Royal Blue XJ List Scouting trip
A few of the XJ List members went to Royal Blue to see what we could find. Adam took us to an amazing trail to the sand pits just west of the interstate.
We stayed at Eagle Rock Campground. The tent camping area is new, and we ended up having it all ourselves. It was located well away from the regular campground and had a nice feel to it.
There was a short paved drive to the trailhead. Most of our rigs are not set up for pavement but we made it just fine.
The trail turned out to be rather challenging. Erosion ha washed out the center in many places and my preferred approach was to straddle the ruts. Since it was dry, and my tires did pretty well with side grip, this technique worked for me. If it was wet, I don’t think I would have had as easy a time holding the sides of the ruts.
The driving was technical most of the time. Between the ruts and small rock ledges, I had to pay attention to tire placement all the time. This made the progress slow and entertaining. I did not take any pictures because I was too busy driving.
The first named obstacle we came across is the Dragon’s back. It is a long, domed rock running along the trail. The top of the rock is polished smooth and most of us elected to straddle the rut on the side of the rock away from the drop off. Frosty decided to try the top of the rock and ended up rolling off with the base of his Toyota against a tree.
It took us a few minutes to rig up and slide him back onto his wheels. One he had traction again, however, he was able to drive out of the hole he fell in.
We found a shady spot in the old sand pits for lunch on the trail. We then scrambled our way down Widow maker hill and down to the creek.
Near the bottom of the hill, our other Toyota suffered a steering failure. We attempted a trail repair but ended up piggybacking it on Frosty’s truck and hauling it off the trail.
Then we had a nine mile paved run back to camp. This we took slowly as some of us were still aired down and others had some death wobble issues.
Back at camp we relaxed and made some minor repairs, ate good food and told stories around the camp fire.
The next morning, some of the group headed to the shooting range while others of us went on an easy trail ride. We found a water fall and an interesting old dam on a creek that looked like a water reservoir. We met up at camp for lunch.
In the afternoon, we made the long paved run back to where we had exited the day before and ran the same trail backwards. It was a totally different trail going the opposite direction.
I was pleasantly surprised how well my old Maxxis tires gripped the rocks and made climbing easy. I was a li8ttle intimidated by the steepness of the climb but after I got some confidence form making it over some large ledges, I began to enjoy the ride more.
We took some time to explore some of the old mining equipment that had been left behind. I would like to know more about the history of the mine. It was apparently built to supply sand to for the construction of Norris Dam back in the 30’s
It looked like the brought sand down via a cable car arrangement as the large brake wheels are still in place on the mountain side. At the sand pits we elected to drive through a small pond that was deep enough to get water in the floor in the deepest part. However, the bottom was solid, so it was an easy traverse.
We took a break in the shade again at the sand pit and some played on some of the rocks. The exit looked intimidating, but by again straddling the V notch I was able to go down between to large rocks with no drama.
Going down the other side was the same technical driving that we had experienced the day before. Straddling the V notches worked as well going down as it did coming up.
We caught up with a group of ATV riders on the way down. When we got to the Dragon’s back and I was lining up to take the straddle the notch to come down, they all pointed and whipped out their cameras. I guess the center site of the bottom of a Cherokee flexing looked exciting from below.
We made it back to camp with only a short paved drive. We then set about grilling steaks and telling stories well into the night.