This was our third attempt at running Battlement Mesa, and this time we finished it. The first time was in 2003, and there was so much rain that we couldn't even make it to the Rock Garden. In 2004 there was still too much rain. This year we did it early enough in the year and we made it.
We aired down, and Gary noticed his Jeep was running a little hot. He thought he had released enough pressure from his radiator, but apparently he hadn't, and when he took the cap off he had quite a geyser. He filled it back up with water and we were off.
It wasn't muddy, but the trail wasn't completely dry, either. There was a big puddle at the intersection where the Rock Garden starts, so we knew it would be fun. We all went through it, and no one took the bypass.
Monica went first and probably had it the easiest because the rocks were still dry. They weren't dry for her rear tires, though, and it made it challenging. She had to work a little on the last bit of rocks, but she made it. She posed in the crack at the top, then ran down to take more pictures.
Don was next, not having any issues getting to the last bit of rocks. Then those rocks gave him some troubles. His low-hanging transfer case skid plate kept getting hung up on a taller rock. He finally got around it though, and he was through.
Robert was determined to drive right through it, and it looked pretty good up until the last bit of rocks. Like everyone else, he was getting pretty hung up. He finally gave it a lot of gas and hopped and bumped his way through the last of it. Along the way through he managed to mangle his rim quite a bit.
Bob cruised right through, and it looked like he'd have the best run through it. Then he got hung up towards the end and he had to work at it, too. He managed to get through pretty easily, though.
Bud was next and he got to the big rocks without a hitch. Then he had the same issues everyone else did. There was a big rock that threatened to high-center him every time. He got through the big stuff, then was having issues on the next set of muddy rocks. When he went to back up to adjust his line, he hit his hard top on a tree. He didn't hit it very hard, thankfully, but it was enough to crack the fiberglass.
Gary came up last and we were thinking he would have a new set of issues. He seemed to have the same ones we all had, though. Then at the end he was through it but his tie rod decided to bend pretty severely and the tires went two different directions. He used his winch, a tree strap, a snatch block and a tow strap to get it fairly straight so we could get out of the way of a truck that was now behind us.
We backed into the bypass and the truck got around us. Gary worked on straightening his tie rod while we had lunch. There were lots of mosquitos and flies, but it was shady. It didn't take him long to get it pretty straight, then we were off.
The trail was steep and pretty rocky in places all the way to the top. We went up to the meadow and really enjoyed the views. There were lots of mud puddles and we couldn't avoid all of them.
We were expecting more from Hell's Gate, but it's really just a bumpy hill. It's not any more challenging than other parts of the trail, so we don't know why it has a name.
When we got to the end, we stopped and many of us walked the rest of the way to the last reservoir. Bob and Josh threw rocks into the water and we enjoyed the gorgeous scenery and perfect weather. It was really beautiful, with flowers all around.
We went out and back down the trail, and no one had any issues. The trip down the Rock Garden wasn't difficult, and it wasn't long at all before we were down to the trailhead. We aired up and went back out to the highway.
Though it's muddy this was a fun trail, and the views can't be beat.