It all started back in the '70s, when Bob Garret envisioned a national four-wheel-drive organization devoted to the Toyota Land Cruiser. In 1976, Bob founded the Toyota Land Cruiser Association and opened the group's first chapter in Ventura County, California. Growth was initially slow, but awareness of the TLCA and its events spread by word of mouth and through a newsletter called Toyota Trails. Today, with more than 4,000 members worldwide, the Toyota Land Cruiser Association (TLCA) remains committed to all Toyota four-wheel-drive vehicles, including Land Cruisers, 4Runners, and 4x4 trucks.
Thirteen years ago, the TLCA decided to host a run on the mighty Rubicon Trail. With the help of several local members, they were able to get it organized and off the ground, and it has become a regular annual event that's tailored for family fun. It all begins on a Wednesday when the first group heads to the trail around 2 p.m. To keep the trail from getting choked up with traffic, the TLCA allows several small groups to leave each day from Wednesday through Friday separated by a two-hour window. This year, we hit the trail Friday morning.
After everyone arrived at the Loon Lake trailhead, the group pulled out a little after 7 a.m. Going from Loon Lake to the base of Walker was just a matter of picking the correct line on the trail. Since this is the first large trail event of the year, the trail from Walker to the Little Sluice can be challenging. About halfway up Walker, there was a large boulder with a hole just on the other side. Quite a few eyes widened as the rigs tipped a bit going over the top, but everyone made it through safely.
We took a break at the Little Sluice for some trail repairs and a bit of fun. Playing in the sluice during this event is done at your own risk. If you break your rig, you have to fix it yourself. Even though it is fun to play in the rocks here, you could end up camping out for a couple of days while you wait for parts. Eventually, we headed on to Buck Island. The rocks were a challenge, as usual, as was the off-camber portion of the slabs, but thanks to the Marauders, the trail had been cleared of fallen trees and other debris left by a long, hard winter.
The section from Buck Island to the springs is always a lot of fun. It was here that our Jeep Wrangler (the only Jeep at this Toyota event) decided to teach us that 35-inch Goodyear MTRs (which have fantastic traction) and a stock Dana 35 rearend (which is not designed for much torque) are a poor combination. While following the trail leader out of Buck Island, the Jeep's spider gears snapped, leaving us only with front-wheel drive. But thanks to Phil and his trusty Toyota FJ40, we were strapped on through to the Big Sluice and finally into the main camp at Rubicon Springs.
You can imagine the kind of greeting we got as the sole Jeep at this event was pulled into camp by a Toyota. The crowd laid on the air horns, and everyone pointed and laughed. It was a sight to see. After taking the well-deserved ribbing, we drove over to the repair station and talked to Danny Warden. We decided that since it was late in the day, we would wait until morning to make the needed repairs.
On Saturday, the TLCA organized some friendly games of horseshoe and volleyball. Because the TLCA supports 'wheeling as a family activity, there were a lot of families in attendance. As the evening approached, dinner was served. As usual, the kitchen crew did a great job of feeding a very large and hungry group. One of the cooks even traveled to Tahoe and back for his choice of BBQ sauce to make the meal perfect. The raffle is always a highlight, and this year was no exception, with lucky winners throughout the crowd. Finally, the Marauder bar was opened, the dance floor was cleared, and the stage was set for music and dancing.
On Sunday morning, it was time to pack up the camping gear. The crowd slowly dispersed as people made the climb up Cadillac Hill. After stopping at the lookout for a quick break at the top of Cadillac, we headed down the trail to the pavement in Homewood and headed for home. This is a great family event for all Toyota owners, and we highly recommend it whether you are a novice or a highly experienced four-wheeler.
For More InformationIf you are interested in attending next year's Rubithon, contact the TLCA through their Web site: www.tlca.org.