RubiTuesday

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Fellow forum member @Cookie Monster and I recently ran the Rubicon Trail from Loon Lake to Tahoe with our wives and five (combined) kids. We both have 37s, lifts, and lots of armor (our rigs: his and mine). Here are my thoughts on the experience.

Photo Jul 21, 08 00 56.jpg

(the famous sign)

Looking back, if I had to describe the Rubicon in a word, it would be unrelenting. In the military, sometimes we'd embark on what we were told was a 5 mile run. After reaching the 5 mile mark, the leader would yell out "just kidding, keep going!" and keep running for another mile or two. Just when you think it's over, or going to be easier, it's not. That's the feeling of the Rubicon. It's not that any one obstacle is impossible (yes, we bypassed a few that looked like harder 8s or easier 9s), but that it is constant 6s and 7s with the occasional 8 and your rest periods are 5s. My wife and I often wondered how Jeep gets stock vehicles through. Must be really good/practiced spotters and lots of rock stacking - and not caring about damage.

A few words on Cadillac Hill. Going in, my expectation was for off-camber, tippy obstacles that put you in danger of going off the edge of a precipice. What we found were some moderate to difficult obstacles (I used my lockers three times on the trail, one of them was on Cadillac), but the edge just wasn't a factor. We weren't close to the edge, the drop off isn't a shear cliff and there are lots trees to stop you from tumbling all the way down. If you did somehow manage to go over the edge, recovery could be difficult and you'd probably sustain some damage, but we were never worried about it. Full disclosure, we've both wheeled a lot in Colorado (including Black Bear) so our perceptions may be a bit skewed. Passing oncoming traffic would be tricky, especially in numbers. To mitigate this, my wife hiked up the hill with a hand held radio to ensure we wouldn't meet unexpected traffic.

How long did it take? From Loon Lake to Rubicon Springs campground took about 9 hours. This included about 45 minutes for lunch and hitting almost every toilet (#kids). From the campground to the trail's end (Tahoe side) took about 4.5 hours. Note that we encountered roughly 30 oncoming vehicles that were part of a work party, plus various others, so we ended up spending a fair amount of time (an hour?) pulled over while waiting.

Photo Jul 21, 19 31 09.jpg

(camped at Rubicon Springs campground)

And now for what everybody wants to know, how much damage did I sustain? First and foremost, no one got hurt and there was no body damage. Those were our two goals. I have the following aftermarket armor/skids: @lodoffroad front and @ROCK HARD 4X4 rear bumpers, RockHard rock sliders, @Metalcloak full belly skids, RockHard muffler skid, MetalCloak front and rear diff skids, MetalCloak front and @Artec rear LCA axle side, Rusty's rear frame side LCA skids, MetalCloak FAD - how much does this stuff weigh? With the exception of the passenger rear frame side LCA, every single one of them took hits. Other than scrapes, the only "damage" was two dings on my exhaust pipe tip and a ding in the outer portion of the driver's side RockHard Patriot rock slider. The bottom of the round bar is slightly concaved and a 48" level will just slightly teeter totter when placed along the top of the rail. That was the result of a particularly hard hit at about hour 8 and my lines were starting to get a bit sloppy. Of course all four wheels are rashed and my tie rod looks like I took a rasp to the entire length of the bottom. Scrapes I didn't expect: the leading outboard edges of the MetalCloak shock relocation brackets and the back of rear trackbar (axle side) mount.

Would the factory skids (where applicable) have been sufficient? Mostly. I seriously doubt that the factory rocker guards would have prevented body damage. IMHO, you're asking for trouble if you don't protect your engine oil pan and protect your front diff drain plug (if applicable). If you don't relocate your steering stabilizer, you'll probably end up carrying it as cargo. Would I have altered my driving style/lines if I didn't have so much armor? Probably, but I wasn't trying to intentionally beat on them.

Photo Jul 21, 13 25 26.jpg

(Me on V Notch)

How much fuel did we use? We topped off at the 76 station near Silver Fork. The 3.6 finished with just under 5/8ths and the 2.0 finished with just over 1/2 tank.

Where did we stay? Since wives and kids were involved, we elected to fly the families to Reno and pick them up there after we drove the Jeeps cross country - he drove all the way from Virginia, I joined in him Colorado. From Reno we drove to a VRBO in South Tahoe where we based our operation. This allowed us to let the families settle, install a few last minute parts (like my @SPIDERWEBSHADE which I had shipped directly to the VRBO), and dump stuff we wouldn't need on the trail (including my top/doors and his rear windows).

Photo Jul 21, 06 06 49.jpg
(ready to go, morning of departure for the Rubicon Trail)

Oh yeah, it's really dirty/dusty. Admittedly, we didn't help matters by running in various forms of #jeepnaked. But seriously, my kids looked they had spent a day in the coal mines.

How did we navigate? I ran Gaia maps with the paid version of Trails OffRoad gpx file and waypoints on an iPad mini, backed up on my phone for redundancy. This combo worked very well, as I had downloaded various maps/resolutions before hand. I will say that it's kinda easy to lose the trail in some areas, particularly on the large granite flats. In some spots there are precious few of the small road reflectors and they can be difficult to see. We made a game of it by sending the kids ahead of us to find the markers and when that didn't work, I just tried to follow the gpx file like I was flying on instruments.

In all, it was the trip of a lifetime, a bucket list accomplishment roughly three years in planning - and I highly recommend it. :like: :jk:

 
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Stormin’ Moorman

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Great write up. Me and the wife started planning our trip out there for next summer. You answered a lot of questions we had. Thanks.
 


Tool Guy

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Very accurate and descriptive post. I was there last week as well, we unfortunately had to turn around about 3.5 miles in as our crew all had issues (except for me :) ). It's amazing how beautiful it it is there.
 

wibornz

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Perfect description. Unrelenting is what I tell people also. I also say it will ruin you for other trails. What I mean is it will make other trails seem boring. It took us 17 hours to wheel from Loon Lake to Lake Tahoe. There was a lot of vehicles on the trail. We camped by the dam. We also went swimming on the second day. There were places that we got stuck behind others like 10+ Toyotas that would not let us pass and they did not have lockers and kept breaking down.


You are right it is a bucket list adventure. Funny after running the Rubicon trail, there are now many times where one might say hey spot me here, but now it is like I got this.
 

tobyw

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Great report! I'm fortunate enough to have run it 3 times now, and every time I come away thinking "...damn, that was harder than I remember..." :LOL:
 

jludave

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Great report! Thanks so much for sharing!! :)
 


sourdough

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What a great report, nailed it. I had the pleasure of first wheeling the Rubicon Trail in the 70's in a FJ40 Land Bruiser. During the weekdays you where thankful to come across another wheeler. The trail was much different as were the 4by's. But the trail has always been an endurance run for drivers and machines.
Personally beyond a wheeler's bucket list "to do trail", I find the trail just too popular to fully enjoy the Sierra experience. My favorite trail in the Sierra's that brings me back to the '70's is the Slickrock 4wd trail https://www.google.com/maps/place/L...58295b8effd71!8m2!3d38.4785221!4d-120.0037964
It has it all but less taxing, people and takes about 4 hrs. to drive. Excellent camping on either end and the middle too. I have run it many more times than the Rubicon, the experience is that good.
 
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Cookie Monster

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PSA: There are rattlesnakes on the trail. My wife had a close encounter with one inside a rubicon springs porta-potty. We are quite fortunate she didn’t get bit. She quickly jumped out of the way. The same porta-potty had been used by several kids earlier that morning.

So keep your eyes peeled!

7B8C950B-344B-47AD-AAF1-BD6A6518CFEF.jpeg
 

Cookie Monster

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Who wore it better?
2EDE8B3C-CEB0-4335-ABB4-FAD7C7D4DB14.jpeg

090C0CF3-C9A4-46AC-80B3-1C1DC814C784.jpeg

Blue is running a 2” synergy lift, white has a 3.5” metal cloak. It was very evident on the trail that his extra 1.5” of lift and stiffer springs kept his belly and sliders from hitting/scraping as often as I did. His stiffer spring rate also helped avoid some of the hard crashing down coming off of rocks.

@RubiTuesday also had a slight advantage of seeing all my mistakes and picking better lines as he was running tail. We intentionally had him run second as the theoretically more capable rig. The theory being if I could make it, he could too. I also have a front camera mounted in my bumper that helped picking lines and keeping track of rocks.

Neither of us needed any winching, though I came very close once. I had started down a path that we ended up needing to reverse out of and picking a better line. Hung up on both diffs, I had to use my body weight to rock the vehicle enough to get traction to reverse out.

We also compared road manners ahead of time. Both Jeeps are well suited for the road, but the softer synergy spring rate paid dividends for a more comfortable ride.

So the taller metalcloak helped on the rubicon, the softer synergy rides slightly nicer on the pavement. Both completed the Rubicon trail. The metalcloak was driven from Colorado and the synergy from Virginia.

 
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Threedom
 
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