Jeep Jamboree Rubicon Springs - Jeepers Jamboree 50th AnniversaryPosted in Events on February 1, 2003
Rubicon-Proven has been synonymous with Baja-Proven for many years. This speaks well for the Rubicon because a 300-plus-mile Baja race destroys more than half of the vehicles that enter the competition.
Jeepers Jamboree began when a group of local businessmen discussed ways to improve their local economy. The result was the Jeepers Jamboree. On August 29, 1953, 55 vehicles and 155 people left Georgetown, California, on their way past Uncle Tom's Cabin, Wentworth Springs, Loon Lake, Buck Island Lake, and into a base camp at Rubicon Springs. The number of vehicles continued to grow until the Jeepers Jamboree was forced into running two groups into Rubicon Springs. Even then, it set a limit on the number of vehicles for each run. In addition, the Jamboree began using an alternate route to the north end of Loon Lake. This route bypasses Wentworth Springs and takes Ice House Road directly over to Loon Lake where the real action begins. The alternate route is shorter, faster, and immediately drops you from pavement into the rough stuff.
As participants arrived in Georgetown on a hot Wednesday at the end of July for the 50th Anniversary, they checked-in at the Jeepers Jamboree office and received a driver's packet and wristband for each registered guest. Because all of the meals are provided, the wristband provides a way to keep track of 1,800 people at mealtime. After checking-in, most participants took a stroll down Main Street in Georgetown to check out the vendor displays and watch participants arrive. Our favorites were the drivers who arrived in a limousine followed by their 4x4s on a flat bed semitruck. Now that's stylin'.
On Thursday morning, 475 vehicles left Georgetown en route to Rubicon Springs. About one-third of those participants forfeited a free breakfast and lunch and left early to beat the crowd. The Friday run added another 250 vehicles to base camp, and on Saturday Mark Smith, brought in a group from the DaimlerChrysler Corporation, bringing the total number of vehicles in base camp to 800, plus one helicopter. These vehicles carried in nearly 1,800 people to Rubicon Springs for meals and entertainment.
Although the Jeepers Jamboree always begins in Georgetown, most Rubicon bound four-wheelers bypass Georgetown and the washboard section of road from Georgetown to Ice House Road. That section of the Rubicon Springs Road has been commonly referred to as the Road From Hell. Instead, they use Ice House Road from Highway 50 to reach Loon Lake. This more direct route allows Rubicon-bound visitors to run pavement up to the first real four-wheeling section. But things have changed. Over the past few years, the county has been working on paving the 27-mile section of road between Georgetown and Ice House Road. And at the time of the 50th Jeepers Jamboree, the road crew was finishing work on the last few miles. With this stretch of road paved, visitors will be more likely to start their Rubicon adventure at the same spot where it all began 50 years ago: Georgetown.
Several four-wheelers commented that the Rubicon Trail seemed rougher than years past; we thought the trail was about the same. The Rubicon has always been a tough trail, and running it with the Jeepers Jamboree eases the pain. The Jeepers Jamboree has more than 40 Rock Rollers volunteers on the trail to place rocks in holes and guide drivers. There were 20 mechanics on the course to aid anyone who experienced a breakdown. And if you broke down and needed a part? No problem. The helicopter flies in your part, a Rock Roller runs the part down to your broken Jeep, and you pay for the part after you reach camp. The parts are even priced at actual cost; the helicopter delivery is free. If you have ever broken down on the Rubicon and waited for your buddy to drive out for a part, you'll appreciate the value of a helicopter.
Once the vehicles leave Georgetown, the Jeepers Jamboree spends a tremendous amount of resources to get all of the vehicles off the trail and into camp before dinner. Of course to do this, some sections are closed, like the Little Sluice, or people would be broken down with major problems and never make it to Rubicon Springs in one day. Once in camp, there are plenty of trail hands to make your stay a pleasant one. Ten people tended the bar, workers served ice-cream sundaes at the ice-cream parlor, two Deputy Sheriffs kept the peace, and 10 camp crew members and 85 cooks prepared meals. The Jeepers Jamboree staff served more than 17,000 meals in just four days. The beer batter pancake breakfast and a full-course steak dinner, complete with champagne and puff pastries, were the premier meals in this year's 50th anniversary trip across the Rubicon.
Participant campsites were set up on a first-come, first-served basis on both ends of the Rubicon Springs camp. Campers quickly found the shortest route from their campsite to base camp for meals and entertainment. There were 52 outhouses ranging in age from new fiberglass houses to 40-year-old wooden structures. Twice a day, the potties received a dose of deodorizer and a stock of paper. Clubs and friends camped together and relaxed under the tall pines or along the riverbanks. Several campsites had fully stocked bars set up, while others simply had the bare necessities: a sleeping bag laid out on a bed of pine needles. Between meals, most campers were either cooling off in the water or sitting in the shade of a tree. It was kickback time.
Evening entertainment in base camp was awesome. After dinner, laughter filled the air as nonbelieving four-wheelers fell under the spell of hypnotist Melanie Greenwood. Starting with 15 unsuspecting volunteers, Melanie managed to hypnotize more than half of them. They danced, demonstrated sign language, shivered when they were told it was very cold, and spoke to Martians - in their native language, of course. You never heard such weird noises. A highlight came when Melanie told each of them that the oxygen was getting thin and it was hard to breathe. As each of them began gasping for more air, Melanie told them to take off their shoe and use it as an oxygen mask. Once they began to breathe easier, she told them to share their oxygen with their neighbor, whose oxygen supply was running low. As hypnotized volunteers began to breathe easier in their neighbor's shoe, the crowded camp just roared laughing.
The grand finale was Saturday night. The sounds of Bag Pipes brought people into base camp for dinner. After dinner, $40,000 worth of prizes were raffled off, including a new '02 Jeep. The odds were in your favor. Each participant received only one ticket, making the odds much better than the lottery. When the prizes were all distributed, the participants relaxed with the country singer/songwriter Tommy Barnes from Nashville and the traditional Rubicon sounds of the California Cowboys band.
After the Saturday night celebration, people began leaving in small groups ahead of the scheduled departure time. The climb up Cadillac hill is just as grueling as it has always been. Narrow sections of road, rock ledges, and off-camber slabs bring four-wheelers out of Rubicon Springs and back into civilization near Lake Tahoe. Once on top of the ridge, the good work of the Friends of the Rubicon became noticeable. Bypass routes had been restored and volunteers had moved in more than 2,400 tons of rock to shore up the trail so that everyone could pass through the wet areas. Friends of the Rubicon consist of various four-wheel-drive clubs, individuals, businesses, county governments, the National Forest Service, the Blue Ribbon Coalition, Jeep Jamboree USA, and the Jeepers Jamboree. If you would like to help keep the Rubicon Trail open and maintained, contact the Friends of the Rubicon to find out how you can help.
Keeping the Rubicon Trail Open
The popularity of the Rubicon Trail attracts more than 70,000 people a year across the trail. Surveys have shown that 35,000 of these backcountry visitors manage to cross during the summer months. The Rubicon Trail may not be the roughest USA trail, but it is the most popular. And because of its popularity, the Rubicon Trail has come under attack many times in its 50 year history. The most recent attacks are centered on the sheer number of people crossing the trail.
Four wheelers, ATV enthusiasts, and mountain bikers would be wise to properly dispose of human waste, know where the trail is, and stay on it. The best estimates are that more than 70,000 pounds of human waste are left along the Rubicon Trail each year. Obviously it accumulates in the most popular areas (Loon Lake, Spider Lake, Little Sluice, Buck Island Lake, Rubicon Springs, Big Sluice).
Everyone can help with the human waste problem. First, make every effort to use the restroom at both ends of the trail (Northshore Campground at Loon Lake and McKinney Staging Area on the Lake Tahoe end). Between restrooms, as gross as it may sound, consider carrying your feces out with you. There is a portable dry chemical toilet available, The Pett, to make this idea a little more plausible (www.thepett.com). One Pett per club or group would make a real difference. And if you do it in the woods with the bears, dig a 6-8-inch cathole in the most organic soil you can find (near a decomposing log or in dark rich soil), bury the feces, and bring the toilet paper out in your trash (in a plastic bag, of course). And if you can't imagine yourself bringing the toilet paper out, then be sure that it is buried at least 6-8 inches below the surface. No one likes to see toilet paper flowers sticking out of the ground.
The best place to dig a cathole is on south-facing slopes and ridges. These areas receive the most amount of sunlight to assist in decomposing feces. Then follow a leave-no-trace policy. After burying your cathole, cover up the disturbed ground surface with the surrounding ground cover. Urine does not carry with it the bacterial problems associated with feces, so urinate on pine needles, rocks, or gravel rather than in the dirt or on vegetation.
Another action that will help keep our motorized trails open for future generations (to use a phrase coined by extremists) is to always know where the trail is located and stay on it. Occasionally, a person in search of more challenging obstacles will drive off the trail to reach an obstacle. This behavior creates illegal bypasses that others mistakenly follow; this compounds the problem. When you make your own bypass or leave the designated trail in search of more challenging obstacles, you are doing a disservice to fellow enthusiasts, not to mention destroying the backwoods environment that we travel so far to experience.
If your vehicle, whether it is a rock buggy or an extremely capable 4x4, needs a tougher challenge than the Rubicon Trail or any other designated trail offers, then take your rig to a designated Open Area. There are still plenty of designated open areas that have obstacles that will challenge any man-made vehicle. Check with the OHV Coordinator at your local forest or BLM office for an Open Area near you.
To learn more about how you can help keep the Rubicon Trail open and maintained, contact the Friends of The Rubicon at www.friendsoftherubicon.com or www.delalbright.com