The #1 Ford Explorer enthusiast resource for over 25 years!
Performance Upgrades - Maintenance - Modifications - Problem Solving. Covering the Explorer, ST, Lincoln Aviator, Sport Trac, Mercury Mountaineer, Mazda Navajo, Ford Ranger, Mazda Pickups, and the Aerostar.
1000 miles later and I made it home. What a great weekend! It was just ScottB and me although we did pass bronchole's group on our way to Crested Butte and we did meet up with Mike and Robert at the Ouray KOA but did not get to trail ride with them either. Here are a few photos
Devil's Punchbowl, 1 of the many random lakes we went by, top of Corkscrew Gulch
On the way there we tuned in to CB channel 4 in case we missed the group. The drive there took a little bit longer than I had expected so we were running a bit behind. As we were getting close to Leadville I noticed a couple built Explorers running the other way so I called out on the radio. Sure enough it was Scott and Brian heading the other way. The trail that they were heading out to was not one that we had discussed so we opted to go our own way.
We started by taking SR130 to SR11 (and SR11A's) over to Halfmoon. It was supposed to be an off road short cut, but you know how that goes. We eventually got on to Halfmoon and started heading up. We aired down (mainly for comfort) about half way in to where the trail splits in to north and south Halfmoon. We decided to do South Halfmoon first. The trail is pretty easy.
The first water crossing was no more than a couple inches deep and very easy to cross. I could have done it in my Mustang. Most of the rest of the trail was just rough enough to keep you from going very fast.
When we got to the second water crossing we caught up to a group of 4 Jeeps. The rough area just past the second water crossing was giving them a little bit of trouble for the least capable rig in their group, a 4 door JK with an open front diff. With a little bit of rock paving they got him threw.
Here is the section I am talking about:
Pete and I went right threw with no issues, but it was at least interesting.
The scenery was wonderful. Absolutely gorgeous.
We eventually caught back up to the Jeep group and followed them the rest of the way in to the trail. About 10 minutes after we got above the tree line we arrived at the end of the trail. Not much to see there.
There was the shattered remains of a small cabin, a couple small slot mines and evidence of a couple very small mines within about 1/4 mile walk from the end of the trail.
We grabbed a quick bite to eat at this point. While we were eating a couple in an old Willis Jeep pulled up on us. Pretty nice people. We decided to get moving before the others started down the hill so we finished up eating and started off.
We were not even back down to the tree line when I found a hidden rock on the passenger side that ripped my steering wheel out of my hands. I hate it when that happens. It was immediately apparent that the centering on the steering was off so I hopped out to examine the suspension/linkage. All looked good so I said WTH and we kept moving on. The people in the Willis were faster than I am used to seeing that type of rig travel so we let them pass us. We played leapfrog with them a couple times because the lady was picking wild mushrooms for her dinner
As we got to the top of the interesting place at the upper water crossing I was positioning myself for my desired line when I noticed that my steering wheel was no longer connected to my tires. CRAP! A quick examination and we determined that there was something wrong inside of the steering box. Yup, that would explain the new centering position of the steering wheel. It was starting to get late so we quickly navigated the Monstrerneer off to the "chicken rout" for this obstacle. Just as we were finishing up getting it off the trail a loud clap of thunder hit. Rain and small hail followed as I was transferring money and information on my steering box over to Pete. He put it in high gear and moved out on a mission to go find me a new or loaner steering box while Renee and I prepared for our evening in the wild.
The Willis and the Jeep group passed by as the rail was falling. All asked what they could do and I told them what was going on and that Pete was on his way to find the replacement. One of the Jeep guys gave me a lighter so that I could start a warming fire if we needed it.
A few minutes later the rain stopped (for the most part) so Renee and I answered natures call and then we got to work on what needed to be done. I sent Renee to gather wood while I started unpacking the tools that would be needed to extract the broken P/S box.
The first thing I went to remove was the steering shaft from the P/S box input. I grabbed the coupling so that I could spin it around and get to the bolt for it......... wait a second...... I didn't see the input shaft rotate as I spun the coupling. I pulled the bolt out and slid the coupling off expecting to see a stripped spline on the P/S input shaft or on the inside of the coupling. Both were in good shape. CRAP! I need to get my ass in gear because Pete is already out of radio range and I don't want him driving to BFE to get my replacement box when it is not needed. I threw it all back together and had Renee wiggle the steering around as I was tightening the clamp bolt. All seemed to settle in and grip up good. Throw all the crap back in to the back and get our ***** in gear. Pete had about a 30-40 minute lead on us at that point so I had communications officer Renee calling for them on the radio and checking for cell coverage every couple minutes. About half way out we were able to get cell phone coverage and call Pete. He had already determined that the closest P/S box was in Salt Lake City so he was going to start posting on Facebook and Pirate to see if anyone local would be willing to "loan" us a P/S box to get us off the trail.
I explained what I found. I suspect that the steering shaft end that Jim (nssj2) had installed on to this power steering box is not exactly the correct end. I will have to research that further in the coming weeks. Everything seemed to stay tight so I was confident enough to say lets keep going.
South Halfmoon and our temporary breakdown took a bit longer than I had anticipated so we decided to do Mosquito Pass and then head back to camp.
After having allot of fun attempting to find our way on to the correct trail we started our journey up to 13K feet.
At one point up near the top you are going across a reasonably wide, but not too wide (most of the way there is enough room for a full size and a motor cycle to pass each other comfortably) cliff shelf road.
As the driver you can see about 10' off the Cliffside and then the valley floor about 2000-3000 below. Defiantly a white knuckle experience. We eventually made it to the top of the pass without incident.
Picture of the pass plaque at 13,185 feet:
Taste the rainbow:
What happens when a fern mates with a cactus:
The girls enjoyed the trip:
The rest of the trip was uneventful. It was well after dark by the time we made it back to camp.
I doubt it would have even got down in to the 20's. With 2 people heating the interior of a Mountaineer and some jackets I am sure we would have been fine. Our feet would have been the worst off
Now I need to look in to that coupling and figure out WTH happened. I figure I have a great chance coming up next weekend to do that. That is when I plan on installing my Torque Monster Headers so that steering shaft has to come out anyway.
Scott and me just below Schofield Pass
Schofield Pass signs
Beginning of Devil's Punchbowl
Just after the water crossing Scott begins the descent down to the Devil's Punchbowl
Crystal Mill, one of the most photographed places in Colorado
The turnoff for Lead King Basin where we would camp just up the road
A series of waterfalls and a narrow slot canyon just behind our camp for the night
Ace leads the way the next morning out Lead King Basin
Old equipment at the site of the white marble "factory" in Marble, CO
Scott arrives at the marble quarry, note the big pile of white marble
Scott works his way up Corkscrew Pass with the Red Mountain #2 in the background near Ouray, CO