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-   -   Argentine Pass 8-29-09 (http://www.risingsun4x4club.org/forum2/showthread.php?t=10743)

subzali 08-30-2009 12:37 PM

Argentine Pass 8-29-09
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Wow, this was an amazing day and I did a lot of exploring that I have wanted to do for years! I am also happy that I am more familiar with this area, with it being our adopt-a-road and all. Even though Ricardo and Rick were having troubles with their truck and weren’t able to make it, the local residents kept me company:

I saw some deer (a couple does, then later a couple bucks, and later a doe with two fawns), two cow elk, and some raptors and other high-altitude critters like Pika.

LEG 1, Trailhead to Sidney Tunnel – 4.47 miles
I left the trailhead about 2:00 pm on an overcast and somewhat rainy and thundery afternoon, but since the hardtop was on it was no problem. As I went up the road at a good clip, I saw that all our signs were in good shape, so they have fared better this year than last year (at least so far). I came to an intersection that I had never been to, going up to the Sidney Tunnel, and decided to go up it and see where it went; seeing as I had never traveled that path before. When I got to the end of it you can see what I found in this thread.

subzali 08-30-2009 12:37 PM

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LEG 2, Sidney Tunnel to Argentine Pass (13,189 feet) – 4.44 miles
After spending about 1 ˝ hours there, I set off to the destination of my first Leg: the summit of Argentine Pass, lying on the Continental Divide. I have seen some give the elevation as 13,205 or 13,207 feet; my map program came up with 13,189 feet. Waymarking.com lists Mosquito Pass, at 13,185 feet, to be the highest Colorado Pass accessible by vehicular travel. Well I think we have it beat by at least 4 feet. But Argentine can only be reached by vehicle on the Leavenworth side, as even with the narrow track of my FJ40 the Horseshoe Basin/Peru Creek side’s ledge and loose rock would make for a very unnerving descent, if not impossible.

After passing the site of the Waldorf Mine the road narrowed and began climbing more sharply. Climbing up the road was not difficult, though there are two sections that would give an unlocked FJ40 a little difficulty. I would not take my stock Tundra up there, however. Pretty soon I was looking over into Horseshoe Basin and Peru Creek (and the west side of Argentine Pass that descends into that valley – pretty narrow huh?):

Looking toward point 13,449, just south of the pass:

Looking to the east-northeast back down the Leavenworth Valley:

Looking to the southeast into the top of the Leavenworth Valley:

Grays Peak (14,270 feet - to the west-northwest) as seen from Argentine Pass:

subzali 08-30-2009 12:37 PM

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LEG 3, Argentine Pass to McClellan Mountain (13,117 feet) – 6.13 miles
As I started to head down back into the valley, I had to get this shot:


After cranking a hard left to turn up to McClellan Mountain, I saw myself with a good view of the Sawtooth Ridge between Mt. Bierstadt and Mt. Evans:


McClellan Mountain has a couple good overlooks of Stevens Gulch, where the standard trailhead for Grays and Torreys is located. Don’t doubt your brakes and clutch now; it’s 1,500 feet before you’ll stop rolling:

Grays Peak on the left and Torreys Peak (14,267 feet) on the right:

The end of the road on top of McClellan Mountain:





I tried to establish radio contact at this point: someone was coming over the air, just barely breaking my squelch, I think it was Ricardo but we didn’t really have any communication.


subzali 08-30-2009 12:38 PM

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LEG 4, McClellan Mountain to unknown mine at 11,660 feet – 3.65 miles

As I headed toward my next destination, I crossed over a gap that brought me on the north side of the ridge that goes between Ganley Mountain (12,902 feet) and Pendleton Mountain (12,275 feet). Pendleton Mountain is where the old tramway went back in the day.

I found out that there is a shelf road to cope with – reminded me of Tomichi Pass – staying on the high side here…my narrow track came in very handy at this point.

Here’s a view of the interstate way down below…

After I passed the shelf road I came to the end of a ridge that ended with a switchback that went…off the end of the earth? At this point I am getting on a road that has not seen as much use as any other part of the Argentine/Leavenworth area…

The left-hand switchback took me onto this straight section:

…with this right-hand switchback at the end:

I got a glimpse of where I was headed: what was it down there? The track was getting narrow, unused, but thankfully there was grass to hold the integrity of the downhill edge. The narrow track of my 40 was welcome again, and my low COG was also very comforting.

…which led to another left-hand switchback (yes there is a switchback there):

As I dropped further down I came to another right-hand switchback:

…and yet another left-hand switchback:

I’ve dropped quite a bit of elevation – the interstate is way closer:

A couple curves later I found myself at this little mining camp:

Wonder what real estate costs around here? I don’t think we’re going to ever have a party at our house…

Yeah – it’s a long ways up there…

I knocked first…

Someone left the door open…

I’m not going any further than the door entrance…

The road continued down but ended at a caved-in mineshaft…

subzali 08-30-2009 12:38 PM

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LEG 5, unknown mine at 11,660 feet to the end of road 248.1D – 9.90 miles

As I headed back up the road, I saw these two guys undoubtedly hiding from the hunters I had seen on the other side of the ridge…

I found out that narrow off-camber stuff doesn’t bother me as much when heading uphill as it does when heading downhill. After a few minutes all I had left was the Tomichi-like shelf road on the north side of Ganley Mountain…

It was nice to get back to the land of the living as the sun set…

I still had one more road I wanted to explore – but it was on the other side of the valley. I decided that I would take another road I had never been on before in order to “shortcut” my way back to the Power Line road so I could get over there. As I bounced down the Upper Power Line road the night began to get spooky…I wasn’t sure if I was hearing tree branches scraping the side of my truck or unknown shrieks emanating from the mountainside…

As nightfall descended, I passed through an array of bleached bone-like items in what seemed like a high-altitude graveyard…


I reached the end of the road as it tapered in a loose, rocky, off-camber demise into the trees…

subzali 08-30-2009 12:38 PM

LEG 6, end of road 248.1D to Trailhead – 7.64 miles

As I was on my way out, the unthinkable happened – I tried to get a picture of it/him but I’m not sure it came out. Do you guys see anything?

A dark mass plunged into the woods. Not wanting a low-speed encounter, and still being in 4lo, I threw it into 3rd and mashed the gas. About the time I hit 4th it came flying out of the trees right in front of me! Luckily I remembered that I had a burly front bumper and I didn’t slow down a bit! It/he got knocked back into the woods below the trail and I didn’t stick around to check on the outcome! I made sliding u-turns all the way down the mountain and made record time coming out of that place! Thank you Goodyear for making a quality tire that can handle rocks and sticks on the trail! I came out at the trailhead at about 9pm, topped off in Georgetown, and finally got home at about 10pm.

What was it? You decide, I’m going to go check my front bumper for hair of the creature…

All in all I traveled 36.23 miles in about 7 hours. With almost 8,000 feet of elevation gain in the meantime, it was a good leg-stretcher for the 40 :)

subzali 08-30-2009 01:16 PM

Something I came up with yesterday that I thought was brilliant was this: instead of just passing by people on the trail I stopped and talked to every car that passed. I told them I was from Rising Sun, that we maintained this trail, asked them how their trip that day was going and if they had seen any problems we needed to know about, like trash, user-created trails, or signs that were damaged. I figure that if people start understanding that it's 4x4 drivers that maintain that area they might have more respect for it rather than just thinking it's the government closing off their fun...

So think about doing the same if you happen to be up in that area - a few second conversation might make a big difference over time...

I am also thinking of putting together some flyers with our club's information and information about that area to hand out to people that I see up there...

EDIT: I think I would encourage them to send an email to landuse@risingsun4x4club.org if they have any questions or concerns...

ttubb 08-30-2009 02:29 PM

Great report!
Matt, this reads like a good novel. Thanks for sharing. Terry :thumb:

BTW, do you have any idea what you hit? Upright, four-legged?

bh4rnnr 08-30-2009 06:03 PM

Awesome report Matt. Fun to see some new ground up there. Last time I was up there begining of the summer, I found where they brought the train up:cool:.

Hard to say as to what hit you. Big Foot? Have heard reports of ghots in that area....

RicardoJM 08-30-2009 09:55 PM

Sweet threads about your trip Matt. I'm sorry to have missed out on making it up there. We'll be ready for next time.

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