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Nothing Special's Ouray 'Wheeling Trip

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    Posted: 24 July 2018 at 4:20pm
There's no Jeep in this story (well, other than other people's Jeeps in cameo roles), but can I play too?  My wife and I just got back from spending 5 day's 'wheeling around Ouray Colorado, followed up by one day on Spring Creek Trail, just off I-70 just west of Denver.  In this first post I'll give an overview, then I'll follow up with more specifics and more pictures from each day.

This ended up being our first "empty nest" 'wheeling trip.  Our kids (ages 22 and 24) have gone with us on all of trips up to last year, but lives got in the way this year, so it was just the two of us.

I've 'wheeled Spring Creek Trail 4 times before ('87 in a friends stock '87 YJ, '93 in my old '71 CJ5, '94 in my old stock '85 F-250 and ''00 in the CJ5 again).  It was my first experience fourwheeling so it holds a special place for me, and I wanted to try it again (turns out it's changed a LOT!).  And my wife's favorite family 'wheeling location was Ouray in 2000, and she wanted to go back there for a second time.  So we had our itinerary.  I was hoping to overlap the Ouray portion with the people who are hitting it after this year's Rubicon trip, but the timing didn't work out.

This was also the first time I've had a front locker.  I've had a Detroit in the rear axle of both my old CJ5 and my Bronco, but I've always had an open front until putting an OX locker in the front of the Bronco this spring.  I LOVE IT!  We've had some conversations about whether it's better to have an auto locker rear / selectable front or a  selectable rear / auto locker front.  I've only tried one of those combos now, so I can't say which I think is better, but I can say I really like the setup I have.  I'd lock it before trying a climb that I though might need it (or after failing once), or before a descent where I thought I might lift a front tire and lose traction for compression braking.  I never really had trouble maneuvering with it locked (although it is a LOT harder to turn the steering wheel when it's locked and I'm not moving).  And I didn't have much trouble with it hanging up when I tried to disengage it (it occasionally took a slight turn or two before it would disengage, but it was never a problem).

So on to the trip...  We towed the Bronco out behind our motorhome.  Everything went really well with that.  Here we are at the top of Monarch Pass on our way to Ouray.


We stayed at the Ouray KOA just north of town.  That ended up being a good location and a pretty nice campground as well, with trees and a little space between sites (some campgrounds around Ouray look a lot like parking lots full of motorhomes and Jeeps).


The mix of vehicles we saw was interesting.  In the first couple of days I saw mostly JKUs, with JLUs probably being second (all of the rentals are JLs).  There were also a lot of early Broncos in town (but I never saw any other on the trails).  Turns out there was a Bronco club from Texas there that week.

There were also a lot of full size Jeeps in our campground (I never saw them on the trails).  Mostly Wagoneers with Cherokee/J-truck grills.  Turns out there was a FSJ invasion that week as well.

And later in the week we saw mostly FJ Cruisers, with FourRunners probably coming in ahead of the JKs.  Turns out there was an FJ Summit event in Ouray then too!  This all combined to make the trails rather crowded, and we did have to wait in line at times.  But the waits were never that bad.

I saw very few CJs, and no military Jeeps at all.  I saw two flatties parked in town, and one on the highway (we gave each other thumbs up).  We saw a really well-built Scrambler a few times.  And there were a couple CJ5s parked in town.  Other than that I'm not sure if we saw any other CJs.

And there were always lots of ATVs, especially side-by-sides (ATVs probably outnumbered trucks).

I'll follow up with day trip reports as I can get time.


Edited by Nothing Special - 26 July 2018 at 2:58pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cjbilly Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 July 2018 at 4:45pm
"SPRING CREEK" brought back some great memories from my trip out there back in 1999. Drove my '89 MJ out there from Indiana with another TJ for the UFWDA convention in Granby. Took my 14 year old daughter with me-good 2 week bonding time.
When you are 1200 miles one way from home, you don't push it trying to impress anyone. Try once- if not, winch me. IMO- Besides the start at the trail head and very impressive boulder field, those were a good challenges being open both ends with AT tires.

Looking forward in reading your wheeling trip reports.  Thumbs Up


Edited by cjbilly - 24 July 2018 at 6:47pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jpet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 July 2018 at 4:49pm
Looking forward to the reports. Thanks for sharing!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 July 2018 at 7:07pm
Ouray - Day 1: Engineer Mountain Road - Mineral Point - Animas Cutoff - Cinnamon Pass - Sherman Road - Cinnamon Pass - California Gulch - Hurricane Pass - Corkscrew Pass - Corkscrew Gulch

Over the last couple of 'wheeling trips my younger son has gotten a lot better, first as a driver but then also as a spotter.  But without him on this trip my wife said she wanted to be eased into the 'wheeling: no Black Bear or Poughkeepsie until she felt comfortable.  So we started with a pretty easy day.  Most of the trails are on the Alpine Loop which they send tourists on in stock vehicles.

Engineer Mountain Road starts up from Highway 550 a few miles up from (south of) Ouray.  As it turned out, there was a landslide a week or so before we got there that had closed 550.  They had one lane open by the time we were there, and Engineer Mountain Road started from one end of the one lane section, right where they were doing road work.  Add people airing down, or unloading ATVs and it was pretty crowded at the trail head!

Engineer Mountain Road is probably the roughest, most difficult section of the Alpine Loop.  It's not really technical anywhere, but I did drag my diffs a few places when I stopped paying attention.  There were also a couple of places where an optional line made it a little more interesting, and even one that I agreed not to try without my son's help.  It's biggest challenge is that, like most trails in the area, it's a two-way trail that's not wide enough for 2 vehicles.  It generally works out though, as people realize you're all in the same situation and usually someone is close enough to a wide spot to make it work.  Overall it seemed like a nice "beginner 'wheeling" trail, and was fun and scenic enough for us as well.







Mineral Point is a side trip near the top of Engineer Mountain Road.  It went by an old mine and then connected back to the main trail (but unfortunately missing the restroom that's on Engineer Mountain Road).  Nothing very challenging on the trail (the part of the main trail that it bypasses isn't hard either).



Animas Cutoff might not be the official name, but it's the trail that comes off Engineer Mountain Road where it starts up Engineer Pass and heads down to the ghost town of Animas Forks.  It's an easy dirt road, narrow and rough enough to keep the speed down, but no challenge.

Cinnamon Pass splits off the Animas Cutoff just above Animas Forks.  Like the Animas Cutoff, it's too rough to go fast and too smooth to be fun.  Unlike the Animas Cutoff, it's long.  We drove 12 miles in 1.5 hours each way.  My wife thinks I picked such a long, boring trail to make her agree to do more "interesting" trails like Poughkeepsie  and Black Bear!  Actually I was just exploring trails I'd never been on.  In Cinnamon Pass's defense, it is scenic, and for people who aren't into challenging 'wheeling it's a good way to get above treeline.  And it's one of two ways (Engineer Pass being the other) to get from Lake City into these trails.  So if anyone else wants to take Cinnamon Pass I won't stop you.  But my wife will stop me!

Sherman is a mine site on the east side of Cinnamon Pass, with a trail going south west up into a gulch.  We drove up it about 3.5 miles before my wife realized that it was a dead-end and we were going to end up backtracking it before going back over Cinnamon Pass.  Not a lot of challenge, and it was all below treeline, so no big vistas.  Again I wouldn't give this a very hearty recommendation, but I won't try to stop you either.

There's another side trail off Cinnamon Pass that goes up American Basin  I was going to explore that as well, but my wife said "no".  So we backtracked over Cinnamon Pass (another 1.5 hours) to Animas Forks.

After using the restroom in Animas Forks we took California Gulch, Hurricane Pass, Corkscrew Pass and Corkscrew Gulch back to highway 550.  Again not a lot of challenge, but it's the only way (other than going back on Engineer Mountain Road) to get back to Ouray.  Not a bad drive (about 11 miles in 2.5 hours compared to 9 miles in 2.5 miles for Engineer Mountain Road).

Looking up California Gulch:


Looking from Hurricane Pass toward Corkscrew Pass


Looking down the top part of Corkscrew Gulch

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote windyhill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 July 2018 at 7:55pm
Fantastic!  Thanks for sharing!Clap
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JeepFever Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 July 2018 at 11:26pm

Very Nice!    Thanks for sharing

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 July 2018 at 11:45pm
Ouray Day 2: Black Bear Road and Imogene Pass

On day 2 my wife wasn't ready for Poughkeepsie, but she OK'd Black Bear!  I'm sure most of you know (or at least know of) Black Bear Road.  It's infamous for being an extremely dangerous shelf road with extremely tight switchbacks.  Does it deserve the reputation?  I had an opinion from when I ran it the first time 18 years ago, but I really wanted to experience it a second time, and see if the experience was similar to the first time.

Black Bear Road starts at the summit of Red Mountain Pass on highway 550, so not a long drive from Ouray.  A group of about 10 Toyotas (mostly FourRunners, but a few FJ Cruisers thrown in) were starting up as we pulled off to air down.

The trail up to the top of the pass is pretty easy (3.3 miles / 42 minutes).  There was one optional line at about 2.9 miles (just below the pass) that was a steeper, rockier climb.  The step at the top was a little too tall and steep for me to attempt with just my wife along, so we turned around and took the main trail the rest of the way up.


At the top of the pass we caught up with the Toyotas.  We chatted a little and I learned that they had a broad range of experience.  One guy (Justin Fort) is a writer for Off-Road.com with a lot of experience, and there were others like him.  But there were also some who had never done anything like this and had to be talked into it to begin with.  I was thinking about trying to jump ahead of them, but they were getting ready to start down from the pass about as we got up, so I wasn't rude.


The trail down the bowl on the back side of the pass was a little more challenging that I remembered (probably more a testament to my memory than a reflection on the trail).  Definitely not technical, but a few places where you could get a little tippy if you didn't pay attention to how you turned into a hole.

We caught the Toyotas near the bottom of the bowl.  Following them down was fine until they started going around "Adios Corner" (which I learned is the at least semi-official name of the start of the "fun" section) (edit: or "Adios Curve" as jpet informed me below).  Some of the greener drivers were starting to look pretty green!  We saw one climb out of his vehicle (still a few car lengths above Adios Corner Curve) and lay on the ground for a while!  After about a 20 minute delay there we were able to get started.  They stopped at the first switchback, and on the wide section right after that and let the backed up traffic pass them.  Including the 20 minute delay it took about 1:20 to drive the 3.3 miles from the pass down to Adios Corner Curve.

The picture below shows one of the Toyotas staged just above Adios Corner Curve.  It looks tipped down a lot in the picture, and when you look at the background you can see that the camera is tipped down too!  The trail is pretty steep there!  What I remembered most from my first time on Black Bear was the huge adrenaline rush as I went around Adios Corner Curve, down to and around the first switchback.  By that time I had settled down.  This time, even 18 years later, there really was no rush like that.  It was still fun, but I wasn't at all spooked.  I still get why people do freak out on it, especially the first time.  But I felt like I knew what to expect and it wasn't that big a deal.


Below Adios Corner Curve are the switchbacks, I guess also called The Steps (edit: I was wrong about this, Stan corrected it below).  They are tight, requiring me to back up once on almost all of them.  That's another place that novice drivers (or passengers) can freak out.  You need to pull far enough forward that you can't see the edge over your hood to have enough room to back up and complete the turn.  And on a couple of the switchbacks the trail is twisted enough that you might cross up if you make your turn at the wrong time (18 years ago I saw a TJ need to engage a locker to back up on the second switchback).  It doesn't seem to be an issue for most, and certainly wasn't for me with my rear Detroit.

The trail between the switchbacks is narrow, and the slope (cliff?) it's on is steep, another source of pucker factor.  These pics show that a little.






From Adios Corner Curve to Bridal Veil Falls took about 40 minutes to drive the 1 mile, including a couple of stops to wait for broken Jeeps (a JK with engine issues and an undetermined later model with a broken steering stabilizer).  Another 30 minutes brought us the last 4.5 miles down to the town park in Telluride.

After lunch in the park we headed back to Ouray over Imogene Pass.  Mostly it's a pretty easy trail, but there are some "playgrounds" on both sides near the pass where you can take some optional lines (and there was a port-a-potty there too!).  Overall it took us about 3 hours to drive the 16.7 miles from Telluride to Ouray.  My wife asked what the big deal was with Imogene since so many people had asked if we'd done it.  The only thing I could think of was that it's a novices Black Bear.  Steep, shelfy and tight switchbacks that can make it exciting (just not as steep, shelfy or tight as Black Bear).  And since I heard the Jeep rental places don't allow you to take their vehicles on Black Bear (or Poughkeepsie), Imogene is probably one of the scarier trails many go on.

(edit to add...) For us Imogene was still a fun trail.  And since Black Bear is one-way, once you take it from Ouray to Telluride Imogene is about the only trail option back from Telluride to Ouray.  And for us it definitely beats ~45 miles of highway!



So in the end, is Black Bear as dangerous as the say?  If you measure danger by how easily a mistake can get you killed, then I guess it certainly deserves it.  But then again, a mistake can easily get you killed on the freeway too, and I wouldn't say Black Bear is even as dangerous as a freeway.  Still, any driver who is prone to panic can REALLY get themself in trouble on Black Bear.  And forcing some people down as passengers could put a serious strain on some relationships!  So Black Bear isn't for everyone.   But it really is a pretty easy trail.  Still a very fun day, but not challenging.


Edited by Nothing Special - 26 July 2018 at 3:08pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote nofender Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 July 2018 at 6:08am
Great pictures! thank you. This is a trip I long to do. Maybe in the next year or two I'll get out there. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote smfulle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 July 2018 at 9:25am
Bob,
Nice report and photos. Thanks!
I think “The Steps” are actually the kind of bumpy approach to Adios Corner. I could be wrong but I think that’s what Mike Tarvin (nivrat),who is a guide up there, called that section as he led us down it. I could be wrong because it’s been a couple of years and my memory is weak.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jpet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 July 2018 at 9:36am
Originally posted by smfulle smfulle wrote:

...I think “The Steps” are actually the kind of bumpy approach to Adios Corner. ....
Yep:



... and the locals call it "Adios Curve"

I love this view:



..I did feel intimidated by the steps the first time I saw vehicles going down them from this viewpoint. Since you can't see Adios Curve, it looks like you just drive right off the cliff. I'll agree, that once I was driving down myself, it was not near as intimidating but it is a cool adrenaline pinch.

Great shots keep them coming!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 July 2018 at 7:25pm
Originally posted by smfulle smfulle wrote:

.... I think “The Steps” are actually the kind of bumpy approach to Adios Corner....

That makes more sense.  I never heard officially what "The Steps" referred to, and never really saw how it applied to the switchbacks.  But I guess the "main" part of the trail had me psyched out enough the first time that I really have no memory of the bumpy approach, so I never thought to apply the name there.

Originally posted by jpet jpet wrote:

 ... and the locals call it "Adios Curve"....

I thought I read "Adios Corner" in something in Ouray, but my memory could be faulty there.  Either way, it's certainly a trail feature that deserves a name!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 July 2018 at 7:54pm
Ouray Day 3: Engineer Mountain Road - Poughkeepsie Gulch - California Gulch - Animas Cutoff - Engineer Mountain Road

We decided to tackle Poughkeepsie on Day 3.  We headed up Engineer Mountain Road off Highway 550 again.  Nothing new to report there since we had driven it on day 1.  2.4 miles up, and about 40 minutes later we were at the lower end of Poughkeepsie Gulch.

Poughkeepsie starts off tame enough, but even a lot of the tame section is pretty steep, with rather loose rocks.  No trouble at all with a rear locker, but not just a gravel road either.  At one point there was a slightly technical optional line that I did a couple of times, once for the camera and once for the video (my wife gets out to take pictures at the scary parts!).  It was another time I was very glad for the new front locker.




Since the last time we were there 18 year ago they've added a bypass around the "worst" (or best) part of the trail.  Spoiler alert, but we took the bypass on day 5.  It's not the easiest trail in the world either!  Shouldn't be any trouble for even a stock CJ, but a little tight in places for a fullsize.  But on this day we took the main trail.

When we got to "The Wall" there was a Jeep crawling around on it with a bunch of people in ATVs set up to spectate.  When I got there the Jeep driver offered to spot for me while he paused for a beer.

The Wall was a lot different from 18 years ago.  The easiest route up the left side was closed,  The middle was a lot more chewed up and the right side, that I had walked up with my CJ5 18 years before, looked pretty challenging.  With the spotter's help I tried the right side a few times and the middle a couple.  All the same result, spinning all 4 tires and going nowhere.  So I backed down to reconsider.

The right side:


The middle:


About then the large group of Toyotas we'd seen on Black Bear (minus some of the greener drivers) showed up.  With the bigger crowd I decided I better go or we were going to get caught in a traffic jam.  I opted for the right side, planning to winch after one or two tries.  I don't have any pictures of those two tries (just video), but I was successful on the second attempt (new spotters and a different line up the far left side of the hill helped).


The rest of the way up Poughkeepsie had plenty of little challenges to keep it fun, but nothing that ever seemed like we might not be able to do.  In total it took about 3.5 hours to drive the 4.5 miles of Pughkeepsie, but that includes about 1.5 hours playing and spectating at The Wall.

Here's one pic from the top part:


The rest of the day was pretty uneventful.  We headed down California Gulch (40 minutes, 4.4 mies) and over the Animas Cutoff (30 minutes, 2.9 miles) intending to go up to Engineer Pass.  But we decided it was getting too late, and we had two more days with really no other trails planned, so we decided to leave Engineer Pass for another day and just headed back down Engineer Mountain Road to the highway (1.5 hours, 7.0 miles).  The only thing worth noting was that the last mile coming down before the Poughkeepsie Gulch turn-off involve a lot of switchbacks.  Nothing that difficult, but on the GPS it looked like we were almost there, but it took another 20 minutes without looking like we were making any progress across the screen.


Edited by Nothing Special - 26 July 2018 at 3:13pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote smfulle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 July 2018 at 8:47pm
Hey Bob,
Loving your trip report.
Here’s a thread from a trip a few of us took there a couple of years ago.

The first page has several videos of us playing on “The Wall.”


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote nivrat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 July 2018 at 10:51pm
Great report Bob, thanks for sharing. FWIW, I've never heard the spot you referred to as Adios Corner called that before. Every guide I know has always referred to that spot as "The Steps", but feel free to call it whatever you like- it's been called worse.Smile
 That spot begins the exhilarating part of the trail. Jpet, Stan, and some of the boys made it look easy last year.
 And, if you thought it was fun going down you should try going up it!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jpet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 July 2018 at 6:40am
Originally posted by nivrat nivrat wrote:

....FWIW, I've never heard the spot you referred to as Adios Corner called that before. Every guide I know has always referred to that spot as "The Steps", but feel free to call it whatever you like-...
I guess you could say that "Adios Curve" is the last section of "The Steps".

Here is the Google search results for "Adios Curve":

https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&ei=bKJZW-qNFc70zgKJsKbQDw&q=adios+curve&oq=adios+curve&gs_l=psy-ab.3...145321.147425.1.147552.9.4.5.0.0.0.0.0..0.0....0...1.1.64.psy-ab..4.5.134...0j35i39k1j0i22i30k1j0i20i263k1.0.Y48mMYUt-wY

Google search results for "Adios Corner"

https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&ei=MaVZW42FLoKSzwLjno6oBw&q=adios+corner&oq=adios+corner&gs_l=psy-ab.3..35i39k1j0i22i30k1l7.5854.7645.0.7821.9.9.0.0.0.0.206.849.0j4j1.5.0....0...1.1.64.psy-ab..4.5.849...0j0i20i263k1.0.66FQNG-vAW8

Keep the shots coming!
Do you have anymore shots of the Wall, particularly of where to was closed off?

Edited by jpet - 26 July 2018 at 6:55am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 July 2018 at 9:10am
Originally posted by smfulle smfulle wrote:

Hey Bob,
Loving your trip report.
Here’s a thread from a trip a few of us took there a couple of years ago.

The first page has several videos of us playing on “The Wall.”



Some of the people we saw there this year said the trail changes quite a bit from year to year, and some said it was a lot different this year than it was 2 years ago (can't confirm that other than I know it did over 18 years).  That said, most people (including me) were not able to find much traction on the line Grampa's Jeep took in that video.  Some of the most capable trucks were able to crawl that line, but not many could.  The line Bam Bam took might have been the easiest line this year.  Wider vehicles (like everything there compared to flatties!) had a hard time keeping their passenger (edit: drivers side) tires from sliding into that hole to Bam Bam's left, but if they did stay far enough to the right they usually made it.  Although longer vehicles (again, everyone compared to flatties) tended to highcenter a bit at the top of that line (but all that made it that far did scrape over).  I made it up the far left of the approach Bam Bam took, keeping all 4 tires to the left of that hole.

Originally posted by nivrat nivrat wrote:

Great report Bob, thanks for sharing. FWIW, I've never heard the spot you referred to as Adios Corner called that before. Every guide I know has always referred to that spot as "The Steps", but feel free to call it whatever you like- it's been called worse.Smile
 That spot begins the exhilarating part of the trail. Jpet, Stan, and some of the boys made it look easy last year.
 And, if you thought it was fun going down you should try going up it!

Mike

I would like to drive up it, but it's only open for that one day a year from what I understand, and I'd guess it's pretty crowded that day!  Still, maybe some time...

Originally posted by jpet jpet wrote:

I guess you could say that "Adios Curve" is the last section of "The Steps".

Here is the Google search results for "Adios Curve":

https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&ei=bKJZW-qNFc70zgKJsKbQDw&q=adios+curve&oq=adios+curve&gs_l=psy-ab.3...145321.147425.1.147552.9.4.5.0.0.0.0.0..0.0....0...1.1.64.psy-ab..4.5.134...0j35i39k1j0i22i30k1j0i20i263k1.0.Y48mMYUt-wY

Google search results for "Adios Corner"

https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&ei=MaVZW42FLoKSzwLjno6oBw&q=adios+corner&oq=adios+corner&gs_l=psy-ab.3..35i39k1j0i22i30k1l7.5854.7645.0.7821.9.9.0.0.0.0.206.849.0j4j1.5.0....0...1.1.64.psy-ab..4.5.849...0j0i20i263k1.0.66FQNG-vAW8

Keep the shots coming!
Do you have anymore shots of the Wall, particularly of where to was closed off?

I guess I'll go with "Adios Curve" then!

And sorry, no pictures showing anything else of The Wall.  But in this picture (also posted above, taken looking down from the big rock between the chutes Grampa's Jeep and Bam Bam took), the grey Toyota with it's hood up is pointing up the closed line.  It isn't as steep or rocky as the others, but now has a cable running across the bottom of it.




Edited by Nothing Special - 26 July 2018 at 3:15pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nothing Special Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 July 2018 at 3:44pm
Ouray Day 4: Engineer Mountain Road - Engineer Pass - Odom Point - Yvonne Pass - Engineer Mountain Road

Since we hadn't taken the time for Engineer Pass the day before we had to do it now (I'm an engineer, and I had bought an "Engineer Pass" cap, so it seemed necessary to get a picture at the top!).

On Engineer Mountain Road we ended up behind two separate groups of FJ Cruisers.  There were also a pair of JKUs and a side-by-side ATV stuck behind them too (not an anti-Toyota slam, just that big groups often go slower than small ones).  Both groups eventually let us by, and overall it still only took about 2.5 hours to get up to the turnoff to the pass.





From that intersection it took only about 20 minutes to go the last 2.5 miles up to Engineer Pass.  Nothing too difficult, but not long and great views.  Engineer Pass goes down the other side to Lake City, but we turned around and headed back toward Ouray.



Not far back down Engineer Pass there's a short spur that goes on on a ridge.  A sign on the end of the ridge identifies it as Odom Point.  That was a great place to stop for lunch.  While we were up there a side-by-side came up and stopped a little ways off from us for quite a while, then came up and asked "where are we?"  We gave them one of our maps and helped them figure out where they were and where they wanted to go.  They had come over Cinnamon Pass and had found that it was way more difficult than they were ready for.  So boring for my wife was over the top for someone else!

Anyway, here's a view from Odom Point.


Going back down Engineer Pass there's another spur that I read goes to Yvonne Pass.  That pass was closed years ago, so it's a dead end now, but the trail supposedly goes to the top of Engineer Mountain.  As you go the trail gets fainter and steeper, so we stopped when it got to our limit.  Total we spent about 30 minutes going up and down.


(edit, put correct picture for Yvonne Pass in place of repeating the picture from Odom Point)

Then we just headed back down Engineer Mountain Road.  Old hat by now (it took about 2 hours), but that's OK too


Edited by Nothing Special - 30 July 2018 at 6:40pm
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Ouray Day 5:  Engineer Mountain Road - Poughkeepsie Gulch - Hurricane Pass - Corkscrew Pass - Corkscrew Gulch

At the end of day 4 my wife decided that the word for that day was "scenery."  By the end of day 5 she decided that the word for this day was "Oops."  More on that as we go along.

She suggested that we do Poughkeepsie again, but not do the Wall, that we had done that already so let's not push it again, but let's see the bypass, go to the Wall and watch others, and play a little on the easier parts of Poughkeepsie.  I agreed to that.

Starting up Engineer Mountain Road we ran into the first "oops."  We caught up to a group of FJ Cruisers where one had gone off the trail.  I don't know what happened, but they were up against some small trees and couldn't get back up on the trail.  They weren't in a horrible dangerous position, but if they were a couple of feet further to the right (which at least the trees were keeping from happening) they'd probably have rolled a long, long way.  They were rigging a winch to pull the front sideways, and easily drove back on the trail with the winch's help.  The couple in the FJ were in their 60s, and looked very glad to step out onto (relatively) level ground!


We started up Poughkeepsie Gulch.  During one photo stop a little below treeline were were passed by a white pickup that proclaimed itself "the slowest Tacoma in the world."  The driver stopped briefly and chatted about being happy when he sees someone keeping old iron like my '71 Bronco out on the trails (I wonder what he'd say about an MB?).  Then an old red Toyota Hilux caught up to him and I recognized Marlin Czajkowski, of "Marlin Crawler" fame.  The white truck was his son, now the company president.  So that was fun (and got more fun, more on that later).

We continued up and decided to take the main trail up to the Wall (we'd backtrack and go up the bypass later).  Turned out there were two groups of about 10 FJs each waiting  to get up!  We couldn't even get into the open area at the bottom, so we pulled off the side of the approach trail.  We watched the groups try the Wall (three attempts and then the winch).  Most were trying the line I had done on our day 3 and all were dropping their passenger rear in the hole and getting stopped.  A few tried the far right line (where Bam Bam went in Stan's video above).  Most of them dropped the driver's rear in the hole and "almost" rolled (not really that close, but close enough to be spooky).  But the ones that stayed far enough right were able to get up.

The Marlin Crawler trucks were definitely the exceptions.  Both crawled up in spite of intentionally putting tires in the hole.  Michael in the white truck even got out and watched most of the time while his driverless truck walked up alone!

A couple took the side where Grampa's Jeep went in the video above.  A stock FJ needed the winch (the yellow one below).  A couple of FJs with solid axles were able to drive up the far left side, but not without some false starts and good spotting.


The next "oops" wasn't too bad, but a blue FJ with solid axles tried the right side of the hill Grampa's Jeep took.  That line tips you very close to the rock if you do it right.  It tips you into the rock if you do it wrong.  I'm not sure if this was right or wrong.  He eventually made it up, but I never saw if he had any new rock rash.


By this time a third group of FJs had caught up.  We were able to get them to all pull up into the bowl so we could head back down.  We then went up the bypass.  As noted earlier, it wasn't the easiest trail in the area either.  We were following a stock FJ and the passenger got out about three times to spot.  We drove it without any spotting, and I know CJs would have no trouble with it, even with two open diffs.  But it keeps your eyes open.

After lunch at Lake Como at the top of Poughkeepsie we headed back over Hurricane and Corkscrew passes and down Corkscrew Gulch where we ran into the worst "oops."  I'm not sure exactly what happened but when we got there there were 2 JKUs stopped in a switchback, a dirt bike laid on it's side at the edge of the trail and a girl on a 4-wheeler stopped in the switchback.  On the trail below were two more 4-wheelers with two people looking up.  And on the hill between the two trails was another girl trying not to slide down any farther.  One of the Jeepers was getting out a tow strap and they had her up to the trail by the time I got down to them.

What we know is that the 4-wheelers were coming up the trail and that the girl jumped off hers, which people were saying was a good thing.  Best I can gather is that one of the 4-wheelers on the trail below had been hers, she was coming up hard and ended up going off the trail when she met oncoming traffic.  If that's the case, her 4-wheeler fell about 100 feet down to the next trail where it stopped, and she was able to stop herself in probably about 20 feet.

The 4 people on the 4 wheelers ended up getting on 2 of the 3, leaving the one we think fell down the hill.  They headed down to "camp" at highway 550.  We met one of them coming back up later (and going way too fast, probably over 20 mph on a one lane 2 way road).

The girl in black on the left side of the picture had just been pulled back up to the trail in this picture.


The last "oops" was much tamer.  We met another group of ATVs that was lost.  We helped them figure out where they were on their map and headed down ourselves.


Edited by Nothing Special - 26 July 2018 at 7:21pm
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