LICENSE TO ADVENTURE! Story & Photos: Rodney Wills
Acquiring the Jeep licensing for the SCX10 chassis is landmark. This is Axial’s first automotive manufacturer license, but with it came a bit of a challenge. When working with Jeep on the licensing deal they were a bit hesitant to include use the Trail Rated™ badge. I found this quite interesting as they were willing to let us use the Jeep® logo and the signature 7-bar grill, but the Trail Rated™ badge they were protecting with a lot of pride, and rightfully so! I saw it on another level beyond the paperwork as a personal challenge or maybe I used it as the excuse to push me along to a personal challenge.
Warily they granted us the rights to use the Trail Rated™ badge, but I felt indebted, not in the monetary sense, but on the honor of what the badge stands for. So I wanted to unequivocally uphold the honor of what that badge represents and I was willing to take on the self-imposed challenge. And more importantly my team was willing to take on the challenge; most importantly Axial’s top brass were stoked on the idea of what we wanted to accomplish and willing to back us as well! This is not hard to believe when we have a vice president who is also active within the 1:1 off-roading community! All the while, our partners at the Jeep brand were completely unaware of what we were planning.
Jeff Johns [Axial Vice President] and Brad Dumont [Axial Public Relations / Media Specialist] got close to doing the Rubicon Trail during the Wheelers For The Wounded event only a few weeks prior to our SCX10 Rubicon trip plans. Their mission fell short with severe steering issues due to some very brand new aftermarket steering parts and modifications on the full size Axial SCX10 Jeep JK. No, it was not the new liquid filled 2-ton electric steering servo, but the mishap happened 10-hours from the office and a mere 40-miles away from the trailhead, only to unleash a sequence of long faces and lots of steering fluid loss. But it was better that they did not break down on the trail, yet as a result they did not make it out for the annual Wheelers For the Wounded event.
After the event I placed a phone call to Kevin Carey of Method Motorsports as he is one of the event organizers of the Wheelers For The Wounded Rubicon Trail Event. I was explaining the details about the steering issues as the reason our guys were not in attendance and very bummed to not participate this year as we have in years past. I told him we would attempt the Rubicon Trail again if he would be our tour guide. This time we would have a whole different purpose for the trip as I explained to him the idea of driving the 1/10th Axial SCX10 remote controlled 4X4 over the Rubicon Trail. The Axial SCX10 is a trail rig after all! We set the plans as we wanted to squeak in this last-chance trip over the Rubicon as the window of opportunity was closing due to weather. Yet, we were also planning the Off-Road Nation game release for that weekend during the Off-Road EXPO so we had to be there in attendance prior to making our Rubicon attempt. This stacked our schedules as we would have to make our Rubicon trip attempt the week after Off-Road EXPO. We have all the plans on deck and our last minute time juggle put Kevin out as he could not get the whole week off that we needed immediately after the EXPO.
I did have a backup tour guide in mind and a long laundry list in front of my eyes to check off! I was getting nervous! Time to tick off check boxes and fast!
Don’t think for a moment I didn’t want to be the man on the wheel of the SCX10 for this adventure, but I know my role on the Axial team is to dream up, capture and document, so I called Brad “Bender” Dumont into the office and asked if he had ever been on the Rubicon Trail and he replied that this was in fact on his bucket list to do, especially after coming so close just a few weeks prior! I asked for his first actual trip if he would be willing to hike it while driving a pre-production SCX10 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon RTR. He was in with a grin! Next call was to Scott G of Axial to ask if he was willing to drive the full-size rig to transport all our gear we would need for this trip. For some reason I chose this last call to be last as it was the most important, and the call went out to Brian Parker AKA: Mr. Axial Man and Recon Crawlers G6 mastermind as this would be my ultimate tour guide backup plan. I knew he had been very busy with previous events just the week prior and he has a full time job in the full size world, so I knew I would be pushing my luck. Also lurking in the back of my mind is THE FACT that I’ve never wheeled with Parker before! I know he has put in his time, but I still had to ask the questions especially the one, “do you know your way around the Rubicon?” He replied, “do you want to go in at the pitch of black at 2:00am, I will take us there!” Hmmm, I pondered and my brain flashed visuals of Parker doing some sort of spirit-dance.. and asked, “Do you know all the key spots?” Parker spouts off all the locations we want to check off the list. We are locked in! I’m good with my decision to have Parker as tour guide and vehicle spotter, but I’m not going to be in the full size rig while on the Rubicon, that will be Scott G’s job! Maybe Scott G will write a first hand experience of this adventure.
My biggest concern was food and water for four guys for three days and extra in case the inevitable happened. I wanted to be prepared. Scott G and I have been on this overland tip for a minute and had previously secured the mil-spec plastic five gallon water cans of which we would use for this trip. You are suppose to have one gallon of water per day, so four persons plus an extra gallon equals five gallons per day. Our trip is projected for three days, so we took four cans equivalent to 20 gallons of water. One gallon = 8.34lbs X 20 = 166.8lbs. You would think weight would be an issue but three of us would actually not be riding in the vehicle during most of the trek. Parker would be outside the full size rig navigating and myself and Brad would be out of the rig driving the R/C and filming. But all this stuff along with us included has to be packed into the rig for the transit from town into the Rubicon trail head and back out to town after the trail. We would be minus a cooler for ice to save space that we did not have. The nights would get down to the low 30’s so we would simply put out what we wanted cold the next day.
Food is next on the list and I did not want to make the preparation of food on the trail such a chore. Plus the transportation and preserving takes considerable precious space. With my backpacking and dirt biking adventures I have learned all about Mountain House food in a bag! Mountain House produces freeze dried food and meals that are lightweight, have a long shelf life [for all you preppers out there!] and are perfect for all types of outdoor recreation such as our Rubicon trip where space is going to be minimal! The Mountain House product is easy to prepare by simply adding hot water, stir, stand and EAT! All I had to do was sort our three meals a day from Mountain House assortment of various flavors, add a couple of snacks and a little desert for three days for four guys. This equals 36 meals to be served!!! It was time to visit our local REI store in Tustin, Ca.
To cook all the food, we employed the use of my JetBoil PCS stove to boil the water. It is small yet powerful as two cups of water boils in about two minutes. The Mountain House bags of food are designed to cook and eat right out of the bag! This makes food preparation simple by just boiling water, adding the appropriate amount to each Mountain House bag, stir and let sit for appropriate time, then EAT! This means no stove cup clean up! No plates or bowls to clean up! The clean up process would be as simple as flattening the Mountain House bag, reseal and tossed the remains into our Trasharoo spare tire garbage bag.
Next in line is the one topic most do not want to talk about, much less discuss at length, but that is simply why things become major issues on the scale that someone or some agency has to take action… What goes in, must come out and what comes out has become an issue in national forest due to the amount of visitors and the lack of self consciousness. SO, with the Rubicon Trail being located in the national forest, it has a “PACK IN – PACK OUT” rule – including all human waste! Yes, we are talking poop here! The Rubicon Trail has seen enough infestation of the “white flowers” as these “white flowers” have been imported from human bathrooms to singular deposits that seemed to have not been buried in a proper manner. Yes, we are talking about toilet paper piles on the ground – aka: white flowers. Due to this issue not only on just the Rubicon Trail, but in all of our major national forest with high traffic tourist destinations, the forest service have placed the “pack in – pack out” rule. No matter where you personally stand on the issue, it is an issue and you will be very upset when you find you are standing in it – in the middle of the night while setting up your tent. And now it has became policy or rule as no one seems to have read the book, “The Complete Walker” by Colin Fletcher & Chip Rawlings as proper human waste field service is discussed thoroughly in the this book.
To take things a bit to the next level and to deal with the imposed “pack in – pack out” rule I personally wanted to make sure my crew set an example and same time be comfortable while in the wild, so I obtained The PETT / Cleanwaste GO anywhere portable toilet® as they manufacture a rugged foldable commode and degradable waste bag system that packs flat therefore smaller that the “5-gallon bucket system.” Again, space and weight are the premiums and this PETT system is the best I have found. And for my personal off-road adventures, my family members consist of girls… comfort and ease of use is important stuff!
This is the moment you cue the Beverly Hillbillies or Sanford and Sons theme music. I personally like the Sanford & Sons music, “The Streetbeater” produced by Quincy Jones. The plans are set and the word to the guys is PACK LIGHT as we have one full size Jeep JK to fill with four guys, camping equipment, two SCX10’s, radio’s, batteries, R/C tools, 1:1-tools, recovery gear, supplies, camera gear, personal bags, sleeping bags, pillows, sleeping pads [and someone had to bring a cot], and tents (Parker opted for his Hammond Hammock tent). Our luxury items would consist of four camp chairs.
While the Axial SCX10JK is outfitted with a Rebel Roof Rack, I didn’t want to have big boxes on the roof rack as that would cut down on the gas mileage to/from the Rubicon Trail as that is a 10-hour tarmac transit each way plus I was not sure about the tree limb exposure on the trail. Truth be told, I simply do not have the proper travel boxes yet, so that made it easy that everything had to fit inside.
All this to traverse over the Rubicon Trail to film a 1/10th scale Axial SCX10 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon.
OK, travel plans and supplies are set. Lets do the Rubicon! It’s time to get our #AxialAdventures™ ON! This is going to be AWESOME!!!