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Rampart Range Road & Mt. Herman Road
May 2, 2004

Quicktime Movie

Photos

It's been awhile since some of us played in the dirt and we wanted an easy shakedown cruise to start the season, so we set up an easy run down Mt. Herman Road and Rampart Range road on Sunday, May 2. Ethan, Scott, Lee and Debbie, Bill and his boy, Mark and his boy, and I met up at the "Golden Arches" in Monument kicked the tires and jawed per normal. Surprisingly, I was on time even without Amy to keep an eye on me. But being late is a tradition so Ethan stepped into the honored role.

After breakfast, fueling, and a little more jawing, we headed out for the trail and besides an early setback in the form of a roadblock and convoluted detour, we were rolling in the dust in no time. The trail winds up switchbacks into the hills pretty quickly and you get a panoramic view of the plains to the east which lie just north of Colorado Springs. Pretty soon you're in amongst the gorgeous pine trees and hoping some nutjob in a minivan doesn't pummel you as he careens down a blind, narrow dirt curve. Actually the other drivers were fine. But you have to be careful around here.

Naturally the FSJ bug had to bite and once we got Ethan's upper radiator hose replaced (I carry a spare, call me a Boy Scout) and the system filled with whatever water we could scrounge up, we were rolling down the trail again. What would we do if we didn't have to fix anything? That's kind of a spooky thought.

The trail makes for a good day's drive. A couple of us had planes to catch later that evening so we didn't have much time to play. Still we were able to fit in a healthy dose of washboard roads, puddles, super Colorado scenery, and copious bouncing around. With no new drivers, the group decided to detour on a forest road to heighten the challenge just a bit, quickly running across a rather large log drop-off obstacle that claimed a tailpipe, bumper, and some other goodies from the group's rides. Ow.

Lunching at a majestic rock outcropping, it was all we could do to avoid the temptation of a foot deep muddy water hole that some guy in a Ford Ranger essentially double dog dared us to try. Well, Bill would have no sitting around so after sandwiches and whatnot (did I mention one of the kids, Bill's I think, managed to eat a sandwich about the size of his leg?), he took a stab at the water. Running more than hub deep, with a steep muddy incline on the first route he tried, he came to a quick standstill, quickly slammed into reverse, and recovered before I had to use my winch for the first time in history. The second try through the slightly easier exit worked fine.

Needless to say I had to give it a try and did ok on the harder exit but hey, the locker and 33" MT/R's probably didn't hurt, you know? Bill's run made for a better show and a demonstration of much better driving skill and quick reactions.

So we took another look around and fired up the FSJs and stormed out for Rampart Range Road (RRR), the 'shortcut' home. Uh yeah. Next time, somebody remind me to actually look at a map. It felt like about an hour later (actually maybe it was) we were still on RRR wondering when, if ever, this accursed (but quite scenic) serpentine swath of dirt would ever attach itself to CO 67 so we could break 20mph and get the heck back to Sedalia, US 85, and home.

It's kind of like getting the first 3 numbers of the lottery every week for a year. So close, and yet, so far. Well, after another couple billion years we finally hit 67, after a bit, Sedalia, and no time I was home throwing luggage in the car and roaring off to the airport with time to spare. Whew.

Thankful I'd taken the time out Sunday, I thought about the Colorado mountains quite a bit that stressful week away from home. That's the thing, no matter where you're at, you can always go wheeling in your head until you get to go for real. That makes almost anything better.

Michael Shimniok