We had a lot of vehicles on this run and we found out about a few other groups that were supposed to be on the trail too so we were expecting a traffic jam all day. Luckily we didn't run into anyone in front of us and the group behind us was patient and didn't want to go around us when we offered. It was a gorgeous day and everyone had a great time, as always. The sun wasn't even down all the way when we left for home, which was nice.
Dane caught up to us at the gas station in Johnson's Village, which was a nice surprise. We met Dave at the trailhead and started up right on time. A couple of trucks went ahead of us but they broke down right at the first rocky part so we went around them. Everyone had fun in the early rocks and there weren't any issues.
When we got to the Rock Garden everyone decided to take the line on the right to go straight through it instead of weaving around the big rock on the right. Everyone made it up and over it, though a few people hopped nearly off of it while they were trying to get over it because of the soft sand at the bottom. We never get through the Rock Garden this quickly! Even though the line on the right looks harder it actually ends up being easier because you avoid the rock on the left and you don't have to make any turns.
Instead of eating at our usual lunch spot we decided to keep going and eat at the optional pile of rocks. When we got there we met up with a few other rigs and still more joined us and passed us while we were there. It ended up being a great lunch, watching everyone play on the rocks.
Monica went through first, with a big audience of strangers in the group in front of us. A lot of the guys there didn't think a girl could make it through it, but of course she got through it just fine. Gary went through next, and he would go through it twice more while we were there for lunch. He made it look very easy.
Robert went through next and also didn't have any issues. Jed came through in the opposite direction and Robert turned around to follow him through. That's when lunch got even more interesting.
Robert got through the rock pile just fine, but then was turning around and went over one of the big rocks near the rock pile. He managed to get high centered on the rock and couldn't get off of it. Trying to free himself, he spun his tires which made him spin around on the rock on the soft sand. It was great to watch! He finally ended up getting a tug from a tow strap to get off of the rock while Gary was going through the rock pile again.
Mike V. went through the rock pile next and didn't have any issues at all until the very last part. He managed to get his tires in holes that made them too light to get any traction and he was pretty stuck. The Cherokee was heavy but some of the guys got him pushed out and going again. Then he hit the big rock with his rocker panel and put yet another dent in his door. Rocker panel protection is on Mike's list of things to buy soon.
Cheryl came crawling through next and ended up with just about the same run Mike V. had. The rocks didn't give her any trouble at all until the very last one. She hit the big rock with her rocker panel and the stock Rubicon rocker panel guard didn't hold up very well. It caved in a little but it didn't look like there was too much body damage underneath. The first trail damage is always difficult to take!
Gary cruised right through the rock pile one more time and then we packed up and headed off to do the rest of the trail. There is a group of rocks in the wash on the way to Whale Rock that we always drive by, but this time we decided to see if we could get through them.
Monica got up on them first but picked a bad line and got too hung up to continue forward. That line required quite a bit more clearance, so she backed off of it and started again. Weaving through the rocks (instead of driving over them) seemed to be the right line for a Jeep on 33" tires. She got through with some good spotting from Jed.
Those rocks ended up being a fantastic new obstacle for us and we all had a great time getting through them. The last drop off the big rock ended up catching nearly everyone's back corner (usually the bumper) but Jason has so much clearance that he didn't get anywhere near the rock. That same corner panel wasn't so lucky in the Golden Crack on Golden Spike a few weeks ago, but this time it wasn't in any danger.
Mike C. tore a valve stem off in the obstacle and ended up having to change a tire there. Luckily it was a flat, open spot so it didn't take him long at all. The group behind us decided not to go around us at that time so they were behind us for the rest of the day.
Everyone drove right up Whale Rock without any problems at all. Gary, Bob and Ladd all went up it to the right of the crack in the middle on a more vertical line. Ladd had an exciting moment when he was a little crooked on the rock and he got a good wheel stand for a bit, making everyone jump.
When we got to the Stairs we found the trucks in front of us fixing a bent tie rod. They said they'd be awhile so Monica went up and through the stairs. The trucks finished their trail repair so they got in front of us again at that point.
The Stairs can be difficult if you don't get a good angle on it. Jed found out the hard way and got pretty high centered on it, also unable to back up because his back bumper was on the rocks too. His transfer case skid plate only had a couple more inches left to go before he was off of it but his tires didn't have enough weight to get traction. The guys ended up rocking his Jeep until his tires could catch, and then he was up and over the rocks.
Robert had a little bit of the same problem but he managed to get back down off of it to try a different line. Once he had the line he was over it without any issues.
Cheryl, Jason and Gary went next and had the line, making it look easy. Gary even backed down it and ran up it again. Carlos and Dave went next and also had no issues at all.
Mike C. was down to no spare tire so he was taking it easy and trying to stay away from anything that could grab another tire. That meant avoiding the tree on the right which meant he didn't get a good line and he had a couple issues on his first pass through the rocks. His next pass went flawlessly and he was through the Stairs.
Mike V., Bob, Ladd and Dane all went through it, making it look really easy. We left the Stairs to the group behind us and continued on.
The Chutes gave us some trouble like they always do. Monica used a little gas pedal and made it through the middle, but Jed's tires weren't cooperating. He worked on getting his passenger tires up the wall on the right for awhile, finally making it up and through it. Robert, Cheryl and Jason all followed him up the same line without issues.
Gary went through the middle without running up on the wall, and then everyone behind him went up the wall. Mike V. tried and tried but his Cherokee just wasn't going to do it for him. He only needed a little tug from a tow strap to get through it, though.
The rest of the way through the trail was good and no one had any issues going back through the Rock Garden. Most of us went to check out the end of Carnage Canyon (the Buena Vista one) while Ladd and Bob went back to the trailhead and home.
A good portion of us went to Coyote Cantina for dinner and then we headed home. The sun was actually not down when we were leaving Johnson's Village, which was nice. It was a great day on Chinaman's Gulch!
Reports from Other Days: 22
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.