By Jose Alvarado
A couple of weeks ago I got a text on Friday night from Matt. It said, “Lytle Creek tomorrow morning, you in?” I promptly replied with an obvious yes. Matt and his two boys in their Frontier, Cody and his daughter in their Tacoma, Joe and his son Justin in their Wrangler JKU, and myself and my brother in law in my Land Cruiser. We all met up at the Chevron off the I-15 and Sierra the next morning. While driving through the small community of Lytle Creek, everybody was throwing in facts over the radio about the small hidden town. Someone, who shall remain nameless, shared how they used to drive into the river bed and take the “free rocks” to decorate their home. Somebody mentioned something about wizardry in Lytle Creek, but none of us knew how that fit into the grand scheme of things.
We got to the trail head of Lytle Creek trail, which is located right next the Lytle Creek shooting range. As we were airing down, the sound of gunshots ricochet off the canyon walls. In TrailChasers fashion, we had done zero preparation as far as what to expect on the trail. None of us brought any real food. Collectively we only had a couple bottles of water, candy, and some Goldfish crackers Cody brought for his daughter. The kids took the opportunity to run around the cars and give them a once over before we headed out on the trail.
We headed out on the trail and were immediately surprised on how amazing it was. I know we keep saying this, but we are extremely lucky to have trails so close to us here is Southern California.
I have only really been into off-roading for about 3-4 years. I have owned 4x4 vehicles in the past, but never took them out on trails like I do now. Having a trail like this so close to home really makes me appreciate the opportunity we have. Add having a group of friends that share that passion is like the cherry on top. During our trail runs, I usually am the last vehicle in our convoy. I do not take this responsibility lightly because I have to be aware of the vehicles in front of me and any vehicles coming behind me. However, this vantage point allows me to take pictures of my friends and their trucks in all different types of terrain.
We continued advancing up the trail and realized this was more than just a fire road. The trail zig zags in and out of a river bed full of loose rock and ruts. This made for a trail that was very technical and really pushed our stock rigs to their limits. One common denominator between Matt, Joe’s and my vehicles is that we could all benefit from a solid pair of rock sliders. We were all rubbing our frames and running boards all over the ruts in the trail. This trail was a great way to baseline our vehicles. Once we modify them to the way we want, it will be a great comparison on how much capability we added.
We stopped in the river bed to eat our “lunch” and take a rest from the hours of driving. For those who have not driven off road before, you do not realize how mentally and physically exhausting it can be. You are mentally tired from being constantly focused on so many variables going on at once. You become physically exhausted from constantly steering, tensing up when coming to an obstacle, and trying to figure out the best line.
After the short break, we continued to explore the trail and tried reaching our goal of driving into Wrightwood, CA. The second half of the trail became extremely dense with trees, bushes and rocks that were getting bigger and bigger. Cody was leading the way and he kept saying “the trail up ahead is tight but doable.” Keep in mind his Tacoma is far from stock and can handle a trail like this. His definition of doable is not the same for the rest of us. Matt was ahead of me the entire trip and I really got a good look of what that Frontier can do. That truck in stock form is so capable. Ground clearance is an issue but if you don’t mind using the under armor that came with it from the factory, you can get through a lot of technical sections. I am really excited to see what Matt does with that truck and hope it has something to do with a "titan swap."
We eventually got to a point on the trail where we had to make a decision. Either turn around and head back, or possibly have to spend the night in our rigs because we had no idea where the trail would end. Since we were extremely ill prepared, we decided to turn around and head back.
It seems the more you plan some things, the more resistance you face. Most of the time, our trail runs are not planned, we notify each other usually the night before, and leave it up to fate for the rest. I am not saying that is the smartest course of action, but it certainly adds a sense of adventure. This trail run was manifested from a simple text the night before and ended up being an awesome Saturday outdoors. We are a perfect example of not needing all the fancy gear, not needing the most built up trucks, and not needing months of preparation to go hit the trails. Just use what you got and get outside. The point is just to go explore the world around you and discover what truly makes you happy. Until next time- We are The TrailChasers.