Pirate 4x4

Photos by: Sammy Sievert, Kim H, Erin L

I have said it before, I’ll say it again- There is no community like the off-road community. In the mad dash to get on the road to the 65th annual Jeepers Jamboree on the Rubicon, I had an overheating truck and no idea how to fix it. With a few phone calls to some of the off-road folks, we had a diagnosis and a cure in mind. After it was all fixed, those folks continued to contact us to make sure we were ok on the road. The camaraderie is strong, and once more it proved strong as we made our way through the Rubicon to Rubicon Springs.

Our Jeepers journey started Wednesday morning when we caravanned up to Georgetown, CA to get our tickets and check out the Vendors show. It seems as if the vendors show grows every year. It’s truly a great place to check out the latest products in the industry, shake hands with some companies, or even buy some last-minute parts for your rig. The entire main road through town was shut down for the show. It’s a sight to see for sure. The locals seem to love it as well as everyone needs everything (I know I certainly always end up needing a ton of stuff last minute!) In the midst of the vendor show, you swing into the Jamboree office and fill out your waivers, get your wristbands and vehicle sticker, and your totally rad swag bag.

Some would peel out from the vendors show to head to the trail that evening, while some would wait until Thursday morning to head in. We were the latter of that. My buddies, girlfriend and myself decided to wait until daylight to head in despite traffic, as we were there to be on the trail, whether it be sitting in the Jeeps or sitting in camp in Rubicon Springs. On top of that, we are not morning people, and, my girlfriend had never been to Rubicon, and I just couldn’t wheel in at night. The trail is so stunning that if you have never been, you should do it in the daylight to get the full experience. Wednesday night we went shopping for the essential adult beverages, Chapstick, snacks, and gasoline. We made our way back to Shingle Springs to pack and have an early night in.

Thursday morning came, and we did some final prep, checked all the fluids in Christine, my faithful 1947 Willys CJ2A, and started making tracks for Georgetown to rendezvous with Chris Crofts, my good friend and trail partner. We all had some fresh coffee and enjoyed the last moments of being able to post photos to social media, and then departed for Loon Lake.



It was a chilly morning but warmed up fast to a comfortable 80 degrees for most of the day. At the spillway, you grab your lunch for the day, air down, lock hubs, and say a prayer for a safe journey through the trail.

On the first obstacle, one of the unsung heroes of the trail (and a blessing when you go on Jamboree) waits for you. This magical person is a rock roller. Being in a small flattie, I’m more than happy to see them and deeply appreciate their help. After having to get my tires warmed up a little we made it over without a hitch (or winch?) and continued toward “Beer Tree” where we stopped to visit with friends before carrying on toward Walker Hill. We met up with Mike McDonald who jumped in with our group in his well-built TJ.

I appreciate Rubicon for the moderate difficulty of terrain, but mostly for the views. You simply cannot take a bad photo (well, that’s not true. You might forget to take the lens cap off your camera like the author) and looking around, you can’t help but smile. It’s Heaven on Earth. My girlfriend was in awe of the views, every which way.


Past Walker Hill, we came up to Buck Island. It’s a sight for sore eyes to see the buck island repair crew who are waiting to help you with any mechanical issue you might have. My group was running strong so we carried on toward Buck Island Lake, where we pulled off and jumped in to cool off and rinse off from the dusty trail. The water was very refreshing and relaxing. It’s always fun to wheel over the dam of the lake as well on your way in.

After being refreshed, we continued through the sluice boxes for some true rock crawling over some boulder fields, where I did run out of talent. I turtled badly, my stomach sank. My girlfriend looked over and I could see it in her eyes… “This man I’m dating, did he just do this? Is this the man I want to be with? A man who turtles his rig in such a simple area?” (ok maybe she was actually only laughing) My heart was beating fast. Forward, reverse, high range, more skinny pedal, I wasn’t going anywhere. I feared having to take a strap. But I look up and there was one of the unsung heroes… He stacks a couple rocks under my driver front and I back up, try a new line, and roll on. Thanks spotters!

After a long day of wheeling, the Rubicon Springs bridge is always a welcome sight. It’s a great place to get out and take some photos as you cross into town.

Upon getting to Rubicon Springs, we were greeted by the aforementioned off-road community that helped figure out the broken tow rig. There were also some others I hadn’t seen in a while with them. A couple of the greats from Ultra 4 racing – Shannon, Terry, and I would come to find out Tom, Loren, and the Coles would be there as well for some much-needed time relaxing.

We made tracks to our camping sport in Dirty Dozen, and then back to the chow line.

That’s the thing about Jamboree, you get helping hands all the time, and, the cook crew feeds you 3 times a day. Should you want a frosty beverage there is also a bar, “Amos Place” where you can purchase them. The food is always spectacular, all hauled in by the cook crew in Jeeps and Trailers.

Once in the springs, you can do whatever you’d like (well, almost). We chose to go on a hike with the crew from Track and Trail Offroad, where Oren managed to get us all slightly lost and then found. The hike led us to an old log cabin and then to a secluded swimming hole where we tempted fate and went cliff jumping. What a rush!

We hiked back to camp just in time for lunch. Always good. After that, we didn’t know what to do, but I was ready for a shower, so we found my Jeep and hooked up the Synergy shower for a nice warm shower. As they say “if you build it, they will come”, and they did. I would venture to say 15 people had a nice warm shower.

After parking again, it was time for dinner and a night of partying. The band “Tragically White” was performing on the stage in Rubicon Springs and put on a good show. The dance floor was packed and everyone was sharing stories of their journey in and what they did that day. You’re always in good company at Jamboree. President Bob Sweeny was making the rounds making sure everyone was doing good and having a great time. That man sure knows how to throw a party!

The next morning brought us the Second Annual Raceline Cornhole Tournament. My girlfriend and I signed up for it, but I’m in no way athletic and she had to carry our team. We were out, into the losers rounds and then out again in no time. We sat by to cheer on our friends who were still in it for a little while before heading down to the river to float around, chew the fat, and think about steak dinner that evening. The Dust Junkies and Off Road Brands had an easy up in the river with hors d’oeuvres in anticipation of dinner.

Saturday night is always my favorite meal. Steak, salad, dinner roll, and corn on the cob SOAKED in butter. My Jeep certainly had a lean to it the next day after I was able to roll into it. Once more Bob was making the rounds and ensuring sure dinner was perfect. I had to remind him that the Warden brothers always take good care of me and know how to grill a good steak!


Once again Tragically White took stage to play. It was a Mardi Gras themed night so the cook crew and the Genright crew was dressed appropriately. The stage was packed, the campfire was big, the company was great, and the night was smooth.

After mingling with hundreds of our best friends, we headed back to camp. I was itching to practice night time photography, so Chris and I started playing with lighting and positions of our Jeeps. It’s a good thing we had reservations at the 10,000 star hotel!

The next morning everyone broke down camp, cleaned up any and all garbage that might have escaped our bags. The land we are on isn’t ours and we are not children. Pack out more than you pack in! We then began to head out toward Cadillac hill. I always worry about going up the hill, however, the heroes of the trail, the Rock Rollers, are there to hold your hand all the way up. When 500 vehicles try to exit at once you’re bound to have some traffic, but it was ok, just meant more time to hang out with your friends.



At the top of Cadillac is Observation point, a great area to take photos of your vehicle as proof that you made it, round up your crew and take a group photo, or take photos with your significant other. After taking a couple hundred photos and selfies, we carried on out the trail. Auburn Jeep Club was there making hot lunch for everyone, and while we ate, Scott from the Dust Junkies was welding on another rig using battery cables and 2 batteries. Trail repair at its finest (and I’ll point back at the greatest group of people around!)

We made our way out the trail to the staging area where we cleaned all the glass, aired up tires, inspected damage, and then hugged everyone goodbye. It’s always hard to face reality again, leave hundreds of your closest friends and head back into the real world.

Jeepers Jamboree is truly a trip you don’t want to ever end. It’s like a physical and mental reset, and simply lots of fun. My first year in, Kevin Carey took me. This year, I got to bring my own Rubicon newbie, and she had a total blast and we both can’t wait for next year. Hopefully after reading this, you can come join us on the trail in the future as well!