We've had some crazy times on our annual Spring Creek Snow Run. In 2003 we started from the top and only did the Rock Garden on the way down and then back on the way up, all the while in a blizzard and deep snow. In 2004 we did the whole trail -- it was icy and cold and it took us over 12 hours. This year we planned on just doing the top again, and the weather wasn't too bad at all.
We started on Saxon Mountain, quickly getting to the top. The trail in the trees was covered with about two inches of snow, but the sky was blue. The areas next to the trail weren't even completely buried in snow yet.
We stopped briefly in the meadow, then headed down to the Rock Garden. We passed the little switchback where Bob R. and Cheryl had slid off the trail about 10 hours into our 2004 Snow Run, and thankfully it wasn't slick at all.
The Rock Garden had some snow on it but it wasn't completely buried yet. You could still see bits of each of the bigger rocks. It snowed off and on but nothing major.
We all went through the narrow trees at the top of the Rock Garden, then down the difficult side of the bigger rocks.
A rock that had been in the wall of the Rock Garden not that long ago was now in the trail, making the line a bit more difficult. Bob came down the big rocks first, missing the new rock without any issues. It was a long drop down to the next section, but he didn't have a problem.
Eric came next on his new 35" tires. He came down slowly and easily, missing the new rock. He made it look easy.
Cheryl was next, dropping down and sliding a little bit. Each Jeep that went through the snow would make it just a little bit slicker (though nothing like the 2004 trip, thankfully). That put her right into the new rock. Rather than back up and risk a broken front axle, she crawled over the new rock instead. She got pretty tippy in the next section but drove right through it.
Dane came through last and it was really slick. He slid pretty far down and also ended up dead-on with the new rock. The slick snow ended up being a good thing, allowing him to slide around just enough to adjust his line and get around the rock without any problems.
A few Jeeps had some issues getting a little high-centered in the rest of the Rock Garden but otherwise it was pretty easy.
We started to turn around to head back up, but then realized it wasn't even lunch time yet. We decided to keep going down the trail instead to do the third obstacle, so everyone turned back around and we kept going.
The third obstacle had some snow on it but it wasn't too much. Everyone went down it over the big slabs of rock, getting some great flex. We all turned left at the bottom, thinking we'd back up one at a time to go back up.
A Pinzgauer came up from the bottom, then, and we got to see it do the third obstacle. It was pretty cool to watch. They were going to hang out and watch us, but we decided to have lunch there, out of the way. They drove off but ended up hiking back down to watch us anyway.
We had a nice lunch with no snow (though we were expecting it any minute after our adventurous lunch on Middle St. Vrain the weekend before). Then we started back up the trail.
Bob went first and took the line over the rock slabs, and we were surprised to find out it was wet and slick enough to make it very difficult. He kept trying but kept sliding off. He decided to try some other lines up the rocks instead, and found a fun one.
Eric went next and just went through the middle. He made it look really easy.
Cheryl followed Eric and managed to get up on the slabs of rock but couldn't get over them without sliding off. She got stuck on her differentials a few times on the way up but got through it just fine.
Dane managed to get up on the slabs too but kept sliding off. He even tried a really high line on the rocks but it still just slid him right off. He finally went around them like everyone else.
We started up, and passed the Pinzgauer on the way to the Rock Garden. Bob played in the rocks first, and the big rocks on the left side were too slick to manage. There no longer was a rock stuffed under the overhang, and his tire kept getting caught under it. He went around, though he was close to succeeding.
Eric tried it too, with no luck. He would keep getting very close, then it was just too slick to make it through it. He had to go around, too.
Cheryl had troubles getting hung up on her differentials and transfer case skid plate on the rocks that jut out in the middle of the obstacle. You have to be pretty accurate through here, and they were so slick that she kept sliding off. She tried to go far off to the left but it looked like it was going to take some momentum to get through it.
She gave it some gas and when she tried to turn she slid in the slick snow and instead ran head-on into the rocks she was trying to avoid. She broke her Rubicon's fog light right off and dented in her driver's side front fender enough to really smash the turn signal light. We got everything cleaned up and fixed her fender as well as possible. Rather than risk more carnage she winched herself over the rocks.
Dane watched all of this and planned his line through the slippery rocks. He figured he would be able to stay up on the jutting rocks but he had the same problems. They were just too slick to stay on. He ended up winching himself over them rather than risking another Jeep encounter with the rock in the wall. He also took a different line around the big rocks, having a lot of fun in the process.
The Pinzgauer decided to take the bypass during all of this and ended up in front of us again. We had a blast going through the rest of the smaller rocks, because they were so slick. You had to get a lot of momentum going in spots.
We came across the Pinzgauer people putting chains on later in the trail. They ended up following us up and through the rest of the trail.
We started down towards Ute Creek, intending on running Cascade Creek. When we got to the big crossroads we decided to go explore the Ben Harrison Mine area which isn't too far from the crossroads down the Spring Gulch trail. There are some steep hills of loose rocks that we wanted to check out.
When we got to the bottom we found that the fun, loose hill was also covered in a few inches of snow. Bob had been up the hill before so he started up, expecting a fun climb but nothing too challenging. He quickly found out that the snow coupled with the loose rocks made the hill extremely difficult to climb.
He kept working on it but he wasn't going anywhere so he came back down. Eric wanted to try it next, so he took a run at it. It looked like he wasn't going to have any luck either, but he just kept at it. He slowly got to the flatter section of the hill, inch by inch. Then he was up.
Bob tried some more but it just wasn't going to be that easy. He backed down again and Cheryl gave it a try.
It really looked like she was going to make it up, but it just wasn't working for her. Maybe the automatic transmission was hurting instead of helping? Cheryl was the only one with an automatic that day.
Dane gave it a try next. We were all thinking that only Eric was going to have it easy (relatively) but Dane kept at it and made it up pretty quickly. Don wasn't going to have that, so he jumped in Cheryl's Jeep and gave it a run.
He kept sliding off to one side, then backing down and trying it again. The third try finally did it and he managed to keep the Jeep on the hill as he inched his way up.
At this point, Eric came down and drove right back up it without any issues. Bob wasn't going to have that, so he gave it a final try.
We weren't sure at first if it was going to work out, but then Bob made it through the roughest section and he was finally through it. We all made it!
The weather was starting to get really cold and snowy as the sun was threatening to go down. We decided we'd do Cascade Creek later in the winter instead of spending another full day in the snow like last year. We headed down Spring Gulch and took the turn for Trail Creek to head back to Idaho Springs.
We had our usual dinner at Beau Jo's, and for the first time it was a pretty bad dinner. Management couldn't have cared less, and it was disappointing. We went a few doors down to play some pool for a bit, and most of us found ourselves still in Idaho Springs at last call. It was a blast!
Reports from Other Days: 13
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