I figured I would go ahead and email this out since it wasn’t going to make this month’s newsletter. I assumed there would be a lot of questions at Friday’s meetings and I would probably verbally share about the trip anyway, so here it goes.
The first thing I can say was this trip was a Dusy!
Frank Roberts and I left the Torrance area around 5am Saturday August 1st. We met up with Ryan William and John Stravino about an hour down the road and headed toward Shaver Lake. After topping off our tanks and all spare fuel canisters, we headed down Dinkey Creek road toward the Courtright reservoir to drop John and Ryan’s tow rigs. We hit the trailhead for the Dusy around 4:30 after quickly airing down.
We decided to tackle the first 3-4 miles of the trail which included Chicken Rock before finding a nice beach camp site toward the north end of Courtright. The trail was very scenic, and the top of chicken rock provided a great location for some drone footage and photos. Around 6pm, we found ourselves a waterfront campsite right along the trail. We quickly unloaded and set up for dinner. Sunday was a rest day which included some fishing and a very short boat trip on Ryan’s inflatable raft as the motor only lasted us about 10 minutes. Unfortunately it was very windy and paddling back to shore proved to be rather tough!
Monday morning, we promptly hit the trail at 9am. Our goal was to burn up the trail all the way to Ershim Lake, but sadly we never made it there even after 4 days! Details to follow.
Just a few miles before Thompson Hill, the first minor obstacle presented itself. While some had zero issue, others found themselves working on it, becoming turtled on a rock and finally overheating. Cough Cough, Frank! Now to his defense, he did try an extra credit line at first before tackling the normal trail but the 4 door jeep made the tight turn on the obstacle a bit harder than it was for the rest of us. Once on level ground, the jeep not only proved to be extremely hot but had vapor locked. We worked on it for awhile between some trail snacks and finally got it going.
During this time, Johnny’s Jeep also had a fuel issue with turned out to be a bad relay. We jokingly named this area of the trail Fuel Pump Pass. Again, just a small sign of things to come! Just around the bend from this location started Thompson Hill which proved to be rather difficult. A local fisherman warned us the day prior that Thompson Hill was extremely torn up and the most difficult he had ever seen it. The loose dusty soil and moving rocks were exactly as he had described. We found ourselves bound up a couple times but just moving yourself over a few inches for a better line proved to be the solution. With less than a mile to go, Ryan heard a rather loud POP from his rear driveline with tackling a loose ledge. His 1310 rear U-Joint now only had 2 ears! Luckily Ryan had a complete spare driveline and made the swap in under 20 minutes.
We finally found ourselves at the top of Thompson Hill at around 2pm! We took a nice lunch break, hiked down to the lake and relaxed for a little while. At this point, we were halfway to Ershim lake but the hardest part of the trail was behind us. With 11 miles to go, we hit the road to Ershim. As mentioned earlier, we planned to make it all the way to Ershim Lake our first day which is a haul but we did plan a nice rest day once there.
Well….. after just 1 mile into this second leg, I started to smell gas. I was 3rd in line in our group of 4 with Frank bringing up the rear. We both stopped and jumped out as the group continued. We crawled under our Jeeps, popped the hoods, checked the spare fuel tanks but could not find anything. We jumped back in and continued but after maybe 100 yards, the smell was back. Frank and I both stopped again but before we could check anything, Ryan came over the CB saying “Guys, I am losing fuel!”. Frank and I hoped in our Jeeps and headed down the trail to find Ryan. He had got a little ahead of us since we stopped twice but we quickly caught him. Unfortunately, Johnny had gotten too far ahead at this point and was out of CB range. As we started to investigate the fuel issue, it appeared the plastic nipple from the top of the fuel pump had gotten crushed against the bottom of the Jeep. Our only option was to drop the tank to try and address this issue.
As we all know, Ryan is formally from Boston, meaning harsh winters and rust! This proved to be a major issue as the fuel tank skid bolts either stripped, broke or would not move. We messed with this for hours even cutting down a wrench and using a hi-lift handle for leverage but all without luck. We quickly realized that this would be our camp site for the night and yet still we had not heard from Johnny. We slowly set up camp and made dinner planning to tackle this problem with fresh eyes in the morning. As we ate dinner, we finally heard the sound for Johnny’s TJ coming through the woods. He finally joined us at camp telling us he made it to summit lake and was waiting for us. In fear of wasting gas, he kept waiting and waiting but we never showed, obviously.
With Johnny back, we all decided our only option to access this fuel pump was cutting the floor out of Ryan’s Jeep. Now cutting the floor out sounds easy enough but over a fuel covered gas tank in the middle of the forest?! Luckily Frank had packed 2 powerful water guns… Cause I mean who doesn’t bring water guns on the Dusy? These oddly came in very handy to soak the top of the tank with water before we started cutting. Two of us stood armed with fire extinguishers as the cutting began. We took our time and finally got to the pump. With the pump exposed, we did confirm that the plastic nipple has become cracked by hitting the bottom of the jeep. Our only option was loading the crack with some quick set JB Weld, but this didn’t work due to the fuel line pressure. It became evident we would be towing.
We opted to head toward Ershim with Frank towing Ryan’s Jeep but this quickly proved to be too difficult without power steering or power brakes. We then decided to turn around and head back to Thompson lake and camp at a proper campground. Once there, Frank and Johnny decided they would leave early Wednesday morning and pick up a new fuel pump in town. They left camp around 5am and headed down Thompson Hill in the dark. This trip took them 15 hours round trip but it was needed to get Ryan out. This gave Ryan and I a rest day to get the boat out into Thompson Lake, fish and even play with the RC cars. Thursday morning, we installed the new fuel pump which had to be cut down by over an inch to fit back into Ryan’s crushed gas tank. Once installed, we slowly made our way down Thompson hill to head home. Now coming up was tough, but going down is much worse!
Ryan quickly needed the assistance of his winch line to get himself unstuck on some moving rocks. My 2 door JK also needed some spotting assistance soon after to keep from tipping over and I even pulled my winch line on an obstacle right after that which got me hung up. We were beyond excited once we got down Thompson as it was quite unnerving and most of us were not in the best of moods going back out the way we came. After 3.5 hours, we pulled into camp back at Courtright Reservoir. We were all dirty, hungry, and exhausted.
We had some food, took a bath out in the lake and worked up the energy to go fishing. Frank was the only one to reel in a keeper of a trout at 14” long. We decided to celebrate by cleaning the trout and cooking him in some butter with garlic salt and pepper. The fish came out awesome and oddly became one of the highlights from the trip. We continued to relax the rest of the night knowing it was our last night on the Dusy before heading home the next morning.
With just 4 miles to the road, we left camp around 9am Friday. Just before we came out on top of chicken rock, the Dusy would get one more jab on us by slicing the sidewall of Johnny’s 40” Goodyear MTR. The trail just would not quit! We changed out the tire and then parked on top of chicken rock for more drone footage and cell phone pics. We finally finished the trail at about 1pm and headed back to Shaver Lake for some burgers and shakes before heading back home. Sadly the trip didn’t go as we planned and our tensions we rather high at times, but overall we had a great time. Nobody ever remembers the trails that went smooth and without issue, but we will all be sharing this trip with friends and fellow Jeepers for years to come! Until next time Dusy!
P.S. I’d like to point out that my Jeep was the only one to come out without any issues! This comment might bite me in the ass later, but I had to share!
Below is a link to Ryan and I fishing at Thompson Lake.