlef did not show up. I assumed that something must had happened, but I had no radio connection to them. Then the truck drove by, and we stopped it for jump starting my Jeep. While a driver was positioning his truck, Dave and Detlef arrived. Dave lost his tire on sharp rock, and they replaced it. Now we thanked the driver of the truck and let him go. Dave gave me a jump start, but my Jeep was not holding idle and was shutting off. Detlef detected that the idle cable was loose. He suggested to tension it with some wire or other available stuff, so we manually tensioned the idle cable with a tie. This turned “Check Gauges” light on, but thanks to Detlef, I was able to continue my trip.

It was 8:15pm when we arrived to Big Pine and checked in Bristlecone Pine Motel. All restaurants were already closed on Easter Sunday. We had to microwave remaining camping food in our rooms. My battery did not recover even after hours of driving. I needed a replacement and then take care of the idle problem. Next morning, I got a jump start from Dave – thanks Dave for waking up early!, said farewell to Dave, Ursula and Detlef, and we headed early to Bishop. In NAPA Parts I got replacement Yellow Top, installed it – “Check Gages” light went off, and continued on NB US-395. We got into rain/snow storm couple of times but CA-88 was still open. We were hit by a serious snow storm on the way down to Central Valley, but arrived home without problem. Everybody else going to the bay Area got through CA-88 in the snow storm.

The idle problem fixed itself. Apparently ECU requires battery power to control idle. I am still puzzled how my battery went from full to stone dead in a second. Problems with this battery happened the second time (last time few years ago), so I replaced it. It served me 6 years. My OEM Jeep battery served me 9 years. I used ViewRanger for navigation for the first time. I pre-loaded area maps and created routs on my iPad. However, GPS did not work properly and I had to borrow from Andy (looks like permanently ;-) external Bluetooth-enabled GPS by Dual. This setup worked perfectly. I was happy with ViewRanger, but next time I will preload USGS maps instead of Topo maps with Trails. USGS maps have more details. Should iPad internal GPS work offline without access to network?

The trip was fun. Weather in Death Valley was perfect. No one had serious damage and everybody made home safely. We met new friends. Hopefully some of them will show up at ED4 meeting. Thanks to all participants who joined on a very short notice.

Below is the link to all pictures that Jessie and I took on this trip: https://www.dropbox.com/l/sh/ScChAWELbQq2IQxNkfboHu

Winterfun Fest 2016
Trip Date: January 16th, 2016
Author: Dick Orlando

Well it’s 5:00 AM Saturday morning and Jon and I are back for more fun, snow and ice with just one hour of sleep after completing the Friday night run. In reality we had both only had one hour of sleep in the last 24 since preparing for the trip and leaving from Sunnyvale Friday morning, thank God for Mt. Dew!

Cal 4 Wheel started us off with a breakfast of pancakes and eggs with the rest of the fixings. Fueled up we headed out for the staging area off interstate 80 near the Yuba Gap. Weather this morning varied from light rain, drizzle, and snow flurries to crystal clear. The temperature was hanging around 38 degrees. The snow was much deeper on this run and although our leader Will and his team had compressed the snow on the track the day before the combination of fresh snow overnight and icing made for an exciting run. An important note made by the leader at the start of the trail was that Cal 4 Wheel had received a special permit to make this run as the trial was closed for the year and cautioned everyone to not leave the trail or get so stuck that the road was torn up because it could impact trail use in the future.

We aired down to 10 lbs with my 37” tires and headed out as the 3rd vehicle out of a group of about 36 vehicles. This had to be one of the longest caravans on an adventure that I had been part of. Looking at our leaders (Will’s) tires I thought he was running them flat but he later told us he had a couple of pounds of air in them. He was blazing the trail for us and occasionally had to be pulled or winched back but nothing compared to those behind him that were simply following in his track! By the way even with a partially packed track both vehicles differentials were breaking down the center track. I was getting worn out with the number of times we slid off the track and had to either winch ourselves or the jeep ahead of us out of the drifts which also include the both of us hooked in tandem to get the leader out occasionally! The hardest job has got to be breaking trail and the farther back you are the better packed trail but with it comes all the road rash and holes created by previously stuck vehicles! A CB message was relayed from the back of the group that they were have lots of fun digging out vehicles which resulted in the team getting split up into a few groups. We continued on with blazing the trail.

The snow was like sugar and would not compact so if you slid off the track you continued sinking deeper and making it harder to extract yourself. The three of us in the lead did manage to pass the guys who spent the night camping off the trail and completed about a total of 3 ½ miles and made an elevation of around 6,500 feet before leader decided it was time to turn around. At his point Will turned his Jeep into a snow plow and accomplished the feat of building a turnaround point for the driver ahead of me and myself. It was amazing to watch him go back and forth shaving off up to12 inches of at least a 3 foot snow bank on each pass. This was another action showing that with
little or no air pressure in your tires combined with great skill these Jeeps go just about anywhere in a variety of conditions.

In addition to seeing the advantages that really low air pressure provides I also learned that lockers aren’t always the best option. Will suggested I turn them off and using them more judiciously because he suspected they were grabbing and pulling me off the track. Especially as the run got steeper, icier and was on more of an angle. Eventually I dropped my air pressure to 8lbs and prayed I wouldn’t break a bead. Happy trails everything worked better!

Once we managed a turnaround and were headed down I shifted up to 4 high and with less power to the wheels and lower air pressure had some fun skating down the trail but was able to get back on track whenever we slid to one side.

While we were waiting for other vehicles to be pulled free I looked in my mirror to see Will working through another humongous drift on my side. Up and back he went packing the snow until he was along side. I was checking out the depth of the snow and realized he didn’t have bead lockers on his tires. His explanation was one for the books and if I told you I wouldn’t be believed.

We learned a lot about driving in deep snow and ice on this adventure. If you haven’t made this event in the past I highly recommend doing it next year!

We headed back to the hotel for a quick shower and on to the Fair Grounds for the evening festivities. We started with cocktails, visited with ED4 and other club members and finished with an excellent dinner of steak, baked potato, salad, garlic bread, veggies and desert. At around 9:15 prior to the raffle and the rest of the festivities Jon and I called it a night and headed out for some much needed sleep. This was truly a great adventure and we look forward to next year. Dick

Winterfun Fest Part 1 2016
Trip Date: January 15th, 2016
Author: Dick Orlando

My buddy Jon and I arrived at the Grass Valley Fair Grounds early Friday afternoon and were greeted by a friendly and informative staff for the activities. We checked out the products for sale as well as the numerous items that were available for the secret auction. We walked around the camp grounds and introduced ourselves to several other club members, checked out their vehicles and in general had a good time learning and talking about trails and adventures we had all experienced. Cal 4 Wheel put on a good dinner of pasta, salad, garlic bread, desert, coffee, milk/juice etc. There were games for both adults and kids. I’m happy to report that there were no injuries from all the hip swing and head bobbing to either extricate balls from Kleenex boxes strapped to the back of peoples waists or from the tennis ball hung in panty hose which were slung from the persons head and used to knock over water bottles. With the games complete and stuffed from the meal we were both worn out from laughter and a little lethargic from the meal but rearing to go!

The Friday night run headed out at around 8:30 PM. We started out with around 25 vehicles, aired down after crossing the old trestle bridge of South Fork Yuba River and headed towards Bowman Lake. At this point several of members of the group re-evaluated the time and decided to turnaround since they were going on the Avalanche Express first thing in the morning and it was nearing10:00 PM. Weather for the most part was cold and clear. We went through a couple of old towns of which I believe the 2nd one was Graniteville and by this time the snow drifts left and right were about 3 feet. The track itself had been run by the Mudsuckers earlier and was packed fairly well so the going was pretty good although you could still see differentials knocking down the snow in the center of the track. As the trail conditions started to get rougher the caravan started to stretch out and at this point the leaders found a place for everyone to pull off the road for a little play time while everyone caught up. We saw some impressive driving by our team leader Mike who was ploughing through snow higher than his winch. I had stopped in a drift at one point and Jon and I were discussing options only to hear the shill wine of a freight train (Mike’s Scout) headed towards us. As Mike blasted through the snow bank and pulled alongside me, close enough to kiss and leaning my way, he had a true shit eating grin!!!

A couple of other Mudsucker diehards joined in the fun and eventually buried two vehicles and so a new leader took over and we continued on while a smaller team dealt with extracting the two vehicles.

Eventually at what appeared to be the worst possible place to stall out we couldn’t proceed any further due to the depth of the snow and worse yet it was going to be a hair raiser to get turned around. Up and down the line vehicles were off the road, shovels were being used extensively and then came the winches and tow ropes. I was the 6th vehicle back and it took two of us hooked together to extricate the next vehicle up. We eventually worked out an area to make like a 10 point turn and managed to get 5 of the lead vehicles turned around and headed down hill only to find one of the group having tremendous issues. The driver and his mates were working very hard with shovels to extricate the vehicle and get it back on the trail and then turned around however without, lockers, winch or attach points from which to assist him it was an extremely long process. Eventually caution kind of went to the wind and someone cautiously hooked to his axle and extricated him while also getting him going in the right direction.

Needless to say we headed down the road at which point about half the team pulled off to enjoy a bonfire while the rest of us headed back to Grass Valley. Jon and I got to the hotel at ~3:45AM, hit the sack at 4 and were up at 5:00 AM and on our way to get fuel, breakfast and line up for the 7:00 AM start of the Avalanche Express run. We met some really great people on the run, learned about winching and digging at night all of which left us with some great stories and a wonderful adventure. Dick

Trains, trains, and more trains
Trip Date: December 12th, 2015
Author: Dick Orlando

Trains, trains and more trains both big and small. The South Bay Railroad Museum was a great venue for the Christmas Party. My date and I received a welcome greeting just outside the building from the campfire group responsible for the wonderful turkey and pork dishes. It was a mild evening with no rain and great for outdoor cooking.
Inside the building everyone (approximately 45 people) were met with festive decorations complete with a model train, loud whistle and Christmas music. The set up crew did a great job of decorating and organizing the buffet and dining tables. I especially enjoyed walking around the back of the train museum which contained an elaborate set of train models running through mountain passes, hills, towns and train stations.

The food and camaraderie was similar to my last outing with the team during the October Fest i.e. very enjoyable. It’s always fun hearing and talking about Jeeping adventures and sharing what’s going on in one’s life!

The best part of the evening was the gift exchange! I have never participated in a white elephant gift exchange quite the way the club does it. When Ellen announced during the last club meeting that it would be a good idea to come with tennis shoes and be prepared for a fast and furious gift exchange she wasn’t kidding. Competition for the best wrapped gift was stiff. Congrats to all those who took the time to be so creative. Instructions given, tickets drawn and the gift exchange was off to a mild start. However after about 5 gifts were opened the crowd lost their bashfulness and the stealing began. I counted as many as 7 people running in different directions stealing from one another before the untimely whistle blew. Let me just say the NRA would have been impressed with how many times one of the gifts was stolen from one another. The Battery Booster, Bass Store gift cards, flash lights, knifes wine glasses and yes Blankets were among the most popular gifts to steel. With all the running around I’m happy to report there were no injuries or heart attacks just one heck of a great party!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. Dick

Mojave Road
Trip Date: December 3rd, 2015
Author: Mike Olsen

The group assembled at the Safeway lot in Morgan Hill on Dec 3 at 7:30. At this point, I met Greg Youree, Ursala and Detlef , Jesse and Vidas,
Greg and Tom. We proceeded as a group to Fort Mojave Arizona, travelling through Bakersfield, Tehachapi, and long the Southern edge of the Mojave.

We arrived at Fort Mojave just after dark, and proceeded to gas up at $1.82 a gallon. Here, we met Dave, who drove in from St George Utah to
accompany us on this trip. I stocked the ice chest with ice and food, and we proceeded back out of town to air down at the start of the trail. We then travelled to our first campsite - Balancing Rock. We arrived just a bit before 8:00, and set up camp with another group that was also about to begin the trip across the Mojave road. Elevation 2,560 ft

In the morning, we packed up and were on the road, by 9:00 AM. Our next stop was Fort Piute, where we found petroglyphs amid a amphitheater of barrel cacti. It was at this stop where we last saw the group we shared Balancing Rock with the night before. From this point, we backtracked a bit, then went up a pass(which adjusted both side steps of my truck, and cleaned it’s skid plates), then sidetracked over to a corral at 35.103936N, 115.012715W. We made a brief stop here, took some pictures, and continued on to the penny can and abandoned school bus and car. We stopped at this point also, to look over the vehicles and assess their suitability for repair, then continued on to Rock Springs, where we were met by a Park Ranger, Roland, who has a 3:30PM talk scheduled every Friday.

Along with a surprising knowledge of “Long Hair” contests and the previous employment of President Ford, Roland provided us with a private tour
of the cabin at Rock Springs which had been built by a soldier returning from the First World War, who recovered from chemical gas attack wounds to outlive his prognosis of 5 years to live at the cabin for and additional 27 years. The cabin was then purchased by an artist who lived in it for decades, but has since moved on to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

After leaving Rock Springs, and the first indoor toilet of the trip, we continued on to our next campsite, hitting pavement for the first time
since we left Fort Mojave. We soon left pavement, and hit the second night’s resting place, very close to Marl Springs, on the western edge
of a hillock where we camped for the night(Lat: 35.182116 Lon: -115.613958 ). This night was colder than the first, with the wind a
significant factor in the relative chill. The stars were astounding, with a clear sky and an abundance of stars. The firewood made for a
cheery campfire as the night progressed, with Mogley the adventure dog keeping the troupe entertained.

On awaking, we again broke camp by 9:00AM, and made our way to the actual Marl spring, through the frog/jeep/gnome/… shrines, and then on to the Lava Tubes, and Cinder Cones. We drove up and then climbed down into a lava tube and saw it from the inside. It was probably 30ft from the surface to the bottom of the tube. Leaving the Lava tube, we then made our way back to the Mojave Road, and continued on eating lunch on our way to the Green Mill, where we picked up rocks for the trek across Soda Lake.
This was one of the more discussed portions of the trip, as Soda Lake can become impassible with rains. As it turned out, we had no problem making our way across it, and to Traveller’s Monument, where we dropped of the rocks from the Green Mill and looked out over the expanse of the dry lake.

From this point forward, we were on our way to our night campsite, and made our way along the dry riverbeds to our Afton Canyon campground.
At this point, we had two water fordings to accomplish. On the first fording, I chose a less than perfect line and had to correct as the
front of the truck began to dive into the mud under the railway trestle.
The second fording had a gravel bed, and was less of an issue for me than the first. I think I was alone in this assessment of the fordings,
but all vehicles made both and we continued on to the campground and the final night of the trek.

On the final day, we arose, and again broke camp before 9:00AM, and finished out the final leg of the journey, again traveling down the sandy
river bed of the Mojave River. Our trip on the Mojave Road ended at the site of Camp Cady. From here, we drove back to paved roads where we aired back up, and broke up for our trips to our homes.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip, and one that I had hoped I might be able to make. The planning for the trip was pretty astounding.
We were able to see sights all along the trip, stopping for the iconic areas on the Mojave Road - corrals, shrines to frogs, jeeps, gnomes…,
historic cabins, thousands of Joshua trees. The navigation was impeccable, and with six vehicles moving along as a group, we were able to keep moving and yet still enjoy the experience.

Thanks much to all my travelling companions for a great trip along the Mojave Road, and a big thanks to Greg for the fantastic planning and execution. I hope I’ve got things in order, but I’m certainly open to revision if I’ve forgotten something.

Mike Olsen

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