This run had a few characteristics that made it stand out -- it was the last run of the 2004 wheeling season, we did the trail in under 5 hours (that's really quick for us!), no one had any real troubles with the trail even though it was snowing the whole time, and multiple people got quite a lot of trail damage by the time the day was finished. Still, it was a great run to round out a great year of offroading!
It was snowing in Denver and there was already about an inch or two on the grass, so by the time we all made it to Conifer and our meeting place we were all wondering how the day was going to go. Slaughterhouse Gulch can get pretty ugly if the snow on it has had a chance to melt and then freeze, forming a thick sheet of ice on the whole thing. Luckily this was the first snow in about a week so all we found was fresh powder. Most of the time we were making new tracks in the snow.
We hadn't been on the trail for more than 5 minutes before Bob ran over a branch that poked a hole through the sidewall of one of his new tires, flattening it in a couple of minutes. We stopped to change the tire and then we were on our way.
Almost everyone got up on Poser Rock, and Dane got up on two tires with the other two hanging in the air. Cool flex!
Stump Hill is still very closed so we came around and stopped for lunch at the clearing where the hill starts descending pretty rapidly. Even though it was still snowing and we were in about 4 inches of snow, we decided to finish lunch and continue on to the bottom. The temperatures were below freezing.
We started down the hill and even though it was slippery it wasn't nearly as bad as it was the year before (we had lots of ice that run) and not nearly as tough as Spring Creek the week before (the snow this time was lighter and wasn't making ice in our tracks because of the lower temperatures). We took our time and everyone made it safely down to the bottom.
We all worked our way through the rocks and tippy sections, sliding a bit here and there but nothing was too dangerous. When we got to the next clearing before the bottom of the uphill section everyone did a few donuts in the snow but we got moving pretty quickly.
Eric was the first to go up the whoopdeedoos, slamming sideways into a rock but making it up without too much trouble. Dave came up next and managed to straddle the same rock, making a big noise when he connected with it but not slowing down. Everyone else came up, taking all different lines but not really having any difficulties with it.
We kept going, deciding not to stop at the flexy hole in the ground. With the uphill sections and deep holes here and there we decided it was best to keep momentum. That meant we were all up to the top and over the rocky section in record time.
We got to the mud pits extremely early for our group. Everyone played in the soupy mud that wasn't too deep and wasn't too soggy due to the temperatures. The steep section that had been giving us trouble all year wasn't a big deal this time because the mud was frozen. The shorter section was actually much more difficult because it had been pretty dug out at the bottom.
Eric got stuck in the same section of deep ruts but this time he got out without too much trouble. Carlos flew through the mud with his son laughing through all of them.
Jon went down the big hill after climbing up it fairly easily, clipping his back bumper on the way down. He splashed through the mud to the other side and came back, not losing the plastic side to his bumper.
When we were done playing we worked our way back out. Everyone was doing donuts at the trailhead and Jon slid around sideways into a hill, knocking his tire right off the bead on his wheel. The guys used a Hi-Lift to get the tire off the ground, reseated it and he was fine.
We went back to the gas station, slowing down for an accident where a 4Runner was on its side in a ditch. We aired up and were on our way out to go get pizza, but the parking lot was slick with ice. Bob couldn't stop in time, running right into Dave and causing some major trail damage to both vehicles. It's fitting that the last minute of the last run of the year ended up with some of the worst trail damage so far!
We got pizza and warmed up, toasting another great year of wheeling. See you next year!
Reports from Other Days: 14
Use the arrows or dots to flip through the previews of the other reports for Slaughterhouse Gulch. Click one of them to read more and see all of the photos from that day.