Randy Pench rpench@sacbee.com Stacy Franklin, right, flanked by XXXXX xxxxxher daughter Jenni Callis on the Rubicon Trail Friday, has been an avid jeeper for a dozen years.

She holds her own in the male-dominated four-wheeling crowd

Published: Tuesday, Jul. 30, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3B
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jul. 30, 2013 - 6:35 am

The reaction was almost universal when people saw a man sitting in Stacy Franklin's Jeep Wrangler: "Aw, you let her drive."

But it's Franklin who is a hardened vet in the male-dominated sport of four-wheeling.

"Nobody ever believes, when they see me with a guy, that it's my jeep," she said.

On Friday, with her 20-year-old daughter Jenni Callis by her side, Franklin, 48, took on the Rubicon Trail as part of the 61st annual Jeepers Jamboree.

Franklin has been an avid jeeper ever since she was introduced to the sport a dozen years ago. She's now on her second jeep – a tricked-out white YJ Wrangler with 39½-inch tires.

"There is a lot of pressure being a girl wheeling," said Franklin, a single mom from Rancho Cordova who raised her two daughters jeeping.

Driving the 7.5 miles into the Jeepers Jamboree campground, there is a horror story every few miles. An area where she killed her previous jeep – one of the most treacherous areas on the route nicknamed "Little Sluice" – was blocked with caution tape over the weekend.

Her first Jeep met its demise going through a boxed-in passage. Her roll cage rubbed and dislodged a rock, which in turn sent a boulder crashing down on the back end of the jeep and pinning it nearly straight up, she said.

She's also rolled jeeps twice.

Her daughter hasn't always being so fearless. As a 10-year-old, she remembers frequently asking to get out and walk.

"That was scary back then," Callis said, but she has since got into the action, rolling three jeeps.

But the seasoned Franklin is very careful these days.

Instinctively, one might want to drive faster when faced with traversing a rock wall, but the opposite is true. Franklin's jeep, named Trixie, crept along at less than a mile an hour in low gear to make its way over seemingly impossible obstacles.

"I go the way that's safe; I'm not crazy," Franklin said as she approached a tricky spot on the Rubicon Trail nicknamed "Soup Can."

"It's too expensive," chimed in Callis.

Call The Bee's Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269. Follow him on Twitter @newsfletch.

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