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post #1 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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Tour de Colorado 2011

Ever since I left Colorado in 2009 (for the brief time I lived there), I have been wanting to do a big wheeling trip throughout CO, hitting all the classics and the more challenging trails CO has to offer. I planned to do it in August 2010, but had to cancel due to the lack of finding other interested people to wheel with and major repairs to my house. One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2011 was to complete this trip, so I rescheduled it for August 2011. I planned it several months in advance, posting it on multiple forums maximize my potential for finding others to join me. When the time came, I had to change plans a bit since I couldn’t find anyone to wheel the hard stuff in Montrose, but I did find a couple folks from AZ to join me at the last minute: John (Stealth4x4) and Igor (007max). This is my story…

Preparations:
Before this trip, like most big trips, I had a lot of prep work to do on the Geap. About 2 months before this trip I rolled over backwards which took out the stock radiator. Since I needed to replace it, I decided to do an upgrade to a Griffin aluminum cross flow radiator with a SPAL fan (supposedly the best electric fans on the market).



This turned out to be A LOT more work than I anticipated, but after some custom fab work from Hunter Off-Road, about 3 days of searching for new hoses to fit the new angle, location, and bigger size radiator ports, and a couple days fiddling with wiring up the relay and temp switch….in triple digit AZ heat!...I finally had it done & ready for CO.




Since it was a mini epic to get this installed and get hoses for it, I wasn’t able to actually run the Geap at running temp to verify that I didn’t blow a head gasket or crack the head until 5 days before I was scheduled to leave. Therefore I didn’t know for sure if this trip was really going to happen until this point, and having to cancel for the second year in a row would be devastating, to say the least. As usual, the prep work for the Geap went up to the wire and I was actually finishing up painting the new mounting brackets the day before I left AZ. One of my other tasks in preparation for this trip was packing the bearings on the trailer. So, the day before I left I was outside in the sun ALL DAY at about 110 degrees with some relatively high humidity. Needless to say, I was ready for some cool weather in CO. I couldn’t wait to be cold!

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post #2 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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Sunday 31 July 2011

I pack up the cooler, load the Geap on the trailer, buckle in my little 4-legged Buddy and head up I-17 to meet John & Melanie. Igor is already in CO at the Toyota Jamboree in Buena Vista, and he’s going to meet us in Ouray. We meet up in Black Canyon City at 0900 and we’re off. It isn’t too long before we are out of the heat and in Flagstaff to gas up & pick up some killer subs at Cheba Hut.

That afternoon we arrive in Durango en route to a camping spot I heard about right off Hwy 550 just North of Silverton. We stop to pick up some ice and good CO microbrew. I purposely didn’t bring beer because I wanted to get some microbrews in CO that I can’t get in AZ. The reason I call this trip “Tour de Colorado” is in appreciation for the top-notch brews CO has to offer and it’s a spin off New Belgium’s “Tour de Fat” title. So, a big part of this trip is sampling all the microbrews on the Western Slopes. Where better to start than Durango, CO? It’s not long before I find the local brewery in Durango, so I grab my growler I brought with me and go inside to get it filled. To my surprise, the bartender states “I’m sorry, but we can only fill our growlers…state law.” I laugh at the “state law” comment, but figure it’s futile to get into that discussion. “OK. How much for YOUR growler?”…………$30! “That’s beer in a glass jar?” I ask her. “And you want $30 for that?” Needless to say, I didn’t walk out with any beer. I did get a 6 pack from the liquor store though, so I was good to go for a couple days.

After Durango it’s a steep narrow road into Silverton. And when I say narrow, I mean NARROW! Mind you, John & I are towing 18’ trailers behind us, so we’re trying very hard to NOT drive off the cliff into oblivion while taking in the unbelievable scenery….and it is amazing! That road was pretty tight in some spots and with no guard rail it made us extra cautious, hardly ever getting out of first gear. The road was mostly uphill from Durango, passing well above 10,000 feet.

We gas up in Silverton, and get to camp at sunset…finally! We made to camp and it’s beer:30. Igor meets us at camp about an hour later. We have some dinner, a campfire and call it a day.

Shawn
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post #3 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Monday 01 August 2011

I wake up, break camp, and load up for Ouray. Today is the day we hit the famous “Black Bear Pass” going from Hwy 550 near Ouray into Telluride. I take Buddy for a quick walk before we head out and notice something not right at all. Buddy has worms! I panic, thinking that it’s heartworm and my little Buddy is going to die. So, I immediately call the nearest vet in Silverton and take him in to get checked out. Turns out it’s intestinal worms, which is totally treatable, and he tested negative for Heartworm, so he’s going to be OK. I get him on some meds to kill the worms, give him a Heartworm pill to prevent those worms, and we’re off.

We drop the Geap off at the trailhead and head down to Ouray where we’ll be coming out Imogene Pass the next day. I ride up with Igor back to the Geap and finally get to admire the scenery along that highway, since I’m not driving. It’s like something out of a storybook. I honestly haven’t seen anything as beautiful since I was at the Alps in Chamonix, France. It is just spectacular!





We get to the Geap and head out on the trail. Right away the scenery is breathtaking. It isn’t long before we get to some waterfalls for some great Kodak moments.




While we’re taking some pics and taking in the scenery, we notice a ton of sheep along the hillside.


As we continue up the trail, we see even more and have to actually honk at some of them to get off the road. Luckily, I saw the sheep before Buddy did, so he never had the chance to bother them.




We get to the top of Black Bear Pass for some lunch, pics, and just relax at 12,840 feet.



There’s some snow for Buddy to play in and some time for me to check why neither of my lockers are working. I don’t need them for this trail, but I will when I get to Grand Junction. A little troubleshooting and I quickly realize that I forgot to reattach a ground that I disconnected when installing the new radiator. The new radiator and fan are working great too. I did notice that the Geap sounded a little loud, but I figure it was just the elevation and there’s nothing to worry about. A little lunch and playing in the snow….IN AUGUST!....and we’re on our way down into Telluride.











About 30-45 minutes later we come to the infamous, dreaded, deadly switchbacks…so we’re told. The way the description reads for this section makes it sound like the most sketchy terrain we’ll ever encounter. I can’t see around the corner of the first switchback, but I prepare for the worst.


I let Buddy out and put my helmet on and proceed. Right when I turn the corner I can see Telluride and the “deadly” switchbacks….what a joke! The switchbacks were nothing to be concerned about. As long as you keep your eyes open while driving and don’t purposely drive off the edge, you’re fine.


We continue down the switchbacks, taking plenty of pics, and arrive in Telluride.








It isn’t long before I find the local brewery and map out the directions.

We get to Smuggler’s Brewery in Telluride and I’m instantly more impressed with this one over the Durango brewery. The bartender let’s us try whatever samples we want before making our very important pint selection and tells me that she can fill whatever growler I have. Unfortunately, since I was told about this CO “law” about growlers in Durango I didn’t think of bringing my growler with me into Telluride, so I left it in the truck…not to mention I was already packed to the roof in the Geap since I had to have camping gear in there for a night on Imogene Pass. “How much for a growler filled with some great brew?”, I ask. “$13”, she tells me. Now THAT’S more like it! And that’s including the cost of a new growler. Of course since I didn’t expect to get a growler, I forgot cups in the truck too. She didn’t have any cups to sell me, but happen to find one lone cup and gave that to me. John, Mel, and Igor we’re out of luck, so they would have to figure something out to help me drink this.

We head out of Telluride and onto Imogene Pass. I spent a little time circling the block trying to find the entrance. The entrance looks like you’re going to drive right onto someone’s driveway, but you see the trail right at the last minute. We are now on Imogene and ready to set up camp.


The Geap is still making some noise, so I figure I better look into it right away when we get to camp.

We find a nice flat spot at the ghost town and set up camp.


Of course it’s raining, like it’s been on & off all day, so that adds to the fun of setting up camp. Luckily, I brought the big outdoor screen house, so we could still hang out at camp and not get soaked. Of course it’s beer:30 again, so I crack open the growler and commence the beer tasting Tour de Colorado. John & Igor slam down a bottle of some beer they brought and use the bottle as their cup for beer from the growler…very resourceful

Shawn
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post #4 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Tuesday 02 August 2011

I wake up convinced that the noise I hear from my Geap is the throw out bearing. I actually have a little bit of a signal on my phone, so I do a little searching on the internet to refresh my memory of symptoms of a throw out bearing going out, and I quickly realize that it’s not that at all. OK, am I low on gear oil maybe in the transfer case? Take off the fill plug, and nope, that’s not it. Hmmmm……well, I can’t figure it out. Better take it in as soon as I get to Ouray and have it looked at, because it REALLY doesn’t sound good. We break camp and continue up to the summit of Imogene Pass. On the way, I’m racking my brain trying to figure out what the hell that noise is. I think, “I didn’t check the gear oil in the tranny”. Better check that when we get to the summit. Sure enough, she’s WAY low. I put over 2 quarts in! Filled it up and she instantly sounded A LOT better. Turns out that I lost a ton of gear oil in the tranny in that roll over I had back in May. Whew! That’s taken care of. Now I can wheel the rest of the day instead of spend the afternoon in the shop.


We head down Imogene Pass into Ouray and the Geap sounds great.




It’s running great, and then all of a sudden the “check gauges” light comes on and my engine temp is pegged at 260 degrees. WTF! How can I possibly have a cooling issue after all that work and brand new radiator and fan…the best radiator and fan on the market! I pull over to see what’s going on and notice that the fan isn’t running. OK, did I blow a fuse? The fusible link is completely melted and actually started to melt other wires near it. Again….WTF?!


I try to cut the wire to bypass the melted fusible link, but no luck. I take the fan off to see what the motor looks like and it’s blown. This brand new SPAL fan lasted a whopping 2 days. I double checked my wiring to make sure I didn’t do anything wrong, and everything looks good. I guess I’m that one guy that got the one bad SPAL fan that everyone raves about. Guess I’m not wheeling today afterall.


I park the Geap, hop in Igor’s truck to go down to Ouray to get a signal and call for a replacement fan. I figure the first people I should call is Griffin. Igor is trying to convince me to put an AutoZone fan on there, but I’m set on getting the right fan on there and not trying to mess with fitting some other fan on there that might not even fit in the first place. I tell Griffin what happened and my current situation and they agree to send me out a replacement fan overnight. I figure my wheeling in Ouray is done, so I’ll get the fan in the next day and wheel Grand Junction. I tell John & Igor to go ahead and wheel the rest of the day in Ouray, since there’s no reason they should have to miss out just because I’m broke. I’m back at the trailer and I can get the Geap off the trail & on the trailer on my own. So, I find a place to accept a package from Griffin for me in Grand Junction, tow the trailer as far as I can up Imogene Pass, and hike up to where I parked my Geap. I timed it when I was in the truck with Igor coming down from where the Geap was parked. It took us 10 minutes to drive down to where I could park the trailer. It took me 40 minutes to hike back up to it and it started to rain. Of course I forgot all my rain gear in the Geap, so I was getting soaked on the way up. I finally get to the Geap after having to wade across a stream barefoot so I wouldn’t get my shoes wet AGAIN like they were the night before. I start up the Geap and haul ass down the trail keeping an eye on my temp, thinking I’m going to have to stop at some point to let it cool down before getting to the trailer. But, I didn’t have to and got down to the trailer in 6 minutes before it started to get hot. Loaded it up and headed down into Ouray and proceeded directly to the Ouray Brewery for a cold brew….I definitely earned it!

John, Mel, and Igor meet up with me later at the brewery after their great trail run up Poughkeepsie Gulch: the hardest trail in Ouray that I never got to run Oh well. I’ll get my new fan in tomorrow and get to run a nice hard trail in GJ: 21 Rd.

We finish our beers and head to GJ to set up camp. After some route finding on BLM land, we finally find our campsite and set up camp at about 11 PM. Good night!

Shawn
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post #5 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 01:08 PM Thread Starter
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Wednesday 03 August 2011

I wake up excited to get my new fan, get the Geap fixed, and continue wheeling. I go into town to await my shipment from Griffin, go into Barney Brothers Off-Road to see if it showed up yet, and he tells me that both UPS and FedEx we’re already here for the day and it didn’t show. Not cool! I go to my truck to get the tracking number and check to see that it actually got shipped out and sure enough, it was shipped out overnight to exactly where I was. I go online to check the tracking number, and as I’m checking it I see another FedEx truck pull up to Barney Brothers…that’s it! I rush inside to see a nice big box with Griffin stamped on the side with my name on it. It’s going to be a good day


As I’m texting John to let them know what the status is, I get a text from him saying that some guy from VA that Igor invited is at camp and anxious to get on the trail. OK? I text him back to tell everyone I have the new fan in hand and will be back at camp in about 50 min. Of course it is about 12 PM by this point, so I can see why they want to get going. They take off for the trail and I planned on meeting them as soon as I got the new fan installed.

I get back to camp, install the fan, and quickly realize that I have to completely rewire EVERYTHING for the fan. Apparently, when the fan and fuse went, so did the relay. I figure this is going to take way longer than I expected and I’m probably not going to wheel AGAIN. After re-wiring everything and installing the new fan and relay I pack everything up and head out to see if I can catch them. It’s now 4 PM. It’s late, but I want to wheel! I already missed out yesterday, and I don’t want to miss this trail.

I drive about 45 minutes on dirt roads and decide that I should stop to check that everything’s still good with the new SPAL fan. I pop the hood, take a look at everything and as I’m looking the fan stops. This isn’t good. I check the fuse, and the fuse is blown. Luckily, I have a couple spares. I change it out, it fires back up and I figure I better make my way back since I’m on my own, nobody knows where I am, and I’m far far away from anything or anyone. I start my way back to camp constantly listening to make sure the fan is still running. I drive about 25 minutes and don’t hear it anymore. I check the fuse and it’s still good, but the fan isn’t running. WTF?! I have no idea what the hell is going on now and I’m still a ways out from camp. There’s no one in sight and the weather is coming in strong. The wind is getting fierce and it’s starting to rain. I wait for the temp to cool down, drive as far as I can without a fan, stop & let it cool, and repeat. I finally get back to camp a little before sunset and can’t open a beer fast enough.

I am now convinced that I wired something up wrong. There’s no way I got 2 bad SPAL fans in a row. These are the best fans out there and people put these through WAY more abuse than I ever will. WTF?! I followed the wiring directions exactly to a T. All my wires are away from anything hot (i.e. exhaust, coolant tanks), no wires are close to coming in contact with any moving parts, and it’s wired up EXACTLY as it’s depicted in the wiring diagram from Griffin. I triple and quadruple checked everything and every wire and I can’t find anything. Again, WTF?!

I call up my buddy in AZ who owns a shop and is an ASE certified master mechanic and tell him what’s going on and see what advise he has. He assures me that there’s nothing wrong with how I’ve wired it and (as I suspected, but he confirmed) there’s nothing else in my Geap that can cause the fan to burn out. OK? So, WTF?!

The guys finally get back to camp around 10-11 PM. I am thoroughly depressed by this point and utterly confused. Igor is again convincing me to go with a cheap AutoZone fan for now, and if I hadn’t blown not 1 but 2 SPAL fans in two days, I would have been on board with that idea. However, I’m still not convinced that the problem is the fan. It has to be something on my Geap. How can I get 2 bad SPAL fans in a row when these are supposed to have the best reputation around?

Shawn
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post #6 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 01:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thursday 04 August 2011

It's time to call Griffin again and see what they have to say. I actually get a hold of Benji this time, the guy who actually sold me the radiator a month ago. He assures me that I’ve wired everything correctly and I did nothing wrong. He asks me what the serial number is on the side of the fan. “There should be a little silver sticker on the side of the motor”, he says. “Patrick asked me that the other day on the first fan. There is no sticker on either fan.”, I tell him. “Do you see the word ‘SPAL’ on the side of the fan somewhere?”, he asks. “Nope.” This is raising some eyebrows on both ends of the phone. He convinces me that I have ANOTHER bad fan and it sounds like this is part of a possible bad batch of fans from SPAL. He says he’ll try to get management approval to ship out another fan overnight and to call him back with a shipping address.

The next stop for me is Holy Cross. This is the trail this whole trip revolves around and the point in the trip where I’m meeting friends from the Colorado TTORA chapter. I HAVE to wheel this trail! It’s too late to wheel anything in Grand Junction, and I lost a day in Ouray. I can’t miss this one! I can still salvage some of this trip. I find a parts store in the nearest town that has a parts store near the Holy Cross campsite. They agree to accept a package for me from Griffin, I get their address, and call Griffin back.

While on the phone with Benji at Griffin he informs me that after some digging he found out that I’m not the first person to have a problem with this batch of fans…what a relief! Now I’m finally convinced that the problem is not on my end. Still sucks that I had to go through 2 fans on the one trip that I’ve been trying to do for 2 years now and miss out on 2 days of wheeling that I may never get a chance to wheel again …but now I know it’s not me. He assures me that this next fan is from a different batch, he personally tested it to verify that it’s not putting out too many amperes, and it does in fact have that silver sticker on the motor and SPAL imprinted on the side. OK, we should be good to go now!

I pick up my wife at the airport that afternoon and head to HC camp.

Shawn
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post #7 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 01:09 PM Thread Starter
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Friday 05 August 2011

I play the fan game again. I wake up, go into town to wait for ANOTHER fan…and wait, and wait, and wait. The fan finally shows up at 1130 and I get back to camp as fast as I can. Everyone is waiting on me to hit the trail. I’m glad they waited, but now I’m “that guy”. There’s 8 rigs waiting for me and it’s about noon. I open the box to see a new fan with SPAL on the side and the magic silver sticker on the side…feeling better already!


I put that fan and new wiring in as fast as I can. I’m pretty good at it by this point after having done it twice now I finally get it all together and ready to go about 1:30. By this time my wife had already hiked the trail and come back to camp. A very late start for us. It could either be epic or perfect for missing the morning traffic on the trail. After the last couple days, I’m hoping for the latter.

I’m finally on the trail at 2 PM. The fan is working great and sounds good..nice & loud. I made it. I’m finally on the Holy Cross trail and the Geap is running great. I have a grin from ear-to-ear. The last 2 days sucked, but today is a much better day. The weather is absolutely perfect. It’s around 70 degrees and sunny. We only pass a few other rigs coming down the trail and there’s no traffic in front of us.

We get to the first obstacle before French Creek. I was denied on this one the last time I was here and was determined to get it today. Of course with my new suspension setup since my T-Rex short arm kit and stickies, I should have no problem. I walked up it on the first shot and didn’t spin a tire…piece of cake!

Doug coming up the first obstacle:



Next up was French Creek. This is where is becomes an all day shit show, as Doug like to put it. With 9 total rigs in our group it takes a while to get through it, even with no breakage. Everyone got through with a couple needing some assistance.







Last up is Doug & me. We convince Doug to take the far left line over a big boulder. He has little trouble getting to it, but a slightly different line and he’s on it. He gets to the boulder and walks right through it. No problem!


Finally, it’s my turn. I have an easier time getting to the boulder, but I didn’t one-shot like Doug. I got hung up on my passenger slider, backed off a bit, realigned, and walked over it. We all made it through French Creek with no carnage…saweeet!

The rest of the trail went very smooth. The new fan was working great and the Geap was running well. We got to HC City and started our line up for Cleavand Rock. There were 5 of us that wanted to try it. First up was Nate. I missed most of Nate’s attempt since I was in the back and parked down by HC City & walked up to Cleavand Rock. Nate was trying the far left line, but was denined.

Next, Igor wanted to try it. With an open front end and no intention of actually making it up, I have no idea why he tried, but OK. Needless to say, he didn’t make it.

Next was John in Zilla. He gave it hell and nearly made it. The obstacle was getting very wet & muddy. The mosquitoes were getting pretty angry too. They were eating every piece of skin that wasn’t covered up. John decided to winch up and then drive down.


Next it was my turn. I was determined to get this bitch. This was a monkey on my back and I wanted it. I pulled up to it, got on my line and gave her hell. I couldn’t crawl up, so I tried some throttle…nothing. Tried a different line…notta. Tried another line…no go. Tried my original line again….denied.





OK, how about the far left line up the slab. I’ll need my suck down winch for that line. Go to suck down the winch and no juice. Oh oh. Well, I’m going to need it for this line, and I really want to make this obstacle. Pop the hood to see what’s going on and I see the ground for the suck down winch came loose. No problem. A few minutes later I have it grounded and we’re back in business. Get back in, suck down the winch and try it again…still denied. Not looking like I’m going to make this one. I try my original line one more time before giving up…denied. That’s it. Cleavand Rock has defeated me again. Oh well. One more excuse to come back again

Finally, it was Doug’s turn. After seeing me flail around for about 30 minutes, he wasn’t too confident. He got up to it, tried to crawl the same lines I tried and couldn’t make it. None of us could get traction on our rear passenger tire to climb a steep face. Doug also tried bumping it and nothing. Cleavand Rock had denied every one of us…….it was wet. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it

We all turned around and headed back to camp. No one had any issues getting down, but it seemed to take a while. Probably because it was dark by this point. It was now a night run. We got everyone through French creek no problem and finally made it off the trail just before 10 PM. A long day, but an awesome day. And my fan was still working

We got back to camp and my wife was already in bed. Not the best way to start my camping trip with her, but she understood the situation.

Shawn
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Saturday 06 August 2011

Next up: Buena Vista. We break camp and make our way to BV, just a couple hours from Holy Cross. We get to BV, gas up, and make our way up to camp. Shortly after leaving the gas station I notice some massive vibration with the trailer. I know what this feels like since I just had a trailer tire separate on me when I dropped off the Geap at Hunter’s for the custom radiator bracket work. I pull over and sure enough, I have another tire separating on the trailer. Luckily, I replaced the one that separated on me in Phoenix about 2 weeks earlier, so I had a good spare. Change that out and we’re back on our way to BV camp.

We set up camp, the other guys arrive, and we decide to hit Iron Chest. I had no idea how late it was until I saw tons of Geaps going the opposite direction from where we were going, obviously coming from the same trail we were now going to hit. It was past 4 PM before we even GOT to the trailhead! Yesterday was a late start, but this was WAY later. At least it’s an easy trail. Shouldn’t be too bad.

We get on the trail, cruise through the boulder garden, and make great progress up the trail. Buddy is running along the trail the entire way and is absolutely exhausted at the top. He ran the entire trail from start to finish! That was impressive. He was so tired at the top that I was concerned that he overworked himself. He actually looked dead.


I did confirm that he was breathing and as soon as anyone got out any food, he perked right up. I wasn’t about to let him run back down the trail through.

We lucked out on the weather again. It was a gorgeous sunny day and it was awesome at the top. My Geap was the jungle gym and Doug & John ramped it for some poser pics.



After some pics at the top, it was time to get back to camp and have some dinner. The sun was starting to set and I wanted to get back before my wife went to bed tonight. I gave Buddy to Doug since he had more room in his truck and I had a passenger, so he got to ride the way down and rest. The Geap was still running well and this new fan was working great. We finally made it off the trail and made our way back to camp. Iron Chest is quite a ways from camp, so it took us almost an hour to get back to camp. Finally got back to camp around 9-10 PM, but luckily Hayley was still up and not in bed yet. She was tired and didn’t stay up long, but at least I got to see her for a little bit before she went to bed. She was still very forgiving, but I knew that I better be back early tomorrow

Shawn
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post #9 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 01:10 PM Thread Starter
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Sunday 07 August 2011

Today is the day for Carnage Canyon: the hardest trail in BV. I have done this trail once before a couple years ago and had a little trouble with it. I was determined to redeem myself today. Since this was the only trail on our agenda and it wasn’t too far, we weren’t in too big of a rush in the morning. We made some breakfast and since the weather looked great…again…I completely took off the top, doors, windshield and brackets. I wanted to be ready for carnage on Carnage.

We set off for the trail around 0900. Igor and Jay were planning on running OCG right next to Carnage. John was undecided. He hiked most of the trail and came back and asked us if he could join us. He said that it was about the limit of his comfort level, but he thinks he could do it if we were willing to help him when needed. My thoughts were “Know your limitations”. I figured his rig would be capable, and I’ve wheeled with him quite a bit in his IFS truck, so I know he has quite a bit of experience. He didn’t have a lot of seat time with his new solid front axle rig, but I could see that the past few days wheeling with him he knew how to drive it well. Doug and I said we would help get him through and I’m not doing to him what was done to me 2 years ago on this trail and leave him behind. He was the one that had to make that decision though. It’s called Carnage Canyon for a reason. He decided to run the trail.

First up at the gatekeeper was me. I pretty much walked through it without issue. Next up was Doug. He also pretty much walked through it.


Finally was John. He got a little hung briefly, but got through it pretty quick and we were on our way.


Doug and I cruised along pretty well with John not far behind us. John needed a spot here & there but we all got to the V-notch without much trouble. The boulder field and waterfall right before the V-notch is very technical and my favorite part of the trail. If I could, I would do hot laps around that part of the trail. I got to the boulder field, walked through it, got to the waterfall before the v-notch, got a little hung up, found my line, got up it and looked at my line for the v-notch. It really doesn’t look that bad and I thought it was much bigger than it was when I saw it again. It doesn’t look like much, but it gets you. The obvious line, but can be very tippy and dump you HARD if you slip, is to ride the sidewall of your driver’s side tire and ‘try’ not to slip off to hard at the end. I got in, put my helmet on, and went for it. I had the line at first, but slipped off and fell in hard on the driver’s side. It felt like I was bound up hard in the back, so I couldn’t back up as much as I liked. I maneuvered my way to back up and realign and try again. Tried the line again and slipped off again. I decided to try & drive out of it and just ride the cage on the driver’s side. The front driver’s side tire was undercut a little bit and turned pretty hard, but I went for it anyway. It started to climb and I knew I was in business. I stayed with it and got up it! Unassisted on my own! Get some! Cleavand Rock may have denied me the other day, but this bitch was mine!

Next was Doug. He got through the boulder field no problem but was having some problems on the waterfall before the v-notch.




After trying a bunch of different lines, he finally had to pull cable. Now it was time for the v-notch. He took the obvious line, but didn’t slip off. Instead, he tipped the other way…on the passenger side. There wasn’t an easy way out of this, so we had to stack some rocks and log to keep him from going completely over. This, along with some creative winching got him through the v-notch.

Finally, it was John’s turn. John also had some problems on the waterfall. We tried to line him up on every possible line, but in the end he had to pull cable. After seeing what happened to both Doug & me on the v-notch, it was decided to just stack the right side of the v-notch first and get John through. Since we now knew where to stack from getting Doug through, we had a good stack all set up ready to go. We got him on the line, hooked up cable to get him through it, and got him up it. We spent a good 2 hours at least on this obstacle, but we finally got everyone through it. Once everyone was up we cleaned up our mess and unstacked everything we just stacked…let me say that again…WE UNSTACKED EVERYTHING WE JUST STACKED. Hint, hint

The next big obstacle was the squeeze. Before getting there though, John was having some issues with his steering, so we stopped to try to fix that. It turns out that his steering box was leaking a little. A little Teflon tape and wrenching later, he was fixed up and ready to rock.



I got to the squeeze and was expecting to do a repeat of what I did a couple years ago. Last time through here I got REALLY high on the driver’s side, lightly rubbed my cage on the passenger side and drove through it.


Well, the Geap is an entirely different rig now. I got up to it, nudged my way over the diff catcher, and barely lifted a tire while walking through it. No problem!



Next Doug fought and fought with that diff catcher and just couldn’t past it. We stacked some rocks to get him over it and then he got on the squeeze. He dropped into it and it looked like he could squeeze through it, but it was iffy. He was wedged in there pretty tight. A little stacking and winching, we got him through it.



Finally was John. We left the stack we had for Doug and John got up to the big squeeze rock on the left. He also fell in.




When he tried to un-wedge himself….’BANG’. The front diff blew up. He was now in rear wheel drive only. Here is where our epic story begins….

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post #10 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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Chapter I: The Big Bang

Once upon a time…..in a canyon far, far away…..there was a princess patiently awaiting her knight in shinny armor at a campsite high above the trees, desperately hoping not to be camping alone once again ….

First we start off with a high lift off the cage on the passenger side to level him out to winch through. Then we high lift off his slider on the passenger side while pulling a strap around the top of his cage while he drives & winches forward. This helps. We then move the winch line, stack the shit out of this obstacle, and finally get him through the squeeze. After unstacking the highway we just stacked, we move forward as fast as we can knowing that the exit is going to be a bitch. John is moving really well for only rear wheel drive! He does need some assistance at another boulder field shortly before the exit. Because of the difficulty of the boulder field I can’t really pull him on a strap, so the only option is to winch him through. In retrospect, with the amount of winching we were doing, it would have been VERY beneficial to only do double line pulls with a snatch block instead of all single line pulls. Why? Keep reading.

We get him through the last boulder field and get all 3 of us to the exit at sunset.


We were all ready to get the hell off the trail and I was anxious to get back to camp to my damsel in distress. I couldn’t see the line that Doug later pointed out to me, and like I said…we we’re ready to be done for the day. So, I got up as far as I could, tried a little bit on my own and quickly hooked up cable for the first time today.



I was a little disappointed I didn’t make the exit, especially after seeing the right line , but I was still pretty pleased that I made it through everything else on my own…and the fan was still working

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post #11 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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Chapter II: Pop Goes the Fuse

I got to the top and Igor was helping John get up. Igor took John up the far left line which looks easier, except for all the loose dirt. John got up to the obstacle and hooked up cable. He started to winch a little, got part way up, and his truck died. Popped the hood, saw that the main 80A fuse was blown. Doug just happened to have a spare 80A fuse (what are the odds?), so we changed it out. Of course this wasn’t as simple as removing a blown fuse and popping in a new one. Oh no! This fuse was bolted into the fuse block that was bolted to the body, and the spot where the fuse was bolted to the fuse block was melted. After about 45 minutes of changing this fuse out, John goes to start up the truck and nothing. OK, let’s jump him. By this time the sun has long since set and it’s pitch black out. Glad I brought my headlamp! Mel had had enough and Jay needed to get back to Boulder for a tree hugging ceremony the next morning. So, Jay took Mel back to camp and then headed home.

We get John jump started with Doug’s truck and he’s back up & running OK, back to winching…with Doug’s winch. John’s winch controller was flakey all day and finally died. So, we hooked Doug’s winch to John’s, which still had a lot of line out through a snatch block at the top. We winched and stacked John up a little more and then ran out of line on Doug’s winch. Luckily, John’s winch started to work again, so we used John’s winch for a while. Good thing, because Doug’s winch line was all nested up and needed fixing. Igor and Doug respooled Doug’s line while I worked with John to get him up. We seemed to be making descent progress until John said “My voltage had dropped to 9 volts!”

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post #12 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 01:12 PM Thread Starter
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Chapter III: The Epic Recovery

Now it’s time to move! I move as fast as I can stacking rocks to get him up as much as possible before his battery dies. He gets up a little further, finally on top of the first big ledge and his battery finally dies. Doug and Igor get Doug’s line all cleaned up, Doug winches up and gets in line to winch John. This obstacle at the top has many winch points but not any for after you’re on top of the big ledge. So, Doug has to get up the obstacle, turn around at a very steep angle, and face the one tree we have in line to snatch block off to pull John.

Doug is in position and Igor pulls his battery out to swap into John’s truck. I pull John’s battery out, go to put in Igor’s battery and quickly realize that Igor’s battery is considerably bigger and won’t strap down. A little “finesse” with the battery tie down (aka bending ), and I get it strapped down. We close the hood, John tries to start it and nothing…not even a click. We pop the hood to check that 80A fuse again and sure enough…it’s blown…and no one has another one. John’s truck is now dead weight with zero power and he still has a very tight turn and two large ledges to get up & off the trail

It’s time to have a recovery meeting and decide what to do next. After looking at what John has left to get through I have doubts about getting him up as dead weight. Doug is on the same page with me, but John & Igor think otherwise. They convince us that we can do it with some snatch blocks and a ton of work and John is a bit leery about leaving his rig overnight on the trail. There’s no place in BV that will have that fuse, so even if he finds an alternator the next day he’s still dead in the water without that fuse. So, it’s decided that we have to try to get him up as is.

Doug lines up directly in front of him to pull him forward past a large rock on his driver’s side. Since John is now dead weight, all winch pulls will need a strong anchor. We use a tree behind Doug to strap to Doug for an anchor, hook the winch up to John using a snatch block to do a double line pull and back to Doug. Since John is dead weight we now have to use double line pulls on all winching. Doug pulls John over a couple rocks and gets him to the hard left we’re going to have to get him around. Then Doug has to maneuver his truck to the next position by Austin Powers driving BACKWARDS up the trail.

Doug is finally in position to attempt to pull John around the corner. I hook up an a new anchor to Doug via a tree right behind him, hook up a snatch block to the tree he was just anchored to, and connect to John. Doug is only able to pull him a couple feet before we have to move the winch point again. Doug moves over just a few feet, which is enough to pull John a couple more feet around the corner, but moving Doug while facing DOWN the trail takes quite the effort.

Once Doug is in position to pull John again I hook Doug up to a different anchor, pull it taut, hook up the winch line through the snatch blocked tree again, and Doug pulls him a couple more feet. This should now be far enough around the corner to pull him from the top. Doug’s winch is getting tired and needs to cool down a bit, but we need to get him up the rest of the trail to give John room to get up.

Since Doug is facing down the trail at this point from winching John, he needs to drive up the last two ledges backwards. This isn’t easy and requires Igor to line up far behind him at the top to hook a winch line to him to keep him from flopping on the driver’s side and screaming like a little girl. We hook a line up to Doug, Igor winches in a bit, Doug drives back up the first ledge, up the second ledge, and he’s finally at the top.

Now it’s time to get John around the tight turn. I find another anchor for Igor at the top, anchor Igor up, hook Igor’s winch to John via snatch block 1 around tree and then to John via snatch block 2, and finally back to Igor for a double line pull, and we winch John around the corner. But first I need to engage the clutch on Igor’s winch…not as easy as it sounds. His clutch handle on the winch fell off and getting it back in with the tight space within his bumper with a spring that has to be depressed while doing so….is not fun. We finally get the clutch handle in and take it out of free spool and we’re ready to winch again. After some serious heavy winching we finally get him turned around the corner and is now facing the final two ledges! He is now about 15’ further than he was when his truck completely died.

Now that John is lined up almost directly in front of Igor, we have to disconnect snatch block 1 and just go through snatch block 2 and back to Igor. Igor starts to winch and John notices sparks from Igor’s truck. We stop winching, I move position to see where the sparks are coming from and notice that Igor’s bumper is bent up and sparking on the body for some reason when he winches. Igor laughs and starts to tell a story of something about “this one time…”, and I’m not in any mood to hear any story right now about anything other than getting the hell off this trail. I quickly get him to focus and we’re back in recovery mode.

Igor gets John up to the first ledge and his winch is struggling, even with a double line pull. We hook up Doug’s winch to help via another snatch block for a second double line pull. We now have two winches hooked up to John, both on snatch blocks for two simultaneous double line pulls. This is enough to him up the first ledge and just below the second ledge. Once he’s on top of the first ledge, Igor is now not in position to pull him up any more. I disconnect Igor’s winch and Doug pulls him up the final ledge. Doug pulls him up and he now on top of Carnage Canyon and off the trail!

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post #13 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 01:12 PM Thread Starter
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Chapter IV: Back to Camp

The worst is over. John is on the exit road and now we just have to pull him out to the parking area where he can drive the tow rig to pick it up. Igor hooks up a strap and attempts to pull him around another sharp corner on the exit road. After some skinny pedal on Igor’s part he finally gets him around and gets moving down the exit road. I lead the way out with Igor and John right behind me, and Doug behind John. We finally get off the exit road and back to the parking lot where my trailer awaits me. Unfortunately, John decided to drive his truck from camp instead of trailer it, so he has to leave it in the parking lot overnight and come get it in the morning…which isn’t too long from that point. I didn’t get to the tow rig until 0210 in the morning, and didn’t get back to camp until about 0300! This didn’t come without some carnage from what I heard on John’s rig though. Apparently, he ripped his spring brackets off the frame coming down the exit road.

I haul ass back to camp after dark for the third time in a row. I have now spent approximately zero time with my wife at camp while she’s been here that past 3 nights, and she just arrived in CO 3 days ago and we’re breaking camp the next day to move on…this isn’t good. Thankfully, we still have 5 days left on our vacation, so I have a chance to make it up to her. But, after 3 nights of rolling into camp late, I’ve used up all my “Get Out of Jail Free” cards. After explaining the recovery saga to my wife, I finally get to sleep around 0330. This day is finally over.

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post #14 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 01:13 PM Thread Starter
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Monday 08 August 2011

We wake up, break camp, say our goodbyes and head to CO Springs to stay with a friend and do some hiking at Pikes Peak on Tuesday. I finally get to take a shower after the recovery from hell and when I look in the mirror in the bathroom I don’t recognize the person in the reflection. I am literally black with dirt. I have never been so dirty in my life, and that shower has never felt so good. We have a relaxing night at Phantom Brewery in Colorado Springs and get an early night in a real bed. I slept for about 14 hours.

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Tuesday 09 August 2011

We take a little hike up Pike’s Peak for a little R&R for the day. We only hiked the 6 miles up to Barr Camp at 10,000 feet and then headed back down. Had we started earlier and organized a ride down, I would have continued to the top, but we had a BBQ to attend, so it was back down to the car for all of us.

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Wednesday 10 August 2011

I get the trailer tire replaced at the local Discount Tire and notice that one of the other tires has a crack in it, so I replace that one as well. That’s 3 new trailer tires in the past 3 weeks now. I figure I should be good on the trailer now so we load up the truck and head down to Santa Fe, NM for some hiking. I almost got to Pueblo when I noticed that trailer vibration again. I pull over and sure enough, ANOTHER tire is separated. I change that out, find the nearest Discount Tire to replace my 4th trailer tire, and take it in. The tire I want, they don’t have, so I have to settle for another shitty Chinese Carlise tire , but since it’s the spare and as long as I don’t use it, then I can swap it for the one I do want at another Discount Tire. I drop it off and use the time to get the food shopping done for the remainder of our trip. When I get back to Discount to pick up my new tire, they are scrambling to find my tire & wheel. After looking everywhere and determining what happened they tell me that they accidently gave my wheel and tire away to a different customer. We are already hours behind schedule to arrive in Santa Fe at a reasonable time and now we have this to deal with.

The manager says that he will replace my wheel (which was a brand new wheel that was barely used and by far the one in the best condition), but all he has is black wheels and mine are all white. So I have no choice but to take this odd ball black wheel as my spare and wait to have a tire mounted again. He tells me that any Discount Tire will swap it out for me for a white one when I get to Phoenix, and I shouldn’t have a problem finding one in Phoenix. I call the Discount Tire in Santa Fe to see what they have and they say that they have the tire I wanted in the first place AND a white wheel. Great, but I still have to spend more fawking time at the tire shop on my vacation.

I get the new black wheel and tire and I’m finally on my way to Santa Fe. On the way to NM on I-25 I see the remnants of a really bad accident from the morning. I heard earlier something about 3 guys from Georgia or somewhere around there who shot at a Police officer and were on the run and spotted in CO. They were spotted at the REI in CO Springs the night before, which we just stopped at before we left CO Springs that morning, and caused a bad accident on the I-25 South of Pueblo this morning. This sequence of events was playing through my head when we passed about a dozen cop cars all along the I-25 on the way to NM. It sure seemed like these guys were headed in the exact same direction we were, and they were just at REI buying camping gear. It seemed a good idea to try to convince my wife that we should maybe camp in a designated campground instead of just off some forest road when we get to Santa Fe. As luck would have it, that’s exactly how it worked out and we found a nice site at a campground at 10,000 feet and never saw the white Subaru they were looking for. It did take us all day to finally get there though and we didn’t’ get to camp until about midnight.

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Thursday 11 August 2011

We planned on doing a short 3-4 mile hike, but got a little lost and ended up doing a 7-8 mile hike. We went into town to swap the tire & rim, only to find out that the white rim they have looks nothing like the rims I have. They did have the tire I wanted though, so I got that swapped out and put on the trailer and the last old tire left was now the spare. However, I still have to deal with swapping this wheel when I get home.

We gas up, check some messages, get some firewood, and head back to camp.

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Friday 12 August 2011

We hike a long trail leading to the top of the ski resort in Santa Fe. It was actually a road closed to the public for vehicles, but open for hiking that led all the way to the top of the ski lifts near Santa Fe lake. It topped out around 12,600 feet and was about 11 miles round trip.







Hayley and I were beat, and Buddy seemed to have more energy than us on the way down. He was one tired pup though when we got back to camp. We got back to camp, took a nap, had some beers and dinner, and finally had a campfire together. Better late than never.

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Saturday 13 August 2011

Made the long trek home. I was constantly checking the trailer tires to make sure that epic was over. I made it home without any more blowouts or separations, so I was very happy about that.

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Conclusion

It took 2 years in the making, 2 quarts of gear oil, 2 SPAL fans, 3 late nights on the trail, 1 EPIC recovery, and 4 new trailer tires but I finally did it. I wheeled the most scenic trail in Ouray, got to Telluride, visited 3 breweries, wheeled Holy Cross, made it through Carnage unassisted, got out of the heat for 2 weeks, finally hiked Pike’s Peak to Barr Camp, hiked in a new area in Santa Fe, and got to see some friends I haven’t seen in a while. Not exactly as planed, but still a great trip nonetheless. Can’t wait to go back and hit the stuff I missed.

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post #21 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 01:30 PM
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I can't read all of that but, did you really hump a sheep?

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post #22 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by howyadoin View Post
I can't read all of that but, did you really hump a sheep?
I think he brought one home with him as a souvenir/sex slave. Poor sheep

finally done, what a pain in the ass!

https://www.ttora.com/forum/showthread.php?t=63249
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post #23 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 02:58 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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I can't read all of that but, did you really hump a sheep?


Quote:
Originally Posted by AZrockbum View Post
I think he brought one home with him as a souvenir/sex slave. Poor sheep
and

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post #24 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 03:06 PM
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great trip report Shawn. Glad I got to witness half of it so I could skip the epic narrative and keep the reading to a minimum.


(and the sheep was in the back of the tow rig for most of the trip. we saw it )

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allow me to help with the mind-fuck ...
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post #25 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 03:06 PM
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Nice trip report. Some day I'll do Carnage in under 9 hours, I think we were out there for 12 this time? You're wife seemed to be kind of pissed, but I guess that's understandable with having something go wrong every day of the vacation.

Congrats on the sheep, I hadn't heard. You should try one of the mountain goats next time, just watch out for the ones that kick (unless you're into that sort of thing).

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post #26 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 04:55 PM
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Am I the only one that read the whole thing??? damn...

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post #27 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 09:08 PM
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Am I the only one that read the whole thing??? damn...
Nope, you're not the only one who read the whole thing, Jade. Talk about an epic trip (and trip report)! Igor has one that's long as well, but his is more pics and less text. Eventually if things slow down at work I will get some pics and maybe some video footage posted up from this trip too. Melanie rolled quite a lot of footage from 21 rd and Carnage Canyon (before dark anyway). Thanks for the pics & trip report, Shawn!

BTW, if its any consolation... though not always for the same reasons, you weren't the only one with an angry wife on your hands this trip. There were some tense moments along the way in our camp as well, but also a lot of incredible moments were shared. In the end the overall trip was an amazing time, as it is every summer when we go up to CO for wheeling, camping, etc. Melanie has been speaking highly of the trip to our friends at work down here in San Diego, so it seems as though in retrospect the balance fell onto the positive side for her, which is GREAT!

Taking Zilla through all of those scenic high elevation passes with you guys, and then wheeling Poughkipsie Gulch, 21 rd, Holy Cross, Iron Chest, and the first 2/3 of Carnage Canyon was a ton of fun - and up to that point aside from being underpowered in the thin high elevation air the 4Runner was doing alright! ...That last third of Carnage Canyon when it all went to Hell with Zilla is obviously another long and regrettable story, starting when the front diff let go.

I'd say that some major kudos and good wheeling Karma were certainly earned that night on CC by Shawn, Doug, Igor and Jay. I remember a run with another club when we ended up dragging 12 IFS rigs through Swamp Lake a few years ago for a 19-hour overnight trail run that was supposed to take 2 1/2 hours according to one of the locals. Epic recoveries like that can be a huge pain in the ass to be sure... but they do make great campfire stories! I will say this... I've been involved with some pretty epic trail recoveries, but none of them ever really bothered me until mine was the rig being recovered. Already started the six million dollar man rebuilding of Zilla to be "better, faster, stronger" or something like that. I forget how the quote goes exactly. But the newly rebuilt third member and pinion e-brake parts are sitting in the Taco right now.

Glad to see you and the little lady fit in some more enjoyable camping, hiking, etc together before heading home, Jeepguy. Melanie and I enjoyed a few relaxing days at Doug's place before we headed back. Had some terrific dinners there... a nice evening at the Italian place (good wine), and some fabulous meals were cooked at his house while sampling more local brews. As always, it was great to see and wheel with everyone again. I'll look forward to the next trip out that way!

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post #28 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 09:33 PM
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OK, more pics, less reading...... I'm into pics......

Great trip guys....... Summer '12 right here..... you colorado guys be prepared for me to hit you up for some help........

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post #29 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-15-2011, 09:46 PM Thread Starter
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OK, more pics, less reading...... I'm into pics......
Did I'r use to big a der werds for ya der?

You only read pop-up books, don't you?

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Great trip guys....... Summer '12 right here..... you colorado guys be prepared for me to hit you up for some help........
....a LOT of help I can hear it now...."I'm not going to scratch it, am I?" "Oooo.......Avatar pic, avatar pic!"

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post #30 of 72 (permalink) Old 08-16-2011, 01:07 AM
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And here are the cliff notes...

Classic pic right here.... So bummed I missed it!




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Next up was French Creek. This is where it becomes an all day shit show, as Doug like to put it
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. next it was my turn (on Cleveland rock). I was determined to get this bitch. This was a monkey on my back and I wanted it. I pulled up to it, got on my line and gave her hell. I couldn’t crawl up, so I tried some throttle…nothing. Tried a different line…notta. Tried another line…no go. Tried my original line again….denied.
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It started to climb the V-notch and I knew I was in business. I stayed with it and got up it! Unassisted on my own! Get some! Cleavand Rock may have denied me the other day, but this bitch was mine!
What an epic story... And I'm only now getting to the Big Bang! Oh I can't tell what joy this web wheeling brings me as I lie in bed while a machine moves my left leg from 0 degrees to 90 and back. Begin obnoxious sex toy jokes/


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. Reserving this quote spot by Molly since copying and pasting is a BITCH on an iPAD
Ok... HOLY crazy recovery SHIT!

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Doug pulls John over a couple rocks and gets him to the hard left we’re going to have to get him around. Then Doug has to maneuver his truck to the next position by Austin Powers driving BACKWARDS up the trail.
Your now non-mythical wife is an angel...



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It took 2 years in the making, 2 quarts of gear oil, 2 SPAL fans, 3 late nights on the trail, 1 EPIC recovery, and 4 new trailer tires but I finally did it. I wheeled the most scenic trail in Ouray, got to Telluride, visited 3 breweries, wheeled Holy Cross, made it through Carnage unassisted, got out of the heat for 2 weeks, finally hiked Pike’s Peak to Barr Camp, hiked in a new area in Santa Fe, and got to see some friends I haven’t seen in a while. Not exactly as planed, but still a great trip nonetheless. Can’t wait to go back and hit the stuff I missed.

And a fantastic story Shawn!




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How many people do you think it'd take to hold Molly down while we cut off a limb? I'm guessing alot, plus ratchet straps, c-clamps, and other misc tools
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