Held from June 21 to 25, 2006, and hosted by the Toyota Land Cruisers Association (TLCA), Rubithon is one of the largest gatherings of Toyota-built rigs on the mighty Rubicon Trail. This year the event offered an added twist: Participants got the chance to testdrive several new '06 Toyota FJ Cruisers on the rocks in the main camp area at Rubicon Springs. It was great to see this new rig in action and also get the chance to see how it handled on the rocks. The general impression was that the FJ is a very capable rig, and many were surprised at the amount of traction and flex it exhibited.
To keep the trail from getting bogged down with traffic, the TLCA staged several runs of small groups throughout the event's duration. Each group was separated by about a two-hour window for its launch time and was limited to 25 to 30 rigs with a trail guide or group leader. On Thursday morning, the first group arrived at the Loon Lake trailhead and headed out a little after 7 a.m. Going through from Loon Lake to the base of Walker Hill was just a matter of picking the correct line on the trail, climbing some rocks, and dropping down some ledges. This was due to the fact that the Gatekeeper (an obstacle at the start of the Rubicon Trail) and other parts of the trail at the Loon Lake entry area had been reworked to help keep the trail open. But even with these simple trail repairs, the Rubicon is still a very tough trail from beginning to end.
Rubithon was the first large organized trail event of 2006 on the Rubicon, so from the base of Walker Hill to Little Sluice it was generally more challenging than usual due to Mother Nature's winter modifications. Quite a few eyes were opened by a little off-camber tipping on the way up Walker Hill, but everyone made it safely through to the top. Then, just past that, the group ran into a new log bridge built to help minimize erosion. The log bridge surprised some with its curves, but it was easy to wheel to the other side.
The next leg of the trail invloved the off-camber sections of granite slabs at Buck Island. The rocks and angles were a challenge as usual. A few minor vehicle repairs were needed along the way, but everyone made it safely around the island. Buck Island is a great place to take a break, relax, and swim in the lake before hitting the trail again. There is nothing like cleaning the trail dust off with a cool swim in a clear mountain lake!
After the break, the group wheeled over the dam and climbed up the rocks to the beginning of a formidable obstacle: Big Sluice. The turn on Sluice involves a steep drop down a big rocky boulder-strewn hill. This led into Rubithon's main camp at Rubicon Springs and was made more difficult than usual due to the heavy snow run-off this year. A few more minutes and the group arrived safely in the main camp and set up for the weekend.
Friday and Saturday were spent in camp enjoying the amenities Rubicon Springs has to offer. On Friday morning after everyone had had their first cup of coffee, it was time to try some trout fishing in the Rubicon River. While a few lines were pulled taut and trout could be seen in the crystal-clear, high-mountain water, no one had much luck at catching the elusive fish.
After playing around all day in and around camp, it was time for some Friday-night fun. The NorCal Marauders ran the bar, and the refreshments at Rubithon were a hit as usual. Friday night's setting gave everyone the opportunity to relax and sit around the fire with good friends and new acquaintances alike to talk about the current trail run and past events.
Saturday night featured the big TLCA dinner. The food at this dinner is one of the highlights of the event. Everyone was treated to a gourmet steak or chicken dinner with all the fixings. After dinner, participants enjoyed a night of music and dancing centered around the main camp's campfire.
On the final day of the event, it was time to wheel up and over Cadillac Hill and into Lake Tahoe. Besides being a wonderful family outing, Rubithon is an excellent chance for both experienced and less experienced four-wheelers to test their skills on the Rubicon with the gracious support of others, including Rubithon's trail committee members who are there to assist and spot with wheeling through the difficult sections.
Without a doubt, Rubithon is one of the best ways for wheelers of all skill levels to experience the excitement of the Rubicon Trail. Don't miss out on next year's event!