Photos & words by: Rodney Wills
First photo of Day-1 on the Rubicon Trail. We camp literally on the rocks at Loon Lake Staging area.
I shoot a photo of Brian Parker from my sleeping bag, sorry for the tilting earth. Parker and I camp under the stars in our sleeping bags donned with Bivy sacks.
ScottG is “glamping” with his cot. Yes, glamor camping…
Brad Dumont pitched the Eureka Timberline 4 tent. Maybe he was the most “glamporous” of all on this first night.
I detect a bit of frost on my sleeping pad as it was a wee bit chilly in the low 30′s. We are pushing the envelope of this trip in the first week of October.
We are tourist, first-timers except for Mr. Parker, so we take a survey of all the signs at the trail entrance.
We were gifted these bandana’s by a small group that was coming in to do some maintenance on the trail this morning.
Time to pack up and start our Rubicon trail journey!
We mount up our Trasharoo trash bag as we want to set an example of not leaving any trash behind on the trail. We also do not like to carry the trash inside the rig and plastic bags hanging off the back of the rig looks a little… well, trashy. Yes, we are victims of style and anything resembling a backpack I have the fever for. At least this backpack’s intention is for a GREAT cause!
Gatekeeper is the first obstacle we encounter, and it barely resembles the spectacular obstacle it once was. Parker told us stories about guys driving days just to get to the Rubicon Trail, only to be turned away by this very first obstacle due to breaking parts or not being able to physically pass through.
Once we get through Gatekeeper and on through a wooded area the trail opens up into this massive view that overlooks rock in every direction! When they named this area Granite Bowl, they were not kidding as it is granite in every direction. Its solid rock from top to bottom.
While we trust Parker’s navigation, we know we are headed in the right direction when we see a sign posted on a tree as we climb up the other side of the massive valley of rock and off into another section of wooded area.
Even with massive 37” tires the rocks seem to find their way to cramp the space below the SCX10JK. Good thing we are equipped with the ICON Vehicle Dynamics suspension and Currie Rock Jock 60 axles. Not that we have to have them to cross the Rubicon, but they do make obstacles less challenging; especially when we have the rig loaded down and self supported, these items help us remain focused on the task at hand: filming the tenth scale Axial SCX10 making its way over the same rocks and obstacles.
There is a trail down there and while it is an awesome view, there are also hidden challenges to navigate. For myself, and I am sure for my counterparts who are also Rubicon first timers, emotions are all over the place when the environmental conditions and terrain provide sensory overload.
And with the sensory overload it is time to interject yet another sensory overload – LUNCH!
Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Teriyaki, Scrambled Eggs with Bacon and Beef Stew are served up for lunch from Mountain House.
Add hot water provided by my little JetBoil PCS stove.
This would be the ultimate test, the moment of truth to see if these guys would like this Mountain House freeze dried food in a bag concept. This is what we’ll be eating for the next three days – three meals a day! With my history with ScottG, I already have a reputation of supplying “cardboard” for food as I like a wide range of “meal bars,” so I know he was going to be a tough critic. Then there is Brad, Mr. Meat & Potatoes and I am not even sure if he likes potatoes. Parker on the other hand, I think he will eat almost anything. Luckily, everyone was very pleased and rather impressed at how good the taste was. Our taste buds were lit and stomachs filled!
Lunch is served and it is time to hit the trail!
This is one of the rare shots of both rigs traversing the Rubicon Trail.
I will tell you now that you are not going to see many images of the SCX10 as my main mission was to document the whole trip in video, so all of these images came from the pocket camera on the fly. Whenever the Axial SCX10 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon was in view, I would be peeking through a tiny hole of the video camera trying to keep it in fame.
I know you have seen the four minute and 44-second long The Axial Rubicon Trek (teaser) video, if not here is that video:
But, there is a scratch longer video in the works!
With well feed stomachs, we make way to Walker Hill.
It’s a nice hill from my perspective as I just see a bunch of boulders, nothing major. But my confidence has risen in both Parker’s trail knowledge and spotting ability as he safely put the full-size SCX10JK through the trail all morning.
We have quickly learned to trust Parker and our Maxxis Trepador tires.
Easy by-way? Yea, NO! I look back and see Parker is starting to have fun putting the full-size SCX10JK through the fun-line with a perfectly smooth by-way sitting on the outside… Parker! That’s our ride home dude!
The Maxxis Trepador’s seem to be right at home walking all over the obstacles.
We are almost to the newly rearranged Little Sluice as we flex the SCX10JK across this rock garden.
Upon arrival to Little Sluice the sun is on the descent and we look up at what we thought would be the end of forward progression for the tenth scale SCX10. I think I murmured this is going to take a long time in a short section. The Rubicon Trail mandate is that all vehicle travel must be within a within 50-ft of the trail. That is 25-ft to the left and 25-ft to the right. My mind is starting to race and ponder if we can actually drive the rig through this section. Brad and I do a quick reconnaissance of the trail before we begin the ascent – it’s just littered with bowling ball size gnar-gnar rocks from the recent reconstructive surgery to the Little Sluice. Brad does what Brad does best… he wheels through the cracks and crevasses and wiggles the Axial SCX10 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon RTR through, over and around a mine-field of obstacles. It was not the prettiest. Saying we scraped is an understatement. To see what I mean, you’ll just have to wait for the video. We ate a lot of time, but Brad wheeled it from the bottom to the top! That will forever be burned into the memory hard drive! At that point, I knew we had earned that badge!
It’s always interesting to see how machinery adapts and reacts to nature as the full-size SCX10JK traverses through a small v-notch. You push the rig up the wall to clear the rock, trying not to inflict body damage on one side and gently slide down the wall to cut around the drop off that is just in the foreground. These are the same types of scenarios we try to put our R/C rigs into for the same visual effect. This was one of those fun moments to watch as this giant full size R/C rig [in Parker's mind] slithers through the v-notch as he spots the driver through the obstacle.
Making use of rock rings on the Walker Evans Racing wheels makes for a real “gritty” noise as it passes over the rock face and especially when we are out in the the quiet of woods. Brings up that whole thing about if a tree falls, does it make a sound? Of course it does!
As we approach our camp point we spot our first memorial of Mr. Richard Carl “Ritch” Theis. That is a very nice quote!
I personally think the main thing is, even if you never make it to the Rubicon Trail, you should get out there and find your own “Rubicon,” in your own backyard. Put yourself in motion on your very own adventure. Ritch and Nike collectively say it best…
I like these lucky shots. The lighting is just so-so and I am lined up on the tail light in a way that the red just burns through like the sun and casts a cool glow.
We make camp out on the end of this ledge as darkness sets in fast. From the ledge in the viewable distance would be Buck Island Lake.
END OF DAY-1! We quickly make camp and Parker asks for the big food bag. You know what that means!
Parker dumps all the Mountain House out and makes the dinner menu call, but more importantly, he is going on about spying the dessert earlier in the day… We hear a loud, “FOUND IT!”
The highlight of tonight’s dinner is Mountain House Blueberry Cheesecake for dessert!
Chef Parker was quite comical but he is down to business!
What a way to end a great day! Food and friends on top of the mountain! It’s a good time to reflect on the day’s accomplishments and the SCX10 did an awesome job getting through the whole day, without issue! Making it through the Little Sluice was no little accomplishment and for that we know the rig has earned its stripes! But, the mission is not over as we have more full size miles and full size obstacles to cover.