Mike and Roger had just done Holy Cross a few days before, and we headed out to do another trip on Saturday. Running this trail on the weekend usually means being stuck in traffic at French Creek, but we took our chances. We ended up in a bit of a traffic jam there, but it was a good time watching everyone work at the obstacle.
The run was full for months, but then almost everyone bailed at the last minute. We ended up with just three Jeeps, all well-equipped for the trail. We didn't think it would take us long to run the trail, and it didn't.
We aired down at the campground (it looks like it's being dismantled) and headed off to the trail. We were immediately overtaken and passed by some buggies with drivers that appeared to already be on their way to drunk. Then we fell in behind some Land Rovers who had to work pretty hard on the early rocks.
Those early rocks are usually a good time but not usually very difficult. However, this time they were all loose and surrounded by very loose dirt, so it made it a little more challenging. We were already having a good time and we weren't even to the intersection yet.
We took a break to let the Land Rovers get further ahead of us and we didn't see them again until French Creek. Don took the easy right line up the Notch, and Steve found some awesome flex in the middle of it. Matt also took the right side through the obstacle.
The Slab was very, very muddy. Don got in it and immediately slid to the left and got stuck in the usual way. He tried to work his way out but it was looking like he might have to break out the winch already. Finally, he tried backing up into the rock and turning his tires, and that got him free.
Steve worked his way through the middle of the Slab obstacle, powering up and not sliding over. Matt had seen enough and he took the line to the right.
The weather was gorgeous and the views as we came out of the trees were stunning. The aspen trees were just starting to change, dropping yellow leaves onto the trail. Whitney Peak looked great in the sun, and we went by the old Tippy Tree obstacle without any issues.
Everyone decided to take the steepest line through Steep Rock. Don remembered the line and popped right up and over it without any issues. Steve did the same thing, rolling right to the top without stopping.
Matt got up on it and it all looked good until he realized that his rear locker wasn't working. He had to give it some extra power to get up and over it, but his extra work paid off.
We stopped at the side of the trail just after Steep Rock so Matt could look at his locker. He has an Ox locker and the tension wasn't right. He managed to fix it right away and soon we were off again.
We came up over the small hill before French Creek to find a line already there. Some Broncos were in the obstacle and buggies and other Broncos were in line. It didn't look like it would take long, but as we watched we saw that the obstacle was very muddy and very torn up. The easier section at the top of the obstacle was now quite a bit more difficult than the lower section.
The only ones before us that didn't have to winch were the buggies. They were pretty drunk, and one of them fell down in the creek, spilling his beer a bit. Even a Jeep had to winch, so we were a bit concerned. The line got longer behind us, and ATVs worked their way up and down the obstacle between vehicles. Though it was pretty crowded, our turn came up fairly quickly.
Don got in it first and drove right up the left side of the bottom half of French Creek. He didn't have any problems with that at all. Then he tried to get over the next big rock that sticks out right in the middle of the trail.
He tried a few different lines, but nothing was working. It was just too slick with mud. He tried to run his passenger-side tires over the larger rocks and made it over the offending rock, but then he slid in the mud and really dented his rear corner panel on the big rock. He squashed his fender flare, too.
He worked on the next big rock but he was sliding all over the place, so he winched the rest of the way up. He even managed to fall off of a rock and scrape his leg pretty well, too. It wasn't an easy time in French Creek this time.
Steve came through next, also making the first part of the obstacle look easy. Once he got to the first rock that juts up out of the trail, he managed to get hung up on it. He couldn't get off of it, so he winched over that and the next rock.
Matt brought up the end of our group and also didn't have a single issue at the bottom part of the obstacle. When he got to the middle rock, he got very, very hung up. He couldn't move, and he was really messing with his rear drive shaft. He even had an engine making odd noises, but it didn't seem to be hugely important. He winched up both of the last rocks and would find out later that he lost a weight off of his drive shaft.
There were many people behind us. Directly behind us was a Land Rover with no rear locker and no winch. We waited to see if he would need our help, but he didn't seem to want it so we left him alone.
We went through the mud bog area which was very muddy. We were concerned about Tippy Tree, and when we got there we were sad to see new ATV tracks that ran around it. It wouldn't change our lines, though, so Don got up in it the usual way, trying to run his tires through the notch.
As usual, it was slick at the bottom. Don slid sideways and ended up facing up it without being tippy. He gave it some gas and popped right up, not getting very tippy at all.
Steve tried to stay in the notch, but his Jeep slid around too. He popped right up, just like Don.
Matt couldn't stop sliding either, but that line really seemed to be the safest one anyway. He didn't have any issues getting up it.
When we got to Holy Cross City there were a few Broncos coming down so we passed them and decided to go up and check out Cleveland Rock first. We parked and walked up to find the buggies on the obstacle. One of them had flopped over, spilling oil everywhere. After a discussion, they agreed to clean it up.
We watched them work on the obstacle, and then decided to hike up the rest of the way. It was a short trip to get to the overlook for Hunky Dory Lake. We all enjoyed the views, even as it started to snow on us. It was the first snow we'd seen, and everyone enjoyed it.
We hiked back down, and Don decided to try Cleveland Rock. We had it to ourselves, so he tried a few lines on the right. He seemed to try all of the possible paths, but nothing was working. He couldn't get more than a couple of inches off of the bottom of the obstacle. There was water at the bottom and the middle, and it was slick. Nice try, just the same!
We went down to Holy Cross City just as some other vehicles were coming up to Cleveland Rock. The city was as scenic as always, and everyone enjoyed a brief exploration.
We soon headed back down, and everyone was happy when we were successfully past Tippy Tree (even though there were no problems). Coming down French Creek was a mess, but it was much easier. Everyone took the center line down the last bit of rocks in the obstacle.
At Steep Rock, only Don went down the steepest section. Steve and Matt had decided that they'd had enough challenges for one day.
Even with a hike and an attempt at Cleveland Rock, we still ended up airing up with plenty of time for dinner in Minturn. Though there was a bit of traffic on the trail it ended up being a fantastic day!
Reports from Other Days: 10
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