Matt tends to run Chinaman Gulch on a regular basis, but Mike and Monica hadn't seen it since 2006. It was time to see how it had changed in seven years. We ran it soon after our trip to Utah, so it ended up being a small group of three in the end. That meant we'd finish the trail early and have time to go explore new trails.
We met Matt at the trailhead, aired down, and we were soon on the trail. We started it soon after a couple of other vehicles that we'd meet and spend the day with on Chinaman Gulch. We would pass them and then they'd pass us. We got to talk to them more at lunch, and it was good. Everyone was happy on the trail, including people on ATVs we'd find along the way.
Mike and Monica were pleased to find that the beginning of the trail had changed considerably. The rocks that used to be fun but not particularly challenging on the way to the Rock Garden were now big and festive. It's always good when a trail starts out with the big stuff. We all had a blast climbing up and over the rocks made slick in spots with sand.
In fact, when we got to the Rock Garden it was odd to find that the unnamed rocky sections before it were actually more challenging. We drove right through the Rock Garden without stopping or having any issues.
The first time we stopped was at the Rock Pile. We had to go through and get our usual pictures. Monica tried a weird line and ended up getting too stuck to continue, so she eventually backed out of where she was and went through the obstacle more through the middle. It was still a good time.
Mike and Matt went through the Rock Pile getting really twisty and looking good. No one had any issues. We talked about the "old days" when the Rock Pile would hang up a lot of the vehicles in our group, and about how it used to be so difficult. Your impressions definitely change over time. It was also odd how early we were finished at the Rock Pile and heading into the wash. We would normally have lunch there, but it was way too early.
The wash was also changed, with much bigger rocks due to the dirt around them eroding. We had to get in the fun and optional obstacle in the wash, of course. Monica thought her Jeep was bigger than it is and tried to run over the biggest rocks with her passenger tires, promptly getting very stuck. A quick winch pull off of Mike got her through it. Bigger tires are next!
Mike and Matt went through the optional obstacle the smart and usual way, and neither one had any issues. They also got much twistier and posed for much better pictures.
It wasn't long before we were at Whale's Tail. Matt said that the last time they were there they found a huge hole dug out of the middle at the bottom of the slab of rock. It made it impossible for them to take the middle line at that time. When we got there, though, the hole was no longer there. We rode up the middle of the obstacle taking the usual line, and no one had any issues.
We were out of our vehicles taking a break when our trail buddies came up behind us. We let them pass, thinking they'd be faster. We ended up going at about the same speed, so it worked out. We enjoyed the trail and the hill climb, and we were soon at the Stairs.
We found lots of ATVs at the Stairs. Our buddies were trying fun lines on the left side of the obstacle so we parked to the side and broke out our lunches and chairs to watch. There were lots of people there and everyone was smiling. We chatted with our buddies over lunch, and then they hung out to watch us work on the obstacle.
There is a line we've taken through the Stairs that takes us diagonally through it, and we all took that line. That part was easy, and the pictures were good. We all seemed to take a different line through the end of the section, and we either ended up having to work at it or getting very tippy. All of the lines were fun, though.
The rest of the loop was a great time. The Chutes are much wider, but you still have to work on them. Monica thought she was in a buggy again and had to power through it, but Mike took the tippy line on the right to make it look crazy but easy. Matt found a better line on the left and walked right up it. We had an ATV crowd watching, and everyone was having a great time.
The descent down the rocks after the Chutes was a bit more eroded and still a great time. It didn't seem as tippy as it was in the past, but it was definitely steep and fun in places.
When we got to the intersection with the overlook we took it. It was Mike's and Monica's first time to the overlook, which was odd. It's a great place to check out the scenery and relax for a bit, so we were going to make it a regular part of our future trips to the trail.
After the overlook it was a pretty speedy trip back to the trailhead. The guardian rocks were fun on the way down, too. When we got to the trailhead we discussed the rest of our afternoon and we definitely wanted to check out more of the Fourmile Area. Matt put his Jeep back on his trailer and we headed out for new adventures. Chinaman Gulch is one of our favorite trails for a reason!
Reports from Other Days: 22
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