You know, sometimes I don't get good pictures...
Met BJ and his family at the visitor center in Georgetown. Good place to meet 'cause they have bathrooms
Met the rest of the group at about 9 at the trailhead:
-Ken driving his 40
-Mike S. driving his 80 with Mike D. riding along
-Dave K. and Idelle in the LX400
-Scott in his 4runner
-Dan K. and Perry in Dan's 80
-Tim in his 100
-BJ in his Tacoma
We had a quick drivers meeting and headed up. Myself, the two Mikes and Ken split off at the first left turn to check out a campsite. We found a shot-up TV. Dave led the rest of the group and they picked up tree limbs and checked out some more campsites. Dave and Idelle were camped between the creek crossings on 248.1B, so after a little while Scott drove up to the camp to help Idelle heat up the lunch from Qdoba.
Once my little group caught up with the rest of the group at the spot where the road drops into the creekbed, we decided to turn around and head back to the connection (now officially named the "subzali connection"
) up to 248.1 and check that out. Perry had jumped in with Tim and they were headed up 248.1B. After helping a couple trees find their way all the way off the road, Tim and Perry came down from above and we rallied it back down to 248.1P, then down to 248.1B back to camp for lunch at about noon.
Lunch was great! Hot taco bar, chips and salsa, guacamole, with tables and chairs set up in the shade and out of the wind, and Perry busted out his 1 of 3000 printed history book on the area. It had some great pictures and maps and I'm sure will reveal a lot more history about the area than any of us know about today.
After lunch, Tim and Dan had to get, but the rest of us headed back up 248.1B. We turned left on 248.1A and headed up to 248.1D. There were a couple trees that had fallen along and across the road, so we carried them to the side a little bit, figuring the forest service can clean them better if they wish. After checking out the signage at the end of 248.1D, which is in great shape BTW, we turned around and headed back to the end of 248.1A. That closure is still looking good, so we bounced it back down and checked out 248.1G while we were at it. It looks like some ATVs have been trying to access the south side of the marshy area via 248.1G, but a fallen tree now has that blocked off pretty good, for now.
Crossing back onto the north side of Leavenworth Creek, we continued up 248.1A to 248.1. At 248.1, the two Mikes, Ken, and BJ headed directly to Waldorf while Scott, Perry, Dave, Idelle and I headed up 248.1K (which is signed on the ground as 248.1A) towards Santiago. It's probably been 5-7 years since I had driven that stretch, and I have never driven up it, so that was fun. There was another tree that we had to move off the road, and then we headed on up.
We beat the other group to the Santiago Mine, took a quick break/picture stop, and then headed up McClellan. We had heard earlier in the day that there was a rolled Durango up on the slopes of McClellan. Well, it appears that he was on 248.2H and rolled off. Amazingly he only rolled a handful of times, and then somehow landed on the wheels after rolling through some low shrubs, and stopped. Good thing too, because it's a good 1000 feet to the bottom of the valley, and with any momentum he wouldn't have stopped til he got to the bottom. After taking some notes and pictures we left the scene, careful not to disturb it, since we were parked below him
Well, so we're on this shelf road, what to do? It's about 5pm by now already (there's never enough time), but we decided to drive the mile or so up to the nearest switchback so we could safely turn around. That was a good plan, until we came around the corner and were stopped by three Jeeps. The stock Wrangler and the semi-built Grand Cherokee were together, but the stock Commander in front was two guys alone. There was a snowdrift about halfway across the road, and they didn't feel comfortable driving in the ruts in the drift but had decided to try and skirt it on the outside. When the front left tire hit the snow/ice and didn't climb, the rear end swung out toward the edge and left them in a precarious position. The GC didn't have a winch or a short tether to hold him or try to pull him toward the mountain, and every move they made got him closer to the edge and closer to rolling over.
After thinking about it and deciding that the best way for him to go was forward, we dug some ruts down to dirt to give him traction, got a strap on his trailer hitch with about 10 guys pulling on it (ala nakman on Tomichi, thanks for the picture Wes), and just like we planned he was able to drive out of it, find the ruts in the snow and make his way across.
So after seeing a rolled vehicle and an almost rolled vehicle, we didn't want to press our luck any further, and decided to slowly back down the shelf to a turn around spot. It was about 15-20 minutes of backing, real slow, but finally we made it and got safely turned around, including the two Jeeps. The Commander had driven up ahead, turned around, and also followed us down. Let me just say again that that experience is a sobering reminder that we need to always be careful.
After that we booked it. Scott had to bug out right after the extraction, and Dave and Idelle had to break camp, so the rest of us baja'd it down 248.1, cleaned up one more tree, and made for the trailhead. Airing back up, I think we left the trailhead a little after 7, and Perry and I were in downtown Denver by 8pm.
So it was a long day, but we were glad to explore the area, amazed that two weeks earlier than last year we were able to make it all the way to the top of McClellan (woulda if the Jeep hadn't been there) whereas last year we got stopped at Waldorf, and glad to have helped someone that was really in a bad spot, being cold and late in the afternoon on a Sunday afternoon.
So thanks again everybody!
Oh - and the Brahma maintained a minimum (indicated) speed of about 60 mph up Mt. Vernon Canyon (I-70) coming up out of Denver. That secondary really works now! Of course now I'm doing gallons per mile instead of miles per gallon