I'd been looking
forward to the Georgia Pass trip since reading about Michael and
Toby's outing in the first issue of FSJ Magazine. Also, I've only
been on two CFSJA runs (Boreas Pass and Rampart Range Road) both
of which were quite easy, so I figured it was finally time to try
something a little more challenging.
I badly underestimated
how long it would take me to get to the meeting place at Jefferson,
so I was running late. I thought I'd miss everybody and even thought
about turning back, but I ended up only being twenty minutes late.
Fortunately, I was not the last person to arrive, so that made me
feel alot better. Participating were Michael Shimniok and Amy in
"Backhoe", Amy's coworker, John, and his wife Denise in a late 70's
Ford F150, Charlie Thompson and son Sean in "Hi Ho Silver", Hari
Ragigopal and son Alex in "Molly", and myself in 83 Cherokee. Sean
and Alex are great kids; makes me wish I had some myself. We were
also joined by three big dogs: one belonging to John and Denise
and the other two belonging to Hari.
up on news and looking over the rigs, we started up Georgia Pass.
The south side of the pass is pretty easy and we made it to the
summit, where we stopped to eat, shortly after noon. At the summit
of the pass, there are a couple of side trails that can be explored.
We had hoped to go over Glacier Ridge before going down the north
side of the pass. However, while we were eating, a guy on a motorcycle
told us about a Jeep that gone off one of these side trails and
slid down the mountain about 300 feet. We decided to see if we could
help and headed off down a fairly rocky trail that was quite narrow
in a few spots. We got to the site of the mishap just as they were
driving the Jeep back up onto the trail. I'm not sure what kind
of Jeep it was; I'd guess an older CJ model. They had been on another
trail higher up the hill and decided to come down (as in straight
down) to the trail we were on. The driver couldn't get it to downshift,
the brakes overheated, and the Jeep went sailing right on down the
mountain. If I'd been a passenger in that Jeep, I would have bailed
out, soiled my underwear, or both. Fortunately, this happened just
above timberline so there were no trees for them to hit. The four
people in that Jeep were mighty lucky; hopefully they said a few
prayers of thanksgiving last night. We were all surprised that the
Jeep and passengers escaped unscathed. I'm also surprised they were
able to get it back up to the trail. The adventure with the CJ was
not over, however. After
getting back on the trail, they all piled in, but since we were
now blocking the trail, the driver decided to go off the trail to
get around us. Fortunately for them, Michael and Hari yelled at
him to stop before they tipped over sideways and rolled back down
the hill. Michael and Hari hooked up a tow strap to John's F150
and got the CJ pulled back up on the trail. Then the CJ wouldn't
start due to a weak battery, so I gave them a jump start. Finally,
the CJ got underway and we decided to head further up the trail
to find a good place to turn around. The scenery and weather were
perfect, so our little rescue operation was worth the effort.
turned around, Charlie and John decided to head down the north side
of Georgia Pass to stake out a camping spot for the night while
Michael, Hari, and I decided to find the Glacier Ridge trail. The
next side trail we took offered more spectacular views, but dead-ended
after a short distance. These side trails were not marked, and the
trail guide was not too clear. We then decided to go back and try
the first side trail we had taken (for the CJ rescue). This time
we went further down the trail which became increasingly difficult.
Unfortunately, this trail turned out not to be Glacier Ridge, and
as time was beginning to run out, we decided to give up and turn
back. On the return, I pulled over to the right side of the trail
at one point to let a motorcycle by. Unfortunately, I got too far
over into some soft dirt. I wasn't in danger of going over, but
I was definitely stuck. Michael, who was following me, told me on
the CB to stop before I got myself dug in really deep. Michael and
Hari were prepared as usual, and hooked up a tow strap so that Hari's
Cherokee could pull me free. After reaching the summit again, we
headed down on the north side of the pass to find where Charlie
and John had set up camp.
The north side
of the pass is definitely harder than the south side, but became
easier the further we went. We found the campsite in a clearing
next to a small creek. As I needed to get home, I couldn't stop
at the campsite, but Hari was kind enough to follow me a couple
miles further down the pass to make sure I didn't get stuck again
or lost. On the way home, I stopped at the Burger King in Dillon
just as a big thunderstorm unloaded a downpour. I could see other
thunderstorms building to the west. Hopefully, the campers escaped
the rough weather.
All in all,
it was a great day as I experienced my first "real" off-road adventure.
I made a few rookie mistakes. At one point Hari asked me why I using
my brakes so much. Oh well, now I know what 4-lo is for. I learned
what my capabilities are, and I think I'll stick to moderate trails
for now. My sincere thanks go to everyone who participated, especially
Michael and Hari for their patience and understanding.
for the campers...
We arrived back
at camp, said our goodbyes to John, then proceeded to set up our
tents. As we looked around, there was Charlie's set up then over
there by the Ford... what th' ... what IS that thing?? It's HUGE!
We walked over to John and Denise and expected to see a huge neon
sign over their tent with the words "VACANCY" ... the porch on this
tent was big enuf to fit our entire tent... when I looked inside
the thing (it looked like it could sleep about 30) and said "hello"
I am certain I heard an echo...
Well, we all
quickly had camp up and the cooking equipment out. While Amy and
I warmed up the Chili we'd put together Fri nite (we should call
it the allnighter Chili), Hari was warming beans and polish sausage,
John and Denise were fixing up brats and sauerkraut. I have felt
that camping is all about food (actually I believe a lot of things
are all about food).
brownies followed this eclectic multi-course meal and of course
I have to mention the miracle of Jiffy Pop popcorn. I had a sheltered
childhood so actually this was my very first experience witnessing
a flat tin of popcorn turn into a bulging aluminum bubble of buttery
fluffiness. A must for every camping experience! We shot the breeze,
talked trucks, watched the sunset reflect off the clouds, swatted
skeeters, told scary stories after dark, and finally turned in.
slope and bumpy ground and rain and leaky tent didn't exactly make
for a Serta night, but I'd rather be sleeping in the woods in a
huge campground next to a rushing stream than just about anywhere.
The next morning Hari left early and missed out on breakfast burritos
that Amy and I and Charlie made for everyone (thanx to Charlie for
the grille-cooked bacon--yumm!). After a heart-killing start to
the morning we broke camp and headed back. The rest of the trail
was mostly just bumpy with a few very minor water crossings and
pretty soon we were on dirt road, in 4hi and heading back home.