The SLO 4 Wheelers were headed to Coyote Lake so we decided to join them for a long weekend.
Since camping is somewhat limited at the lake we decided to beat the rush and wheel in thursday. Thinking that we were the only ones headed up that early we made no plans and cruised over to prather, got fuel and had lunch. As luck would have it, we saw a few other members getting gas on our way out of prather. Since we were towing I figured they’d have no problems catching us on the four lanes as we crept to the top, so we continued on. Surprisingly, the only one to catch us was Derrick and he pulled off at a snopark at the very top of the grade past Shaver Lake. We found a place to park the tow rig and continued up to Sandy Flats so the wife could use the outhouse.
Not sure how long the others would take to get there we decided to continue on and take our time with the trail. Its amazing how quickly one rig can move through a trail! Before I knew it we were at Red Lake. We enjoyed the scenery a bit and pushed on. I guess the jeep makes it rather boring as my wife decided to start reading her book after the gatekeeper! We arrived at Coyote Lake with our choice of campsites available. As we were setting up camp Derrick and a couple other Toyota guys showed up and quickly found spots. Not too long afterward Mike, Matt and Randy showed up and picked out sites. Even though we couldn’t have a fire due to fire restrictions everyone was in a good mood!
The plan for day two was to get in a bit more wheeling and meet the rest of the group coming in. We didn’t get that early of a start so we ran into them just above the Coyote Lake gatekeeper. We still had fun doing some easy wheeling and helping the others through the trail. Everyone got to the lake and setup camp. Some of the kids, well most of them, jumped in Kenn’s canoe for a ride out on the lake while some of the other guys went fishing. We wound up huddled around the lanterns at night due to the fire restrictions.
Saturday was a day to relax and goof off. We woke up late and attempted to hike up to the top of the mountain across the lake. We made it 2/3rds of the way up and had to turn around. Elevation is not your friend when you live at sea level! I think everyone else made it up though! The rest of the day was spent resting, eating, fishing or whatever we wanted to do.
Sunday came all too quickly and we had to pack up and leave. Wheeling out was uneventful although it did take a while now that we were with a few different rigs and we ran into a couple of groups coming in for the day. There isn’t much that beats wheeling in the Sierra’s! From the smell of the fresh air and trees, to the rocky stream crossings and wildflowers growing along side the trail it is allways breathtakingly beautifull!
It can also be equally challenging if you know where to look. After hitting most of the optional lines coming out of Coyote, the group split up and some went home. The rest of us decided to go down the Mirror Lake trail for a bit to the “hard” section I kept hearing about. I had allways heard something about a rock and a tree. The trail starts out very easy and then your dropping down a steep rocky face and around a tree with a boulder on the left. We all turned around and started back up one by one.
Derrick went first in his Toyota. He crawled up around the tree and then snaked his way up the rocky face till the truck started sliding off towards the edge. He thought it would be best to winch from there and live to wheel another day. Tom was next and had to take quite a few tries around the tree due to his carburetor loading up. A couple of tries up top and he was through. Kenn followed in his new 4runner and made quick work of the whole section. I was next with Mike in his CJ7 behind me. I told Carrie to buckle up and wear the harnesses this time as I wasn’t happy with the offcamber climb. I knew if the Toyotas could do it, the buggy would have no problems, but better safe than sorry! We got to the tree and cruised right around it with no problems. I waited for Mike on the other side in case he had issues. He popped right up no problem! The upper section had a couple of large boulders on the right forming the edge of the trail, and a steep off camber slab to the left. The idea was to stay up high on the slab to avoid getting caught on the boulders, just don’t roll it either! We went high on the left, but its so steep and off camber all four wheels were spinning and the buggy was drifting sideways into the boulders. Forward progress came to halt and we backed up to take another shot. This time Kenn thought we should try crawling the boulders. The frontend went up easily and after a bit of spotting and using all the travel the suspension had we managed to crawl our way to the top! I parked and got out to wait for Mike, but he was allready up. I guess he brought more rig than he thought!
We got back to Sandy Flats, unlocked the hubs, and drove back to the tow rigs. After packing up the rigs we drove back down to Prather and had fresh hot pizza!
It was an excellent trip and we can’t wait to go back!
Coyote Lake Video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Itqd5o2u9ig
Coyote Lake Gatekeeper Video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myrY6VRQqeM
Mirror Lake Climb Video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGn-2dLCcgE