Driving the Rubicon, one of the world's most difficult off-road trails
Recently, I drove the Rubicon Trail and joined the list of the very few Indians who have done this. It's a 22-mile (35 km) 4x4 rough mountain track littered with rocks and boulders located west of Lake Tahoe in the USA. It was once used as a trading route and hunting ground by native Indians. In 1953, the first-ever "Jeep Jamboree" was held here and ever since, they have become fabled annual off-roading events.
The Rubicon Trail is one of the world's most challenging trails rated a 10 for "most difficult" on a scale of 1 to 10. The path with steep inclines and sheer drops is so narrow most of the way, that avoiding the obstacles is not an option. Driving skill and precision is particularly vital and of course a strong four-wheel drive vehicle with low ratio gears, delivering a low crawling speed, is a must. In the one and a half days, I was on the Rubicon Trail, we covered distance at a speed of slightly over 1 kilometre per hour! This is the slowest I have ever gone in an automobile, but boy it was fun. And yes, sometimes dreams do come true.
Driving the Rubicon Trail in the US, is the dream of every off-roading enthusiast
The Rubicon is about 35 kms long and requires a lot of skill behind the wheel. We averaged just over 1 km per hour, but it's possibly the most fun I have had in a vehicle
The Jeep Wranglers suspension is as elastic as a yoga guru and offers tremendous wheel articulation, which is essential in this tough terrain
The experienced Jeep Jamboree spotters were like 'guardian angels' showing us the correct path and telling us where to place the wheels
Due to the narrowness of the route, most obstacles cannot be avoided. You need to gently balance the vehicle with throttle or brake, and also steer precisely to get through
Full concentration, smooth acceleration and braking, carefully measured movements and inching forward without fighting the vehicle, are essential on the Rubicon
The best way to see the world is throught the windscreen
Don't let the vehicles in front distract or discourage you. Stay focussed and believe you can do better, it helps
Our cosy tent with a cot at the Rubicon Springs Camp
Solar showers hung out in the sun to heat the water inside
Shower area for the 'Best Ever Bath in the Bush'
Most of our food and supplies came in a helicopter, as that is the only way of getting anything to this desolate region
Even though we were in the jungle, our hardworking and hospitable organisers ensured we had hot and delicious meals. Note the portable camp stoves
And this spirited oldtimer regaled us with songs like the 'Piano Man'
Campfire time, 'Country roads take me home, to the place, I belong...
Such journeys, remain forever etched in memory
The pitch and roll display in the Jeep, saw possibly the most extreme and acute angles it ever will
We disconnected the sway (anti-roll) bar for better wheel articluation and also electrically locked the front and rear differentials, for maximum traction
Sweet dreams are made of this, who am I to disagree?
Rockin on the Rubicon
Photos: Jeep and Bob Rupani
Starts Rs 63.94 Lakhs