9/7/06 - 9/9/06
After last year's very wet Rubicon trip in June, we decided to do it much later this year. So we aimed for the weekend after Labor Day in September. We usually try and avoid going when large groups or events are happening which is pretty much every weekend. We thought this particular weekend might be clear but we found out later that this was the weekend of the annual Marlin Crawler event. That would mean about a hundred or more Toyota's on the trail the same time we were.
We definitely didn't want to get caught behind this group so to get an early start we drove down Thursday night instead of Friday. We knew we would be arriving after dark, and we decided to run the first section of trail at night and camp on the slabs in the bowl. Because Gatekeeper was blown up by the Forest Service last year, doing this section in the dark at least made it new and exciting again, rather than focussing on the loss of a famous obstacle. On top of that, it was a full moon. The moonlight reflecting off of the granite was bright enough that you could see your shadow and walk around without a flash light!
We made it to the slabs without trouble and set up "camp". Fire restrictions were still in effect so we couldn't have a campfire, but it was almost better that way because being there under the full moon was quite the experience. Rather than put up tents, we just layed out the sleeping bags and slept in the crisp open air. Here's a few shots taken early the next morning.
Those of you who have my book will recognize some of these Cherokees that were featured there. We've all made some changes since last year - here's a brief list of what we're running:
Me (Project Rubicon): 35's / 4.56 / ARB's. What is different is I sold the TrXus MTs and went back to the Goodyear MT/Rs, new Cragar wheels (my backspacing is now the equivalent of 3.0" instead of 3.5" last year), new rear corner protection, and OME rear shocks with raised mounts.
Garrett (green XJ): 35's / 4.88 / 4:1 / Detroits. Garrett has since had the sides and back of the XJ Rhino-lined along with some minor body work.
Bryan (white XJ): 33's / 4.88 / Aussie front / LSD rear. Bryan has done a lot including a new Dana 44 rear and re-geared, new suspension with control arm drop-brackets, plated frame rails, and he finished is York OBA system.
Travis (multi-colored XJ with lots of tube...): 33's / 4.88 / LockRights. Travis's old white XJ was in the book but this is his new project. More detailed specs are in the Barrett Lake trip report from last month, but since then he put it on a 3" lift which really helped it sit right after getting loaded down.
Our plan worked out well so far, because we made it all the way to Soup Bowl and still hadn't seen a Toyota on the trail (other than the two that drove past us last night on the slabs...) This gave us time to try Soup Bowl, or "Soup Can" as I've also heard it called. Garrett was feeling good so he gave it a try.
After working him into just the right spot, he was able to climb up it.
Garrett hit his side on the big rock at the bottom when he was lining up to do this obstacle. It put a nice dent and some scratches in it!
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