~ jbjeep & MudBall's webpage ~

Dusy-Ershim Trail, Shaver Lake, CA August 11-17, 2001

The People:

Jim Williams - 80 CJ, locked, 37's - also Tow rig and trailer (with TJ on trailer)

Dan Williams - 51 Flat Fender Willys, locked, 35's - also Tow rig and trailer (with Willys on trailer)

Gil Meacham (& Sharkey) - 77 CJ, locked, 37's - also Freightliner and trailer (with 2 CJ's inside and Toyota on trailer)

Brian Fix - 84 Toyota PU, locked, 35's

Jennifer Baker - 98 TJ, locked, 33's

(Jim's pictures are at the bottom of the page)

Day one of the trip was spent driving from Portland, OR to Shaver Lake, CA.

Day one on the trail, day 2 of the trip.

Courtright Res. to Thomson Lake.

Day one - Chicken Rock

Jim on Chicken Rock

Chicken Rock

Brian coming up Chicken Rock.

Jim, top of Chicken Rock.

Dan coming up Chicken Rock.

Gil at top of Chicken Rock.

Courtright Res. from Chicken Rock.

Along the trail

Lunch stop

At the lunch stop

Along the trail

Along the trail

Along the trail

Along the trail

Stream crossing

Small meadow

Gil on trail in meadow

Gil along the trail

Dan on trail

Along the trail

Along the trail

Along the trail

Along the trail

Thompson Hill

Thompson Hill

Thompson Hill

Thompson Hill

Thompson Hill

Thompson Hill

Thompson Hill

Thompson Hill

Thompson Hill

Veiw along the trail

View along the trail

Thomson Lake

Meadow along Thompson Lake.

Day two on the trail, day 3 of the trip.

Thompson Lake to Ershim Lake.

View along the trail

East Lake

East Lake

The guys fishing at East Lake.

The guys fishing at East Lake.

East Lake

East Lake

Dan, first fish of the day/trip, East Lake.

First fish of the day - East Lake

East Lake

East Lake

East Lake

East Lake

East Lake

On the trail

A rocky corner on trail

A rocky corner on trail

After the rocky corner, Jim has no brakes.

If you look closely you can see the puddle of brake fluid.

Broken banjo fitting.

Jim trys welding the banjo fitting.

Jim trys welding the banjo fitting.

Jim trys welding the banjo fitting.

Jim trys welding the banjo fitting.

The offending part still leaking.

Along the trail

Along the trail

Getting camp set up at Ershim Lake.

Ershim Lake - as the sun went down.

Ershim Lake - as the sun went down.

Day one in camp at Ershim Lake, day 4 of the trip.

Ershim Lake

Ershim Lake

Ershim Lake

Ershim Lake - Sign board

Ershim Lake - history sign

Ershim Lake - camp

Ershim Lake - the wilderness boundary is just the other side of the campground.

Ershim Lake - setting up the boat.

Ershim Lake - the boat is ready.

Ershim Lake - finding a launch spot.

Ershim Lake - Dan and Gil going fishing.

Ershim Lake - Jim working on the banjo fitting again.

Ershim Lake - Jim working on the banjo fitting again, Brian holding the welding mask for him.

Ershim Lake - Dan gasing up the shower machine.

First days haul of fish - Brooks and Rainbows.

First days haul of fish - Brooks and Rainbows.

Ershim Lake - hot showers all you need is a well equipted Jeep, some rope, a showerhead, a blue tarp, and the floor mats from a Toyota.

Day two in camp at Ershim Lake, day 5 of the trip.

Ershim Lake

Ershim Lake

Trees at Ershim Lake campsite

Trees at Ershim Lake campsite

Ershim Lake - the fishermen return with a new haul of fish.

Ershim Lake

Ershim Lake

Ershim Lake, Brian checking/changing the Birfield joints on the Toy

Ershim Lake, Brian checking/changing the Birfield joints on the Toy

Ershim Lake, Brian checking/changing the Birfield joints on the Toy

Ershim Lake, Brian checking/changing the Birfield joints on the Toy - just what he wanted...an audience.

Ershim Lake - a deer walked along the edge of camp

Ershim Lake - a deer walked along the edge of camp

Ershim Lake - a deer walked along the edge of camp

Ershim Lake - hot showers again YEA!

Ershim Lake - late afternoon

Ershim Lake - late afternoon

Ershim Lake - late afternoon

Ershim Lake - late afternoon

Ershim Lake - as the sun sets

Ershim Lake and campfire

Ershim Lake and campfire

Ershim Lake - camp and fire

Day three on the trail, day six of the trip

Ershim Lake to Whitebark Vista

Lakecamp Lake

Lakecamp Lake

On the pass - stop #1

On the pass - stop #1 (this may be Hunntington Lake in the background).

On the pass - stop #1

On the pass - stop #1

On the pass - stop #1

On the pass - stop #1

On the pass - stop #1

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2 - High altitude cows

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2

On the pass - stop #2

Small lake below trail

The last obstical

The last obstical

Whitebark Vista

Whitebark Vista

Whitebark Vista

Whitebark Vista

Whitebark Vista - Dusy Trail sign

Whitebark Vista

Day the rest of day 6 and day 7 of the trip was spent driving home.

Damages - you can see all the scrapes from the rocks.

Damages - Oops! Jim said I did this on Thompson Hill - sucked a rock up into the wheel well.

'Nother view of the body damage.

Nerf bars are neither level nor round anymore.

Nerf bars are neither level nor round anymore.

Typical scrapes on the rims - this one is after the broken valve stem was fixed and the shop cleaned the rim - all the small silver marks are scrape marks from this trip.

 

The Fun:

{Jennifer} Friday afternoon most of us met up at Jim's house. Jennifer, Jim, Dan, and Brian. Dan was towing the flat fender and Brian driving his Toy. Dan's Chevy tow rig was making an awful sound and it was soon determined that the noise was from the AC pump. However, 5pm on a Friday in Portland and Jim was not able to find parts. The decision was made to just go a head and drive it the next morning. We went and got Jim's trailer and loaded up the TJ on it. Then collected Jim's girls and headed to Gil's house. Gil was dinking around with packing up his gear and we hung out and talked while he got the boat and other stuff loaded up on the CJ. Then we loaded both Crispy and Jeep-It in the Freightliner, attached the trailer and loaded Brian's Toy on it. Then we headed back to Jim's for a good nights sleep.

{Gil} While they were sleeping, I continued to "dink around" with loading the truck and getting the food coolers ready

{Jennifer} Saturday morning we were up early to get on the road at 6:30am. There was something about the bearings on the trailer...

{Jim} Quick bearing adjustment before we left.

{Jennifer} We headed out of town, and after getting in touch with Gil, planned to meet at the first rest area south of Portland. We met up with Gil after a while and headed on down the road. A little ways outside of Eugene Jim got on the cell phone to parts stores and was able to find an AC pump for the Chevy in West Eugene, once the parts stores had opened. So we figured that was half of the battle, and headed over to get it. Gil, in the mean time, kept on driving South, figuring we would catch him on the passes. The parts store was able to find a shop open who could do the job that day, and proceeded to assist in finding the other parts that were needed. We headed downtown to the Firestone, took the trailer off and they started work on the tow rig. While we were waiting we wandered about downtown and had lunch.

{Dan} Usual fine Eugene scenery at the Saturday market :)

{Jennifer} We finally left Eugene about 2 or 230 pm. We proceeded to drive South...and drive, and drive (it's a long drive!). Occasionally we were in touch with Gil via cell phone. We stopped for gas and groceries and such as needed and just kept going.

{Gil} meanwhile, Sharkey and I were putting down I-5, trying to conserve break shoes, as the dolts at the auto electric shop had cut the power to my brake controller, and the trailer brakes didn't work!!!!!

{Dan} Minor inconvenience of a flat on the Chevy tow rig in Sacramento.

{Jim} 12:00 AM!

{Dan} Luckily we discovered it in the parking lot and not on the highway. It turned out to be a rock bruise that separated the tread face. Could have been serious if the tire had blown at 70 MPH with the trailer behind.

{Jennifer} We finally made Shaver Lake about 430 or 5am on Sunday morning. Found where Gil had pulled off to sleep a couple of hours before and tried to get some rest.

{Gil} Yeah, I had just pulled off the road to Courtright reservoir and jumped in the bunk in the Freightliner, and the phone started ringing... "Gil, this is Jim... my phone doesn't work...click" 2 minutes later, "Gil, this is Dan, my phone doesn't work... click". After about 20 hours of driving with about a 20 minute cat nap... this wasn't very funny....but finally we had a conversation, and I found out Jim and Dan and crew were still a few hours out... back to sleep..

{Jennifer} Up about 8am, back to the store for ice and fishing permits, on to the Ranger Station for a fire permit, and then we headed up the mountain to the trail head...the drive up the mountain was quite interesting (mind you, I was only a passenger), steep, narrow, curvy, with lots of cliffs. Crossing Courtright Reservoir Dam was most interesting, as I was on the downhill side, and it was a long way down. We managed to get everyone up there and across and over to the trail head and proceeded to unload all the rigs and get ready to head out.

{Dan} (Elevation 8200~)

{Gil} Crossing the dam was probably quite interesting in a pickup with a Jeep behind it... what with a 200 foot drop off into the chasm below, off a narrow road with minimal protection. Driving the Freightliner with a trailer behind it and 3 rigs was a major rush!!!!

[From the Forest Service Trail Description: The route begins at 8,400 feet with many open rocky areas. Elevation rises to 10,000 feet at Thompson Lake, remaining at the 9,000 to 10,000 foot range for the rest of the route. John Muir and Dinkey Lakes Wilderness boundaries begin on each side of the Dusy-Ershim OHV Route, which is 300 feet from the centerline of the route in both directions, or 600 feet wide, or as posted by signs on the ground. ]

{Jennifer} It was hot and it was dusty. The start of the trail wasn't much. The route winds around up and past the far end of Courtright reservoir and over Dusy Creek. The first big thing you come to is Chicken Hill. A signboard, a pile of loose rock, and a very steep climb up a very large granite slab. Up and up, and up, and up. I would have found this very intimidating if I had not been to Moab before. It was a fun climb!

{Gil} At Chicken Hill, I got my first taste of altitude adjustment... around 9,000 feet. I drove to the top of the hill and parked, then ran down the hill to video Dan coming up... which he was already finishing!... then I video'd Brian, then had to walk back up the steep hill..... definitely panting and dizzy by the time I got back to my Jeep.

{Jennifer} From there, the trail wound along and continued climbing. We got into a long rocky hill section, after passing some rigs that were headed out. Not too much troubles yet, but the trail was getting harder. Passed some quads later on on the hill. Some of us were thinking that if Thompson Hill was a lot harder than this, we were in a little bit of trouble...only what we didn't realize yet was that we were in the middle of Thompson Hill. I think that this section would have been much more fun to me if I hadn't been quite so tired. None of us had had much sleep. There was one point on the hill, that between rocks and trees, I just couldn't find the right line, and make it all the way over the rocks - I should have been able to, but between being tired and with frustration setting in it just wasn't working out. Jim came down and gave me a tug that got me over the rocks at this spot. A little further up, I got into the bigger rock, took a lousy line and had a rock roll under me that I got hung up on - a quick tug backwards from Brian and I was moving again. Somewhere, about 1/2 way or more up the hill, I scraped my left rear tire badly on some rocks - I got out of the Jeep and heard a hissing sound...turns out the cap was mooshed so badly from the rocks it was pressing in on the valve stem. Removed the cap, and all was ok again. At some point on the hill, Jim knows where - I'm not sure where, I managed to suck a rock up in my fender well and dent up the bottom of my right front fender.

{Gil} "Mooshed" is a technical term... look it up! As we finished Thompson Hill, I said to myself... "hey, this is pretty challenging... about like post pile on the Rubicon... so when we get to Thompson... that should be very challenging. Only trouble was... it was Thompson Hill we were on! The rest of the drive was a cruise.

{Jennifer} We finally made it up the hill, and headed the last couple of miles on to Thompson Lake. They were pretty easy miles by comparison, but you got tossed around a lot. We got to Thompson Lake just a little before dark. The campsites are not on the water, or even real near it, and we all felt the altitude as we set up camp and such. Doing much of anything at around 10,000 feet is quite the chore! I hiked down to the lake to wash up - down was fine, going back up was the problem! We got a fire going and dinner started and none of us felt like making it a long evening. We hit the sack soon after dinner. One thing I learned was that at this elevation, nothing runs right. The TJ was acting strange the entire trip - either dying on me or lurching forwards at high idle, usually at moments when it was most inconvenient. Brian was able to play with the setting on his Toy and get it running better. The Willy's often didn't want to start. My new hand throttle was mostly used as a means to keep the idle on the TJ high enough to keep it from dying on me all the time.

{Jennifer} Next morning we slept in a little and then got up and got ready to roll. We aimed for noon and due to messing with the rigs, didn't get on the trail until about 1pm. This is probably the worst part of the trail...it is hot, dry, dusty, rocky, and basically kinda boring, all 11 miles of it. It reminded me a lot of the Naches area, not hard stuff, but rocky and you are being thrown around and beat to death by your rig. We went as far as East Lake and then stopped to fish and have lunch. Dan caught the first fish of the trip here.

{Dan} It was an old 12" humpbacked, hook nosed Brook Trout. It must have been several years old.

{Jennifer} After a couple of hours we headed on out for Ershim Lake. Part way there, just a couple of miles from camp were a couple of big rocks that you had to climb on to make the corner of the trail. Something happened and Jim's brakes died on him. It seems that somehow something hit on the banjo fitting and cracked it. Out came the welder and other tools. After an hour or so of dinking around with it we decided that we were not going to be able to fix it there and slowly headed on into to camp. Off and on during the day, we were able to hear the group behind us on the trail on the CB, this was Joe Chacon (out of Seattle) and his friends.

{Jennifer} We got to Ershim Lake at a decent hour, no one else was camped there, so we had our choice of spots and took a couple that were close to the water and on the end of the group of sites. We got camp set up and watched the sun go down and got dinner made. Again, we didn't make it a very late night. It had been a long couple of days. Tuesday we hung out at the lake, and a gorgeous lake it is. The guys went fishing, and that morning Gil, Brian, and Dan put the boat together and Gil and Dan headed out on the lake. Jim and Brian worked on the CJ's banjo fitting. I hung out and took pictures. <g>

{Jim} Eventually we used JB weld to fill the pin holes after welding, held the rest of the trip.

{Jennifer} We got the shower all set up on the end of camp too - boy was that ever nice. Hot water just makes you feel so much better! Doesn't take much, a couple of trees, some rope, a blue tarp, a large container for water, and a properly set up Jeep! Of course, you have to be careful of the temperatures, if you are not careful you can scald yourself pretty easy (don't rev the engine). Basically we hung out all day. Joe and the guys from the Seattle group showed up in the late afternoon. Joe, on his quad; Hip, with an old CJ7 (and Rocky the rockdog) {Jennifer says its a CJ, Dan says its a Landcruiser, Jim says its a CJ7, and Gil is absolutely sure it IS a CJ7!!!} ; Erik in a YJ; and Mike (?) in a 'Zuk. Nice bunch of guys. We talked with them for a while about the trail and such and Jim offered them showers in exchange for a banjo fitting. Well, they couldn't come up with one, but they did provide dinner that night. We had a couple of tri-tips and another roast done over the fire - yum! Sat around talking until late, telling stories and such. Fun.

{Jennifer} We had decided the previous night that we would hang at the lake again on Wednesday. The guys got up and went fishing again. They had been catching lots - both Brook and Rainbow trout.

{Gil} Fishing on Ershim was good. In about 10 hours of fishing, we pulled out about 21 fish. Mix of rainbows and brookies with big hook mouths.

{Jennifer} We just hung out and enjoyed our selves. Granted you don't want to do anything that requires a whole lot of energy at 10,000 feet, but it was really nice to just relax, knowing that we still had more wheeling to do later. Brian took part of the afternoon and checked his Birfield joints. He ended up needing to replace one. Must have been fun working with an audience looking over his shoulder the entire time. Some time later that afternoon, while Dan, Gil, Jim, and Sharkey were all out in the boat fishing, a doe walked almost into camp. She wandered past our sites while Brian and I were watching here, she was about 50 feet or so away from the rigs, and on over to Joe’s site. Careful, but not really concerned that we were right there. That night we had a fish feed, with both our group and Joe's. We had 25-30 fish on the fire cooking at one point, and boy were they ever good! Gil was our resident expert and he did a great job with the fish.

{Dan} Also on the menu was corn on the cob and baked potatoes, both cooked in the coals along with some kinda rice dish that Joe fixed. (Boy, were we really roughing it.)

{Jennifer} Actually it wasn't rice, it was Couscous (pasta), regardless, it was very good!

{Jennifer} Again we hung out and told stories and talked with the guys. It was a nice night, we turned in a little earlier, since we knew we would be getting up and hitting the trail in the morning.

{Jennifer} Thursday morning...some ungodly sounds woke everyone...turns out it was just Dan and his stereo. Seems he was trying to get us off to a rousing start that day. It didn't really work. However, we got on the trail at a decent hour and headed out. Joe's group wasn't too far behind us in hitting the trail either. This day’s trail was fun, the first couple of miles was much like the last, big rock that beats you up. But then it just got fun. Some very interesting spots, especially if you were heading in the other direction. We did take some pictures and stuff too. Divorce rock was kinda fun, its just a big rock in the trail that you drive out on, but the hitch is that you cant see where you need to make the right turn off of the rock. Sure helps to have someone waiting at the bottom to let you know when to turn. Jim and I hung there for a bit waiting for Brian to catch up - seems that things kept bouncing out of the Toy that morning, he had stopped 3 times to pick up stuff that had bailed out on him. After a while, we hit the pass, we had been making good time, and we stopped for lots of pictures on the pass. Funny thing, there were cows up there, lots of them - what in the heck do they eat at 10,000 feet when they are not in a meadow? There wasn't much grass or other small plants except for the meadows, its dry, dusty, and the growth is sparse among the rocks and trees.

{Jennifer} A couple of hours later we got to White Bark Vista, which is the official end of the trail. We stopped again for pictures and cell phone calls, and then headed down to the pavement, and then back into Shaver Lake for lunch. We grabbed burgers at a local café and discussed what we wanted to do. The original plan was to immediately head into Swamp Lake trail, but Jim was needed at home and no one seemed real hot to do the trail without him. So we decided to all just head on out for Oregon.

{Jennifer} Jim, Dan, and Gil took two rigs and headed up the mountain to pick up the tow rigs and the Freightliner, while Brian and I hung out at a park on Shaver Lake and waited with the other 3 rigs. We aired up and cleaned the rigs up a little with Brian's air gun. When we were airing up, as soon as I put the air on my left rear tire it leaked...turns out the valve stem was torn about 1/4 of the way off. Brian and his air tools got the spare put on in no time at all and we continued to hang out and wait for the guys to arrive with the tow rigs. They had (wisely) decided to bring the tow rigs down with as small a load as possible on them. After several hours, the guys showed up at the lake and we proceeded to do the "rig shuffle" and the "trailer fix" dance. Brian ended up under the trailer on the Freightliner trying to find out why the lights were not working. He soon found the problem and got them back up and running.

{Jennifer} Eventually, we headed out down the mountain. Gil had Crispy in the Freightliner and an empty trailer, Jim had Jeep-It on the trailer, Dan had the flat fender on his trailer, and Brian and I drove our rigs down.

{Gil} With no brakes on the trailer, it was very challenging coming down off Shaver to Fresno. Most of the hill is at 11% grade, which is about double what the Freightliner could handle with the full load. Even partially empty with only Crispy, I was in 1st gear at less than 5 mph for several miles, and had to constantly be fighting the gravity to keep speed under control.

{Jennifer} Once we got on the outskirts of Fresno, near Hwy 99 Jim found a big parking lot and we once again shuffled all the rigs into their proper positions for the trip home. Once again, I was on Jims trailer, Jeep-It and Crispy were in the Freightliner with the Toy on the trailer, and of course the Flat Fender was on Dan's trailer for the ride. We had planned to drive for a few more hours and then find a hotel and get showers and some sleep...the town where we stopped didn't have anything in the way of inexpensive hotel rooms to be found. We ended up getting gas and coffee and heading up the road to the next rest area. We slept there for a few hours and then headed north again. I must say that this stop at the rest area was the absolute worst mosquitoes that we saw all week! Even sleeping in the truck I got munched on pretty bad - ten times worse than the rest of the trip combined.

{Jennifer} After eating breakfast in Weed, I got a good idea of just how well the 2 meter radio's can work. Gil was crossing the Oregon border and we were just leaving Weed and with (I think) 5 watts…

{Jim} Yep 5W as we had melted the power connector off of the amplifier earlier.

{Jennifer} …of power we could just barely hear him. That is some distance! We kept on trucking north...stopping for gas and coffee on the way. In the late afternoon we stopped at the Charbonneau rest area to unload all the rigs heading East, and then we all took off again. Jim and Gil headed west for home and Brian, Dan, and I heading east. We hit slow traffic right after we got onto I-205, and that lasted for miles. In the end I got back to North Bonneville about 7 pm and started unloading. As I was doing that, I discovered that somewhere, somehow, I had bent my tailgate out of shape - not sure how it happened, since it is not in an area that anything (like the tire carrier) can hit on it. I also of course have the banged up fender from the rocks on Thompson Hill. I spent Saturday afternoon over at Les Schwab's getting my tire fixed and all 4 rebalanced. They laughed at me a little bit, but took care of the tires with no questions asked. It was a really great trip!!!

{Dan} The only damage on the flat fender was 2 broken rear axle shims, and loose rear spring U-bolts. These will be flipped as soon as I get new shims so that the threads don't get smunched again. Damage to the Chevy tow rig was a ruined front tire. All in all, it was a fantastic trip. Five rigs on the Dusy-Ershim with no major trail breakdowns! Amazing.

- - - -

{Jennifer} Oh yes...and who ended up with the "bitch stick" this time???

{Dan} Let's not talk about that

- - - -

The quote of the week (Dan): "4 electric ice chests, hot showers...yup, we're roughing it all right."

{Gil} And don't forget the 4 person row boat!

{Brian} I think you about covered it!

Addendum to trip report

Here are my pictures from the trip, those that came out. For some reason I feel that I should appologize for the lack of the normal clarity/quality that my photos usually have, I tried swapping back to Kodak film after all these years, and guess what...? KODAK SUCKS!!!

I attempted to get these pictures in some semblance of order. I am not sure if I suceeded or not. If someone who knows the trail has input on a mis-labled picture, please e-mail me with the correct information! With 160+ photos on, 7 different rolls of film, it was hard to keep them all straight when sorting and scanning.

Oh yes, weather and basic trail conditions were: Hot, dry and dusty. Probably in the mid-80's to low 90's during the day, and at least the low 50's at night (maybe lower). There was more water up there than I expected to see and once you got up at 8,000+ feet or more it was much greener than I ever expected it to be in August. The lakes were nice and warm, probably would have made for great swimming (never got around to it).

Doing this trail in 3 days is easy (we took 5 - 2 days hanging out fishing at Ershim Lake). 3 days makes it roughly 11 miles a day. First night Thompson Lake (they say no fish in it this year - we didnt even try). Second night Ershim Lake (fishing is great). Third night you are out. The second day will be the one that is killer. we found it boring (of course we were still really tired) and you were just tired and being beat up by the rocks. Much like Naches, WA can be. its large rock that throws you around and beats your rig to death. First day is hardest - Thompson Hill. I have done harder, but it was challenging. about the time we were wondering how much harder Thompson Hill could be and how much trouble we were in, we found out that we were already about 2/3's of the way up Thompson Hill. It would have been easier if we had had some sleep - we went in on 2 hours sleep out of about the last 30 or so hours - the drive down there was hell. Chicken Rock is fun - if you have done Moab it isnt all that intimidating. it is just up...up...up...and up. Last day is the funest. Divorce Rock is fun (driver cant see where you have to turn to get off the rock), the pass is great. The views are best. The overall best views/photo ops in my opinion are up at Courtright Resivoir on the way in - the rock canyons are fantastic looking. The trail has very little off camber other than when you are actually on the rocks in the obsticales, no cliff edges once you start the trail (the road up is a different story). Very nice, lots of trees and shade. Other lakes, like East Lake are good fishing also, and you should have time to stop for a couple of hours to fish if you get on the trail at a decent hour. We left Thompson Lake at 1pm, stopped at East Lake for about 2.5 hours, and still made Ershim Lake before dark - with an hour plus stop to try to weld the banjo fitting up. It was a blast. no major carnage. just some body damage (mostly me - I only had 33's, the rest were 35 or 37's - I sucked a rock up into a fender and bashed it up), birfields on the toy, banjo fitting on a CJ, some other minor stuff like antennas, etc. really nothing major at all. we were very suprised - but we were also taking it easy not wanting to risk breakage that far in. other than my fender, none of the damage happened on Thompson Hill. The group behind us, Joe Chacon's group out of Seattle, came on (or it was with them, never did figure that one out for sure) a full sized rig that was busted up on Thomson Hill. not a pretty site - the guy decided to walk out.

One thing, I DONT reccomend that you take the tow rigs all the way up to the trail head - at best leave them on the near side of Courtright Dam, better yet, leave them in Shaver Lake!!! We took a 36+ ? (not sure, bed was 26 feet, then there was the cab) foot Freightliner towing a trailer and two big pickup trucks towing trailers up there to the trail head - scary drive. Also took up a ton of parking with the big rigs (the parking is shared with the hikers, horses, and other stock people - saw llamas up there in the parking lot). Then had to drive back up and get them (and bring the Freightliner down the mountian empty). Shaver lake makes much better sense - or if you have the time, go leave them at the trails exit point - lots of parking there by the paved road. Personally I wouldnt take anything with less than 33's up on the trail unless the driver was very very good and had x-fer case gears. I was really wishing for lower gearing there - just the 4.56's wasnt enough. I would also want everyone to have at least one locker. one winch should be enough for a small group - we only needed a strap twice (for me), nothing else. We saw roughly 20 rigs the entire time we were there, but we went in on Sunday and out on Thursday.

The forest service office at Dinky Creek (where you have to get your fire permitt - you must have a fire permitt and fishing permitts if you fish) has the trail descriptions and info in a box on the wall inside, decent info. Thomson Lake had rock fire rings and that was it. not great camping, not close to the water either. Ershim Lake has been worked on by the 4x4 clubs. Pit toilets, log tables, rock fire rings, not a whole lot of tent space due to them trying to rehab the lake edge (keep the tents above the logs), but enough. Sites are near the water - 50 feet? lots of camping there - much more than at thompson. Remember you will be over 10000 feet - engines will run like s@%t and doing anything will tire you out and make you pant. I spent the days with the TJ either dying on me or lurching and reving on me - usually at really bad moments too. My hand throttle was mostly used to keep the idle up high enough that it wasnt dying on me. it worked - just be aware - I had no idea that the elevation would cause that much trouble with fuel injected rigs. the only rig we had that ran well was the Toy since he spent the morning at Thompson Lake setting his fuel injection.

The Dusy is challenging and fun, we would probably do it different if we made the trip again, but it was well worth it to run the whole thing at once the first time. =)

The pictures below are courtesy of Jim William's













































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