We had a big run for our first Colorado trail of 2005 (12 vehicles) and the weather was beautiful. The trail had changed a lot over the winter and there was a new lake of mud right in the middle of the trail that we had to go through that had nearly everyone working. We all left a little more sunburned, a lot more muddy, and happy because our wheeling season had started so well.
It was in the 60s already in Conifer when we filled up the gas station parking lot to meet for the run. We got to the trailhead still in one big group hogging the highway, aired down, removed windows and doors as much as we could, then headed down the trail.
Stump hill was still closed but it looked like people had been ignoring the sign and going up the hill anyway. It was disappointing to see the destruction, so hopefully something will be done. There is also no longer any shooting allowed, at least in the early parts of the trail.
Nearly everyone got up on "Poser Rock" to test the flexibility of their suspensions. The rock gets you tippy really quickly and it surprises nearly everyone. It's a great place to take some pictures of clean vehicles before everyone gets muddy. There are always so many muddy areas (including a stretch of trail just after the rock) that it's impossible to stay clean even if you avoid the mud pits. There are also lots of good flexy areas, though they are mostly on the way back uphill after the halfway point of the loop.
We worked our way down the first part of the loop and no one had any issues. It was nice to get a little shade for a little while, too. When we got to the rocky area everyone drove right through and no one had a single problem.
We saw three different groups of vehicles doing the trail in the opposite direction, which we haven't really seen before. Each of the other groups had two vehicles so we ended up always working our way around them.
Then we came to the mud lake. In past years this area has either been completely dry but obviously muddy at one time (maybe in the winter months) or there has been a small puddle that is completely avoidable. The trail is wide enough here for two vehicles to pass. This time it was thick mud all the way across the trail and it was unavoidable.
The right side had a very large drop off into watery mud. The middle had the smallest drop off but the mud was very thick and sticky. The left side had another large drop off and sticky mud and it was difficult to get to, so no one tried this section.
Monica, Derek, Carlos, Ed and Cheryl all did the line on the very right. Monica, Ed and Cheryl all have short wheel bases and enough flex to get through it fairly easily. They went through without any issues.
Derek and Carlos both have long wheel bases and both had issues with the drop off. When their passenger side rear tires would drop off the ledge they would be hanging there while the driver side front tire wouldn't have enough weight on it to get any traction in the mud. They would end up stuck there, unable to go forward or back up the big, sloppy drop off. Mike pulled Derek back up so he could make a more successful run at it (a little more speed did the trick). Derek pulled Carlos forward just a little bit to get him going through the mud.
Mike, Jed, Daniel, Brian, Michelle, Dane and Dave all took the middle line with the more direct and smaller drop off but much stickier mud. Mike went through without an issue but then Jed followed and got stuck in the mud. The more he tried to get out the more his back tires would get buried. When they were finally well above the tops of his rims he got pulled out by Mike. This wouldn't be the last time Jed cursed his tires.
There were some other people in front of us ready to go through the other direction, as well as another Jeep behind us that wasn't part of our group. We left them to sort it out and we continued on. When we got to the high clearing we stopped to have a fantastic lunch in the sun, with just a little breeze and blue skies. We definitely get to eat lunch in the best places.
Then we went down the hill to start the climb up. Monica and Dave went up first to set up filming and picture taking. Dave filmed everyone coming up the first part of the hill, which was much more torn up than it had been in the last few years. Monica went further up to take pictures of people in the Whoopdeedoo area as they flexed up the hill.
Everyone enjoyed a lot of flexing and posing as they worked their way through the difficult and fun sections. This is one of the best places for testing out your suspension.
We continued up the hill and through the part where the trees threaten your top and the front of your windshield. Everyone made it through fine, including Dane and his new roof rack.
We all headed for the mud pits but only Ed, Derek, Carlos, Brian, Jed and Daniel got in. Considering how muddy and torn up the rest of the trail had been we were surprised to find the mud pits at their dryest and shallowest compared to past years. The pit at the far end was deepest and had steep sides like always, but the middle was dry in places, with sticky mud in the middle (though not very deep).
Everyone played and had a good time in the mud. Jed went through the middle and didn't make it too far before he was very stuck in the goopy mud. Carlos tugged him back out, and with a little bit more enthusiasm Jed went back in again. He only made it a bit further before getting stuck again. This time Brian pulled him out forward. Jed would have kept trying but he didn't want people to have to keep pulling him out. New tires are on the list for this year for Jed!
Though the drivers all had fun there was probably more fun had by the boys and the dog. By the time we left they were all covered in mud and very, very happy. All of them ended up instantly exhausted.
We headed out to Crossroads Restaurant for pizza (this seems to be some sort of tradition now) and to share stories. The trail has changed a lot but we had a great, muddy time like always. It promises to be a great 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.