November, Ah yes, Tis the time of year when we wonder when the 1st big snow shuts down the high country, we drive home from work in the dark, rake those endless leaves, and enjoy the big turkey feast! Thankfully, the moderate winters here afford us the opportunity to keep wheelin' in the foothills. The HoboJeepers have some fall plans for some "foothills" runs, so I still can't decide when to take off my full coverage on my jeep! We hope you all have had a fun trail season in 2000. I know we have, with some 24 day trips taken over about 40 different trails in Colorado and Utah. That's up from last year's 22 day trips and 26 different trails run.
On Saturday September 30th, I took the HoboJeepers and guests up to an undiscovered trail I will officially call "Miner's Gulch" North-West of Central City. So close to Denver, I found this trail while I led some trips at All-4-Fun this year. Fugowie Brian Hoag will agree, this is a little gem of a trail with a lot of technical rocks and real jeepin'. Please, let's take care of it and not over-run the trail, or it will be like another overcrowded Spring Creek. The HoboJeepers are discussing adopting Miner's Gulch to keep it maintained and open. The trail is short…but sweet (you can incorporate it into a loop around Kingston Peak).
Plans called for running from the Pickle Gulch campground over to near Alice, including Pickle Gulch/Miner's Gulch/Yankee Hill Trails. This particular Saturday morning started out a little cool and foggy as we all met up at 8:30am just west of HWY 93 and HWY 6. Hobos for the day included Ken "Toolman" Kordes ("rejuvenated" 61 Ford), Chris "Colonel" Potter (CJ), Chris and Debbie Vieth (YJ), David Parrett and girlfriend Jennifer (YJ), and myself (CJ) with my jeepin' sidekick Molly. Guests jeepers along to "ride the trails" included: Bobbette Matthews and kids (TJ), Don Wilson of MHJC Patrol 11 (TJ), Chris Hanson and Gina Souza (TJ), Steve "White Moose" Gilbert and friend (TJ), Don Derleth and friends (XY), and Jimmy Stoddard and friend (CJ).
We all paraded up the scenic Clear Creek Canyon on Hwy 6 with our lights on, and turned off HWY 119 and got in line with the gamblers heading up to Central City (the site of All-4Fun 2000). Just north of town we took a left and aired down at the Pickle Gulch FS group campground (site of Aspencades 99'). The Pickle Gulch Trail is a fun little jeep trail with a constant climb up the gulch, with rocks and tight trees along the way. Up a ways is a fun rock outcrop in the trail that does have a go-around. Everyone made it up, some with a second try. Thru groves of leaning white-barked aspens stripped of their leaves with the coming winter, the trail winds around Oregon Hill to a saddle clearing with views of the Front Range mountains. We took a very short break here, as the cold North winds from an approaching cold front were just too much to bear (insert wind-chill-factor here).
Pickle Gulch/Miner's Gulch/Yankee hill Trails
Heading down past the ghost town of Apex, we headed up past Elk Park to the north entrance to the Miner's Gulch trailhead. I had called the Forest Service the week before asking about access down the valley, and they had said it was "ok", as long as we stayed on FS 705.1 rd. There is a wire strung across two posts that can be removed, please replace the wire behind you. Once past the wire gate, you can tell not very many people drive the road, as nature has washed out some sections, and tracks are uncommon. Following the trail down past the "no trespassing" signs on old mining claims and cabins, we reached the North Fork of Clear Creek and FS 709.1 rd (Miner's Gulch). I was so sure everyone would have a good--no great time on this short but sweet trail, that I would reimburse anyone "one gallon of gas" if they were disappointed (read on for the result). Of note: There is an entrance to the trailhead from the east off the Apex road, but it is private land, so please respect that and do not attempt it (in or out).
We stopped for a quick break at the trailhead, then strapped in and got ready for some real homegrown jeepin'! The trail starts right off with a series of large rocks, and works it's way up the creek bed up and over a steep embankment. Everyone took his or her time (just like chewing a nice bite of lobster tail), and I again enjoyed the run too, even though was my 5th time! From Bobbette in her yellow stock TJ, to the "Colonel's" modified CJ all made it thru.
Just around the next tree there is another good-sized rock field to climb up, this one is similar to parts of the upper Spring Creek. There are some easier routes to take, and harder lines for the rockhounds. The "Toolman" must of found one of those rocks that jump up and bite you, because his tie rod was bent and his steering was not so controlling anymore. Ken managed to straighten out his tie rod with some team-help on the trail, just enough to keep moving on (it's beefed up now!). I wasn't back there, but I heard David Parrett had gotten hung-up on a rock but skillfully worked thru the rock field, as did everyone. Up the trail was an opening perfect for lunch, as we endured some cold winds.
After a short windy lunch break, we headed up the gulch and the rest of the trail on up to the saddle. Even this section has many "mini" rock gardens to it, as you climb steeply thru a tight-tree-lined section on up to the saddle. From here, a road network takes you to Yankee Hill to the West, around Kingston Peak to the north, or back to Central City to the East. We opted to go West on FS 378 to climb up Yankee Hill. Retracing part of the Hobo Run in July, we reached the base of Yankee Hill. This is a technical hill climb, as the far right side contains deeper and deeper moguls the more people climb it. Loose rocks are everywhere, and you don't want to stop your momentum here!
A nice view of the area is the reward, as we headed down and over to a mine site just above Alice. We followed Chris Vieth down a trail south of Yankee Hill that meets up at the big switchback on the paved Fall River Road just below Alice. Once together, we all headed down for some free air at the gas station just north of the Texaco at the Mt. Evans exit in Idaho Springs. A fun day of "riding the trails, just like riding the rails" with good friends…That's what it's all about!!
On October 5th, Chris and Debbie hosted the October Hobo meeting in Thornton. We discussed MHJC and Hobo business, while introducing some new prospective Hobos in Steve "White Moose" Gilbert (TJ) and Andrew Carlson (TJ). We also planned on a trip to Bill Moore Lake on Sunday the 22nd of the month.
On Sunday October 22nd, the HoboJeepers headed "out of town" to run the Bill Moore Lake Trail above Empire. Yes, it was a Bronco Sunday, but who needs to watch the game when the Broncos should blow out an 0-6 team like Cinncy. Well, guess we all know the rest of that story,,,,,Ugggh. Only in Colorado, can you have a Saturday sunny and warm in the 70's, and a Sunday cloudy/cold/and rainy in the low 40's, all in one weekend! With the weather forecasts calling for a cold front to come thru on Sunday, we were ready for anything that the day would bring. We all met up at the Morrison/I-70 exit at 8:20am.
Hobos along to "ride the trails" were Sean Tallant (TJ), Scott "Mad Max" and Janet (and Kids) Maxwell (Exterra-TJ in the shop), Chris "Colonel" Potter and son Jason (CJ), Ken "Toolman" Kordes (the "new" 61 Ford), and myself--with my jeepin-sidekick Molly (CJ). Guest jeepers to "ride the trails" included: Steve "White Moose" Gilbert (TJ), Don Derleth and Tony Prough (XJ), Don Wilson of MHJC Patrol 11 and son Jason (TJ), Christian Kujawa and friend (Exterra), & Brandon with Dad Howard Potter (Landcruiser).
A sharp cold wind blew out of the north as we waited for some more people to arrive at the Morrison parking lot. A sure sign of how the weather would be like the higher we got, which came true throughout the day. We all headed up I-70 higher in the fog and drove up above to the town of Empire to air down and disconnect.
Ready to ride, we headed up the canyon above Empire, onto the dirt road, and up past the mine where the 1st switchback starts. Just up from there is the "cutoff" to the "Rock Chute". A good steep narrow trail with lots of loose medium to boulder sized rocks strewn randomly along the chute. I was the 1st to go up, I had noticed just like at the Iron Chest Trail near St. Elmo, someone had pulled about 75% of the rocks out of the trail to get up! Well--being 1st up, I walked back down and helped a few of those big boulders somehow defy gravity and fall back onto the trail. Maybe-if we all build up more and more rocks each time we run it, it will actually be a real "rock chute" like last the October 99' Bill Moore Lake trip. Everyone except the stock Exterras and Landcruiser ran up the chute cleanly as we moved on.
Bill Moore Lake Trail
Taking two more lefts, we came to another intersection and took another left that is FS 383.1 that follows up to the lake. But first, one comes upon a little steep hill climb with lots of loose rocks and some deep moguls near the top. There is no go-around (they are being reclaimed), so some needed help to get up. First-timers Christian and his Exterra, and Brandon in his Landcrusier both surprised us all by making it with full throttle past the deepest moguls near the top. Once thru, the fog thickened, and soon looking for the vehicle ahead and behind you became a challenge, so headlights were a must. As we reached about 11,400' the snow began to pick up, and made the trail slick in spots. Luckily, we had all done most of the hill climbing for the day without snow.
After a brisk lunch in the snow storm, we played on the rock, and took our last look at Bill Moore Lake for the year and headed back down. We followed our tracks (literally) back down out of the clouds and stopped by the "rock chute" for a run down it. The "White Moose" had a tire snap the left front brake line at the top of the chute. Steve opted to run with his parking brake and low gears down to the flat pullout at the mine site. After careful inspection by Don Derleth, he determined it wasn't possible to replace or close off the leak. So the "White Moose" was loose down to Empire and into Downieville. Don escorted Steve back to Denver on I-70 in the fog and rain with no brakes,,,Thanks Don. The Moose was fixed that Wednesday, and now is fully functional. We all had a fun day, climbed some challenging hills as it was a bit foggy and rainy, but it's Colorado in the fall remember!
The HoboJeepers plan on running some "foothill trails" this winter as the weather permits. A run up Miner's gulch with a tad bit of snow may be impossible, but it's on the calendar. We hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving weekend wherever your plans may take you, either with the in-laws or on the trail.
See ya on the trail, "Jeep, Jeep"
Bill Hallinan HoboJeepers
HAPPY HOBO THANKSGIVING!!!