Rock Creek Trail Ride
July 22, 2006
by Willie Worthy

map showing Rock Creek off I-90.

Where: Rock Creek area to a secret trail I discovered a couple of years ago. It was once a road to a mining area worked in the 20's, a really good road judging from the amount of rock work in some locations. It's not shown on a FS map, but it is shown on a USGS topo map.

photo of a wooden sluice box (click on images for larger views; images open new windows)

 

photo of a rock wall next to the creek

Five of us - Ron in his monster Blazer (aka "the destroyer"), Jeff in his "wimpy axle" but very capable YJ, Derek with his "no suspension travel" IFS Toyota, Craig in his way too shiny black TJ, and Willie in his Fast Attack Vehicle flatfender - conquered a very interesting and super neat trail in the Rock Creek area to remained undisclosed at this time due to the fire danger and a couple of other reasons. This really was a great trail in a very steep and narrow canyon with lots of tall grass, heavy brush, 30-plus creek crossings, a multitude of various wildflowers, and millions of butterflies, if not zillions.

photo of a jeep crossing through water

Three of us sweltered in the day's 100 degree temperatures, while Ron and Craig were "cool" with their windows rolled up, except for the times their vehicles overheated.

photo of  a jeep crossing through water

Not a particularly tough trail but interesting enough to get your attention in several areas. Derek surprised us all and did a really good job of driving even if he had to be " tugged" in a couple of places and managed to have a tree jump out in front of his right front fender.

photo of a jeep on the bank

The "destroyer" lived up to its name actually exploding a dead tree as well as a large tree stump, but they got back at him with a twisted off sway bar! Naturally "Jeep Jeff " jumped in and pretended he knew what he was doing and had the offending part off in a flash.

facing a jeep climbing over a tough spot

guy working on the underside of a vehicle

Of course, Ron had to do it right next to a dead deer that the flies were feasting on, and they soon decided that fresh meat was better than dead deer. For a long few minutes all you heard was "damn, darn, ouch, sh----*&%**&#%% and slap-slap-slap". We continued to fight the flies all day long, including some Blazer-sized horse flies.

Maybe the trail ended where we turned around and maybe it didn't. We may never know. For one, I got tired of cutting trees! Lots and lots of trees, and two, it was getting late in the afternoon and a lot more trees were going to be needed to get cut. This area is destined to be closed under the new Forest Service travel plan. We will see.

three men moving chunks of a downed tree

man with a chainsaw looking at a hung up tree

man cutting up the tree

There was some difficultly in getting back out of the canyon. Naturally, I had no problem getting out because I was leading. Jeff was behind me and tore up the trail/shale hillside so bad that Craig found it impossible to get out. Ok, maybe Jeff didn't tear it up and I did some of the damage, but Jeff did manage to get up it through some superior driving skill, and a bit of luck. Anyway back to Craig. After numerous tries, it was winch time. Only problem was that the only winch anchor was up the side of a cliff to a tree about 130 feet away. Derek volunteered to help Craig pull winch rope and some straps up the hill where Craig then managed to extract himself. Derick must have made twenty tries under the capable directions of Jeff before succumbing to failure and what he thought was going to end in a rollover several different times. We had him pull to the side and let the "destroyer" tackle the hill. Well he lived up to his name and moved a lot of loose rock in the ten or so challenging tries it took before finally making it out. He definitely put those 40 inches and Detroits to use. I am sure by now Derek figured his Toyota was going to become a fixture in the creek bottom, but Ron gave in and was able to strap him out.

vehicle being towed/pulled by another

By 6 pm we were out of the canyon and on our way home. Later Jeff told me that his distributor started to die on the way home and just made it before total failure. There is no way we could have pulled him out of this canyon should it had succumbed to the demons. It would have been leave it and come back with another one. Or for that matter had any one else broke it would have meant fixing it there, not a tow home.

I am trying to get ahold of the right people in the FS to see for sure if this area is going to be closed or not, and if not we might want to consider the club adopting it as a project. We will need some kind of a winch anchor in this one now very troublesome spot before we can even attempt to go back in.