Our second trail of the day was Longwater Gulch. Walt had been down this trail before the 2002 Hayman Fire devastated the area, but because the trail had only recently been partially reopened this year, it was a new trail for most of us. We weren't sure quite what to expect. It was generally thought that this trail would be a lot like Metberry Gulch and that proved to be the case.
Longwater Gulch is remarkably like Metberry Gulch, right down to the trail profile, the transition from live forest to the burned area, the relative location of the Rock Slab obstacle and the steep descents and ascents. The big difference, of course, is that the trail does not currently extend to the South Platte River like Metberry Gulch does. Instead, it ends at the Park County line.
The first issue we faced was two blow-downs completely blocking the trail. They were too big to go over and we weren't ready to turn around and call it quits. Mike hooked up a snatch block and winched the first tree to the side. The second blow-down was also easily winched out of the way and we were soon heading down the rest of the trail.
We all had a semi-controlled slide down the Rock Slab as there wasn't enough traction to hold our Jeeps on the slope. We knew this could be difficult to get back up, but we were already committed. We continued down the rest of the steep slopes and were soon at the end of the trail. Even though we knew ahead of time that the trail was closed at the county line, we were still disappointed when we saw the signs and gate. Perhaps Park County will someday open the rest of the trail.
We turned around and headed back up, soon reaching the Rock Slab. Mike was first and tentatively approached the right-hand side of the slab. With all four tires on the sandy, muddy slab, he just spun all of them. Lockers weren't even enough to crawl up this obstacle. However, when he backed up and then hit the obstacle in second gear he had enough momentum to pop right up to the top. Breathing a sigh of relief, he parked and went back for photos of Matt making the climb.
Matt had no trouble, trying the right-hand line, until he hit the stump on the right with his passenger-side front tire. The Jeep simply climbed up the stump, getting two feet of air under the driver-side front tire. Awesome! However, when he came back down off the stump, the Jeep was sitting at an angle on the steep slope. Any attempt to go forward was met with the front sliding further down the slope. Any attempt to go back placed his Jeep in an even more precarious position. Matt assessed his position and opted to take a strap from Mike and he drove up the slope with the strap providing support to keep him from sliding.
After Matt, Walt tried a line up the center of the slab, but this was off-camber and steep so he backed down and tried the right-most line. He missed the stump with the help of some spotting and was quickly up the rock after hitting it with some momentum. Roger quickly followed with no theatrics.
After the Rock Slab, the trip back to the trailhead was uneventful. We were soon back on Cedar Mountain Road and headed for Hackett Gulch. Matt left us at that point, however, as it was getting late and he had his father-in-law from Germany with him.
Reports from Other Days: 3
Use the arrows or dots to flip through the previews of the other reports for Longwater Gulch. Click one of them to read more and see all of the photos from that day.