Families are OK. The trail from Loon to the Springs is long and this year it was dusty. It was abnormally dry this year though. I was told that the trail was actually in pretty rough condition by some of the old timers. Cadillac Hill was the most challenging section of the trail for me. It is really tight in a few spots and it is all up hill. Don't underestimate that section of the trail. It is heavily eroded and it is a steep climb. When you go through Big Sluice you have big rocks and some tight spots but you have gravity working with you. I took Gabe and he was only 4. The swimming at the Springs and Buck Island was great. He really enjoyed that. From Loon to Buck Island is pretty straightforward and the pace is OK. From Buck Island to the Springs had a lot more waiting. However, this isn't a very long hike. Gabe got out when we were waiting and went swimming at Buck along the way, I think he did this 3 times. I would say our run was a little longer than typical as it was wagons (not that there was anything wrong with the vehicles themselves) but we had some inexperienced drivers and we were loaded which makes a huge difference. We also had the FJ Cruisers with us. And there were a few 40s with us with some problems too. We also had the Germans in their turbo diesel 4 Runner with a full tent on top. Bob Bancroft's 60 didn't have a rear locker the whole trail so that slowed him down a little. So we had a loaded slow moving crew. This is much different than Moab or other day trails because you are wheeling fully loaded. I had over 100 extra pounds in just water. I should have weighed my rig. It was sagging in the butt pretty good. We didn't do Marauder Bar or the dinner as I had to get Henry C. to his flight out early Sunday morning so we left Sat. afternoon. I would have gone to Marauder Bar and even taken Gabe, but we had done a hike that day to some waterfalls and Gabe passed out by 8pm. Being sort of a single parent I couldn't really leave him and I didn't want to pack a 45lb kid sleeping both ways. The only thing that was a little freaky for Gabe was Mudrak's Bear Bombs. He lights these huge bombs off to scare away bears. They are loud. Once we got used to that everything was A-OK. We actually slept through a lot of them. I was pretty tired most of the trip. The driving all day and getting like 2 hours of sleep before starting out on the trail didn't really set me up for having extensive energy. Ginger did not go on the trail. She flew into Reno the day after. There were not very many women in camp, but there were plenty of dads with kids. Other than the Germans who were on their honeymoon there wasn't another woman in our group. But if you plan to go as a club you can probably fix the male/female ratio a little.
About the wagons. This is much different than any other trail I've done. I would not suggest taking a really nice wagon on the trail. Heck, I wouldn't recommend taking a really nice 40 on this trail either unless it was equipped well. I made it through basically unscathed. I did a lot of prep work and I got lucky. Most of the other wagons were not so lucky. Damage is likely and probable. Personally, I wouldn't go with less than a 35" tire for any rig. The FJs could have definitely had an easier go at it with larger tires. Robbie as you all know has some phenomenal skills as a driver, spotter, and wrench. I really think the FJs would still be up there if he hadn't been along. He really is that good! But you all knew that already.
I would say Camp is actually less rowdy than Slickrock. You can really spread out so you can find your own space if that is what you want. People generally camp in pods. We camped at the Slabs. The only weird thing is in the middle of the night some folks get the notion that trying these slabs in the middle of the night would be a good thing. I camped on the outer edge of the slabs which wasn't close to where the action was. I watched the first few trucks try it about 11pm and then went to bed and never heard anything else.
I would definitely take my family to this event again. Lots of good people. A scenic trail. And socially it is a different sort of LC experience. I enjoyed our hike to the waterfall above the springs immensely. What is different is that after you get to the Springs you kick back and relax even during the daylight whereas at other events everything is at night. Everyone was so friendly. I mean this guy camped next to us ran out to Tahoe City and stopped and asked if we needed anything. He had a big list. And seeing a 40 loaded with ice in the rear up to the headrests. That was a sight.
The other funny thing that sort of sticks out now is that there were some girls running around selling popscicles right on the trail. Gabe enjoyed that. We aren't fortunate enough to have the ARB fridge/freezer yet. Maybe some day?
When Dave told me he was trying to rally a group to go. I immediately thought to myself. I'll post up and give the event a plug. A lot of you know me and have wheeled with me in Moab and know my perspective would be different than Daves. I think it is a winner of an event no matter what you drive. Just go prepared. It was a lot of fun and if money were no object I'd go every year.