By Jon Crowley
I had planned to attend the UTV Con’Quest on the Rubicon in July 2020, but unfortunately, like many events it was canceled due to Covid-19. With the time still set aside on my calendar, I decided that the trip would go as planned and bring as many along for the ride as I could.
The original plan for the UTV Con’Quest was to head in from the Loon Lake trailhead on Tuesday, July 28, spend two nights camping at Rubicon Springs. On Wednesday, take a day trip up Cadillac Hill to the overlook. Then do Barker Meadow OHV Trail over to Miller Lake. Then Up to Sourdough Hill for a great view of the entire Rubicon from Loon Lake to Spider Lake, then down to Buck Island Lake. Then back to camp. On Thursday, we’d head back to Loon Lake the same way that we came in. Food was to be all included as part of the UTV Con’Quest.
With the event canceled, I decided to stick to the entire plan and fend for ourselves for food. Fire restrictions are in place for the Eldorado National Forest, but propane stoves and BBQs are fine. I volunteered to bring the cooking equipment, and coupled with ice chests, tent, sleeping bag, etc. I decided that I would bring our four-seat Can-Am Maverick X3 X rs Max so I would have plenty of space for all this gear.
Our Max is setup as a two-seater with the rear seats removed and Alpine Designs rack in their place. This give me tons of space and a nice platform for the heavy objects like ice chests.
We had five UTVs in the group, with Steve and Dalton from Rugged Radios, Kelson from SSV Works, Paul Hart and John Duckworth.
Communication between vehicles is super important and makes the ride more enjoyable. We all had built in radios and intercom from Rugged Radios except Kelson. Steve from Rugged Radios had that fixed in no time with a helmet kit and cable to connect to a hand held radio!
Since it was a Tuesday, traffic on the trail was light and we made good time. Stopping briefly at Ellis Creek and then at Little Sluice so we could all drive through while filming a bit.
Be sure to watch the video below for a full recap of our trip.
The trip was going great all the way down to Buck Island Lake, but that is when Paul’s steering rack decided it didn’t want to be held in place anymore and busted loose from the mounting plate. This was a serious problem and Paul was not going any further. We all twisted his arm and he left his RZR there until our return on Thursday. Paul rode with John down to camp, and Paul and John’s gear all ended up in the back seat of my Max!
We made it to Rubicon Springs without issue and found a great campsite across the Rubicon River at the Dirty Dozen camp spot.
This spot has a nice beach lined with decomposed granite. Camp area there is large enough for several groups and there are several pit toilets available as well. Once at camp, we all got cleaned up in the river then busted out some adult beverages. Someone in the group might have had a few too many. Cough cough.
Next morning, we had coffee and breakfast then headed out on a day trip. We crossed the river then headed up Cadillac Hill to the overlook.
After that, we headed towards Lake Tahoe until we found the turn to Barker Meadow OHV Trail. This trail was new to me, but it was on the UTV Con’Quest agenda so we figured we might as well try it out. The trail goes north off the main Rubicon Trail into some tight brush with great tree cover. We then looped back over to the Rubicon Trail again and continued towards Lake Tahoe until Miller Lake. From there we took a right and drove to the top of Sourdough Hill at 7953 feet elevation. I had never been here either and the view is spectacular.
We made it back to camp before 1PM and had lunch then moved down to the river for swimming and a few cocktails. After a BBQ dinner and several stories, we crashed early. On Thursday, we packed early and were on the trail by 7:30AM. We knew that we had to get Paul’s RZR out and that could take some time.
We made it back up to Buck Island without issue and with no traffic and set about a plan to “fix” the steering rack. We used his winch to suck the rack back into place then added a ratchet strap to help hold it in place. This lasted less than a mile and the strap came off. We tightened th winch then reattached the strap and kept going. Once again it failed. This time the strap and winch line broke. Steve busted out higher quality ratchet straps from Macs and we cut out the broken winch line and reattached the hook. We took a bit more time strapping it down and with three things holding it in place, it held much better. I think we stopped one more time and tightened it up, but then it was good until we reached Loon Lake.
Be sure to watch our full YouTube video up above for more detail on our X3 Max. But if you’re too lazy to do that, it worked great, even with the long wheelbase. The 35-inch System 3 XCR 350 tires gave us some additional ground clearance and that made a huge difference.
The great thing about rock crawling with a Can-Am Maverick X3’s is low gear. It is geared properly for technical rock crawling with no belt slip as well. We ran the 35-inch tires with a completely stock transmission and clutch, with just the addition of a Trinity CVT belt. If you try that with a RZR Turbo S or Pro XP, you’ll be smoking your belt because low range is geared way too tall.
The only thing we would would have liked to have on our X3 Max is Factory UTV UHMW rock sliders. Our plastic has some scuffs as it takes even more hits because of the long wheelbase of the Max.
Other than that, the Max did incredible and was an incredible asset to the trip’s success.