What a day. I was sick all day Friday and got a late start on Saturday morning. Made it to the truckstop about 10:30, gassed up, and started looking for the trail based on Yoder's cell phone directions. Finally found the turnoff in the prison area and met up with Uncle Ben at the same time. The two of us aired down and scorched through the first section of the trail, only to find we didn't have too far to go to catch up with the massive group!
We were vehicles 28 and 29. Sometime after we showed up, Daryl and Neil (Spiderlegs) O'Malley showed up in their 40s. That made 31 trucks. Then a bit later, Joe Calleja showed up with a huge contingent of his own -- 7 trucks in all, including several really nice 40s that I had never seen before. That made 38 for the day.
The group was so large and spread out along the trail that the folks at the front were visible only in legend by the time we came through the trail. I saw Steve Crase once, and never laid eyes on his truck. Same thing with Bill Morgan.
Yoder rock was lots of fun. Treeroot did a crazy line
that had his front axle at an extreme angle (future cover shot for Toyota Trails, I say). Both Ige and I made it over with some excellent spotting from Root and Uncle Ben. Then SpiderLegs put on a crazy show for us, which is really what we encourage -- and of course, he's more than willing.
We saw three guys from the CTS group do the difficult extreme left side of whale rock. Joe in his bobbed truck and one of the other guys in a very similar truck made it look easy. Then Joe's son did it in a sprung-over FJ40. When he got his front tires up on the rock, we put a strap on his front bumper. Twelve guys pulled him towards the rock face as he clawed his way to the top -- kind of like a reverse "White Knuckle," for those of you who've done "Behind The Rocks" in Moab. We were all impressed that he made it up in his 40!
The hardest spot on the trail ended up being that off-camber climb with the holes at the bottom. Nathaniel snapped the long side rear axle on his 60 on this obstacle. We pulled him to the top of the hill and got him snugly off the trail and in a good position to work on the truck. He started pulling the diff apart while others continued attempting to make it up this nasty section. The group was quick to offer a winch cable or strap after Nathaniel's mishap; no one wanted two
broken vehicles. I took a strap from Kevin; Ige winched; Romer needed a bit of assistance; and there were others too.
With cell phones and CBs, we managed to get in touch with Merl from Classic Cruisers
down in Salida. He agreed to meet someone from the group to provide whatever parts were necessary. That person ended up being Chris Hatfield, since he was towards the front and nearly off the trail while the rest of us were cooling our jets at the top of the hill.
We still had a lot of people on the trail, and most of us weren't needed under Nathaniel's truck. We finally got the majority of the group moving again, with Hants from Colorado Springs leading us down. Yes, it's "Hants, rhymes with Pants." By the time we made it to the trailhead, where Green Machine and Markofsky were camped out waiting, it was completely dark. Some of the group immediately hit the road; others of us decided to go eat Mexican food at the Coyote Cantina. I led the group, and on the way out I hit a deer at about 40 mph!
It jumped out in front of me, I slammed on the brakes, fishtailed all over the place, felt it go under the tires, clunk clunk! We pulled over; sure 'nuf, it was dead (broke neck). Hants and I dragged it off the road. The only damaged I can find is that it bent the crap out of my brand new Collector's 5-year license plate! That Cool Cruiser of Texas "Hell For Stout
" bumper sure earned its name!
Coyote Cantina has Tommyknocker Nut Brown Ale, available by the pitcher, for future reference.
After dinner, we hit the road. Romer and I caught up with the Hatfields in the Pig. Just north of Fairplay, we made a small detour when we saw Spiderlegs and Daryl on the side of the road with a blown trailer tire. Considering they had three working vehicles between the two of them, we didn't stay long -- they weren't exactly stranded! Neil told us he was going to drive home in Spiderlegs (completely open with no top, windshield folded flat). It seemed crazy, but you know, he loves that truck.
I got to drive the FJ Cruiser once, and it was pretty cool. Robbie seemed very much in his element and was happy to let anyone take the wheel of his blue FJ (after signing the waiver of course). I never saw the silver FJ up in the front of the group! Robbie was the perfect choice for the FJ team; he gave me a quick primer on driving an IFS truck in the few minutes I was behind the wheel, and was really full of enthusiasm about the vehicle. He got a lot of guff from everyone about the weak looking skid plates -- I have a feeling that by the time we see him in Moab that will have been rectified.
We had two Toyota folks with us: Mary Ann from L.A. (who rode with Kipper most of the day) and Ally from Boulder (who rode with Wes, I think). Both of them had a great time and were pretty amazed at some of the crazy antics of the more built vehicle.
Good day. Lots of great people and Toyotas. Thanks to all for coming, and Scott for leading. I've been wanting to try this trail for the last several years. It's extremely scenic and a good challenge.