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Middle St. Vrain and Coney Flats

Wheelin' in November... who would've thunk it?

Jason W. leads the pack

Well, even stranger than going wheeling in November in Colorado is the fact that I showed up EARLY (I have witnesses...)

Mark Welle was riding shotgun with me in TC and we met up with James.  The rest of the gang showed up over the next hour.  We even met a guy with a nice huge 70 Wag who didn't know about the list.  No doubt he was surprised to see so many lifted rigs like his all in one spot!

James (JJ), Jason, Ken & Kent, Adam, and Charlie and I headed off for the trail head of Middle St. Vrain which starts after you pass through Camp Dick. About 20 yards into the trail it became clear this would be no easy drive. We were confronted with some serious rocky sections there and further on. But somewhat more harrowing was the ice...

First James got going on this one glassy part of the trail only to slide and wind up sideways.  It took a good five minutes of reorienting and spinning tires but he got past the skating rink section.  Then it was Adam's turn. He got stuck and was spinning tires, so several of us went up to help.  BIG mistake!  I really felt like I was skating.  What am I saying?  I WAS skating.  We were unable to give Adam the 'push' he needed to make it up; we had no more traction than his rig... which started sliding right towards me! --so I slipped, slided, and tumbled my way to safety.  Too bad someone didn't have a video camera.  The Keystone Four-Wheelers.  Sheesh.  Landed on my butt pretty hard there, let me tell you.  I bet I'll be sore tomorrow!

TC Succumbs to the Ice

Adam at the creek crossing

Michael struggles through

Well, then it was my turn.  I headed across the rink and slowed down a bit.  Another big mistake.  The truck kept sliding and then gravity took over and pulled me off to the side in the direction of the slope--off the rather steep edge of the trail.  Sitting very still, I let Adam hook up a tow strap and once we finally got him some traction and I stopped pulling him into the abyss with me, he got me out of there.

We finally all made it.  Charlie headed home--being the only stock vehicle, and the only one without dents, rust, or other damage, that was probably a really wise choice.  We were sorry to see him go, but it got a lot more "fun" before it got better.  This trail was MUCH harder than "moderate"

After a few more exciting obstacles we found and climbed the steep turnoff for Coney Flats and hit some good rocky obstacles right off the bat.  The trail kept climbing, curved around for awhile, finally leading to the most challenging section of all--many huge, strategically placed rocks such that I was able to bang up my rear diff a couple times and violently bounce my way to the top--about what everyone else did.  We all made it and a short while later we found an open, flat area with beautiful views of pine-covered mountains and an ice-fringed lake.  Lunchtime!  We spent a good hour, hour-and-a-half cooling down from the excitement.

True to form, Troubled Child was overheating the whole way, spending most of the time around 250 except when I could get a decent run at midrange rpms. Thinking it was a fan clutch, early on in the trail I did a trail side fixit, wiring the fan up solid with the water pump using, you guessed it, bailing wire.  That didn't do jack.  Moreover, it broke about the time we made it to lunch.  So I guess it's a thermostat problem?  To be fair TC has had this problem to a lesser degree for some time, so it's not like he surprised me with it out of the blue as he usually does...

Well, once we got sufficiently calmed down, we headed down the rest of the trail which offered some pretty challenging obstacles, but nothing to compare with what we'd seen thus far.  Still, enough to keep us alert.  The trail was pretty narrow so it was kind of hard to avoid those big rocks right in the middle of the track.  Nevertheless we made it down.

But not before running across a J10... we stopped and found out he was already a list member--Ron Cooper if memory serves (sorry if I got the name wrong). He was heading the opposite direction.  By this time it was 4pm so we recommended turning around once he reached our lunch spot.

We tooled along and pretty soon we reached the flat dirt road leading back to 72 where Adam, I aired up thanks to Midnite's onboard air.  Mark and I decided that onboard air was a necessity far more important than such details as tires and 4wd.  Trance-like, I kept thinking, "MUST have on board air..." JJ's got his set up off his York a/c compressor in its stock orientation and runs a nice simple air tube off it.  Those Yorks can fill a tire from 20# to 37 in probably a minute, less if you rev the motor up in the 1000-2000rpm range.  It's really quite impressive!

So we headed back, my butt still sore from the spill, but all of us with a big grin on our faces from a fun, exciting, unusual November day of wheeling under our belts...