Written by: Matt Kearney
We left about 6am to head up near where the event would be held. Jeff left a little ahead of us in the RV and we assumed we would catch up to him as he was towing his rig and we were able to make better time in Randall’s rig. We played phone tag most of the day and finally caught up to Jeff around 4:30pm in Placerville. We then headed up to where we would be camping that night, it is a little RV campground called Sly Park Campgrounds located in Pollock Pines Near Jenkinson Lake. After setting up camp we decided to wander down to check out the lake. After skipping a few rocks into the lake and admiring the scenery we headed back up to the restaurant in the campgrounds and ate dinner then called it an early night.
Our camping spot at Sly Park
The path to Jenkinson Lake
Jenkinson Lake – there were several wakeboarders and boaters out on the lake even at 5:00 in the afternoon
Day 2: The drive to the event campgrounds
We were one the road by 10am the next day and headed towards the SouthFork Campground near Wentworth Springs. The USFS reserved the entire campground for this event and it was the perfect setting for the 2010 WFTW Rubicon event.
Jeff in the RV towing his Jeep
We arrived around noon and set up camp. Shortly after that we headed out on a trail run to take the old Wentworth Springs trail into the start of the Rubicon trail. This was my first trip to the Rubicon and have to say that I was not disappointed in the trails and scenery that we had seen up to that point and it was just getting better and better the further we got in. We were introduced to several experienced offroad enthusiasts including Del Albright who runs the Blue Ribbon Coalition (http://www.sharetrails.org/) which puts in a lot of work helping to keep land open for enthusiasts. The trail into Wentworth springs was full of large boulders and took a fair amount of time to get through with all the rigs we had with us. Once we got past the boulders the trail opened up into a gigantic granite bowl that stretches over a mile across. You didn’t get the full effect until you saw the rigs on the other side and saw how small they appeared. After making it across we headed back to the campground to make dinner and greet the rest of the arriving veterans and volunteers.
Jeff driving the trail.
Del Albright – keep your eyes open he and his Jeep can be found all over the country participating in events and trail runs.
Rubicon trail marker at the top of the granite bowl.
View from one side of the granite bowl to the other, you can see the small red jeep on the other side to really get a perspective on how large it actually is.
Day 3: The trail run with the veterans
We were up and fed as early as possible on Saturday as we had a full day ahead of us. A local offroad club called the Rubicon Rockheads were kind enough to donate their time and equipment to cook all the meals for the veterans and volunteers. They provided all the meals and it was all very good food! We were all on the road and headed to the Gatekeeper trail head near Loon Lake by 8am that morning.
On the trail:
After having a quick drivers meeting to discuss proper protocol and where we were headed we quickly took the reverse drive into the granite bowl that we visited the day before. We all gathered down at the bottom of the bowl for photos and video interviews. The video interviews can be seen on Moses Ludel’s site – http://4wdmechanix.com/, he was able to get a quick interview with all the veterans and volunteers involved in this event. After leaving the granite bowl we started heading further into the Rubicon trail towards. We stopped several times along the way as there were 25 rigs on this trail run. The plan was to make it all the way to Spider Lake and have lunch at a small privately owned cabin up there. We met the owner just past the Little Sluice Box but due to some trail breakdowns and slow progress it was decided that we wouldn’t have enough time to make it back before dark and called it a day and started heading back.
Lining up at the Gatekeeper entrance for the drivers meeting.
Prepping the rigs.
Heading out after the drivers meeting towards the granite bowl.
At the bottom of the granite bowl taking photos of the entire group.
Kevin Carey one of the event organizers.
Pirates of the Rubicon were one of the local offroading clubs that volunteered drivers and rigs to help out at the event.
What trail run isn’t complete with RC cars?
On the trail out of the granite bowl on the way to Ellis Creek.
Kevin Carey one of the event organizers putting in some time behind the wheel of Randall’s Jeep.
Cutting it close.
Various people and rigs.
Passenger Roy and Driver Troy (Troy later took Roy for the drive of his life through the Little Sluice Box).
“The Prospect” (Pirates of the Rubicon prospect) working his way through the Soup Box.
Another driver working through the Soup Box.
“The Prospect” and “the Mexican” attempting to provide a winch point for a driver coming up the Soup Box but not really being much help…
Super clean Toyota about to go up an alternate line on the Soup Box.
Alternate line around the Little Sluice Box.
Driver Troy taking his veteran passenger Roy through the Little Sluice Box.
Troy trying to right his Jeep in the Little Sluice Box.
Removing Roy from the Jeep and getting it upright.
Roys’ reaction to Troy getting back to wheels down, his biggest concern was for Troy and not for himself during the whole thing
Various rigs and participants watching Troy get back into the Little Sluice Box and go at it again.
Troy taking another Veteran for a ride, he ended up breaking down on trail and after a few hours of problem shooting it ended up being a blown fuse and was back on the trail.
The trip back to the campgrounds from the Little Sluice Box.
We arrived back to camp around 6:00PM Saturday evening. Everyone went to their respective camps to clean up and relax some from the long day on the trail. We all gathered around the main campfire to talk about the days drive and spent some time chatting with many different people about why they were there and what it meant to them. During dinner there was a presentation ceremony where the event organizers and sponsors got up and talked about their involvement with the event and their companies. Overall it was really incredible to hear from everyone at the event and to see how passionate they were about not just offroading but giving back to the veteran community. There were many veterans there that had very positive things to say about the support they had received from this event and that it had opened new doors and helped them move on from things they had held onto from their experiences in military service for our country. The first night we were there we had taken out a few of our demo trucks for people to drive around the campfire, most people thought they were really cool, but one person in particular was immediately drawn to them and you could see his eyes light up from the enjoyment, we had planned on passing some out the following day as part of the raffle they were holding but decide we for sure wanted to this particular person to receive one that night! He spent the rest of the evening driving the truck around the campfire. After dinner the Rubicon Rockheads passed out ice cream from their custom 4×4 ice cream truck, this truck has been all over the Rubicon and is often seen at many of the big events held there throughout the year.
Event organizers and sponsors talking about the event.
Roy receiving his SCX10 Trail Honcho – he was really excited about the RTR because it was something he could do from his wheelchair.
Jeff doing his best ice cream truck driver impersonation.
Rubicon Express was another sponsor that made the trip out to show their support.
Randall and Matt from Rubicon Express hanging out talking shop after the trail run.
The next morning we were up around 7am for breakfast and to hold the raffle. Breakfast was again cooked up by the Rubicon Rockheads and did not disappoint! After Breakfast it was time for the prizes! Axial donated 4 total SCX10 Trail Honcho TR’s, CRAWL Magazine donated several subscriptions to their magazine. All in all there were lots of giveaway items that were well received. Overall the event was a huge success and it was great to see the effect it had on everyone there. Axial was honored to be asked to participate and equally honored to take part. We all left there with such a great feeling and look forward to supporting this event in the future.
Breakfast around the campfire.
Roy cleaning one an AX10 RTC demo rig.
Various shots from the raffle.
The four TR winners with the Axial crew.
All five of the CRAWL magazine winners
All the veterans from Vietnam era that attended the event.
All the veterans from the Desert Storm era that attended the event.
All the veterans from the Iraq/Afghanistan and Haiti conflict that attended the event.
All the veterans and Matt from Rubicon Express.
All the veterans that attended the event.
That wraps up this year’s event, see you next year!
Wheelers for the Wounded (WFTW) History
Wheelers for the Wounded (WFTW) is an organization with the primary mission of providing a weekend of off-roading, camping, and in some cases fishing, to our country’s wounded military members all over the United States. This will provide them with much deserved fun and excitement as they traverse the most extreme terrain our great country has to offer in a variety of the best off-road capable vehicles ever built.
Founder Jason Havlik started WFTW in Florida in April 2009, for a Marine on his PTT (Police Transition Team) in Fallujah, Iraq lost both of his legs to an IED. Jason wanted to take his friend out for a weekend of fun. Others in the off –roading community heard of this and the program grew from there. Off-road clubs all across the United States are now hosting WFTW events in their areas. Riding with the groups gives the wounded service members an opportunity to ride along in a variety of modified off-road vehicles, which will surely bring smiles to the faces of the esteemed passengers. At nightfall, they will camp out in the most beautiful parks and forests in the country.
The secondary mission of the WFTW program is to increase awareness about our country’s men and women in uniform in the hopes others will do something to show their appreciation.
Wheelers for the Wounded Rubicon Super Event
Date: 9/17 – 9/19
Camp Location: Eldorado National Forest, South Fork Camp Ground
Event Organizers: Kevin Carey, Dan Hiney
Pirate 4×4 event video promotion at the 15:10 mark http://www.pirate4x4.com/tv/live11.php
Selected 4×4 Clubs participating: Rubicon Rockheads, Pirates of the Rubicon, Norcal Crawlers.
Sponsors: Axial, Crawl Magazine, CAL 4Wheel, Rubicon Express, TLCA/Rubithon, 4WD Mechanix, Method Motorsports, Northstar Engineering, Nor –Cal Mobility
4 x 4 Trail: The Rubicon Trail
Rubicon Trail History
The Rubicon/McKinney Road in Northern California crosses the Rubicon River at one point close to Lake Tahoe. Early settlers named the Rubicon River after its counterpart in Italy – a small river 150 miles north of Rome. The Rubicon/McKinney Road was established in the 1800′s as a stage coach road between Georgetown and Lake Tahoe mainly to serve two resort hotels at Wentworth Springs and Rubicon Springs. After the hotels went out of business and the road deteriorated it was picked as home for the first Jeepers Jamboree in 1953. Since then it has gained international recognition and is considered the Mecca for fourwheelers.