It had been such a long time since we were on Red Cone as a group so we were looking forward to seeing it again. We had a big group but we hoped things would go smoothly. Though it really didn't go as planned we still had a nice day (well, most of us did).
We all met in Downieville except for Matt K. who was camping in Hall Valley. He met us at the trailhead where we aired down and got ready. There was a lot of traffic but we were there on a Saturday in August and that was to be expected. The weather was perfect and everyone was happy. We were on the trail at 10:30 and heading up the gulch.
We came across a few ATVs but we managed to get by each other with no issues. We all enjoyed the rocks on the way up. It was odd that most of us didn't remember it being so bumpy and fun. It really was a good climb.
When we got to the big rocks Monica took the easy path around them. Jeffrey was next and he tried a few different lines before he found one that worked. The rocks were big, loose and on a hill. It definitely wasn't an easy spot.
Jim went around them and then Matt K. got in them. He tried a few lines and nothing was working. Then he ended up with the biggest rock trapped underneath his Jeep. He was working on finding a different line when Jeffrey noticed that Matt's drag link had broken completely in half.
We were there for a while trying to figure out how to get Matt off of the trail. He had a truck and trailer at the trailhead, thankfully, but how would he get back if he couldn't steer? Jim had a pipe with him that fit over the drag link like a glove and that was half of the solution.
The other half of the solution was harder to come by. The guys tried ratchet straps and other things but in the end a chain was the answer. Matt got himself turned around and hobbled back to the trailhead. He'd have to do Red Cone on another day.
Chris was running late so he took off ahead of us to do Red Cone on his own. Well, he wasn't really on his own because there was a lot of traffic by this point. Even with our big group we managed to get all of the traffic by us, though, so we didn't hold anyone up. Many vehicles and many ATVs worked their way through our group.
Mark U. and Austin were the only other ones to try the big rocks and they didn't have any issues. The rest of the group went around the obstacle and we headed up the trail.
We didn't make it far before Mark U. realized that his fan wasn't coming on and his engine was getting hot. He adjusted things so he could turn it off and on manually and that didn't take long. While he worked, Mike realized he couldn't wait so he went on ahead of us. We were dropping like flies!
It was getting later in the day so we stopped at a wide spot to have lunch. It wasn't the best lunch spot but we were still a distance from Red Cone and the basin on the other side. It would have to do. We didn't stay too long.
We worked our way through the trees and switchbacks and finally came out above timberline. We stopped where the trail is wider because we could see ATVs coming down the trail. We waited for them to pass, taking pictures and chatting in the gorgeous scenery.
The hill was finally clear so we worked our way up the hill. The sky was a deep blue with white clouds and it was really pretty. With all of the rain we've had it was very green, too. We even saw fluffy, white mountain goats very near the trail. That's always a nice bonus.
We got up to the top of Red Cone and immediately started heading downhill. We were a big group and we didn't want to hog the whole mountain so we didn't hang out for long. Those of us who had done Red Cone before were anxious about the condition of the first hill but we didn't need to worry. It really wasn't anything at all to worry about.
It was really windy and about 50 degrees but the sun was shining as we descended. We enjoyed the hills and the scenery and we took our time. Luckily we didn't see anyone else as we came down the mountain.
The second hill was mellow. The last hill before getting to Webster Pass actually ended up being the least mellow because it was covered in loose rocks. Still, it was nothing but fun.
There was a huge snowdrift blocking the way back to the trailhead for Webster Pass. We weren't sure it would even open this year. Radical Hill looked snowed over, too, though it was hard to tell for sure from that distance.
There were a few vehicles at Webster Pass just hanging out. Then they started up and got in the middle of our group for some reason. We all headed for Montezuma. A couple of vehicles didn't notice our big group coming down so we had to pass in a narrow spot but it all worked out.
We stopped in the valley just before getting to the Radical Hill trailhead so we could regroup. There were lots of wildflowers and the whole valley was just gorgeous. A couple of hikers seemed surprised by all of the traffic, though it's definitely predictable in the summer.
We worked our way toward Montezuma, having fun in the creek crossing. Mark U. went through and got water under his hood and it made his Jeep cranky but it eventually kept running and he made it out of the creek. Good times!
Red Cone really is a fun trail and we had a good time. We shouldn't wait so long for our next visit.
Reports from Other Days: 7
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