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Mormon Emigrant Trail (2/02)

We ran this trail with Keven (SactoXJ) and about 8 other Cherokees, a Toyota PU, and a TJ. There were a lot of vehicles on the trail, from well-equipped 4x4's with lockers, winches, and recovery gear to idiots driving stock vehicles with street tires and no tow points. Mormon Emigrant Trail is actually a paved road that connects Sly Park Road (in Pollock Pines, off I-50) with Hwy 88, starting to the west at Jenkinson lake and ending about 2500 feet higher on Silver Fork Road near Iron Mountain ski hill. In the winter, the road is officially closed, and not plowed by the park service, but it's not gated off. The farther up you go, the deeper the snow gets, and the tougher it is to keep from getting seriously stuck!

I missed the group where I was supposed to meet at the Pollock Pines exit and drove about 2 miles up the road before running out of fresh tracks and turning around. A few minutes later I met up with the rest of the group as I tried to get some kids in a ZJ out of the middle of the trail. We headed up the trail several miles further, some of us trying very hard to get stuck, others trying to not get stuck, and all of us waiting around while other stuck people got un-stuck. Great buch of folks, and some really nice XJ's. I think around 3:00 pm my brother and I decided we would try and go all the way across to the other end of the trail. We left the rest of the group and followed the ruts created by a flattie and a Samurai as well as we could.

Roll over

Up, up, and then over on it's side--recovery in progress


A shot just before they got the Toy flipped back on its wheels

Jes on a rock

Jes on a rock


Waiting for the rest of the group to get done strapping the Grand Cherokee back to pavement



Blown bead

BS loses a bead trying to jump out of a deep rut

Getting ready to fix the tire

Hauling out the QuickAirII

Re-seating the bead

5 minutes later and the tire is back on, aired up to 10 psi, and ready to roll

Tow strap fun

Another group, mostly fullsize trucks, having traction problems

More tow strap fun

Keven gets ready to tug the big green Ford out of the ditch

Smalls asleep in the car

I think that's my brother asleep in the passenger seat

More tow strap fun

More waiting...

Keven yanks a fullsize!

Another shot of Keven in recovery mode

Another shot of Keven

And another

A big ugly Ford gets strapped by a puny XJ

A big ugly old Ford gets a tow from a little I-6

Buried alive

A shortcut that really never panned out

A snowball fight ensues

People pelting each other with snowballs

Another buried XJ

Another shortcut--I took off up the trail and never did see how this XJ got out

Not much past where we left the group, the trail got significantly steeper, and the snow a lot deeper. I got BS buried up to the front fenders and had to get strapped out by a nice old dude in a beat Toyota truck, who could be seen all afternoon stopped at various points along the side of the road staring up at the sky, smoking a cigarette, and drinking a Budweiser. Not a care in the world. Forward progress got more and more shaky the higher we went. By the time we got to the summit, BS was overheating, spewing coolant all over the place and emitting a very unpleasant "burnt-tranny" smell that made me nervous. Flotation was key, but steering was really difficult. The flattie and Samurai had it easier as they were lighter and could stay on top of the crust, but I had to constantly change the rpms and pressure on the gas to keep from digging a big hole or running out of the ruts into the deep snow on either side.

By the time we made it to the upper parking lot, I needed a beer in a big way. We aired up, filled the overflow bottle with about 3/4 of a gallon of water, and headed back dow toward Stockton. Fun day of wheeling, but I think I'll stick to the rocks unless I'm chained up. I definitely need to install a tranny cooler this summer. Yeeehaw!

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