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We had planned on our TAX RUN 2000 to Moody Hill/Crystal Mtn, but they are both closed by the Forest Service till they dry out in late May sometime. Springtime weather in Colorado is pretty unpredictable. One day it's 78 and sunny (Fri), the next (Sat), it's 36 and snowing. That's what happened the weekend we were planning to run Gillespie Gulch near Boulder. So we moved the April 15 Tax Run in honor of Uncle Sam to Sunday April 16th. The day started out cold and foggy, but ended up warm and sunny!
Hobos Paul "Weiszguy" Weisz and son Bret (CJ), Scott "Mad Max" Maxwell (TJ), Chris Vieth & Bro-in-law Will (YJ), and myself with my jeepin sidekick Molly (CJ), all met at Hwy 93 and Hwy 72 at 8am. We all headed north to enjoy a soon-to-be nice day of jeepin up around the Left Hand OHV area. The plans initially called for Gillespie Gulch, and but soon included the Castle Gulch, Fairview Peak, and Left Hand OHV Trails. We aired down, and hit the trailhead just south of Jamestown (the same people who shutdown the Jamestown Trail).
Gillespie Gulch is rated a moderate trail dry, but with ice and snow, it adds a few degrees of difficulty into the mix. We moved on up the trail climbing fun snowy sections, until as I (in lead) encountered a steep stretch with a big patch of ice near the top. I was able to reach up to the icy spot then get turned around on the ice patch, and end up sliding all the way back down.
I gave it a few more attempts until I finally ended up facing downhill, and not by choice. Thinking my rear Detroit's would work better (they did) backwards; I reached the ice patch again, but no further. So, we decided to stick to south-facing slopes and headed down to the trailhead. We found a nice snow-less south-facing trail off Gillespie that led to an old cabin at a mine site where we had lunch.
Not having gone up Castle Gulch before, I was surprised to find the secret "jewel" (ssshhhhhhhh) of the Left Hand OHV. Up the trail a ways you come across a "kick in the pants" rock chute, that's more fun the Bill Moore chute. It's a fun tight tree-lined trail, with medium to some large rocks to crawl over for some distance, and is a chute that is nice to your undercarriage if you pick the right line. I was behind Scott "Mad Max" Maxwell on his inaugural run with his 99TJ lifted and locked, and he ran it as clean as a whistle.
Once up some more rocky climbs, we reached the ridgeline above Left Hand OHV. We opted to check out Fairview Peak as a side trip. I suppose on a clear day one can see a long ways, not that day, a hazy smog-like layer covered most of the Front Range.
We took the trail that leads down to the Left Hand area that includes the "Squeeze" and "Roll Me Over" (just made that up) obstacles. The "Squeeze" provided another look at it from the downhill prospective. Paul, Chris, Scott, and I ran thru it cleanly, as you gatta love those lockers and lift upgrades!
The "Roll Me Over" obstacle almost had its 1st victim when we went thru. Especially for Paul with his spring over and 35's. A few tense moments were had as he almost slides off some stacked rocks in which gravity surely would have taken over. Going thru it from the West, you need to stay to the right (where the drop off is), and then a hard left, and right again, to avoid the deepest holes and a 35-degree plus tilt. The drop off only has a few trees to stop you from a minimum of 5 rolls.
I went thru thanks to the spotting of Chris Veith. Much to my despair, as he was spotting me halfway thru the hard spot, his eyes all of a sudden were wide open for a second as he frantically was pointing me to turn left! Talk about your panic attacks! Scott with his automatic breezed thru, as did Chris after a few different lines. Funny thing, we don't have any photos of all this because everyone's attention was on avoiding meeting "Mr. Gravity".
On down thru Left Hand it was a really busy OHV user day, a good place for a lemonade stand for sure. We passed thru the "shooting range" as some kids were drinking some Bud and shooting at stuff (what's wrong with that picture?), and then on down to the highway and pavement. Please pack out your trash, as the area gets enough from the few that don't. Thanks to Paul for his always free air. Thanks also to to Hobo "Toolman" Ken Kordes, for helping me fixed my locked hub the following weekend. A great day of snow/ice, rocks, and sweaty palms...but isn't that what jeepin' is all about??
Bill Hallinan HOBOJEEPERS of MHJC out of Denver, Colorado...
Here are some other Left Hand Canyon Trip Reports:
Left Hand Canyon Hobo Trip in Jan 2000: Slide Show
Gillespie/ Left Hand Hobo Trip in March 2000
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