Miller Jeep Trail, June 22, 2002
Led by Robb Anderson and Ana Romero
Reported by John Page
Photos by John Page
This was an impromptu private day trip up the infamous Miller Jeep Trail in the Los Padres National Forest from Lockwood Valley to high up on Alamo Mountain. You can see the route if you have Adobe Acrobat Reader.
I've been wanting to run the Miller Jeep Trail for years, ever since I read Neal Johns' account of Marian's Little Trip of Horrors in 1995. So I jumped at the opportunity afforded by Robb Anderson's email invitation in the middle of the week of the trip.
We formed up at 10:00am in Gorman, and then Robb and Ana led us to Lockwood Valleywhere we aired down and stood around talking for a while. Tony took the opportunity to shave the fender of his Samurai so his new big wheels would clear
We had eight vehicles:
Robert and Jay...black Toyota 4Runner
Annie Bunch...blue Jeep
Ralph Bunch...black Jeep
Ray...Blue Toyota Pickup
Robb Anderson...Blue Toyota Forerunner... Leader
Ana Romero...Red Toyota Forerunner...Co-Leader
John Page...Grey Toyota Tacoma TRD
As I was looking at the beginning of the trail, which has a nasty climb through some narrow rocks, I met a couple who had just caught some small trout in the stream (Lockwood Creek?) we were to cross. This photo shows them and the first pitch on the Miller Jeep Trail.
We all made that pitch and while we were congratulating ourselves I looked down to see the source of a strange noise I'd heard whilst making my way through the rocks. There it was! A booboo just rear of the door on the right side of my truck.
We worked our way up the trail, sometimes waiting a minute or two for Robert and Jay, in their lockerless Toyota, to make a couple of attacks at the rough places before they made it through. As we finally made it down into Piru Creek valley, we could see the Gold Coast Jeep Club clustered on a spot part way up the final climb to Alamo Mountain.
We stopped at Piru Creek for lunch.
During the break, I walked up the hill to see what the Gold Coasters had been looking at earlier. It turned out to be a nasty pair of rocks on the right and a pretty deep pit on the left, followed by a ledge. This is now known as Ana's Spot because, with her new lockers (fore and aft), she followed Robb's advice to just "point and shoot" and went through without any hesitation or difficulty. Nice work Ana; the student has surpassed the teacher! (I took an easier bypass on the right.)
From the top of the next rise we could see what lay ahead and the trail behind us .
A little further, as we approached the end of the trail, there was one more ledge to conquer. Most of us took the easier route to the left, but Anne Bunch, as usual, took the ledge head-on. She high-centered her first shot and she high-centered on her second shot and she high-centered on her third shot . Finally, with great reluctance, the Locker Queen gave up and took the same route as the rest of us.
Meanwhile, Ralph Bunch who was the group Sweep - and who had been waiting on a steep slope for Anne to perform her Jeep magic - found that his Jeep, with its new 26-gallon gas tank, wouldn't start because it was out of gas! Maybe not really out of gas, but...for sure...no gas was getting to where it was needed to make the engine go putt-putt. He figured that the intake to the gas line was probably far off the bottom of the tank. Luckily, one of us, (me) had a spare gas can and its contents were enough to get him going again.
Even when Jeeps work, they don't get you where you want to go!
Another mile or so of challenging climbing through clusters of rocks and we were at the 6727-ft meadow on Alamo Mountain at the end of the Miller Jeep Trail.
A long drive around and down Alamo Mountain took us through the Gold Hill Campground and into the Hungry Valley OHV area. Most of the group stayed to play with the obstacles and traps there, but I headed home with the warm glow of having: a) finally run the Miller Jeep Trail, and, b) more importantly, gotten good hugs from two of my most favorite ladies!
Ana and Robb, it was a great day trip!