Pirates of the Rubicon 1999 Cleanup
Pirates of the Rubicon 1999 Cleanup Short Cuts
by: Randy Burleson
These 25 rigs were hardly a third of those in attendance.

"Someone ought to..."We've all heard this and said it far too often. I know I've said it. Just saying it seems to liberate folks, as if they'd actually done something. But saying it doesn't do a darn thing.

"Someone ought to..." Well, the Pirates did. Three years in a row, now, and promising future years, too, the Pirates DID something.

Clearly, with a name like the 'Pirates of the Rubicon,' this club spends more than a bit of time on the Rubicon trail. Three years ago, they got fed up with the state of the trail, especially the popular Spider Lake campground. Instead of whining that "Somebody ought to... clean up this place," they organized a trip dedicated to do just exactly that.

In 1997, the Pirates started this annual tradition. The event grew each year, and this year, more than 60 rigs and more than 100 people pitched in to help out the Rubicon trail. With cooperation from the National Forest Service (USFS), the Pirates organized multiple groups to attack different sections of the trail.

Justin Reece came all the way from Oregon to help.
As always, the largest contingent of volunteers scoured the land surrounding Spider Lake. This year, several guys also worked together to build and install an additional outhouse on the Little Sluice side of the slabs. It's called the 'Chrome Throne' -- and you'll understand why when you see it. Several other committees worked to close off undesignated bypasses along the trail:

Volunteers used winches, as well as manpower.
Two 9000 pound winches (cables barely visible) were barely enough to pivot this ancient fallen tree across an undesignated bypass.
I rode in with Jeff Fretwell, club president, and we went to work on blocking the Walker Hill bypasses. Some Pirates were working on blockading the lower end of the bypass, winching in multiple monstrous deadfall trees. With their burly blockade as an example, we went up to the top of Walker Hill to block off the other ends of the bypass. With two trucks winching, we pivoted a three-foot diameter log across one exit, then used crowbars to move small boulders up against it.

Next, we picked out the biggest boulder we could find, and proceeded to winch -- and manhandle it -- into position. Bob Roggey's Warn 8274 alone wasn't enough to move this behemoth, but with a group effort, we managed to roll, drag, and skid it until it blocked the biggest bypass.

Mix chainsaws, pulleys, tree straps, choker chains, and a good dose of volunteer brawn, and the result are massive roadblocks. Let's hope that the same folks that didn't know enough not to blaze a trail around Walker Hill can identify these as barricades. The bright red USFS signs oughta help. Maybe they'll clue in to the 4-foot pile of 2-foot diameter logs. Perhaps they'll notice the Volkswagen-sized boulder blocking their way. Or maybe they'll notice that the trail is where the obstacles are, and not take the chicken way around. Let's face it, if you can't run Walker Hill, you shouldn't even consider going further. Turn around, go back, and build your rig! Why come up here at all if you are just going to bypass the best parts of the trail?

Bob stalled his winch on a car-sized boulder.
With Walker Hill thoroughly cleaned and repaired, we motored along to the party at Spider Lake. On the way, we passed a broken Toyota in the Soup Bowl - - an omen of the rest of the day, which would not go well for Toyota trucks. We pulled into Spider Lake and settled in to watch the action in Little Sluice.

Click here for coverage of the action in the Little Sluice.

Let's call 'em 'biodegradeables'...
The Pirates certainly know how to party, but more importantly, they know how to organize an impressive trail cleanup weekend. The results were overwhelming: the Rubicon trail (from Loon Lake to Spider Lake) received a much needed facelift, with truckloads of trash moved out and countless piles of ... uh, let's call them biodegradeables ... shoveled up and buried, well away from the lake. A new outhouse gives quiet hope that next year's cleanup won't require quite so much TP cleanup.

Next time YOU say, "Someone ought to... ANYTHING," slap yourself.

Get off your butt, get outta your armchair, and do it. If you can't do it all by yourself, then call some friends. Even if you can't start and finish the job by yourself, do SOMETHING.

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