Thanksgiving week is a great time for an impromptu trail run. Mike had a long-time friend in from Olympia, Washington, and he wanted to see what this wheeling thing was all about. Bill and Roger were both free on Wednesday and were more than willing to squeeze in one more trail for the year. Bill had his wife, Jenny, along as a passenger so we had a nice, small group for the day.
We met in Conifer as usual but what was unusual was that we were all early and actually left the meeting place on time! The ride to the trailhead was uneventful except for the lack of traffic. County Road 77 south of Jefferson has recently been reconstructed for a long section near the Tarryall Reservoir, with wide shoulders and very smooth pavement. The improvements make it easier to enjoy the scenery, but the old road had more character. It looks like the next section south will be rebuilt soon as there are survey stakes out along the shoulders.
After airing down and disconnecting our sway bars we were off on our way down the trail. The first part of the trail was very easy. There was no snow on the trail except for some patches that were in the shade. We made good time to the first obstacles where we played a little and posed for the requisite pictures, of course. We all made it through the rock pile with no problems.
The rock slab was next. Mike went up first and barely spun a tire as he made it on his first attempt up the middle of the wall. Roger followed and had no problem at all. When it was Bill's turn, he got a little air under his driver's side front tire, but other than that he also made it look easy. Mike then went around and climbed it again as he hadn't stopped for pictures the first time.
We discussed having lunch right there as it was sunny and warm, but we decided to continue to the creek and have our lunch there. We found a nice, sunny spot when we got there and we enjoyed the time chatting and catching up with each other. The creek was partially frozen, and once a patch of ice collapsed making quite a racket.
After a leisurely lunch we headed back up the trail. The trip back to the intersection with forest service road 204 was uneventful except that Mike wanted to try the hard line through the rock pile. Of course, he may have been showing off just a little for his friend, and of course he got high centered for his troubles. A little help came from Roger as an anchor point for winching and Mike was soon off the rocks.
We turned right on forest service road 204 and Roger was trying to find a rattle that had been bugging him for a while. We stopped on the trail and Mike and Dennis walked along beside Roger and pin-pointed the rattle to the front left side of his Jeep. An inspection of the suspension soon identified that Roger's left upper control arm was broken in two. His right upper control arm was also bent but there were no signs of cracks yet. With the rattle found, we discussed if it was wise to continue out the trail or if we needed to figure out a trail repair. Because Roger felt he had been driving with this broken control arm since at least running Coney Flats almost a month earlier, he opted to drive it out.
The previously fun hill had been graded, so Roger had no problem finishing the trail. Still, everyone held their breath, hoping that the other control arm would hold up. We reached the end of the trail and aired up. Roger opted to drive the rest of the way home. Bill and Mike quickly agreed this was best, even though it meant not being able to run Goose Creek as we had originally planned.
We all made it back home in good time and were grateful that we had such beautiful weather for the day before Thanksgiving and could spend the day doing what we loved.
Reports from Other Days: 8
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