Chinaman Gulch is always a great trail, and we picked another great day to run it. Austin, Bob and Jed met in Conifer and began the trip to Johnson Village. We met up with Todd and Matt in town and went straight to the parking area at the trailhead. Mike caught up with the group while we were airing down. After watching a few buggies head for Carnage Canyon, we started up the trail.
It wasn't long before we caught up with a group ahead of us. They were making their way through the Rock Garden and were having problems. They were kind enough to move to the side to let our group through. They enjoyed watching as we all chose our lines through the rocks. No one had any problems and it wasn't long until we were headed up the trail. It would not be the last we would see of that group, though.
We made it to the Rock Pile without any issues. This is where we have traditionally had lunch, but it was early enough in the day that we decided to play in the rocks and move on. Most of us took a turn running through the Rock Pile, finding new lines to try and all getting a driver's side tire on the big rock on the left. While we played, the group that we passed at the Rock Garden caught up and drove right by.
After a few minutes at the Rock Pile we made our way straight for Whale's Tail. No one was interested in the various optional obstacles on the way. We were again behind the same group at Whale's Tail. They were really struggling to get a few of their vehicles up the center line, but seem very reluctant to move to the right side (and easier) line. Unfortunately it started to rain as they finally got their last rig up.
The rain was just enough to muddy up the rocks, and the area at the base had been dug up quite a bit. The combination of deeper holes, wet rocks, and mud made the traditional lines much more difficult. Jed was first up and was able to make a good line up the center, thanks to some great spotting by Austin. Todd crawled up easily, bringing Matt next in line.
Something was off with Matt's line and he ended up with a nice wheelstand that lifted his passenger's side tire a good 12 inches. Some minor adjustments got him going again. Mike, Bob and Austin all made it up without any problems.
The Stairs were different than they were on previous trips. The rain had softened up the base which had already shown erosion and some big ruts. The right side of the obstacle was also dug up. The normal line required a little more work, but almost everybody made their way through it. Mike ended up pretty close to the tree and his tires continued to slide to the right regardless of which line he tried. He ended up taking the bypass to the left.
The second section of the Stairs turned into an unusual challenge. Jed went first and was quickly pinned in by some rocks that had never been an issue before. Getting out required a 27-point turn to get into a better position, but Jed managed to make it all look pretty easy.
Our third time meeting up with the group ahead of us happened at the Chutes. They were just getting their last vehicle through as we caught up with them. They quickly worked to unstack the numerous rocks that they had stacked in order to get through. A few of us quickly noticed the new bypass that had been carved to the left of the big rock, and noted that it was off trail so we would have to stay off of it. We all stuck to the main line and got through without any problems. The group ahead of us had stayed to watch and we ended up following them the rest of the way out.
It was an early ending for Chinaman Gulch, with lots of light left in the day. A few of us had evening plans, so we split up and made our way home.
Reports from Other Days: 21
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