I may have mentioned before that I grew up, reading and re-reading the writings of the late Dick Stansfield. I'd look at his pictures of the San Juan Mountains for hours upon hours. As a teenage kid, living in Upstate New York, Colorado was a world away and I truly never thought (though I dreamed) I would have the opportunity to retrace his steps through the beautiful country, pictured before me.
Fast forward, some thirty odd years...
This summer has been a short and hectic one. Working like a dog, attending to family matters... you know the drill. Quality time with the old CJ has been in short supply. We were finally able to break away for a couple of weekends and do some back country exploring.
With the camping gear packed up in our trusty CJ5, we hit the road to Silverton, under sunny skies.
The first trip found us running Poughkeepsie Gulch and pre-running the ones I'll cover in the second half of my story.
I had seen the turn off for Poughkeepsie on previous visits to the area but had never explored it. It was time to see if it was really as tough as I had heard. Of course, we took it in the uphill direction.
Running up Mineral Creek, to get to the Poughkeepsie Gulch trail is half the fun. Since the first time I ran it, ten years ago, it's been one of my favorites.
Arriving at our destination
The first "obstacle" is about 50 feet off of the Mineral Creek road. A reasonably deep mud hole. While you can drive around it, we chose to go through. We never drive fast or go for the splash and had our newly installed Warn winch to back us up if we couldn't make it.
The picture doesn't show it very well but the bottom tips the Jeep to one side a little bit, submerging the step on our rocker guards. The water and mud were about two feet deep and our Interco TrXus tires pulled us through without muss or fuss.
After the mud hole, the trail began ascending, through a beautiful pine forest, then opened up to incredible views of some very big country.
Fortunately, for us, we took a wrong turn, onto a spur road that led to a gorgeous little basin. The trail ended there with a closure that it looks like someone didn't like and tried to take down.
After soaking in the beauty of the basin for a little while, we turned our tail lights to it and returned to the main trail, heading for the infamous "wall".
By this time, we had discovered that we had gotten some bad gas.... er.... the Jeep had bad gas..... you know what I mean. Anyway, the Jeep was running like a three legged Pomeranian and stalled out near the bottom of the obstacle. Since we don't let pride get in the way of progress, we pulled the winch cable and cleared the wall, getting back to level ground to get the Jeep started again.
Many thank yous to the Thunder Mountain Wheelers for installing winch points!
Once we got our little Pomeranian running again (sort of), we proceeded to the next obstacle, just a little way up the trail. This one isn't as big as "the wall" but I believe it is as difficult or even more difficult. Right in the middle of climbing this steep pile of rock, the Jeep coughed, our hearts stopped, and so did the Jeep. My kingdom for fuel injection and a bottle of HEET!!
As usual, the pictures don't do justice to the difficulty of the obstacle.
Since we don't have power steering or power brakes, lowering ourselves down the rocks, backwards wasn't difficult, just nerve wracking. Since we were alone on this journey, we decided that chickening out and heading back down to Mineral Creek was the best course to take.
With the sun lowering in the sky, we made our way to Eureka, where we set up camp for the night. Part two of our weekends will be posted shortly, for your reading pleasure.