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Desert Explorer
332 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Our Story

“Are you going away next weekend?”, my wife Ann asked. I had completely forgotten about the Corral Hollow trip and had just got back from visiting our son in NYC. It would be nice to get some outdoors after the concrete jungle that is NYC.

“Why yes!”, I said and scrambled to make the necessary preparations.

As I checked up on the trip, I soon discovered the advance party had encountered snow blocking the traditional routes. Alternatives were discussed and new plans made. For me, this is a bit of a roots trip as some of my ancestors spent a great deal of time in the area:

John and Daniel Murphy were part of the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party, the first immigrant party to bring wagons across the Sierra Nevada to Sutter's Fort in 1844. They earned a living as merchants, but like many others, began prospecting when the California Gold Rush began. They first started in Vallecito, which was known as "Murphys Old Diggings," before moving to another location in 1848 which became "Murphys New Diggings," "Murphy's Camp," and eventually just "Murphys."​
I had never been to the area, so it would be a great chance to catchup with my new NorCal friends. This would be my third trip with an excellent group.

I started up on Thursday, but not without a setback. I awoke to a dead battery drained by a cheap refrigerator I had acquired. It wasn’t a big problem as I flipped the combining switch on my new dual battery setup. The Xterra roared to life and I was glad I would be driving for a long time to re-charge the battery. I haven’t finished the house circuit setup in the back so I had plugged the refrigerator into the always on cigarette outlet in the rear cabin. DUMMY!

It was a beautiful, if not hot, day driving up from Pacific Palisades to Arnold. I was planning on meeting up with @Mr. Bills at the Arnold Meadowmont Lodge. After two stops, McDonalds for coffee and IN-N-OUT for lunch, I arrived to find a nicely remodeled motel sporting solar collectors and a full ice machine. @Mr. Bills arrived and we set out to find some nice food before switching to trail fare. We were drooling over the prospect of @LNXPenguin tri-tip. What a hit @LNXPenguin’s tri-tip was on the Black Rock trip. @Mr. Bills and I had dinner at Heart of Arnold. It was opening night, service was great, food was a bit undercooked, and the deserts were to die for. It was a white napkin night with prices to match.

The new owner and his wife run the joint having stated in the Bay Area. He was very nice and is planning on having weekly concerts in the back. @Mr. Bills sampled and liked the custom label Heart of Arnold red. We swapped stories of our day’s journey talking about how we both got ‘stuck’ behind some slow-moving rigs that speed upon encountering passing lanes. @Mr. Bills was on high alert after his break down on the goneMoab return trip where he lost all his trans fluid. But for the kindness of a passing family, he would still be on the top of that mountain.

Friday started like Thursday with a bonehead move on my part. I locked myself out of the room at 6 AM. The Meadowmont doesn’t have a 24/7 front desk. They were slated to open at 10AM. After waiting until 7:00 when I knocked on @Mr. Bills room (I wasn’t sure which one) and rang the front desk from the house phone. A sleepy young lady appeared, opened my room, and was in a good mood considering. I need to pack a lock pick on the next trip. Mr. Bills left on his CB and HAM with no impact making me feel better about my refrigerator dunderhead move.

@Mr. Bills and I grabbed breakfast at Susie’s diner. Susie’s was hard to find yet turned out to be a delightful place with lots of classic car pictures sprinkled throughout. I guess classic car shows are all the rage in Arnold. @Mr. Bills regaled me with stories from the past and I was totally entertained hearing about his time with P&G running crews hanging detergent samples on doors throughout a community. He used some of his fair carney friends, but that is another story entirely. After breakfast, it was off to the Big Trees parking lot to meet up with the fellow Xterra enthusiasts, which we found after trying to go in the old, now washed out, driveway. 4wheeling anyone?

Arnold was starting to get warm despite being a rather high elevation. There was great hope high temperatures would melt the snow. We formed up and headed out. First dirt was 6N59 where we aired down and proceeded up the hill. After exploring the area we returned to Hwy 4 down to Boards Crossing road and then up 5N02. After wheeling around we found ourselves in the Wildlife refuge with its sever land use restrictions. A long trailside discussion ensued and we moved back down the hill to a nice picnic spot across from the Wa Ka Luu Hep Yoo (Wild River) Campground. By this time, it was 88 degrees. A subgroup went up the Sourgrass trail returning with stories only they can tell. The picnic area was full of butterflies and ladybugs. In fact, the air was thick with ladybugs.

Crossing over to the north side of Hwy 4, @GeoXplorer lead us along some forest roads scouted the previous week. We found a beautiful campsite off 6N45 at 6800ft where we settled down for an evening of stories and food. I brought out the bratwurst, grilled onions, and fried corn into which we mixed some peas. It was a great meal, though my new stove was a bit too hot and our brats were lined with grill marks. I’ll have to work on that part of my pack. Although we didn’t have a magnificent view of the sunset or ‘burn’ as the youngsters call it, the colors filtering through the trees were spectacular. The mosquitoes were out in full force and taunted me all night. We hit the sheets early, but before we turned in @skohl told us how his physician father would talk about rectal quivering. Okay that was an overshare, but we howled anyway.

Saturday morning @Mr. Bills prepared b’fast and conversation turned to good TV shows: Vikings, Forged in Fire, Alone, Preacher, Marican Gods, Weeds, and Narcos. I’ll keep my DVR busy. We headed out at 7:50 for a quick reconnaissance run. There were many trees down along the way and we encountered snow drifts in the shady areas. The temp was already 77 degrees.

We met up with the rest of the group and bid skohl goodbye as he headed off for a wonderful Father’s Day on the heels of our Friday adventure. After an inspiring talk from @GeoXplorer we lined up along Hwy 4 and headed north to 7N23 where we aired down. We wheeled through the rest of the morning stopping for lunch along the way. We did some tree clearing and a big introduction to the monster Silky Katanaboy tree saw. We had a ball running over patches of snow.

As we headed out to the dome, we turned down 7N50 which turned out to be a dead end just shy of the river crossing to Winton road. It was back up and to the other end of the road to get to Winton road where we headed up the hill. We turned off on 7N05. Along the way, @Mr. Bills experienced a hard shift and a loss of power. In an abundance of caution, @LNXPenguin and I hung with him to figure out what was going on with his rig. The rest of the group proceeded up the hill. Turns out the problem was a blown fuse on the line feeding extra transmission cooling fan. We didn’t know what blew the fuse so we by passed the transmission cooling line thermal sensor, replaced the fuse, and got ready to catch up to the rest of the group. That is when we got a call @XKNUT had a breakdown and did anybody have a crankcase position sensor? Mr. Bills had one and with his repair complete the three of us continued up the hill to find the rest of the group gathered around @XKNUT’s rig the right passenger tire off and the wheel well cover pulled back. snelltaylor was elbow deep in the belly of the rig. XKNUT’s rig just would not start. Try as we may over several hours, the trail side repair was not successful. Mr. Bills, LNXPenguin, and I headed down the hill to find a place to setup camp and figure out the next steps.

As we headed down the hill, @Mr. Bills encountered a rancher and his son in a Honda SXS. He had the biggest brimmed cowboy hat. He owned most of the land around and his aunt owned some further down the road. Turns out he grew up in Pacific Palisades and we swapped hometown stories. What a great guy. He invited us to camp in a turn out while we figured out what to do for XKNUT’s rig. We radioed the rest of the crew as we headed down to find the camping turnout.

The camping spot was great and soon we were all gathering to setup camp, break out the growlers, and generally re-live the events of the day. Troubleshooting the rig continued when I recalled I had some starter fluid. The rig fired up and promptly died telling us the problem was fuel delivery.

The evening hit was @LNXPenguin’s tri-tip which he cooked to perfection. I think it must be the best I have ever tasted. One of the more memorable lines of the evening “Build a man a fire and it will keep him warm for an hour. Light a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.” Really!? The other one was about how you couldn’t scare a woman practicing the oldest profession with your man parts, or something to that affect. @snelltaylor's coconut milk ice cream was delicious. We all went to bed sated.

First ones up: @nworker, @LNXPenguin, and @Mr. Bills. The left-over beer and tri-tip were on our minds as we cooked breakfast. @snelltaylor fired up his inverter and induction place to make pancakes. They certainly looked good. The dogs were running around and even left a present in the middle of our kitchen. Ah that outdoor living isn’t for the weak. After b’fast we gathered for the group portrait. The dogs did an excellent job facing off for the camera.

The recovery was plotted and we started down the hill to the Cuneo Ranch at Blue Creek forestry station. As we worked our way down the hill we ran across a CalFire truck full of the fire fighters out for a Sunday drive. They informed us cell service was available at the firehouse and @XKNUT could park his rig as there was plenty of room. Soon we arrived at the station complete with swinging bench and a fire pit. Triple A was finally reached and arrangements made to have @XKNUT towed home. The group was itching to take a final run. It was decided that @Mr. Bills, @XKNUT, and @Lee would wait for Triple A while the rest of us took the long way home following 7N09. We stopped for lunch at the top of a hill.

The stop was longer than anticipated as @GeoXplorer’s rig now joined the group of problem children as it refused to start. Troubleshooting lead us to determine the starter motor wasn’t event trying to start. We push started down 7N23 and he never turned it off as far as I knew. A quick visit to Buck ranch with its quaint outhouse was a notable moment as we headed down to Hwy 4 where we aired up except those who were planning on a final run at Sourgrass.

I had Sunday lunch in Arnold at the Snow Shoe Brewery. I headed out from Arnold to spend the night in Sonora. I checked into the Gold Lodge, it was hot, and I had dinner at nice little noodle restaurant in the middle of town. After a few hours’ sleep, I headed out at 3:30 toward home. Stopping in Merced to fuel up, I ran across a self-service car wash. There I was at 5 AM knocking off the mud from my rig. It was then I noticed one of my rear shocks was disconnected from the axle housing. At first, I thought the mount had busted, but then I realized the bolt was missing. I tied it up and out of the way for my long journey back home. What a wonderful trip it was up to Corral Hollow. Thanks everybody for a wonderful time and delightful stories. Until next year, have a good one.

Professional Amateur Wanderer
478 Posts
Thanks for posting the pictures @nworker! I am looking forward to the next adventure, the pictures you post are always a great reminder of all the fun times. I have a feeling cows dislike me very much...It's not my fault they taste so good!

34 Posts
Great photos Hank!!!! Thanks for sharing!

I know this is not Corral Hollow but 3 of us continued to wheel after everyone left home and took on the mightly Sourgrass trail. Lots of rocks, dips, water crossings, and even winching! We got it all for your viewing pleasure! Glad to say we made it with no breaks.

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