Article by: Harry Wagner
Rubicon Bash 2004
|Friday morning's lineup for the Rubicon Bash.|
For the fifth consecutive year, four wheelers have gathered at the Rubicon Trail for an event known as Drew's Bash. Originally started by Drew Persson (on the very pages of 4x4Wire, I must state proudly), the event was adopted in 2003 by the Gettin' Off 4WD Club. Typically held on Fathers' Day weekend, the event was moved forward a week this year as to not conflict with the TLCA's Rubithon. Unlike previous Toyota biased runs, this year's Bash was well balanced between Jeeps and Toyotas. No entrance fees or safety inspections were necessary on the run, which has transformed into a more informal trail ride as the years progress. Last year Gettin' Off ran the trail backwards (from Rubicon Springs to Loon Lake) and plans to alternate directions each year.
Many of the participants met Thursday night in the granite bowl just beyond Loon Lake. During the evening new friendships were formed and old friendships rekindled. Canada was well represented at the Bash and ensured that there was always a large fire to help any latecomers spot camp. The warm, clear night allowed the campfire bench racing to continue well into the night as well. Unlike the typical Jeep versus Toyota banter, Toyota owners Leonel Quinteros and David Fritsche exchanged verbal jabs with each other. The Jeep owners kept a quiet, knowing that they would not stand a chance if these two joined forces against their vehicles.
|As spring turns to summer, the Rubicon Trail is simultaneously beautiful and treacherous.|
Friday morning was clear and still, with the temperature climbing into the high eighties early in the day. More vehicles arrived in the morning, for a total of 16 rigs for the Bash. At 9:00 AM all of the vehicles lined up in the bowl for the now-traditional group photograph before departing. Unfortunately trouble greeted us early this day, as Patrick Barroga broke a birfield on the high traction slabs as all of the vehicles were lining up for the photo. At this time it was decided that the u-joint equipped Jeeps would continue on to our lunch destination of Spider Lake while the birfield brethren stayed with Patrick.
|Wet conditions made the Gatekeeper obstacle more difficult than usual.|
|Many participants arrived Thursday night and camped in the granite bowl.|
With skill and efficiency, Patrick and his cousin Carlos removed the broken birfield and replaced it with a spare in short order. They were not even dirty, thanks to Patrick's clever use of a plastic tarp and latex gloves. Unfortunately we were overtaken by another group during this time, despite Patrick's speed. The Vegas Valley Four Wheelers arrived with a group of approximately 40 vehicles, from Samurais to Suburbans. A short cut was attempted to pass the large group, but only resulted in our Toyotas being stuck in the middle of a large, slow moving group. Fortunately patience paid off and after only a couple of miles, a spot was found to pass the other vehicles in hopes of reuniting with the Jeeps.
Progress for the six locked Toyotas was swift, with everyone traversing Walker Hill without incident. Soon the Toyotas caught up with the Jeeps, but under less than ideal circumstances. Scott Walker's TJ had sustained some rear driveshaft damage while attempting to climb the Soup Bowl. Scott came all the way from Calgary for the Bash, and he wasn't interested in taking any bypasses. It wasn't long before the Jeep was repaired and traffic was moving again. A few more vehicles attempted the Soup Bowl, including a Samurai, a fullsize Bronco, and a pair of Cherokees. Only the Cherokees were successful on this day, as the rocks were covered with traction robbing dust.
|Solid axles, low gears, and lockers allowed the group to make steady progress.|
|Unfortunately this is as far as Kurt Gensheimer could get up the Soup Bowl.|
|David Fritsche attempts the Soup Bowl.|
Next up were Kurt Gensheimer, Leonel Quinteros, and David Fritsche. Unfortunately no one in our group was successful, with each vehicle resting on the passenger side rock rail, impeding progress. Due to the heavy traffic, it was late afternoon before we were leaving the Soup Bowl. Prior obligations required me to turn back towards Loon Lake and return to Reno on Friday night. The rest of the group continued on to the Little Sluice and Spider Lake before camping for the night at Buck Island Lake. Little Sluice is nearly impassible for anything other than a buggy at this time, but that did not keep Scott Wells from making an attempt. My sources indicate that Scott was making good progress before losing a tire bead, ending his run.
Details from Saturday's wheeling are sketchy, but initial reports indicate that casualties were high. Leonel Quinteros started the morning with a punctured sidewall. This was just the start of the problems, as Frank Patterson rolled his beautiful TJ shortly thereafter. Damage was limited to sheetmetal thanks to a stout rollcage and the vehicle completed the rest of the trail without problems. Not to be outdone, Leonel Quinteros put his truck on its side in the Big Sluice. Scott Wells also destroyed a rear differential on Cadillac Hill, but fortunately was able to nurse the vehicle to his tow rig. No matter what kind of vehicle you are driving or what direction you are travelling, the Rubicon is a trail that demands respect.