Jeep TJ Photojournal - August 2002 Road Trip

Mods, etc.
Hollister Hills September 2001
Oregon Road Trip Thanksgiving Weekend, 2001
TJ Photojournal Home- All other images
The (Minor) Accident and Repairs
Henness Pass Road Trip! August 2002 (this page)
Weekend Wheelin' September 2002
Front Speaker Upgrade
Hollister Hills II March 2003
Old Coast Road November 2005
GBES Navigational Rally in Nevada June 2006
Morning Mountain Run July 4, 2006
New mods! Roof rack, lights, etc. Independence Day Weekend, 2006
Santa Cruz Mountain Family Drive August, 2006
Brief visit to Frank Raines OHV October, 2006
Carnegie OHV November, 2006
Hollister Hills III and San Juan Bautista December, 2006
Oregon Holiday Road Trip December, 2006
Clear Creek and New Idria ghost town January, 2007
Tassajara Road February, 2007

We were due (or overdue) for a small vacation so I plotted out a road trip that would last roughly 8 days to cover 1,070 miles. We started off early on Friday (8/2) and made our way from San Jose on Hwy 87, to 280, to 680, to 580, to 205, to 99, to 70 into Marysville. That's a lot of different highways for what was about a relaxed 4-hour drive. We spent the night at a generic hotel (where our room was upgraded to a suite with a jacuzzi, but we really could have appreciated that at the *end* of the trip!) After this first night, it was time to dive into the history of the late 1800s.

On Saturday we woke up early to meet up with the other participants of the Sacramento Jeepers' (3rd or 4th?) annual Henness Pass Road trip. This trip lasted through Sunday evening and took us from Marysville to Virginia City, Nevada. Most of the trip was via dirt roads and Jeep trails with some occasional paved-road travel, and was narrated by Warner Anderson who is well-versed in the history of this old trail. The trip was great fun, even though we regularly choked on clouds of dust much of the time. It was run pretty well overall, and we're looking forward to similar trips in the future.

The wheeling was generally pretty easy, with a few more challenging sections. Most of our time was on rocky and/or washboard dirt roads. Besides stock and modified CJ/YJ/TJ Wranglers there were also many other SUV-types, including an older model Land Cruiser, a Defender 90, a Range Rover (Classic), a Bronco, a pickup or two, and so on. There were even some of the lamest SUVs imaginable, like the Santa Fe, although thankfully there were no CRVs or Lexus Mall-purpose vehicles! Driver competency, experience, and manners varied considerably. Most of the people there were great, and we sure met a lot of nice folks. Ages ranged from little kids to one old-timer who had to be in his seventies at least.

There were a few SNAFUs along the way including a few body scrapes, wrong turns, a bent hitch rack, a passenger (not mine!) panic attack, slowpokes and other difficulties - all minor. All in all, we definitely enjoyed this portion of the vacation and I was able to add to my offroading experience and learn new lessons.

The Henness Pass trip started with about 40 vehicles, much more than I had expected since the trip literature said that it would be limited to 25 (plus the "trail boss" vehicles), although some folks left early and I think we finished up on Sunday afternoon with more like 28. After we said our goodbyes we drove through historic (and touristy) Virginia City and stopped just south of town where we had reservations at the Gold Hill Hotel, probably the oldest hotel in Nevada. We showered and got cleaned up, relaxed and enjoyed a high-class dinner at their restaurant.

We departed Monday morning and drove south then east to Silver City, then from there south on 339, through the Toiyabe National Forest on 338 and back into California stopping at Bridgeport for lunch at the Hays Street Cafe. We then drove south, past Virginia Creek Settlement (our lodging for the next two nights, 5 miles south of Bridgeport and just north of the main road into Bodie) and made our way down to Mono Lake. After several hours at the lake we returned North, checked in to the hotel and then had a nice dinner at the Bridgeport Inn.

Tuesday morning, after breakfast at the cafe again, we drove down and spent much of the day exploring the Bodie ghost town. We had a great time but inexplicably forgot to put on our sunblock even though we knew we'd be walking around in the warm sun all day, and at high altitude (about 8,000') and as a result we got very toasted. We drove on the rocky dirt road (not recommended for passenger cars and the like!) east towards Aurora, a ghost town in Nevada. By this point I finally aired down to a conservative 25psi. However, we were running out of time, in an unfamiliar area, and were feeling the effects of the sunburn so we actually turned back just past the Nevada border. We headed back to our hotel and had dinner at their restaurant, and I then took the opportunity to clean my dust-choked air filter with a "recharging" kit from the NAPA parts place in Bridgeport. I should have brought a kit with me in the first place. Between the altitude and the choked filter the Jeep was not exactly powering its way up the frequent hills. After cleaning and re-oiling the filter, it did much better!

Wednesday we again left early, had our final breakfast at the cafe and headed south for our last offroading of the trip, the Copper Mountain Loop as described in Tony Huegel's "Sierra Nevada Byways." The book listed several offroad excursions in the area, and I was determined to drive at least one. It turned out to be a great drive, and there were no other people or vehicles on the trail so we had that wonderful area to ourselves. This type of side trip was one of the main reasons I bought the Jeep! We had a wonderful hour or so on the loop, in a very scenic area. There were some challenging trail sections, nothing serious but it helped to pick a good line as usual. I think that one portion of the directions in the book was incorrect, but was able to compensate with ease.

After Copper Mountain we drove south past Mono Lake and into Lee Vining to get gas and air up. Then it was west on Hwy 120 up to Tioga Pass at 10,000' and into Yosemite. We leisurely wound our way through the park and down into the valley, then down to our final hotel, the old Wawona on the southwest tip of the park. We stayed at the Wawona on Wednesday and Thursday, enjoying the area around the hotel and spending most of Thursday hiking in the Yosemite Valley area.

On Friday, we left for home, reluctantly departing Yosemite Valley after an all too-brief stay. We drove on 140 west down to Merced and then to Atwater, while the temperatures climbed steadily. In Atwater ("Backwater") we visited Castle Air Museum by the former Castle AFB (where my grandfather was stationed as XO of the 456th FIS) and then after filling up the tank continued west on Hwy 140 to 152, where it was really, really hot. We then turned north on Hwy 101 and then took 85 home.

Random Jeep-geek notes:

A lot of the mileage numbers are approximations as we concentrated on enjoying the trip as opposed to making detailed records.

48641I took roughly 300 digital images during the trip, and selected 31 (around 10%) as representative. This is a composite of two images from the staging of the Henness Pass trip in Marysville.
48658*We're on our way!
48677The Bridgeport covered bridge, built in the 1860s, not to be confused with the town of Bridgeport we visited later. This is apparently the longest covered bridge in the country, and it seemed like it. This was the first of three covered bridges on our vacation, and there are apparently only 10 left in all of California.
48698aChoking on dust was more common than not on this trip, and presented an interesting challenge. Typically, you want to allow a longer gap between vehicles so you're not right in their dust trail, but with 40 vehicles trying to listen in on narration via CB on mountain roads, keeping the group as compact as possible was desirable. Some folks clearly valued cleaner air over the narration, which stretched out the group behind them and as a result, since we were toward the rear of the group after a wrong turn, we missed a lot of the narration on the first day. :(
48698bThis is about as clean as the hood ever got for the rest of the trip. This is after most of the loose dust has blown off!
48725*Stopped on the trail while some fallen trees are removed. This portion of the Henness Pass trip had the most challenging sections we were to encounter, as well as the least dust, and was great fun.
48730*Sierra Buttes, if I remember correctly. I'd like to visit the fire lookout point that's up there one day.
48741*Jackson Meadow Reservoir, which we camped next to on Saturday night. We had a good dinner with splendid company here, and an equally enjoyable breakfast before departing Sunday morning.
48742aThe Jeep instrument panel is somewhere underneath all of that dust.
48742bOur home for the night. The weather was perfect, and while nicely sheltered we could still hear the wind roaring through all night.
48756*The group pulled over at one of the tour sites.
48817After the Henness Pass trip ends and the group breaks up, we travel a mile south to the Gold Hill Hotel where we had reservations. After cleaning up and relaxing a bit, we went to dinner at the hotel restaurant which was very good and also very expensive. After salads, an appetizer consisting of elk and venison tenders, and a petite mango sorbet with champagne float, I had the elk filets while Carrie had the wild boar tenderloin. After our nice desserts, accompanied by a nice 1962 port for yours truly, we waddled our way upstairs to our rooms to recover.
48845*You have to love Nevada, where you can go offroad just about anywhere and everywhere, the polar opposite of the South Bay where we live. This is off Hwy 339, south of Silver City and north of Wabuska. I think.
48895Wilson Canyon, a bit further south. While driving through Nevada this morning, we listened to my "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" soundtrack CD. :)
48953*Our room at the Virginia Creek Settlement, south of Bridgeport.
49058aCarrie's ready to dig for gold in Bodie.
49058bMy shot of Bodie from the graveyard. It's not as good as the popular poster photograph taken from about the same location with a wideangle lens, and I didn't have any good clouds to work with to help the lighting, but it's still OK.
49063*Offroad at the California-Nevada border, east of Bodie.
49068*On the way back to Bodie, we encounter a different kind of traffic jam as we crawl along behind a small cattle drive. I hung back and went as slow as possible to avoid spooking the herd.
49069*Old mining structure, east of Bodie about even with the toll house ruins on the dirt road.
49112aAtop Copper Mountain, overlooking Mono Lake. North of the lake (not in the picture) is a great view of the Bodie hills. This was a great side trip, and one that most visitors to the area never know of or get to experience.
49112bTo me, this looks like a Jeep ad. :) Still atop Copper Mountain, now looking west.
49113*The deer we saw on the way down from the peak, looked like a doe whitetail?
49153*In Yosemite, somewhere on the central-to-east portion of 120. That's a big rock!
49242*El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, maybe the coolest place on earth. Too bad it gets so crowded, but you can't blame anyone for wanting to come here. It's almost too grandiose for the mind to comprehend.
49245a*Vernal Fall, my strongest memory of two previous trips to Yosemite when I was younger. A moderate or strenuous hike depending on which map/book you read, it's worth the effort.
49245b*Another shot of the fall. In August, it's a steady fall but it doesn't thunder like it does earlier in the year.
49245c*Emerald Pool, just above Vernal Fall, with Liberty Cap in the background. Awesome.
49275*Me on the verandah at the Wawona. At every opportunity I would sit out here and read the perfect book I had brought for the trip, Theodore Roosevelt's marvelous "Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter."
49300*Yosemite Valley, from the overlook near the Wawona Tunnel, just before we headed home.
49512After the stop at Castle Air Museum (lots of pictures taken) we arrive home weary and sunburnt, only to find that it's like a hundred degrees.

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Last Modified January 24 2014