Memorial Day weekend was upon us, and it was time for some wheeling! Three of us decided it was a good day for a run up Chinaman Gulch. We started later than we usually do, arriving at the trail around 11:30 AM. Marcus was new to the group for this run, and was looking forward to the rocky trail ahead.
Almost immdiately we encountered significant traffic, with a large group of motorcycles and ATVs. They were moving slowly, so after they made it up the initial ascent, they allowed us to pass around them.
We moved on to the first obstacle, the Rock Garden. Each of us made our way through with no issues, picking our lines and walking right up.
Continuing on the trail, we decided to take some time and go check out the end of the Carnage Canyon trail to see if there was any action taking place. Sure enough, there was a group of rigs working their way up the exit when we arrived. We watched a couple rigs move through, and then had lunch while continuing to watch the 4x4s work their way up the exit.
After lunch, we moved on and soon found ourselves at the optional Rock Pile. Of course, Bob couldn't ignore this optional challenge and moved into position. After a couple of realignments due to his rear diff catching on his initial line up the left, Bob moved more to the center and quickly moved up the obstacle, climbing his driver tire up the large boulder for the obligatory wheelstand. After a couple of photos, Bob moved off.
Marcus decided he didn't want to risk the Rock Pile this time. His 4-door Jeep Wrangler JK doesn't have skid plates for the engine or transmission yet and he didn't want any issues with rocks hitting that low-hanging fruit.
Gary came up last through the Rock Pile and blasted through it. He made short work of the pile, bounding through and avoiding the wheelstand. Unfortunately, his tires slipped off the line near the end, and he ended up getting some very small trail damage on his front quarter panel when it contacted the rock. Other than this small setback he exited the obstacle with no issues or fanfare, and we continued down the trail.
While we were on the Rock Pile, a large group of Jeeps along with the ATVs and motorcycles that we saw earlier all passed us. We soon left on our way to catch up with them. We paused for a moment as Bob quickly attacked and drove through the optional obstacle on the left side of the wash, and like usual, he banged his rear bumper on the rock as he exited the obstacle. That always happens there!
We found the other group a bit later all slowly making their way over the Whale's Tail. It was very busy with lots of vehicles, and it took some time for the groups to all move over the obstacle and continue down the trail. Additionally, one of their rigs had unfortunately broken the drag link on the optional large boulder obstacle on the left of the trail and they were forced to leave the Jeep there to return later with spare parts for a fix.
Once the groups ahead had moved on the three of us all took our turns on the Whale's Tail. Bob went first, driving up the regular middle line, slightly more to the left than usual. The mud at the bottom of the obstacle got his tires pretty wet, though, and he kept slipping off his line and hanging his rear diff on a rock near the bottom. Finally, he came at the obstacle with a bit more of a leftward angle, and as he ascended, his passenger tires slipped down into the crack. Unfettered by this turn of events, Bob powered on through while leaning over significantly, with his driver's side front tire three or four feet in the air all the way up.
Marcus decided the wheelstand and possible body damage if he also leaned on the passenger was not something he wanted to risk, and took the right line up the obstacle. He quickly crawled up the rock face with style.
Gary attacked the Whale's Tail last. After burning some rubber trying to make it up the middle line, he decided it just wasn't dry enough today and moved toward the right to drive right up and join Marcus and Bob at the top.
Moving on, our group once again quickly caught up to the groups ahead. We decided we didn't want to spend the time it would take to wait for the entire group to slowly make their way over or around the Stairs, so when we finally arrived at that obstacle we took the bypass to pass the group and move along down the trail.
Having passed the Stairs we found ourselves at the last named obstacle of the trail, the Chutes. The Chutes have changed a lot over the years, and are no longer an obstacle of any notable consequence, since the rock on the left has fallen down and the trail has become significantly wider on the left, no longer requiring us to drive up the right at a tippy angle. All three of us quickly drove up the obstacle like we would any other part of the trail.
Past all the named obstacles we all continued on, finishing out the Chinaman Gulch loop and heading out the way we came in, down the Rock Garden and out to the parking lot. After airing up, we headed back to Denver, stopping off in Fairplay for dinner. It was a beautiful day and we all had a blast!
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.