that's where we tried to go.
I know, you
all thought we were gonna go up Crystal Mountain trail! Well, so
Pam and Alan
Bennett in their M-715 from Nebraska
first. I left the house at 8:30, plenty of time to get gas and get
to Loveland meeting spot by 9am. About 1/2 mile from the house-
OOPS! I forgot my wallet. Turn around, get wallet, leave again.
Get gas, back on my way. Now I'm late. I take 287 down to Rt 34
instead of the interstate, so in case they leave, I'll pass em on
the way. Get there at 9:20am. Oops. Well, Michael wasn't gonna be
going, so SOMEBODY had to be late. I pull up to Jeff C's truck and
am quite happy that I wasn't gonna win the ugly truck award for
the day. (I'll get an even BETTER award later...)
I see Jason,
who is stranded home fixing his Jeep. I meet Steve, his wife (Roseanne?)
and two kids (riding in Scrap Iron), as well as Mr. Mark Welle,
Sr. and Mark himself, riding in Sr's nice new lifted Wrangler. Alan
& Pam and daughter are there in their way too cool M715. Jeff C
has his modified Cherokee with him and Ray is there with his two
kids in a nice WT Chero, too. And me, with me Project Jeep, with
freshly cut fenders for the 33's that I stole from MudPuppy.
says to me that he's glad I showed up, because he didn't want to
have to lead the trail run in his family sedan. This is when I find
out I'm the trail leader for the day!
No one else
had been up here, B4. D'oh! Uh, I "hope" I remember the
bring the TJ out for a ride.
at 9:40 or so, we head off. First stop, the 7-11 to top off gas
tanks. That done, we head for the hills. After about 30-45 minutes
of driving, we reach the turnoff for the Buckhorn Canyon. We're
getting closer! Next, we stop to air down a little. We startle some
overnight roadside campers, but I reassure them that we'll only
be a few minutes. I decide to only air down to 30 psi, not too much.
I'll air more once we get to the base of Crystal Mtn trail. Everyone
set, I head off to lead the assault on Moody Hill. Dropping into
4 low, up I go.
something is wrong. The accelerator doesn't want to go very far.
Weird. It didn't do that on the farm... But I'm still having trouble,
as the engine keeps dying. I think I barely made it up to the mine
turnoff before I had to stop and check the motor. The temp was OK,
and I had an electric fuel pump on there, anyway. Jeff C comes up
to look and laments that I have a Holley (4160) on there, and that
it's prone to flooding without the off-road kit installed. Evidently,
the off road kit isn't there. I start it up and try again. I eventually
coax it to a semi flat spot where we can work on it. Jeff C and
Steve S dive into my hot engine compartment and starts adjusting
the carb. We get it a little better, but it still sputters and dies.
Plus, I still have the linkage problem that prevents full throttle
in 1st gear. Releasing the kickdown linkage fixes that. But it still
was hesitating. :-(
So, after wasting
what I think was a whole hour, I decide to cut my losses and proceed
onward as a passenger. I jump into Steve's rig since it's the closest.
Steve gets to be the lead truck, now. Off we go.
A short time
later, on the big long stretch of Moody Hill (my favorite part),
I get out to video tape the trucks passing. I also get to tape Alan
and Pam's M715 stalling out on the obstacle. More adjustments, the
the Vietnam era military vehicle passes on through. I was going
to stay and tape the last trucks through, but am reminded that no
one else knows which way to go. But, like, I DO???? Heck, I haven't
been up here more than twice, and the last time was in the beginning
of the year...
onward we go. A few spots I recognize, but not completely. Now,
it's one thing to get lost on your own. I don't really mind it,
as I turn around and go back. But, with 5 other groups of people
with you, it's important that you know where you're going... ;-)
Jeff C brought his trail book (Charlie Wells, Colorado Book II)
with him and that helped clear things up. It even told up the right
way to go when everyone else (other trail users) told us to go the
We plod along,
and every so often, a short message comes over the CB, "We died."
It was Pam, relaying the status of the M715. After removing something
from the fuel delivery system, the "We died"'s became less frequent
and then nonexistent. At least their problems were easily fixable.
reach Crystal Mtn Road. We wait for the tail end to arrive. While
doing so, some quads and a dirt bike pass us, and inform us that
the route to the left is not the way to go. "Doesn't really go anywhere"
says one guy.
the Charile Wells book and sure enough, the book says to GO LEFT.
So, LEFT we go. Turns out, the book was right. I wonder where all
those other guys ended up, as we never saw em again...
Steve and family
test Scrap-iron's clearance.
We reach the
first entrance to the trail, a gnarly rock obstacle that I got stuck
in the last time I was there. We go on to the meadow and have lunch.
Finally! It's around 1:30pm or so and folks are hungry.
the Welle's head home, as they're in Castle rock, and have a doggie
waiting at home.
We stand around,
eat a bit, watch the kids play in the creek, and kibitz about Jeeps.
I lose track of my cell phone, but Steve finds it in the truck,
right where I left it. ;-)
It's much too
late to try Crystal Mtn (it's around 3pm or so) so we decide to
go play on the rock obstacle at the base of the trail. Steve wants
to go first, so I jump out and hike up to the top (not far, and
I walk on the easy route) to videotape the impending FSJ carnage.
Iron does valiantly, spinning and bouncing around, but the deep
ruts and high rocks are no place for a stock height FSJ, and Steve
smartly decides to get strapped out. But not before providing some
good action, especially with Jeff stacking rocks and bouncing on
the front end, trying to give the front wheels traction.
Pam comes along
with the M715. Slow and steady, she makes it look like a walk in
the park. A bit of frame flex makes the fan hit something inside,
but that is all. The smile on her face says "OK, what's next??"
Ray comes up
with his WT Chero. His son wants him to take the harder route, but
experienced wisdom prevails over youthful excitement, and he expertly
crawls his Chero over an easier, but still challenging part. A bit
of tire spin proves that he didn't make it too easy, and the lack
of body damage showed he picked a good line.
Jeff runs down
to his truck and brings it up, rather uneventfully, but makes a
good show of it anyway.
C. goes for the MUCH harder route
he decides that he has to tackle a MUCH harder rock formation. This
has a hard approach angle and would end up with his truck almost
at a 45 degree angle, pointed up to the sky. He approaches cautiously,
then the tires grab and claw away madly at the rock, climbing the
front end up and onto the rocks. His rear tires reach the incline
and try in vain to propel the Jeep skyward. Another burst of tire
activity, accompanied by sounds of tires gnawing on rock, and metal
hitting the rocks. Then someone yells "Uh oh!". Someone else clarifies
the situation, "Driveshaft!"
the front driveshaft had had enough, and just let go. OOPS Well,
at least Jeff had a sense of humor about it, smiling in the driver's
seat, as if sitting in the winner's circle. He backs it down a little,
and he and Steve go about removing the broken parts. Fortunately,
the shaft didn't take anything else out with it.
With the driveshaft
removed, and stowed away in his truck (he wanted to show his buddies
@ work on Monday!), we headed home, taking the easier and more direct
Jeff and I
make a brief detour up the short section of Moody Hill that the
Project Jeep got through. I jumped in, fired it up, and rescued
it from its lonely spot among the trees. Going down, there was no
We met the
rest of the crew at the trailhead. Alan's gas tank strap broke,
and they were putting a racket strap on it, instead. We Bs'd some
more before heading home. Another day's 4 wheeling successfully
completed. No catastrophic failures and everyone was safe.
What a great
way to spend a Saturday!