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Cougar Buttes Feb 2014 trail report Print E-mail
Written by Sparky   
Monday, 10 February 2014 17:44

Had a great trip with Dawson, Pawn, Flyte74 and Sparky on a challenging tour through Cougar Buttes!  The day was filled with everything including the obligatory TTORA u-turns.  Nobody broke anything but we all walked away with a scar or two.

Brandon, Dawson and myself met for some breakfast at Carls Jr and then headed over to join Leon who was waiting patiently at our starting point.  After airing down and some catching up, we climbed up Chicken Rock and made our way to the start of Bullfrog around 10:30.  The decent into the trailhead feels steep but, as you can tell by the pictures, there's nothing to get excited about.


Anza Borrego Nov 2012 trip report Print E-mail
Written by Sparky   
Monday, 12 November 2012 00:00


Friday night, I was driving on HWY 78 toward Spilt Mountain while Johnnie, rivethead and kellog were exploring Ocotillo. I got a hold of them and they met me at camp. We decided to take a drive up to Sandstone Canyon. I keep forgetting just how far up Fish Creek it is.   We get through all the fallen debris and end up at the spot where you usually find a sign stating that only foot travel is permitted. Well, the sign is gone. Either by someone or nature. I notice black tire marks on the walls ahead and decide to check it out. I get myself high-centered on an obstacle barely 25 yards in. We spent the next hour and a half getting me unstuck and then I still needed to do a 20 point turn around. We get back to camp at 2:30am and crashed.
Saturday morning, trucks start filing in. Even MikeAWood, who we happened to pass by on the way back to camp the night before. He followed my coordinates to the campsite which led him a mile up Fish Creek where he decided to spend the night. We had a quick meeting on trail etiquette and headed toward the trailhead of Canyon Sin Nombre where Vistataco was waiting patiently for us. He had run through Julian to pick up a most tasty desert for us when we get back to camp.
I took the lead while rocket-scientist brought up the rear and we started down the trail. It's pretty tame being mostly in a wash. We ran into some low cut brush on the way to the Carrizo Station which was used as a rest stop for the Overland Stage Line. It was a stagecoach service back in the mid 1800's. You can still see evidence of the site by the wood beams and barbed wire which corralled the horses.
We turned around and headed to Arroyo Tapiado where the mud caves are located. After a few map checks and finding a shady spot to accommodate the whole group, we broke for lunch and did a little exploring. The site is very fascinating! We traveled down one slot quite a ways and then went into a cave that spiraled into a big room. It's very cool to see what water is capable of doing the the landscape.
It was time to move on to Diablo Drop Off via Arroyo Seco del Diablo. After the unescapable TTORA SoCal u-turn, maybe 2, we found the cut-off and made it through. The drop off has seen some wear and tear. The first section puts you on three wheels while leaning your driver's side toward a steep slope. If you're not careful about wheel placement, you could find yourself in a situation. The next section is a narrow drop but nothing to be worried about. 4wd would be required if you chose to run this the opposite way which I might consider for next year. The previously named Broken Axle Gulch has a few obstacles now! Of course, the rock stackers tamed it a bit but after you remove all that I'd imagine you'd have a nice climb from the other direction.

We made it out to Fish Creek with enough daylight to make it back to camp and start dinner. I wanted to take the group up to Sandstone Canyon but time wasn't on our side. The trail run was a success. Johnnie got to see the end of my tow strap only once and we had a couple trucks require a refuel. The wind was on our side for the most part keeping everyone's dust out of the way. Everybody had a great time exploring the area. After dinner, we relieved rocket-scientist of his cobbler duties and had famous apple pie from Julian courtesy of vistataco. Thanks again, Garry!
Sunday morning, rocket-scientist and I decided to check out the Wind Caves which were just a short drive up Fish Creek. The hike is mild but mostly uphill to the caves. Another fascinating site. We even ran into a group that had made camp in the caves. They said the wind wasn't too unbearable. There are two cave sites. The first one you come to is the most extensive but the second one is still nice to explore. You get some awesome views from the top of the trail, too.

A big thanks to everyone who came out to have some fun exploring Anza Borrego! This run is one of my favorites. The area is filled with so much scenery and it changes a little every year.

Thanks to Johnnie and Rocket-Scientist for the pics! 


Last Updated on Friday, 25 January 2013 17:21
Miller Jeep June 2012 trip report Print E-mail
Written by Sparky   
Saturday, 16 June 2012 00:00


We all trickled into the Flying J and started off to the trailhead around 9:15. We had a great group of people with well prepared rigs. We were taken by complete surprise at the trailhead when we ran into 20+ ATVs getting warmed up. We automatically prepared ourselves for the worst. We managed to put some time between us, however, after airing down and having a driver's meeting. Seeing how fast they climbed the first set of switchbacks, we didn't anticipate ever running into them.

Tyler started us up Lockwood around 10:15 and through to the lunch spot. Everybody made it without a hitch. The vegetation in the area is still sparse due to the Day Fire that tore through the Los Padres NF in 2006. The trail still offers magnificent views while testing your nerves with sheer cliffs and steep, off-camber descents. We reached the picnic area around noon and ahead of schedule. It was a good time to take a breather as Miller Jeep trail is steep and riddled with a few rocky obstacles.

We broke for about an hour and then Tyler started us up Miller Jeep. The climb up Alamo Mountain is long and steep with plenty of switchbacks. We kept a slow and steady pace and everybody was doing great. Being tail-gunner, I wasn't sure why we came to a stop until Doug came over the CB and stated that Dave was stuck. I held my spot not knowing if any traffic would come up from behind so I had no idea what had happened and what was done to recover Dave's T100.


What I do know is that shortly after Tyler went to investigate the matter, a couple of vehicles from the large group of ATVs comes down to scout the trail for clearance. Tyler frees Dave and we're back on our way UP the trail. Just as I get moving, Tyler comes comes over the CB and says they've come head to head with 20+ ATVs coming down the trail. Evidently, the "scouts" had given the rest of the group the go-ahead to start down even though they knew we were still making our way UP. After the last one passed, we started up again and were at the top in less than 5 minutes.

After a quick break, we started down toward the OHV play area to have some fun. It's changed a bit since I've last been there 2 years ago. The uphill boulder climb had been tamed down but a few more obstacles were added around the area. I made it mostly through the climb but had to exit just before the last couple of boulders. Bryce started his way up, too. He ran into a few issues but overcame them. His 4Runner made up and he exited at the same spot. Tyler tackled a new obstacle that was made with cement tubes that were buried about 3/4 up and a few of us went up the rocky steps with no problem. People started to say good-bye but Bryce and I hung around to run through the sluice. This had also been tamed down but was still fun to go through. We had to exit out early on this one, too. A boulder is angled in such a way that it tilts your rig right into an opposing boulder and would result in some pretty extensive body damage for us IFS guys. The rest of us split around 4:30.
Everybody had a great time and got through the day with no carnage. This is the second time I've run this trail and look forward to next year. Thank you to everybody who showed up to make this a great run!

Thanks to Prospector and TacoEng for the pics! 


Last Updated on Friday, 25 January 2013 15:44
Cleghorn-Pilot-Dishpan May 2012 Trip Report Print E-mail
Written by Sparky   
Sunday, 13 May 2012 00:00


We got to the trailhead a few minutes late and noticed we already had a big line-up for Cleghorn. That only meant that we'd be spending a lot of time getting through 'er. We started out just a few minutes past 9:30 and made our way to the play area around the power line tower. I can't recall for sure, but I believe everyone except for our pre-runner made it up the steep side of the hill! I knew we couldn't spend much time here so we started up the trail again. Unfortunately, you have to pass by a few closures to get to the permitted bypasses. I briefly went over our policy of respecting these closures even though it's completely apparent that most others do not and have created "bypasses" around the very obvious obstructions.
The ride was smooth for the most part. I had our pre-runner close to me so I could let him know which bypasses he could take and when he had to stay on the main road. He had a great time, still. Especially at the end. The last part of Cleghorn gets more rutted out every year. We had quite the time getting the pre-runner down. With a combined effort from both man and machine, we managed to get him out with only a scratched bumper/hitch (and maybe some soiled shorts). Needless to say, he had a big grin on his face all the way through. We grouped up, said good-bye to a few and got ready to head over to the parking lot by the trailhead to Pilot Rock.
We arrived at the parking lot to meet up with a few guys that had been anticipated our arrival for a couple hours. Everybody was in good spirits, though, knowing that the fun was just beginning. We stopped for a quick lunch break and introduced a new rite of passage into the club. It always helps to have a good attitude and andyisnowskynet wasn't short of that.
As we climbed up the first obstacle, we lost tacoeng to diff problems. They made the decision to turn around in lieu of making the problem bigger. We continued through and made short time of the "X" trail. Another truck parted ways before we started the trek to Dishpan. We opted to bypass the trail up to Pilot Rock in order to save daylight hours. This proved to be a smart move because we would need every last minute of it. The last part of the trail is very appealing to all your senses. The first part of our group even got the chance to see some deer.
We cruised into Deep Creek where yet a couple more trucks were waiting to join the train. They were quite comfortable as Deep Creek is a very scenic place to set out a chair and relax. We crawled up the first set of 'falls and made our way through to the second and more difficult set of 'falls. I've never had an issue making up the face until now. It's changed slightly but my truck was just not having it. I went up the bypass and that even proved to be difficult. Rivethead made it up without even readjusting his line. We pulled up ahead and started walking back to what would be the event of the day.

Scuba tipped over slowly and the first thing he was told was to pull the keys. He got out uninjured and snuffy, j-money, rivethead and myself swung into action to get Scuba's rig stabilized and eventually back upright. With j-money's winch, my gear and rivethead's truck, we succeeded. This is where I preach about being over-prepared. I don't own a winch but I carry a Warn winch kit. We ended up using my kit with j-money's winch. I'm sure snuffy has an extensive collection of winching gear but we made the decision to use mine being that my truck was closer. And who knows, we might have had to use one more snatch block or needed more d-shackles. It pays in the end to have the gear to help yourself and others. After Scuba, j-money and rivethead worked on getting his truck started, a fellow wheeler (who happened to be in a Jeep) lent a hand in getting it through the rest of the 'falls as the sun went down. He had a great attitude and we would've had a harder time without him. We had a quick driver meeting to discuss splitting up the group. Snuffy suggested nobody tackle the 'falls at night and would make sure everybody else got down and out on paved road safely. The rest of us above would continue through to the end. Scuba, rivethead and j-money parted ways as they searched for a good campsite and the Jeep and I made it out ok. Me and my wife stopped by Coco's on the way home since the last meal we had was at 2pm and it was nearing 11. I gave BASEjumper a call and there group had just begun to air up for the long haul back home. I got my doorstep around midnight and snuffy shot me a text around 1:30 saying he had made it home safe.
It was a very long but eventful day! Like I said before, nothing happened that couldn't get fixed and nobody was injured. Hopefully next year we'll get everybody through to the end. 'Till next time.


Thanks to Prospector for the great pics!

Last Updated on Friday, 25 January 2013 15:28
Calico April 2012 trip report Print E-mail
Written by ShowStop   
Thursday, 19 April 2012 00:00
The morning started off slow with everybody just hanging out. We organized a drivers meeting about 10am and the two groups headed off. Scuba lead the hard run up Odessa and down Doran. Johnnie and ShowStop hit up the scenic tour.

We started off by heading out Mule Canyon toward the power line road. We took a detour south to a parallel trail that follows some mines and tailing piles. From there we found a spot to get Johnnie stuck. In his defense, this was some soft sand and it was the only time the whole day he got stuck.
We drove out to the power line road, decided not to go all the way to the dry lake and instead headed up to the north valley area. There was a group of shooters camped out in the valley. They were shooting across the trail we were driving on (illegal). It took a few minutes before we could pass and we continued up to the overlook.
After that, we headed back down toward Tin Can Alley and then up to the top of Odessa Canyon. From there we went down to the Oregon Mine to do some exploring. After we got done with that, it timed out perfect for us to meet with the other group coming up Odessa. Got to watch them climb the waterfall ledge.

We had lunch near the Oregon mine where we stopped earlier to explore. After that, Johnnie and I headed north to the dry lake overlook, then over the Wall Street Canyon overlook, back up to the Bismarck mine, and eventually back down Philips Loop to camp. We arrived at camp just after 6pm. Johnnie headed home and we sat down for a nice quiet evening around the campfire.
Last Updated on Friday, 25 January 2013 15:28
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