Rubicon Trail

24 hours of Le Mans, Watkins glen, Indy 500 are great but for true off road driving enthusiasts the Rubicon Trail is our right of passage. NCLR club invite me out to join them in their 1st annual Rovicon.

I didn’t know what to expect as I’ve never attempted the Rubicon but I use know it was on my bucket list.Greg Bodene, Don Happel and Eric... were the NCLR members that put the trip together. Our team was well versed and spanned over a lot of great Land Rover models to don on this epic attempt.We settled into the staging area and set up camp for the night. We exchanged introductions and handshakes around the camp fire that night with every new Land Rover crew that came in.

I got the feeling that most of these people didn’t know each other and we had a lot of new people in this group. Past off road trips, and break down stories were exchanged to get a better feeling for everyone’s ability and tolerance for when carnage happens.The fire fighter team of Allen and Josh sported a Discovery G4, Mike and wife had their trusty NAS Defender 90 which they purchased new from the dealership in 1994.

Greg Bodene has his massive Range Rover Classic. Don Happel sported his red chopped top Discovery.

Craig and his Daughter Amanda trailered our their Cummins RePowered Defender 90 from Ohio.

Danny the scientist brought his International 2.8 Defender from Oregon

With our band of misfits assembled we entered Gate Keeper at 8am sharp. Don and I lead the first group of 5 through to the Bowl. Soon after after we got messages coming in over the radio that Greg just blew his 3rd member right out the side of the case! And soon after Craig blew apart his CV. This wasn’t good. We were literally 1/2 a mile into the 12 mile, 3 day journey. Greg ditched his RRC and we replaced Craig’s CV on the trial. We carried on only to have Kevin’s Series 3 rear axle snap and walk away with his tire.

We are dropping like flies! We strapped a tree to the bottom of the Series and limped it back to the staging area. I felt like the Rubicon was cutting us down one by one.The first group was feeling good and pressed on climbing over massive ledges and slamming over boulder. The second group finished their repairs and were not far behind us.

Then over the radio we hear Robert call out “Fire! Fire! Does anyone have a fire extinguisher!” We immediately jumped out of our trucks and ran back to him to see his Chevy V8 powered Series smoking out of the engine bay. We popped the hood and poured water on the electrical fire that started by the nest of wires leading into the cab. Robert was lucky. We tried the track down the cause and looked to be a short in the loom as it was rubbing against a sharp edge on the firewall. We wrapped the wires and ran some new cables and carried on.

Our team made their way through Little Sluice, Sluice Box, to Big Sluice, on our way to the first camp site. We limped in tired and battered after a 12 hour day of battling some of the hardest terrain I’ve seen in a very long time. We got word the second group pulled up a little before the campsite to stay for the night.

Our second day started even earlier at 7am. This would be the most challenging part of the 3 day leg and we wanted to give ourselves time to complete it. The trail started out with a 1000 foot descent down a mind field of boulders the size of our trucks. Most people wouldn’t even attempt to even walk this trail let alone drive a car down it. Don and I were rolling steady when a small reverse move resulted in a loud rattle noise under our feet. We both looked at each other and new it was a CV or diff that just broke. We needed to keep moving so we took of the front drive shaft and kept trucking with rear drive.Camp early. Two groups joined up and drank beer and shared stories of the last two days.Last day don blows rear axle and we fix it on a ledge overlooking the Serra Nevada. Robert shears off bolts to his steering rod.

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