Story by Lance Clifford
Photos by Lance Clifford, Cheri McRae, and Charlene Bower
The Jeeper’s Jamboree on the world famous Rubicon Trail celebrated it’s 60th anniversary this year and it was at the top of our list of “must attend” events this summer. With a near record attendance expected, a fully tricked out Jeep to be given away to a lucky participant, it was sure to be one heck of a party at Rubicon Springs.
After making our camping list and checking it twice, the time had finally come to head up to Georgetown, CA, which is the headquarters of Jeeper’s Jamboree (and previous home of Pirate4x4 headquarters) where we would meet our group of friends to begin our journey over the Rubicon. After a great breakfast at Corner Kitchen, we got our Jamboree swag and hit the road for the short ride up to Uncle Tom’s Cabin for a quick refreshment before heading up and over Hartless Pass to Loon Lake. Uncle Tom’s cabin is a cool little bar in the middle of nowhere, and one of my favorite snow wheelin’ destinations as it is open year round.
Since our wheelin group consists of Jamboree vendors and media, we typically head into Rubicon Springs a day early so our friends can organize their booths, get their display vehicles cleaned up, and we can find good photo spots for the incoming entourage of Jeeps. Our group is usually one of the first to hit the trail, but not this year. The parking area at Loon Lake was nearly full with tow rigs and trailers. This year was different, this was going to be a REALLY big party!
We had a great trip all the way to Rubicon Springs with no breakdowns, and that’s a good thing considering we came in a day early. Those who travel in during the actual Jamboree enjoy the luxury of the famous Jeeper’s Jamboree “Rock Rollers”, a dedicated crew of spotters located throughout the entire trail on the more difficult sections to help get you through without too much carnage. In addition to the rock rollers, Jamboree participants have a full blown mechanic’s repair stations complete with welders, and every tool you can think of to repair your 4×4. If you are stranded and need a part, a new part can typically be flown in via helicopter.
As we neared the weekend, Rubicon Springs filled to near capacity with approximately 1,800 people and every type of 4×4 vehicle imaginable. Some people think that Jeeper’s Jamboree is only for Jeeps, but that is far from the truth. Oh but there were plenty of Jeeps – really cool, old Jeeps of the flat fender variety! The vehicle that started our crazy 4×4 addiction was at Jamboree in force. The resurrection of “Flatville” from years past had 22 flat fenders lined up for an informal show’n’shine competition that got the attention of many attendees. Congratulations to Mike Maloney who won with his WFO Army flatty.
This wasn’t just a big birthday for Jeeper’s Jamboree, it was also my 40th birthday celebration. With that said, we had quite the camp complete with our own fully stocked bar and plenty of goodies for midnight snacks. Of course all of that was completely unnecessary as we were treated to 3 meals a day by the Jamboree cook crew. We had pasta Thursday night, pork tenderloin Friday night, and steak on Saturday night. Great breakfast and lunches everyday helped soak up all the liquids we consumed daily while lounging in the water, or bellied up to the full service bar in main camp. In addition to the great food and bar, the Georgetown Rotary Club had a full service “Ice Cream Parlor” complete with “special sauce”. Somehow I only managed to have one sundae all week, but it was awesome.
Over the years there have been some great bands at Jamboree. The featured band this year was country band “Whiskey Dawn” and I must say they were pretty darned good. We tore up that dance floor!
Friday and Saturday’s raffles were off the hook with thousands of dollars of prizes donated by industry leading vendors. But the prize everyone was waiting for was handed out on Saturday night to one very lucky gentleman named Jeff Saari from Reno, Nevada. Jeff won a fully tricked out Jeep TJ loaded with everything you need to tackle just about any trail in comfort and style. Big congrats to Jeff and a special thanks to the vendors that made the giveaway Jeep happen!
After all the fun we had all week, Sunday rolled around with a rather somber feeling in the air as people learned of an accident that took place on Cadillac Hill on Saturday afternoon. With a fire blocking the exit route up Cadillac Hill, guests were treated to another great night of food and music while the Forest Service worked on extinguishing the fire.
“We would like to extend a loud thank you to everybody for supporting Jeepers Jamboree and working with us. We appreciate you staying with us the extra day and making the exit on Monday go as smooth as it did,” said Bob Sweeney.
Reports on the accident are still premature, but if you would like to show your support for Rachel who was badly injured in this unfortunate accident, please visit her Facebook support page and give her some words of encouragement.
Another Jamboree in the history books. We can’t wait till next year!