August, Don't ya just love the fact that it's light till at least 8:30 and even 9pm in the middle of the Summer? Plenty of time to jeep all day, and back to do some evening fishing or had dinner in daylight. Summertime in the Rockies, where else would you really want to be so close to home and be able to do so much? Though it's getting harder to get your favorite campsite by that stream, just getting "Out of Town" works for me too. As with everyone, the month of July was a busy one for the HoboJeepers.
Starting with the 4th of July weekend in the San Juans, Scouting the Hobo Run over Kingston Peak, putting on the Hobo Run 2000, and the start of All-4-Fun. The HoboJeepers by the time you read this, will have just gotten back from All-4-Fun in Central City, and will be running back to back camping weekends in August of more wheelin' over American Flag Mtn/Pearl Pass/Taylor Pass-Sat, then Red Cone/Radical Hill/SOB Hill (uphill)/Glacier Ridge-Sat/and Twin Cone on Sunday. Then it's off to Mt. Blanca over Labor Day-and the "end of Summer?".
On June 24th, The HoboJeepers made a run up north of Empire and ran the Bill Moore Lake/Empire Loop Trails. Here is a trip report of the day from "Mad Max": "The beautiful morning had Chris (Colonel) Potter, son Jason and his buddy, Paul (Wiseguy) Weisz and son Brett, Dave Parrett and Jennifer, and myself: Scott (Mad Max) Maxwell and dog Holly meeting at 1-70 & Morrison at 7:30 and heading off for a day of fun wheelin. We aired down in Empire at the local gas station. One of the locals informed us that the trail to Bill Moore Lake was open, so away we went. The trip up to Bill Moore was uneventful with Paul informing us that a lot of the rocks and obstacles on the way up had been graded since he was last there."
"We did navigate the rock chute after hanging a right at the last of the big mines in the canyon. Here's a link to a trip taken last Oct by the HoboJeepers to Bill Moore with lots of rock chute pictures. Up on top we stopped for a photo op with fantastic views in all directions. The trip down to the lake was a blast and the mud bog proved a worthy and fun challenge. Paul was first to splash in with the 35's and 6" spring over making the steep bank on the way out look easy. Chris and Scott plunged in next proving that with 33's you had the opportunity to turn the front bumper into a mud plow. Nothing only $6 worth of quarters at the car wash couldn't handle."
Bill Moore Lake/ Empire Loop Trails
"Bill Moore Lake itself was a great area and we took a little time to hike and enjoy the scenery while the kids played in the ice-cold water. Threatening clouds soon had us moving down toward the Empire Loop. After one slight sidetrack on the wrong trail we stopped for lunch. Dave was the envy of all with Cheese Wiz performing well at the high altitude. The Empire Loop was a great trail. Again, Paul said some of the obstacles had been tamed by a recent blade (the creek crossing in particular). After the creek we encountered the next big obstacle. Again, our high-flying leader Paul walked right up the big ledge. Chris was next and took it like a pro after a couple of bounces to get the back up and over. I myself had a little more difficulty with several attempts, but after a little excellent spotting that got him on a different line he was up and over as well. Dave opted for the bypass and away we went."
"We passed several of the old mining cabins in the area paying special notice to the one that had harnessed the neat spring next to the cabin and had what appeared to be the first outdoor tub in the valley. All heartily agreed this was a great trail and lots of nice campsites were mentally staked out for potential future returns."
"Luckily we all made it out and down without any showers from the clouds that circled all day. Dave, Jennifer, Chris and kids headed back to town. Paul, Brett and Scott stopped at the A&W in Idaho Springs for the root beer float we'd been dreaming of since mentioning it in the morning. It's always good to have a worthy goal! The owner of the A&W popped out of the kitchen and after seeing all the mud on the Jeeps pleaded for us to make sure and take him with us on our next run. Thanks Paul for suggesting and leading the trip and as always for the free air from the big York compressor at the end of the day." Scott "Mad Max" Maxwell HoboJeepers
The "San Juan's", most jeepers know what you mean when you mention them. Located in the Southwestern part of Colorado, they contain some of the best tundra jeepin' in the state. Ever been there? If you have, then you know what I mean, since no place in the West does more scenery come together in one place then the San Juan's. Combined with the small quaint towns of Silverton, Telluride, and Ouray, It's worth the 6+ hour trip from Denver. The jeep trails are mostly easy to moderate (except one section of Black Bear); the scenery is the main attraction. High tundra meadows (as green as golf courses), contrasted with snow patches and the red-stained mountains and blue sky have to be seen to believe.
The San Juan's "The Switzerland of Colorado"…
The HoboJeepers as one of our planned trips since Jan had plans to visit the San Juan's over the long 4th of July weekend. Hobos along for the adventure were Chris "Colonel" Potter and his son Jason, Ken "Tool Man" Kordes, and myself (Bill Hallinan) with my jeepin-sidekick Molly. Also along were Pete Ramirez and his wife Julie, Phil Ramirez and his friend Adrian, and guest Lynn (TJ) and his wife.
On July 1st, we all met up at the Bugling Bull in Conifer at 9am for breakfast, and were on Hwy 285 heading west by 10am. With about 375 miles (6.5 hours) to go, we took our time thru the mtns. Plans for the long weekend include running a camping/jeeping loop trail over the highlights of the San Juan's. Trails included: Engineer Pass, California Gulch, Hurricane Pass, Corkscrew Gulch, Black Bear Pass, and Imogene Pass. We arrived in the afternoon west of Lake City to set up camp in a meadow with a view of Capitol City. The Colonel's fuel injection from possible bad gas in Buena Vista conked out on the way, but with some time started right up and ran fine. Now in the San Juan's, we were ready for a scenic 2 day adventure.
On Sunday morning July 2nd, the energy was high in camp in anticipation of the day, as most everyone except myself had not been to the San Juan's. We broke camp, and headed west up Henson Creek on an easy dusty and little rocky road that became a little rougher the higher you went, and on up to the scenic view on 12,800' Engineer Pass. This is the gateway to the San Juan's, especially at "Oh Point", where the full view of the mountains can be seen. We shared the viewpoint with about 30-40 Nissan Exterras out on a run, as they had a "jamboree-like" get-together in Ouray. A 4Wheel-Drive and Sport Utility Magazine reporter was riding with them, but approached me and she told me she had a CJ7, and would like to cover us, but work was work. Footnote: I never did "catch up" with her at the KOA in Ouray, I'll be looking for that article. From "Oh Point", the high meadows are as green as golf courses in July, and full of flowers. You can see most all of the trail's canyons, and a definite must see on your trail list.
Off and down Engineer Pass, we headed towards the ghost town of Animas Forks. Still kept up by many organizations, it's a fine example of the hard living a miner had to deal with all year round, not just in the winter. Up California Gulch lies the 1890 Frisco Mill. It's an engineering feat on how they hauled the milled lumber up from Durango, and put it together by numbers, and it still stands today. Rain, what rain? Yep, what's a jeep run in the San Juan's without a little water on the windshield, especially if the wiper blades are bad again. Yep, that's what we had up the California Gulch as we made our way thru Hurricane Pass (which is the top of the Poughkeepsie Gulch Trail), and it quickly passed before we made our way up the start of the Corkscrew Gulch Trail. Near Red Mountain 1, 2, and 3, which are so called for the iron staining draped over the mountains, we stopped for another view break. Looking off to the west one can almost make out Black Bear Pass, and the viewpoint off 13,000'+Imogene Pass that are planned trails for the next day.
At the break, and further investigation (hood up of course), seems Pete's YJ has been making some contact noises on the trail. Come to find out, the right engine mount was not functioning properly and the engine was literally resting on the frame. With less room, the distributor cap, and the oil filter took some denting. We headed down Corkscrew (yes, lots of switchbacks), and found a campsite near the Ophir Pass entrance. Being it was Chris Potter's B-Day; we all headed down to play tourists and have dinner in the modern-day ghost town of Silverton (home of ALL-4-FUN 98').
On Monday July 3rd and up with the tent-drying morning sun, we packed up, and headed up to Red Mountain Pass, and the trailhead of the Black Bear Pass Trail. Pete and Phil went into Silverton, and eventually Ouray to look for somebody to repair the mount. Being Monday of the 4th of July weekend, they opted to head back to Denver for repairs. So, Ken, Chris, Lynn, and myself headed for some great jeepin' over two fun San Juan passes.
Starting already about 11,500' at the Red Mountain Pass, the one-way only Black Bear Pass Trail climbs up the switchbacks and quickly back above timberline. Being a one-way trail makes it easy to run, since there are very few spots to get jeeps by on the trail. Also, the top switchbacks would not hold 2-way traffic, as they too are narrow and steep. One word of caution, if you are leary of cliff trails, this trail is chalk full of them and not for you. Columbines, Indian Paintbrush, and many other flowers were everywhere, along with a cool view looking SE towards Silverton. Winding up and up, you reach Mineral Basin with a few ponds and more flowers, until reaching about the 12,800's and top out at the top of Black Bear Pass.
It's all down hill from here, especially when you reach the infamous switchbacks at the falls below. We started our 4,000' decent into 8,800' Telluride, and off the first shelf just above Ingram Lake. Working down thru Ingram Basin, and along Ingram Creek, the switchbacks and the town of Telluride drew closer. Once you reach the obstacle above the small falls, the true test of will kicks in. I've done this section before, and it still got my adrenaline going. With a 40' drop off into Ingram Creek on your left, and the cliffs ahead, one has no room for error as you negotiate some boulder-sized imbedded rocks with smaller rocks (acting like marbles) mixed in. Needless to say we stopped at the mine below to catch a breath (at least that's why I stopped! -The Colonel will back me up on this one).
The infamous 1st switchback still awaits us as we run the jeep-sized shelf road down to it. Keeping my front hubs locked for the traction should I slip the clutch too much, I had to negotiate the turn a few extra times. What a feeling, looking out your windshield down a 2000' cliff, as you put her in reverse and try to gingerly let out the clutch and give it some gas. Somehow, you mind plays tricks on you and you think you're in 1st gear, and thus gas is not needed. We all made it down ok, and wondered how a full-sized Dodge Ram who had a flat above us was going to negotiate that 1st turn.
Once thru the 1st few tight switchbacks, it became apparent we were back in civilization, as we encountered two-way traffic of SUV's, and not so happy hikers on the "road" at the main waterfall house. We worked our way down the dusty switchbacks avoiding SUV's and hikers to finally reach the valley floor. Seems Telluride was having a festival of some kind (a protest I heard), so parking was impossible. We got some gas, and headed up the Imogene Pass Trail without a quick tourist look of Telluride. Telluride is quite the change from the peaceful Silverton to the yuppie ski town of Telluride, almost too yuppie for me.
Climbing out of Telluride, the Imogene pass Trail winds around some mines and up into the ghost town of Tomboy and the Savage Basin mines. Being Monday of the 4th, this was a great place to set-up a lemonade stand and sell sunscreen and umbrellas on the side. Yes, we were not the only one's up there. Everyone from Grandma Ethel, "girly" rental TJ jeeps, to the "We drive, You ride" tours were there. Well, it was a nice day for a ride. After lunch, we headed up above the mine to the summit of Imogne Pass, the 2nd highest pass at over 13,114' (only Mosquito Pass is higher in the US.). What a view! Better yet, we moved to the eastern section of the pass and looked east over the Red Mountains. With the sun at your back, it provides a kodak moment and postcard view of the San Juans. Seems the jet stream was kicking up at 13,000', so we headed down the trail and into Imogene Basin below.
This starts us on a decent of over of about 5,200' in less then 5 miles, down to the town of Ouray below! We reached the last dusty stretch into town and headed for our campsite on some private land. Ken Kordes and Chris Potter headed back to Denver on Tuesday July 4th. I opted to hang in Ouray for the 4th, and watched the parade, got wet in the fireman's water fight, and participated in the 4x4 Flare Parade down the switchbacks into town before the fireworks. A fun weekend was had by all, and an area worth some time to visit, as the San Juan's are the "Switzerland of the Rockies".
On Thursday July 6th, we had a Hobo meeting at my house to organize some stuff for the Hobo Run on the 15th. Teams of Hobos were making nut necklaces, traveling bandanas on sticks, stuffing bags, and other items. Thanks to everyone for the full house and team effort. We needed to scout the Kingston Peak Loop Trail for the Hobo Run, so we planned a trip that weekend.
On Saturday July 8th, we all met up at the Morrison/I-70 exit at 9am for a run up the Kingston Peak Loop Trail as a scouting for the Hobo Run on the 15th. Scouting Hobos included Scott Maxwell (TJ), Pete Ramirez (YJ) his dog "Champ", David Parrett (YJ) and Jennifer, Chris Potter (CJ) his 2 small boys, Chris Vieth (YJ), Ken Kordes (CJ), Phil Ramirez (TJ), and myself (CJ) with Bobbette Matthews & my jeepin-sidekick "Molly".
Kingston Peak Loop Scouting Run/Yankee Hill Trails
We all headed up I-70 and up to the airdown spot for the run. The purpose of scouting trip is to look for turnoffs, plan for check-point locations, look at the lunch spot, and see the condition of the trail. I'm glad we were able to scout it, as the run itself ran smoother without anybody lost or myself leading 30+ jeeps into a dead end with no way to turn around. That's what we found just around the hill at the start of the trail. After running up and down Yankee Hill, we looked for the tight tree-lined trail from last year. One trail was a dead end, while the other just didn't look right. Staying on the main road, we found the main turn that takes the trail north and aroundthe east side of loop. This is not too technical, but tight enough to watch for pinstripes.
We stopped and had lunch at the "lunch spot" which is about 11,400', as it's the last sets of trees before the open north face of Kingston Peak. Up from there it's all open and tundra until you reach the "Loch Lomond" rocks on the south side. Seems a bulldozer had been out working for the Forest Service making water bars, and grading the 1st steep hill just past the James Lake switchback. This too was apparent on the 2nd steep hill climb to the south, but it was full of loose dirt and rocks. Ken not having his disconnects and stock wasn't able to climb this stretch. This was good, since we then implemented a plan to set up jeeps with tow straps to help anyone who will need it.
The rock house over-looking Loch Lomond Lake is always worth a stop. Stack a rock, sign the guestbook, and take in the view. We moved on down thru the bristlecone pines and thru the switchbacks down the the official air up spot. Not having Paul with us this time, we opted to get some free air in Idaho Springs down the road.
On Saturday July 15th, the HoboJeepers hosted the 2nd Annual Hobo Run 2000 for 30 "Hobos for a Day" over the Kingston Peak Loop Trail. As real hobos ride the rails, we too ride the trails in that same traveling spirit. A hobo needs to muster up needed supplies in order to survive. Each checkpoint offered the hobo a chance to collect different point values from the items (fresh egg, matchstick, toilet paper square, Q-Tip, stick of gum, and a hersey kiss). Along with the items, a card is chosen at the other 5 checkpoints to try to have the highest poker hand for extra points. Eugene the Jeep, was also on hand in the area. At the second checkpoint, "Where's Eugene?" clues were handed out to each hobo and read out loud over the CB as to his possible whereabouts in the area. A hobo could receive 200 extra bonus points with the right answer. Each item was stored in souvenir traveling bandanas, and at the lunch spot, all the points were totaled up and trophies along with door prizes handed out. Building from last year's Hobo Run, we were ready for some fun!!
The trail actually started at IHOP at 6th and Simms in Lakewood at 8:00-8:40am with registration for the run. Since everyone had already pre-paid, registration was to sign in and to pick up you're goodie bag (instruction sheet included). After a quick driver meeting, and an "official" hobo swearing in ceremony, we were off parade style up Hwy 6, and west on I-70. Thanks to all of you who supported us in this years run.
The "Hobos for a Day" included (sorry if I miss some spouses-busy day), Gary Carmichael, Steve and Tracy Schuster (P8), Jerry and Shannon Ross (P11), Tim Vigil (P11), Kevin "not broke yet" Carter (P8), Heather and David Burke (P8), Don and son James Wilson (P11), John and Darlene Murphy (P14), Max Barker, Randy Whitney, Todd Frick (P11), Dennis and Marci Ervin (P14), Jim Jacobs (P5), Adam Wisely, John Rounds, Greg Mackey, Sean Tallant and his wife, Brent Miller (P14), Nathan Rogers (P14), Tom Hester (P14), Kevin Duncan, Michael Streb, Bobbette Mathews and kids, John Over (14), Sherry Winslow (P8), Justin Olsen and wife-with Jeff and Donna Carr (P16), Marc Cromer, Tony Knudson, Deborah Lampson, and finally #30 Sam Lunderburg.
Along with the hobos for a day, were hosts HoboJeepers Chris Potter and sons, Scott Maxwell, Ken Kordes, Pete Ramirez, Phil Ramirez, and myself (Bill Hallinan) with my jeepin-sidekick Molly. Now here's a sight! Picture 42 (30+12 HoboJeepers) good-lookin' jeeps running up I-70 all with their lights on in line, it looked cool from the front were I was! We managed to stay within about a 2-mile stretch of each other too, and nobody broke down! I think it took about 10 minutes for the CB introductions. Once off I-70 and up the more peaceful Fall River Road, we worked our way up to the summer town of Alice at about 10,500' in elevation to the air-down spot. Scott Maxwell helped me with the dispersion of the fresh eggs as the hobos air-downed for the trail.
All Aboard! One by one the train of hobos chugged/jeeped up the hill (with some pretty rocky stuff), as each hobo followed the trail to places unknown. Each of the HoboJeepers were at 5 other checkpoints as the train passed by to provide items for each hobo. We all made the turn at Chris and Phil's checkpoint and headed into the tight-tree lined trail. I dared to find out how long we were strewn out when we stopped for a 10-100 on the east side of Kingston Peak. It took about 10 minutes for the end of the line to catch up. I know 3 guys on motorcycles had to find out the hard way how many of us there were. At one point we were strung out over I'd guess over a mile on the trail. All the while I rarely got out of 2nd low and kept a slow 5mph speed up front. The HoboJeepers did a great job in moving everyone along, and since Kevin Carter was in the rear of the pack, he didn't hold up anybody (or break down!).
Once at the lunch spot at treeline (about 11,400'), each hobo brought up their "Where's Eugene?" clue, and the fresh unbroken egg (for points), then settled down for lunch. As the HoboJeeper judges tallied the points, each hobo received a nice door prize. I handed out about $2,800 worth of some really cool stuff, thanks to the many sponsors, including the local Denver 4x4 shops: Mile-Hi Jeep Rebuilders, High Country 4x4, and 4Wheel Parts. Each hobo also compared the size of their nut to the person next to them to see who had the largest. Footnote: The nut in reference is a 5/16th inch steel nut on a string around their neck. OK--, so Sean Tallant had the largest nut (3/8th inch to be exact), and received an extra 100 points to his total.
With the points tallied, the 3rd runner up was John Murphy (660pts) of MHJC Patrol 14, and the 2nd runner up was Dennis Ervin (680pts) of MHJC Patrol 14. The "Top Hobo" of the 2nd Annual Hobo Run 2000 went to Jerry Ross of MHJC Patrol 11 with a total of 850pts! Jerry also got the 200 bonus points for the highest poker hand of three 9's. Congrats to the trophy winners, and to the hobos cause we all had fun which is a winning feeling in my book.
The weather down in Denver called for sunny and hot, but the mountains may get a shower. Well, we were able to finish up lunch just in time to head out and see if jeep bodies do conduct electricity. Actually, the lightning held out till we were safely off the exposed tundra. Everyone made it up both steep hills we scouted the previous weekend, and most stopped at the rock house to stack a rock before heading down into to the trees. Once down at the air-up spot the lightning did get close, so we all opted to head down to Idaho Springs for some air. Some jeepers met up and took on the steep up and back hill climb just off I-70 west of Idaho Springs. Thanks again to the "Hobos for a Day" for your support, and we look forward to seeing you next year in mid-July for the 3rd Annual Hobo Run.
Some excerpts of All-4-Fun 2000 in Central City, along with trip reports from the 2 jeeping/camping weekend trips in August will be in September's article. Keep the oil level up, give it a good hand washing, tighten all those loose nuts and bolts, and get back out there!
See ya on the trail, "Jeep, Jeep"
Bill Hallinan HoboJeepers