Coyote Lake August 2013

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!

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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.

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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:

Coyote Lake Gatekeeper Video:

Mirror Lake Climb Video:

Carrizo Plains Exploring April 2013

I had wanted to check out the Carrizo Plains National Monument for awhile now and spring seemed like the best time to go.  It should be green right?  Normaly april would be a great time to go and see green hills and lots of wildflowers, but not this year.  Our last real heavy rain was sometime in november and we’ve only had a few trace amounts since.  You can see from the pics that its been a very dry winter.  In fact when we were out there in late april it was allready getting close to 90deg during the day!  Anyhow, it was good break from yardwork and next time we come we will know a bit more about where to go.  Here are some pics from the trip.



Dusy-Ershim 2009

Here are some pics from our Dusy-Ershim trip in 2009.

Hollister Hills April 2013

Went for a short trip up to Hollister Hills SVRA this past weekend.  I towed the jeep up Friday night and met some friends from the SLO4Wheelers.  I showed up at about 8:30 at night and promptly got lost in the dark.  After being “caught” night wheeling with my truck and jeep on the trailer, I was escorted down to the camp area.  Boy was it packed!

I think I got about 2hrs of sleep that night and the morning was a bit rough.  Luckily the new to me camper shell and a little propane heater helped to take the bite out of the cold morning air.

Tom led us over to the Mcray Road obstacle course so we all could check it out.  Some of us played on one of the rocky sections while the others watched or checked out the rest of it.  If you haven’t seen it, Mcray road is a series of really hard man made obstacles.  Even in my jeep buggy I knew it would be pointless to try most of it.

Bonanza Trail

After checking that out, we cruised over and ran the bonanza trail.  Its your basic Hollister ravine trail. You wind your way up the hill in the bottom of a ravine, often times leaned over so far your cage is touching the opposite embankment.  We spent a little bit of time getting up the trail.  Trails like this aren’t easy on full bodied rigs.  We attempted to go to the top, but found out that it was a dead end.  Coming back down Kenn found out he had sliced a tire so we headed back to camp for lunch.

After lunch, Kenn hoped in my jeep buggy and we took off following Derek and Chad up to the jungle trail, yet another tight ravine trail.  We started in and almost immediately I this overwhelming smell of fuel.  I had been smelling bits here and there all morning, but it was obvious now that something wasn’t right.  We stopped, popped the hood and sure enough fuel is dribbling out of my high pressure line to fuel rail connection.  I knew I didn’t have any parts to fix it, so we decided to limp back to camp rather than risk having a fireball on the trail.  Bummer, my day was over because of a 10 cent o-ring.

Chad coming out of the pit

We then jumped in Kenn’s cruiser and went over to watch the action at the obstacle course.  The highlight came when Chad decided to crawl into the rock pit.  He got most of the way out, but there was this one pesky rock that kept holding him up.  On his last try, a little too much gas, a hop and bounce, and BAM, broken sector shaft on the steering box!

Broken Sector shaft

That was pretty much it.  We got Chad out, loaded up the rigs and took off.  It was a good weekend and I think everyone had fun!  I did, even though my day was cut short, and I’m looking forward to going back!

Blue Canyon May 2012

Got back from the Blue Canyon Poker run. Had a great time and the camping sure beats the hell out of camping on a dry lake bed!

The run is not super hard, actually its pretty easy, but its nice to get up to the mountains this time of year. There were a few granite areas to play on.

The steering seemed to work way better than it did previously. I think the royal purple ps fluid actually helped. It seemed that if I left the fan on “high” all the time that it would stay cool enough to not cavitate. So I drove around with the fan on and trying not to rev the **** out of the engine. Steep climbs would still set it off though.


At least we’re making progress and the jeeps getting used!


Swamp Lake July 2012

The trails are open in the Sierra National forest so we went and ran swamp lake this past weekend.  Went in wed and drove home saturday.  This trail can be done in a day, but its a long day.  The first pass was really easy, but then you drop down into the valley and it starts to get fun.

After some technical spots you come to rooster rock.  It may look flat in the pic, but I was sliding sideways while trying to go up.  Its steep!  The camoed 4runner was doing a wheelie most of the way up.

At the top of rooster rock.

We camped for 3 nights at Grouse lake.  It was a nice place to camp right next to the lake.

The rest of our friends showed up thursday, we met them at rooster rock.

Some old mining equipment by Grouse lake.

We spent some time on Friday driving over to swamp lake to check it out.

There was this cool old mine shaft you can go into.  You can go all the way to the back and it hangs a left.  It still has some of the old timbers supporting the roof.

View from the top in between Grouse and Swamp lake.

I let the lady drive a bit.  She has only driven a manual trans a few times and never done anything other than dirt roads.  She picked it up quick and seemed to have a good time.  It freaked her out when I got out and decided to walk a bit though.

I have to say the jeep worked really well!  It’s a tank out there and it makes everything look easy.  The power steering appears to be fixed.  It made little to no noise all weekend and I wasn’t babying it.  I am ****ed at my radio as I couldn’t get it work and it was completely dead the whole trip( I even checked for power and ground connections at the radio), but when I pulled it back into the shop it came back on.  I haven’t decided if I should drive over it yet or not?

The one major downfall to the jeep however, is still storage space.  I don’t feel like I gained a whole lot in the build and what I do have is difficult to use.  I wind up having to stack stuff I don’t need during the day on top of stuff I need to access.  Its doable, but its really stress full trying to pack everything and make sure the lady and I will be comfortable for 5days.  I’m thinking the jeep is going to wind up as a day tripper or for trips when I’m running solo, making it even less usefull than it is.