Wheelers For the Wounded

By Axial on Jun 22, 2016


Skeeno Attends: Wheelers for the Wounded
Rubicon Trail, Loon Lake, California June 3-5, 2016

I was recently invited to attend the Wheelers for the Wounded Rubicon Trail Run by my Axial RC and G6 friend, Mr. Eric ‘TREE’ O’Brien.  I have not been on the Rubicon Trail in over 20 years, so I jumped at the chance to join in on this worthwhile adventure.

You may be wondering what Wheelers for the Wounded is, well, Wheelers for the Wounded (WFTW) is an organization with the primary mission of providing a weekend of off-roading, camping, and in some cases fishing, to our country’s wounded military members all over the United States. This particular trip was hosted by the Nevada and California chapters and included a run on the Rubicon Trail.

DSCF0380After a couple hours on the road from Reno, I found the turn I was looking for.

DSCF0383 I headed into the Crystal Basin Recreation Area on the lookout for the South Fork Campground.  Before I left, I scoured Google Maps looking for this place, but had no luck. With my fingers crossed and odometer reset, I headed up Ice House Rd. According to the directions TREE gave me, I should turn at mile 23.

DSCF0384 And sure enough, at mile 23, there was this sign waiting for me.

DSCF0390 Less than a mile up the road was the South Fork Campground.  The Wheelers were already there. I set up camp and headed down to the pavilion to check out the start of the action.

DSCF0391 Hey, what’s in there?  I see some green tape.

DSCF0398 I got down to the pavilion just in time.  The opening ceremony was about to begin.  First order of business was the National Anthem.

DSCF0403 After the National Anthem, Kevin Carey, president of the WFTW California chapter, welcomed everyone to the event.

DSCF0408Before enjoying a great dinner, we honored the lost with a POW/MIA Missing Man Table ceremony. Every part of this table is a symbol in memory of fallen, missing, or imprisoned military service-members. Yes, I know the table is supposed to be round, please forgive.

DSCF0413 Everyone did the bug spray dance because the mosquitoes were in full force this weekend.

DSCF0414 After the opening ceremonies, I headed back to camp, so I would be rested for the Rubicon Trail run in the morning. I spotted  my favorite camp setup on the way up, the bed under the stars.  Sorta glampy, sorta minimalist.

DSCF0417 In the morning, we headed back down to the pavilion for breakfast. All the vets were given hygiene kits, so they could stay fresh and sanitary while camping.  I was a little envious.

DSCF0418 Special shout out to the Workday volunteers for providing the hygiene kits.

DSCF0422 At breakfast I got to meet, Mr. Jay Lowe, no Jennifer Lopez jokes please.  He would be my chauffeur for the day.  He also served up a mean warm tortilla for my breakfast burrito.

DSCF0427 Before heading out, I spotted L.D. admiring his Axial Wraith.  He has spent many hours making sure it’s an exact replica of his 1:1 wheeler.

DSCF0702After breakfast, we headed up to the trail head.  Because of time constraints, this was trip was not a full ride through the Rubicon Trail. Our goal was to have a good time and get to Little Sluice for lunch before turning around.

DSCF0700 You know when you are close when you see Loon Lake.  The trail head is at the other end of the lake.

DSCF0697 Ohhh, we’re close now.  That’s the trail head down there.

DSCF0428 This is what we all made the trip up for, the historic Rubicon Trail.

DSCF0432 Mr. Aaron was all smiles and eager to get going.


Sargent Dylan Gray wheeled TREE’s SCX10 before we headed out.

DSCF0440 Jeeper’s Creeper?

DSCF0441 Be environmentally friendly.  We don’t want the Rubicon Trail to get shut down, so everyone got a Spill Kit to catch any hazardous liquids in the event of a mechanical malfunction.

DSCF0442 Every vet was given this cool magnet to stick on the side of their rig.

DSCF0445 This vet is planning his potty stops along the trail because he just read about Wag Bags and wasn’t looking forward to using one.

DSCF0691 Luckily, there are numerous Rubin Rest Stops on the trail, so the need for a Wag Bag is minimal.

DSCF0448 This Jeep gets ‘killer’ reception.  OK, that was bad.

DSCF0452 Umm, a Two Star General?  I hope this guy drives well or he might be in for some extra KP.

DSCF0457 Driver’s meeting before we headed out, just like at an RC event.

DSCF0458 I love me some CJ8. There were several of these beauties in the group.

DSCF0460 Time to head out.  I see a lonely Toyota up there.

DSCF0465 DSCF0469El Dee’s General Lee had an interesting gearshift handle.

DSCF0475 While most of the rigs were Jeeps, there were a few oddballs in the group such as this Dodge Power Wagon. I love the oddballs.

DSCF0478 This Ford F250 was my favorite.  It was a BEAST.

DSCF0485 When we got to the slabs, we stopped for a requisite group shot, 30 rigs.

DSCF0489 Up the slab to the dirt.

DSCF0492 Most people took the easy line to the right, but some tried the more challenging line to the left. It’s was a little stair step.

DSCF0498DSCF0495Whoopsies, this guy modified his exhaust on the steps.  He told me it was a ‘performance modification’.

DSCF0502 There’s the dirt.

DSCF0504 DSCF0508 This is Eric Chennault, the event organizer and secretary of WFTW California.  He was happy things were going so smoothly.

DSCF0509 First a modified exhaust and now a high center?  Better get the tow strap…and be ready for that extra KP duty.

DSCF0511 Don’t tell his dad he took his mall crawler out of the parking lot for its first real adventure. Besides the modified exhaust and frame from this momentary loss of forward motion, he also added a few Sierra Pinstripes to the mirror and fenders on an off camber climb.  It’s all broken in now.

DSCF0522 Don’t be fooled by the yellow Jeep that he got, he’s still Jay Lowe from NorCal Crawlers.

DSCF0526 Jay was an awesome driver and made every obstacle look easy.

DSCF0532 He even got out and spotted for some of the vets that decided to try driving the trail.

DSCF0535 Some vets, like Petty Officer Third Class Dawn Aundalice, drove the whole trail.

DSCF0538 This Jeep JK was known as Open/Open as in no locking differentials in the front or rear.

DSCF0540 Mr. Zack was the pilot of Open/Open and did an admirable job getting through all the obstacles.

DSCF0692 But as you probably guessed, Open/Open did need a little tow strap/winch line help to get over some of the more difficult sections.

DSCF0541ElDeez’s big beast made the trail look narrow.

DSCF0563 This rig played in the Soup Bowl while we waited to regroup about halfway through to Little Sluice.

DSCF0567 Sometimes a vet has to improvise.

DSCF0573 There’s TREE in his newly built 4Runner.  Those 35s look tiny compared to the 37s and 40s most guys are running now.  But, don’ be fooled by the tire size,TREE’s 4Runner was very capable.

DSCF0574 Big man, little truck.  it’s amazing that a 6’8″ man fits in that seat.

DSCF0577 DSCF0590 DSCF0594 These Chevy’s were a change of pace from the Jeeps. I told you I love the oddballs.

DSCF0598 Tahoe finally got snow this year. The trails were a little damp.  Maybe, that’s why the mosquitoes were so plentiful.


This guy played in the Little Sluice while everyone ate lunch.


Some guys ate lunch up at Spider Lake.  We all jumped in to cool off.


It was a warm day, so the lizards were out in full force.


Kevin Cary spots the Power Wagon up Little Sluice.


These two Tacoma’s walked up Little Sluice.  This one was my favorite.


But both Tacoma’s looked and worked great.


After lunch, we turned around and headed down back to camp.


TREE threw the deuces as he pulled out.


Colonel Bing Bingham was all smiles on the way back.

DSCF0665 DSCF0668

Everyone was smiling, because there were no mechanical issues on the way up.

DSCF0669 DSCF0670


DSCF0685 DSCF0687

Dang, we celebrated too soon. Before we could head out, Mr. Aaron broke a valve stem.


Luckily, Jay Lowe showed us how to swap a valve stem in no time.  We were back on the trail in about 15 minutes.


After stopping to help a couple other rigs on the way back, we got to Loon Lake just as the sun was starting to set.


We made it back to camp just as dinner was being served.


I see some Axial SCX10s at the closing ceremony. Everyone was excited to learn a battery AND charger was included, now that’s really Ready to Run! Who are the lucky duckies?


Before raffling some swag off to the vets, Eric Chennault addresses the crowd at the closing ceremony while his wife Suzanne looks on.


Special shout out to Executive Chef Mark Landford and the whole TDO Crew for providing excellent meals.


Lucky Vet #1


Lucky Vet #2


Lucky Vet #3


The Wheelers for the Wounded Rubicon Run 2016 was a huge success with 23 vets and 30 rigs in attendance.  The smiles on everyone’s face was great to see as all the vets got a chance to bond and enjoy the great outdoors.  If you are interested in volunteering or attending a Wheelers for the Wounded event, they can be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WFTWofCA/?fref=ts


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