A group of us headed up Red Elephant Hill on Saturday, July 2nd. We started by meeting in Downieville at the Starbucks to fuel up with caffeine. Then, we headed to the trailhead to air down.
While airing down two groups passed us on their way up. One group was a fellow MHJC patrol, and another was a full size Jeep J20 pickup, Bronco and a Ford Explorer (I think). The trail started fairly mild, but it quickly became fairly steep. As we headed up, the "J20" group was coming down from a spur, and we decided to let them go on ahead. However, we quickly discovered they were not really setup for the trail. They were running "open," and had several difficulties getting over some rock obstacles. For the rest of us, we locked in and made good progress. Unfortunately, at one of the rock obstacles, Gary's Jeep bounced up and landed with one wheel off the trail. In order to ensure the Jeep stayed up on the trail, we quickly connected the other 3 Jeeps to his. Daryl's Jeep connected via a tow strap, Bill turned his around and connected his winch cable to the front, and Tom connected his winch to the back.
After this bit of excitement (Trudy loved it), we continued up the trail only to stop a short way up due to Bill catching his diff on a rock. Gary filled in the ruts, and Bill was able to continue up. Unfortunately, it started to rain and caused a steep trail to get slick. The overall difficulty of the trail increased and pushed our Jeeps and nerves to the edge, at least a few times.
We quickly caught up with the "J20" group that were having all kinds of trouble getting up the trail, including an engine smoking, popping a beed and bouncing off a few trees along the way. Bill helped them get a tire back on, and we finally made it to the top area of the trail. This was fairly mild with just some tight spots to contend with, between trees. The final major obstacle we faced was a nice rocky area with a great opportunity to flex the suspension.
Coming over this rock, the rock sliders did their job, as Daryl came down hard on the drivers side. No damage to the Jeep!
At the top, we enjoyed a nice 4th of July cookout hosted by Gary. We had some good food and great stories to tell from our trip up.
We drove down the trail that goes up to Bill Moore Lake, and wrapped up the day by airing up and heading out. Overall, it turned out to be a really fun day...at least for me. :-)