Trail of the Summer

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We were told the Wentworth Springs entrance would add an hour to our trip. Two hours later we were only half way over the Postpile. On a few occasions, the slabs made hard work of our trailblazing for lack of signs. We wanted to protect the land and honor the ordinance that no vehicle should be more than 25 feet off the center of the trail. So we walked ahead, looking for clues. Too many times the obvious sign, though helpful, was discouraging: trails of leaking oil, slicked up and down the valley. One day I’d like to see painted markers, like the ones in Moab to mark a clear line through the slabs.

After the Postpile, we stopped for lunch in a shady spot, retelling stories of the morning and prepping for the afternoon. Day one would be the longest of our three days. We still had six hours to go before the Buck Island Lake.

This is when Ryan Donald started to impress us with his preparedness. Need some lemonade? Ryan had four liters of it. Need some jelly? Ryan had two jars of it (Ryan, why do you have two jars of jelly?) Equipped with a new Engel fridge and gear to cover every situation, we were glad his capable rig, with 5.5” Rubicon Express lift and 37” Toyo tires, had our back.

Then we came upon the famous Little Sluice. It is hard to believe this used to be part of a paved road decades ago. Now Little Sluice is nothing but rocks – monster rocks. I was told that tires less than 40 inches should avoid the obstacle. But that didn’t stop Jon Hale from pulling his white YJ with CJ clip, rolling on 35s, to the front of the line. His wife, Jess, hopped to the ground with camera in hand. The rest of us wheeled the slabs of the go-around and then watched the show.

Jon pushed his Jeep to the limit. On one occasion he teetered on his driver side, nearly flopping, as his spotter hung onto his bumper, threw rocks under his tires, and heard Jon spurting out, “I can’t see you! Can someone, PLEASE, tell me what to do?!”

The dust on the Rubicon adds a new challenge to rock crawling. It lubricates the rocks, giving the tires less grab. Jon’s Goodyear MT/Rs needed a little help getting over the first hard boulder.

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