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dzJeepChic

G & D's Sierra Trek Experience

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Here are a few pictures to start with.

 

Clifford looking all official at the beginning of the Fordyce trail:

 

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He was the runtiest rig in the staging area, making us wonder if we were in over our heads:

 

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Clifford on Winch Hill #1:

 

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:eek:

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I can't see the pics. Is it just me?

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I can't either

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Same here... no pics visible, and the lack of Jeep porn from this once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity is driving us CRAZY ! ! ! ! :P:p;)

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Okay, well I hope you guys can see the pictures because here goes...

 

A couple days after we got home from the San Bernardino Mountains trip with Offroad Passport, I got an email from the Editor-in-Chief of JPFreek Adventure Magazing asking if I'd like to attend Sierra Trek 2016 and write an article about my experience. I expected George to say 'no way Jose' since we'd just got home from a long trip, but he surprised me by saying YES! So with a little less than a week to prepare, we got ready to go.

 

This was the 49th Annual Sierra Trek put on by California Four Wheel Drive Association held at Meadow Lake about 35 northwest of Truckee, CA. You can read about the history of Sierra Trek in this article by Chris Collard, 'Trekking in the Sierras'. We were signed up for trail rides, camping, breakfast and dinner everyday, vendor show, raffle, saloon, live music and hot showers! The trail rides we chose were both on my bucket list: a 2 day SUV Historic route including Donner Pass, and The Fordyce Trail.

 

Throughout my 4x4 career I have known that to run The Fordyce Creek Trail, you have to attend Sierra Trek, because they reduce the water flow in the creek for the event; otherwise crossing is impossible. While we were there we found out that the last few years, because of the drought in northern California, that has not been the case. Locals have been able to access the trail for a while now. But even though you could go run the Fordyce, I'd recommend doing it during Sierra Trek because they have spotters at the hardest spots and you're probably going to need them.

 

It took us 2 days to drive to Truckee, CA. We left Monday and got as far as Las Vegas before a 'hoppy' back tire drove G crazy so we stopped at a Discount tire and had both rears spin balanced, putting us a couple hours behind schedule.

 

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I got this awesome picture of Clifford's shadow on the way to our room in Tonopah:

 

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Since we didn't have time to visit the International Car Forest of the Last Church on our way through Goldfield, we stopped and took a couple of pre-Fordyce pictures of Clifford at these abandoned buildings near Tonopah the next morning. Central Nevada certainly produces graffiti artists!

 

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We made it to Truckee, CA mid afternoon and checked in to our camp site at Donner Memorial State Park where we met up with Russ Chung who was also there for Sierra Trek. We were all signed up for the 2 day SUV Historic route the following morning.

 

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Sierra Trek logistics: We were signed up for the SUV Historic Route on Wednesday to Thursday, and The Fordyce Creek Trail on Friday. As mentioned earlier, base camp at Meadow Lake is about 35 miles from Truckee, and the staging area for the Fordyce trail is an additional 24 miles from Truckee. Google maps shows the drive from camp to Fordyce staging at 57 miles, many of them on dirt. So to make the 5:30 AM meeting time, people at base camp are on the move by 4:00 AM or so.

 

Even though it meant we would have to do the difficult trail with all our gear on-board, George and I decided to stay at Donner Memorial State Park with Russ Chung on Tuesday prior to the SUV Historic Route, and again on Thursday, the night before the Fordyce trail, rather than go all the way out to camp and back. We chose that campground because of proximity to trails, but also because they have showers. Imagine our surprise when we we found signs on the shower doors, saying that in compliance with California Governor's initiative to conserve water, showers are NOT available on Tuesday and Thursday - the only days we were staying! Well played California, well played.

 

Meat Bees deserve an honorable mention here. These pesky insects not only eat other insects, they are very attracted to the same kind of meat we humans eat! So they showed up at all our meals while in the Truckee and Lake Tahoe area, landing on anything that had meat.

 

At the Wednesday Morning SUV Historic Route meet-up:

 

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There was coffee and breakfast items as well as stuff to make sandwiches for lunch and various snacks - AND MEAT BEES!

 

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This is Jim Bramham (wide brimmed hat), our fearless and extremely knowledgeable leader, and our tail-gunners and dedicated kitchen help, Mary Ann & Bud.

 

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The first part of the tour went up Coldstream Canyon and covered some railroad history of the area.

 

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Through the 'mousehole' under the tracks:

 

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We went where trains exit a tunnel that cuts through the mountain. Right when we got there a Union Pacific train came barreling out of the tunnel but I missed the shot. :(

 

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Diverse group of rigs:

 

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They told us to park close together so we wouldn't block the trail:

 

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this trip is on my bucket list too, thanks Diane for sharing pictures

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From the railroad tunnel we stayed on Forest Service roads in the area above Donner Lake (located at the State Park where we had camped). Jim discussed railroad and Donner Pass history, and pointed out that we were mere miles from where the original wagon trail, the old railroad bed, the new railroad tracks, the old 2 lane highway bridge and the new modern freeway all converge over Donner Pass.

 

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Part of the history lesson was about the Chinese laborers who emigrated here to build railroads, and the impact of their culture in the region. As Jim explained certain events through history, 'snow sheds' that had been built to keep the trains moving throughout the winter were mentioned several times. The only thing that came to my mind was something like this, that I had seen on Offroad Passport's Agua Caliente trip years ago:

 

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But this is what he was talking about.

 

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They were concrete structures that were put up along parts of the old railroad tracks to keep snow from blocking the tracks back in the day.

 

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After we got turned around we found a place along the trail for lunch. The weather was really perfect and we got to know some of the others in our group as we ate.

 

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After lunch we drove on pavement back to Truckee and then down toward Lake Tahoe on Hwy 89. We went past Squaw Valley, home of the 1960 Winter Olympics and the Olympic Torch continues to burn 24/7 x 365 days a year.

 

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Then we hit the trail again in the area just north of where the Rubicon Trail exits near Lake Tahoe.

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We were making our way up Blackwood Canyon on our way to one of the many vantage points and vistas of the area when a member of our group had some problems with his trailer. With a little help from G's 'magic bag' he managed a trail repair and we were on our way again.

 

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Turned out that smoke from one of California's many fires that week was obscuring our view of Lake Tahoe from this vantage point.

 

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We came to a rough section where G got out to help spot the stock Explorer in the group, so I took a picture of Clifford there. You can see the smoke in the air here:

 

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That night we camped at Bear Lake, where G & I set up right next to the water and went for a swim before dinner.

 

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Jim & his crew cooked us a delicious meal of baked potatoes with lots of great toppings like chili, broccoli with cheese sauce, hamburger meat, chicken, cheese, sour cream, the works!

 

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Pictures from around camp:

 

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Breakfast was served, and we had biscuits & gravy, eggs, sausage, juice, coffee, etc. Everything was really good, but I guess G was still a little sleepy!

 

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Ready to hit the trail again:

 

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G did a Shockstraps commercial along the trail:

 

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We went to Ellis Peak where some of us hiked to the summit for a 360* view of Lake Tahoe, Desolation Wilderness and Loon Lake.

 

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Our leader Jim had provided fixings for sandwiches again, so we'd all made lunch in camp before starting out for the trail ride. Luckily I noticed that a meat bee had gotten trapped in one of our sandwich bags and I shoo'd it out. I didn't think G would want that extra crunch on his sandwich... Lunch was along the trail as we made our way to Sourdough Peak and views of Buck Island Lake, Rockbound Reservoir, Rubicon Reservoir, Spider Lake and a bit of the Rubicon Trail.

 

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From there we made our way to Hwy 89 by way of the McKinney Rubicon Road. While most of the group was headed up to Meadow Lake base camp, George and I went back to Truckee, and Donner Memorial State Park where we fed the meat bees some chicken, did our best to take a shower in the campground bathroom, set our alarm for 3:00 AM, and went to bed super early in anticipation of running the Fordyce Creek Trail the following day...

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