1988 I've run easy, moderate, and a few hard trails but
nothing like Holy Cross. It's been a little while since
I've been on the trail and it's been awhile since I've looked
at an obstacle and said to myself "there is NO WAY
my vehicle can make it up that!" That's about all I
said to myself Saturday and Sunday on our 2-day adventure
to the Mount of the Holy Cross and the old city at its base.
met and hit the trail by 10am following a group of Land
Rovers and another group of baby Jeeps. Fred Greenwood in
his 75 Cherokee narrow track 2-door and Randy in his classic
Commando and I rolled up the shale climb and immediately
got into moderate level wheeling. It didn't take long for
us to catch up with the Land Rovers, one of whichwas stuck
on a somewhat more difficult obstacle.
of the trail from here qualifies as moderate until you get
to the really tough obstacles. Unfortunately I got myself
wedged on a rock section, misjudging the line and my clearance,
used and broke my new Amsteel Blue winch cable on a straight
single line pull with a 9000# winch (please, someone tell
me why this is possible and then give me some winching tips
so this doesn't happen again). After many minutes of hi-lift
activity, stacking rocks under the rig, I was able to get
unstuck and we rolled, but not before noticing the fist-sized
dent in my rear diff cover and the fluid leaking out of
We rolled on for a short time and found a good stopping
point before a more difficult obstacle. By this time we'd
heard rumors of vehicles backed up forever at French Creek,
broken axles, etc. Breaking for lunch and waiting out the
traffic jam, we found a level place to park and I began
wrenching on my wounded ride.
ring gear had chewed a hole in the dented cover but it was
unscathed and I was able to pound out the dent, repair the
hole with JB Quick Weld, button everything up, and replace
fluid with 2 quarts of new and what we'd collected with
my gold panning pans and ammo cans. Next time I'm bringing
a full gallon and some fresh JB. With much help from Fred,
Scott, and Randy, TC was rolling again. Say what you want
about AMC 20's, but how many diff covers can you ROTATE
so that the hole is at the top instead of the bottom??
with the broken cable (that should NOT have happened) and
the crushed diff cover, my confidence was a bit shaken.
Randy and Fred are pros at this stuff and I definitely kept
a close eye on their lines from that point on. We made it
up the next fairly tough climb and reached a ledge area
with a few choices of how to get up. The right side was
a rather uneven near vertical climb but with just the right
tire placement it was doable and indeed, we did it.
were now stacked behind all the rigs (reports varied from
20 to 60) waiting to cross French Creek. This is where it
got interesting. One look at the obstacle and I'm sure my
jaw dropped and eyes popped. I still am not quite sure how
all these rigs crossed this section. We got to watch a dozen
or more rigs going up and coming down. We saw Jeeps, Rovers,
Samurais, Broncos, Rangers, Toyotas and an extreme Amigo
(or something) tackle this bit, with straps and winches
coming out all too often. Our turn came up way too soon.
Of course Fred and Randy did a great job of climbing up.
Without their spotting I wouldn't have gotten as far as
I did. But I got into a precarious situation at a crucial
moment so we immediately strapped me up. Maybe I'll make
it under my own power next time.
rest of the climb wasn't exactly easy. We hit another obstacle
where a tree root provided a bizzare, slipper, off-camber
climb that sends the rear end towards the cliff-side as
you get up. The fact that the clouds that had been threatening
rain all day finally let go with thunder, rain, and hail
didn't help matters. But we all three made it up this sketchy
climb and proceeded on to the City. Not that it was easy
but compared to what we'd just been through, it seemed that
way. We set up camp.
sun broke and rain stopped just before sunset affording
some awesome views of the two remaining buildings and the
mountain backdrops and forest. A nice campfire, cold suds,
good chow (thanks Scott) and good company put the tougher
parts of the day into clear perspective. In good spirits
we all headed off for shuteye and soon froze our butts off
as the cloudless sky let precious heat escape until the
night hit a chilly 28 degrees.
next morning we awoke to frost on the tents but a gorgeous
day. A tour of the area uncovered a big plump yellow-bellied
marmot, some interesting lakes and town artifacts. I wonder
what the town was like in its heydey. Where was main street?
What did it sound like? What was it like to live that far
removed from hospitable country? Did the city dwellers ever
look around at their gorgeous surroundings?
headed back a bit earlier than Randy and Fred had planned
(thanks guys, we'll hit those other sections next time).
I had foolishly thought we'd get up the trail and back down
and camp on the easy side of things. Not a chance. This
was better anyway. We fired up the rigs and made the decent.
Some of my lessons from the last few years and especially
the day before were coming back to me and I seemed to do
a little better on the decent, although all the credit for
crossing the big obstacles goes to my great spotters: Randy,
Fred, and Scott.
long we were at the turnoff and back to base camp where
I aired up, Fred and Randy loaded up the Cherokee which
lost high range, and pretty soon we parted ways and headed
back. My rear diff didn't explode into a million pieces
on the way back so that was good. And we ran into the Rover
guys in Minturn as I finished airing up.
all told things went very well because I really didn't get
any body damage, none of us had any serious problems, and
we all had a great time. Those of you who couldn't make
it, you really missed a super adventure. I hope you guys
can make it to the Grizzly run Aug 7-8.
goes by fast, don't let too many wheeling opportunities
pass you by...