Every year, during the second weekend of August, California Four Wheel Drive Association holds their annual Sierra Trek event, in the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains northwest of Truckee, CA. The event features four days of awesome four wheeling, great food, games, entertainment, live music, a saloon, along with an amazing restaurant, which serves breakfast and dinner, to guests have prepaid for the event.
My friends and I enjoyed five days at this marvelous event, as we arrived Tuesday afternoon, August 10th, and didn't leave until after breakfast on Sunday morning, August 15, 2021. This was an event that we hated to leave...
Photo: The 54th annual Sierra Trek was held August 12-15, 2021, at Meadow Lake, in the high Sierra Nevada Mountains, about an hour's drive, northwest from the nearest town, Truckee, CA. Base Camp is always located at Meadow Lake, at the 7200-foot elevation, about an hour down a rough, dusty Forest Service road.
Base Camp is actually located on a parcel of private property, within the Tahoe National Forest.
Photo: Wednesday morning, August 11, 2021, the sun rose above Meadow Lake as an orange ball, thanks to the monster "Dixie Fire," raging 50 miles to the north of Base Camp.
Photo: My friend Robert and I actually arrived Tuesday afternoon, as we had some extra time on our hands, and we wanted to stake out a good campsite. We ended up setting up our camp about 150 yards or so from what I call "Main Street" in Base Camp. Our camp was at a great location, as it was less than a 5 minute walk to all of the action, yet we were far away from any roads, dust and congestion.
Sierra Trek is the largest 4 wheel drive event sponsored by California Four Wheel Drive Association, and it attracts 4 wheelers from all over the country who want to enjoy the beautiful scenery, the amazing food, and try test their vehicle and their driving skills on the famous and highly technical Fordyce Creek Trail.
Photo: Both Robert and I signed up for the meal package - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - but since meals weren't offered until Thursday evening, we had to make our own meals for a couple days, as we'd arrived early. On this early Wednesday morning, Robert makes instant coffee, which was surprisingly delicious.
Photo: Nothing like a cup of instant coffee to get your Wednesday morning "in gear," as your author enjoys a cup of Robert's coffee.
Photo: Wednesday afternoon, we just hung around camp and enjoyed the beautiful day. Robert helped the staff set up tables at the "outdoor dining room," and I made myself useful in the kitchen, measuring and preparing hot chocolate for the upcoming three breakfasts.
Photo: Wednesday evening, Robert heated up a HUGE can of beans and bacon, and we enjoyed a feast for our Wednesday evening dinner.
Photo: It's Thursday morning, August 12, 2021, and we're at the registration booth on "Main Street" in Base Camp, to pick up our orange safety vests.
Wednesday evening, several member of the Santa Cruz 4 Wheel Drive Club pulled next to our camp, set up camp, and my friend and I immediately became friends with these fine people. The Santa Cruz gang had volunteered to work Winch Hill #4, so Robert and I decided to tag along and help them out, since we didn't have any firm plans for the day.
Photo: Winch Hill #4 is located about 3-1/2 miles southwest of Base Camp, and is the 4th of 5 "winch hills" on the famous Fordyce Creek Trail. We've just past the top of Winch Hill #5 - which wasn't set up yet - and we're on our way to our destination, which lies about 3/4 mile down the trail.
Photo: Robert's Jeep Grand Cherokee negotiates a particularly gnarly stair step in the trail, which the photo doesn't really do justice to the magnitude of this obstacle.
Photo: At the bottom of Winch Hill #5, as we were slowly grinding down this gnarly, rock stair step, we heard a loud SNAP! from the right, front axle. It seems that Robert's "lunchbox" locker had too much torque for his Dana 30 front axle, and it the process, broke the lower ball joint, which made his Jeep unable to drive.
Photo: We had to get the Jeep off the trail, so with the aid of the Santa Cruz guys, along with Robert's winch, we were able to get the disabled Jeep off the trail, and winch it to a safe place, where we could access the damage, and make repairs.
Photo: Robert and Jeff jacked up the Jeep, got out tools, and went to work. It turned out to be a lower ball joint on the Dana 30, and the "c-housing" was bent. Naturally, we didn't have the parts, but when you attend Sierra Trek, help is always available and, like the U.S. Army, nobody is ever left behind. Robert and Jeff assessed the damage, and when we got to our destination, Winch Hill #4, we used the radio to contact Base Camp, and order parts.
Base Camp ordered parts, and a courier made the hour-plus drive into Truckee, picked up the parts, and actually delivered them to Robert's stranded Jeep, while we were working Winch Hill #4 with the Santa Cruz gang.
The next morning, Robert paid for the parts, then he and Jeff hitched a ride down the trail to work on the Jeep. Spot welding was required, but there were no worries, as another four wheeler happened to have a welder, and Jeff is a certified welder.
By early afternoon, Robert's Jeep was put back together - albeit in 2-wheel drive only - and a committee member with a well-built Jeep towed him up to the top of Winch Hill #5, where after that, it was an easy 3 miles or so back to Base Camp.
Photo: The Santa Cruz gang had volunteered to work Winch Hill #4, to assist those who experienced difficulty in navigating the gnarly hill. Wisely, they set up canopies, to protect everyone from the hot sun - yes, it was hot, even at the 7000-foot level - on this late Thursday morning. The canopies really came in handy during early afternoon, as the clouds rolled in, and we were treated to an hour-long Sierra thundershower. If it wasn't for the canopies, we would have been soaked!
Members of the Santa Cruz 4 Wheel Drive Club, from left to right, Jeff, Jason, Robin - back turned, as he' was grilling hamburgers, Paul, and my friend Robert. We were taking a "breather" and enjoying lunch before the action started. Since Winch Hill #4 is near the end of the trail, the real "action" for us didn't start until early afternoon.
Photo: Robin cheerfully grilled cheeseburgers for our lunch, which really worked wonders. Thanks, Robin! Little did we know due to hang-ups, we wouldn't arrive back in Base Camp until nearly 11:00 that evening. Thank goodness the wonderful kitchen staff was on hand to serve us dinner, after we returned to camp after a hard day of helping fellow four wheelers up the hill.
Photo: Shortly after finishing Robin's delicious lunch of grilled cheeseburgers, fruit and chips, a group of well-equipped 4 wheelers passed us, heading down the trail. Well-equipped vehicles heading down the trail rarely require assistance from a winch crew.
Photo: Early afternoon, an hour-long Sierra thundershower rolled in, and made the rocks and the trail gooey slippery.
Photo: As this Jeep was winched up the slippery last obstacle, his right wheel grabbed some air, as Paul guided him up the obstacle.
Photo: Robert helped to keep the winch cable even, as it payed out on Robin's Jeep.
Photo: At the top of Winch Hill #4, Steve, out of Oregon, decided to use the "other line," and had a bit of difficulty. Jason and Paul guided him, as Robert operated the winch, which helped him from tipping over.
Photo: To add insult to injury, after the crew winched Steve up the obstacle, the starter on his Jeep refused to start, as all he got was "click, click, click." The gang tried every trick in the book to get Steve's Jeep stated, including tapping on the starter, jumping the battery, cleaning the starter leads, and jumping at the starter. Nothing worked, as Steve's starter had died on the trail.
Photo: Steve's Jeep was blocking the trail, so eventually, Paul got in his Jeep and pulled Steve off the trail, so uphill traffic could get by. Steve spent an hour or so tinkering with his Jeep until he realized the endeavour was hopeless. No worries, as a buddy came along and "strapped" Steve back to Base Camp, which must have been quite a feat, considering the difficulty of the Fordyce Creek Trail between Winch Hill #4 and the top of Winch Hill #5.
The next day, I heard that Steve had acquired a new starter, and was back in business. As I mentioned earlier, at Cal4Wheel events, NOBODY gets left behind.
Photo: The lower approach to Winch Hill #5 seemed to be difficult for many four wheelers on this late Thursday afternoon. Paul moved a few rocks to make things easier, while Jason and Jeff guided the orange Jeep, along with his buddies, up the trail.
Photo: This Rubicon is at the bottom of the final obstacle, and will be winched up. Generally, vehicles had three opportunities to conquer the obstacle before being winched up by the crew.
Photo: Mr. "Flat Fender" is at the bottom of the last obstacle and is about to be winched up the rocks. From where the Jeep is to where I'm standing, it's about 12 feet or so, and the trick for conquering this obstacle was to "hug" the rocks on the left, and to place your left wheels on the rocks, which worked like a ladder.
Photo was taken about 7:00 in the evening, just as the fading light made photography difficult. Due to others having problems, we didn't get to Base Camp until just before 11:00, but thankfully, the amazing kitchen staff was on hand to serve our dinners to us.
Photo: Fast forward to early afternoon, Friday, August 13, 2021, and here's a look east on "Main Street," Base Camp, an Sierra Trek 2021.
Photo: Early afternoon, Robert and Jeff arrived in camp with Robert's Jeep, so instead of going back to Winch Hill #4, we decided to stay in camp and simply relax. We stopped by the Cal4Wheel booth, and chatted with friendly Kitten, who was taking care of business. We all purchased tee shirts, and I renewed my CA4WDC membership for another year.
Photo: Sierra Trek is the largest 4 wheel event offered by CA4WDC, and Base Camp offers many amenities, including the Sierra Trek Restaurant, a cafe, camping, porta potties, live music, and much more. One of the highlights is the Old Goats Saloon, that offers beer, wine and a full-service bar at a very reasonable price. There is nothing like a Pacifico beer and a shot of Johnny Walker whiskey to "make" your Friday afternoon! Over the course of this Friday, and the following day, I enjoyed lots of "comfort" from the great beer, whisky, and the friendly staff working the saloon. Click on the link, or the photo, to see the article I published about the Old Goats Saloon.
Photo: Sierra Trek 2021 featured live entertainment on Friday and Saturday evenings, and the talented Sacramento-area band, Diva Rox, supplied the live entertainment. The band plays mostly "old school" rock 'n roll, from the 1970's and 1980's, but does offer some vintage country music, with a definite "rockabilly" twist.
I was lucky enough that the band was doing a couple of numbers in the afternoon for a "sound check," so I was able to get some decent photos during daylight outs.
Diva Rox has played at previous Sierra Treks, as they are popular with event attendees.
Photo: Lead singer of Diva Rox, Melissa, sings the Eddie Money classic, "Two Tickets to Paradise."
Photo: Melissa on stage, on this mid-Friday afternoon in August.
Photo: Lead guitarist Dave, along with the bass player, sing harmony. Small world, as I worked with Dave for nearly 15 years, so I know him well. He's a man of integrity and an accomplished guitar player.
Photo: When you attend Sierra Trek, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you purchase the optional "meal package," as you'll receive six delicious breakfasts and lunches - Thursday evening through Sunday morning - and you don't have to pack your food, clean up or do dishes, as the friendly kitchen staff will feed you outstanding mountain cuisine!
I published an extensive article on Sierra Trek Restaurant, so click on the photo, or click on THIS LINK to read all about the wonderful cuisine served at Sierra Trek 2021.
Photo: Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, the committee built a bonfire, near the stage.
Photo: On Saturday evening, August 14, 2021, dinner was served an hour early, starting at 05:00 in the afternoon, so the presentation, auction, awards and raffle could begin at 07:00, and the band to play beginning at 08:30 in the evening.
The announcer asked for a young volunteer to help him with the auction and raffle, and this young gentleman jumped up on stage and offered his assistance. The charcoal/wood grill on stage, custom built for Sierra Trek and donated by the Santa Cruz 4 Wheel Drive Club, was the subject of the auction, as this photo was taken.
Photo: Sierra Trek 2021 Chairman, Jeff Dax, presented Chef Donna with an award, for her hard work in making the Sierra Trek Restaurant, and all things that "foodies" love, happen, at this year's event. Thanks for your hard work, Donna, the food was OUTSTANDING!
Photo: After the presentation, raffle and awards were finished, around 08:30, the band Diva Rox took to the stage for tonight's live music and dancing.
Photo: Lead singer Melissa rocks the world with a cover of The Scorpions' "Rock You Like a Hurricane." Wow! ... Diva Rox covered this fine song with style!
Photo: Diva Rox on stage, playing classic, "old school" rock 'n roll music, with many covers of great songs.
Photo: The audience kept shouting, "Freebird! Freebird!," and after a bit, Melissa said, "We'll give you what you want," and the band launched into the 1970's class "Freebird." Such a great cover, and the audience loved it!
Photo: After dark, it gets chilly at the 7200-foot level, and the large bonfire feels great! The fire is located near the stage, so you can watch and hear the band, as you warm yourself by the cheery fire.
Photo: There is a large concrete slab in front of the stage, and Diva Rox encouraged the audience to dance, as they belted out rock classics. On this late Saturday evening, there were many dancers, enjoying Sierra Trek, the fine evening, and the amazing live music played by Diva Rox.
Sierra Trek 2021 had it all, and was an amazing four plus days spent in the beautiful high Sierra Nevada mountains, enjoying the beautiful scenery, catching up with old friends, meeting new friends, enjoying amazing mountain cuisine, not to mention lots of exciting four wheeling.
Sierra Trek is Cal4wheel's largest event, and it's an annual four wheel drive event that you don't want to miss!
Old Goat Saloon
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