I finally got to check off the Rubicon Trail from my bucket list last week. Words and pictures can’t describe how incredible this trip was. I had wondered before the trip just how hyped the trail might be compared with reality. I’ve run trails in Ouray and Moab that had a lot of hype attached to them but didn’t quite live up to it but I’m happy to say that the Rubicon surpassed all of my expectations. In difficulty, beauty, and just the sheer adventure, it delivered!
We left Colorado on Sunday morning for the 2-day trip to the trailhead. It’s somewhere around 16 hours each way and we split it in two by staying in Wendover, NV both on the way in and back. The sun was just going down when we approached Wendover the first day, so we decided to head out to Bonneville Salt Flats and see if we could get some good pictures. I’d been there a couple of times before and it’s always been full of water. I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case this time, but it was unfortunately still more like Lake Bonneville.
We got into South Lake Tahoe around 2 pm the next day and immediately ran into the scene of a fatal accident and were delayed about 45 minutes while they closed the road to allow a flight for a life helicopter in for the survivor(s). On the other side of S. Lake Tahoe, we ran into some of the worst traffic I’ve ever been in with everyone returning home from the area at the end of the holiday weekend. It took us 4 hours to drive the 40-ish miles from S. Lake Tahoe to Loon Lake.
We camped that night at the Airport Flats campground near Loon Lake. Not sure how the campground got its name since it was neither flat nor airport-like, but it was a nice place.
The next morning, it was a short drive on the paved Ice House Road to the Loon Lake staging area.
The road turned to dirt shortly before the staging area:
Looking down at the staging area from the spillway:
We arrived at the staging area, aired down, and had a quick driver’s meeting.
While we were at the staging area, a helicopter was flying in loads of equipment for the DOT workers in the area right next to us:
We drove up onto a granite slab that we followed down into the trees to the site of the former GateKeeper obstacle. The obstacle was demolished sometime recently to allow the DOT crews to get in (I think).
We entered the giant granite bowl where we had a group of Toyotas. We let them pass us at this point, only to pass them again at the top of the bowl due to one of them breaking an axle.
The trail was marked here and there with these diamond-shaped Rubicon Trail signs high up on trees (I assume so they’re harder to steal):
We crossed through the Ellis Creek area then had lunch up on top of Walker Hill.
After lunch, we rolled up on Little Sluice. Little Sluice is an optional extreme obstacle. We all walked up it to check it out and decided that it was a buggy territory and that we would take the bypass. We heard that they are planning on blasting some of the very large (jeep-sized) boulders in Little Sluice and getting rid of the bypass. This is supposed to happen this year, so I guess it will be different if I run it again in the future.
We soon reached the gorgeous Spider Lake.