We went out toward Buena Vista with the intention of running up Mount Antero but there was too much snow already so we needed to stay well below timberline. No one was too upset that we ran Chinaman's Gulch instead as this is one of our favorite trails. It ended up being a great day, with great weather and no major trail damage.
We started up the trail and had a smaller group of wheelers behind us. We hung out with them for most of the day which was nice. The sun was shining all day with no clouds to block it and we all got some sun (instead of the snow in the mountains next to us).
Everyone had a good time getting through the Rock Garden and no one had any major issues. There was a good-sized loose rock at the bottom that gave a few people some trouble but everyone worked their way around it. Bob was under Julie's Jeep at one point moving it out of the way.
When we got to the open area of sandy dirt where the two halves of the loop meet we decided it was a good place for lunch. We could let the other group pass us and enjoy the sunshine. Monica and Bob posed on the bigger rock and it wasn't too long before we were off again.
We stopped to pose again on another big rock on the trail where it's flat and sandy. Everyone got some good flex pictures and we headed off to go play in the rocks.
The optional rock area always sucks someone in, and Bob and Ladd both ran through it. Ladd got pretty high-centered and Bob gave him a tug to get him down off of it. It's a difficult section.
We didn't stay very long because we wanted to get to Whale Rock. When we got there we caught up with the other group, working on a broken Jeep. Getting around their group made it a bit more interesting but everyone got through just fine.
Monica and Bob went right up it, then Steve cruised through. Julie got her tire in the crack and got stuck without being able to back up or go forward. Someone from the other group gave her a little tug and she was free. Mike came through without any problems, then Ladd was up too and we were on our way.
Ladd got some great flex on the huge rock just past Whale Rock, but then scraped up his fender flare and rocker guard on the way off of it.
There is an optional rock in the trail just past all of the rocks in the wash and Monica gave it a try. It turned out to be just a bit too tall and all she could do was get high-centered on it. Bob and Ladd tried it too with no luck. This is one of those "35-inch tire" rocks. Monica and Bob both managed to leave a little scar on their front drive shafts from it.
We got up to The Stairs and it was pretty chewed up (no more than usual). Monica went through The Stairs without problems, only to get a little hung up in the rocks just past them for a bit. Bob wrestled with The Stairs and the sandy dirt on them but didn't have any troubles on the other rocks.
It was Mike's first time on the trail and he took The Stairs in style. He came through them and the rocks after them without any trail damage, showing everyone up.
Ladd had to work on not high-centering himself but then came through without any other issues.
When we came around the corner to The Chutes we were surprised to see the big rock on the left was actually in the trail. That rock has caused a lot of trail damage and gives everyone a scare, so it was a mixed blessing to see it no longer looming over the trail. It meant that everyone had to go up the right side, though, so it made it interesting. A few people had to wrestle with it but everyone made it through just fine.
When we got to the tippy area it was a little nerve-wracking (like always) but it was dry and everyone came through without any problems.
We went to check out the top of Carnage Canyon on our way out. That trail is crazy! We won't be doing that one any time soon. It was definitely worth the little side trip to see it.
We stopped at the crossroads to let the other group get by us. We worked our way down the trail and when we got to the Rock Garden it really gave us some trouble. Monica ran into the rock at the end but got around it. Steve smacked into the same rock and messed up his bumper pretty well. Mike barely touched it with his bumper but he got a little scrape on his fender flare anyway.
We made it out in record time and were aired up and off the trail before sunset. Some of us went to the Coyote Cantina while the others got an early start home. Even though we didn't get to run Mount Antero we had a blast, as always!
Reports from Other Days: 24
Use the arrows or dots to flip through the previews of the other reports for Chinaman Gulch. Click one of them to read more and see all of the photos from that day.