Our Colorado Trip - It Hurts, But Did You Die? | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Our Colorado Trip - It Hurts, But Did You Die?


DIY stunt double
Staff member
Elite Explorer
June 16, 2003
Reaction score
City, State
Humboldt, KS
Year, Model & Trim Level
2000 Mounty
Well gang,
It has been quite a while ago my lovely bride and I stomped around Colorado. Not wanting to get lost, or eaten by a bear alone, I suggested to Gmanpaint he should try to go along. I'm pretty sure I can out run him, if a bear was to show up. Besides, he's probably more tasty also.
anyway, One thing led to another, and, since Traveler moved away without a good send-off I also asked if he could go. He'd be okay because he's pretty fast.
We all armed ourselves with bear spray and started planning-wrenching, fixing, breaking and refixing stuff, Gman had to work a real job while doing all this extra quick wrenching, so I commend his efforts. I'm not sure about Traveler and his stress level but I do know he closed on a house during this vacay-
I don't know how they did it but they both got it all together and things began to take shape for a real honest to goodness camping and exploring week!
The "plan" was to go to the Leadville area for a nights rest while Traveler scouted a campsite a little in advance at a backup place. Gman would meet up with Sheri and I at my parents house for dinner, sleep and early departure.
Gman had to turn around due to the load on his hitch rack, remove it and resume the trip to KC.
Dinner was good, sleep was good, time to head out came and wouldn't you know it the emergency brakes I had been working on for days have said expletive to the world. Heck with it. they can click like a tap dancer. I want to head west.
Somehow we managed to get some bad gas into Gmans truck somewhere in Kansas at a 24/7 gas stop. At least I hope it was bad gas. every 100 miles his CEL would flash, we'd sit for a minute to allow it to go off, and go on our way. We stopped in Hays and Colby at Oriellys to get a code scanner. Finally got one in Colby, read the codes, Gman got some "just in case " parts and away we went again. Once we hit Denver the CEL stopped. It seemed like once the gas was burned off and good gas was in the tank things went well.

Then the bad. West of Denver there was a bad accident closing I70 for the night. People were literally camping on the side of the highway to wait it out. The only way around was Loveland pass -route 6 at a little after midnight .
so, I see a route 6 sign and hit it. We take a nice cruise thru Central city, up a mountain and right back to I70. A nice little 1 hour wrong turn detour at early AM hours thanks to yours truly.

Another 15 miles up I70 we finally see the route 6 Loveland pass exit. Later than1:am

It's a climb. it was dark. trans temp hit 235 going up that hill. Betty was packed like the mule she is. We had at least 1000lbs of stuff in the back and on top.
Then the downhill. Following 2 trucks going exactly 15 MPH. no more, no less. for miles. down a hill. I can still hear the grinding and hissing of the brakes-

Finally made it to blue river cabin in the woods at around 2:30 AM. A cold Colorado drizzling rain greeted us.
I myself enjoyed the little A frame place, for a bed, shower and git-

Traveler somehow made it up to Weston pass late the prior evening, set up camp and determined it was raining too much. He then drove up to our location, and we tried to develop a plan.

I'm not 100% sure but was almost certain since it was raining, and we were in Colorado during the monsoon season, we should go southwest of Buena vista to try to avoid the rain. We discussed this over breakfast.
So, instead of the Leadville spot with easy access, I led the group to Tincup pass. Sheri and I had been there about 8 years ago. I remebered open campsites along the chalk and cascade area access-

A lot can change on those roads. What used to be free and open camp sites were now natl park campgrounds and filled to the brim. So, we drove up, and up, and ouch how much more of this road can I take, when some Jeepers who were leaving turned us on to a campsite about 1.5 miles up the actual tincup pass road. With some firewood and water. Cool.

Think about driving on a road with bowling balls, and broken cinder blocks everywhere. That would be close. now add 10 inch deep puddles strategically placed so you have to catch them with every wheel, one wheel at a time. With a bowling ball in the middle. for a mile and half. every day. The trip to cell service was 1 hour, gas was 1 hour 20 minutes from camp on a fast trip.

Yup, we were up there. Right next to a crystal clear river. Elk poop in spots. 10,400 ft elevation or so.

OK, time to set up. Grab the bag of tent stakes, grab the tent, realize my mistake, throw the tent on the ground and try to catch my breath.

That pretty much sets the stage. Every truck was packed like a mule. I mean, I think I bent a leaf spring packed like a mule, going up that road all loaded down-

We drove up Iron City road, then on to Mount Princeton summit trail. My trans overheated on the way up because I was an idiot and climbed the whole thing in 4wd hi. At 14,000 ft she was floored and barely climbed the last little hill on the top.

We also completed the Tincup pass , Made it to Tincup City just in time for a cold rain, but did manage to get a few pictures of the Tincup cemetery.


I have a lot more to say, but it is time for some pictures and input from @gmanpaint and @traveler.

Oh, by the way. Traveler doesn't think they need that fire ring on top of Mount Princeton anymore.










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It was a great trip... And really, how do you even light a fire at 14,000 ft? hehe

Love the pictures. Buena Vista is one of my favorite places to go for Wheeling. Just got to get my Explorer Able to handle those trails out there.

Sounds like a great adventure and definitely some "Serious Explorations"!

I'm glad that no one was eaten by bears. That's always a good thing:chug:

But..... You forgot to mention how cold it is up there at night. Brrr !!! It dropped into the 30's one night and I awoke to a frozen nose. lol

That first day out there was a brutal one for sure. Heading out in the AM, and not arriving to that Chalet until 2am about broke me for good. I re-cooped a few days later tho.

The campsite was a nice big level area that had plenty of room to spare. About 4000 ft lower, and it would have been perfect. Can't complain too much tho, it was free, & private. Bears never ate us either. Oh... next time we get together, we will have a foot race. I might be old & fat, but I can still run. :D

The bad gas situation was a bummer, it was one of the reasons we had such a late arrival. It is still suffering from it, as the cel came on/off and engine acts like it rubs on 4 cyl for a bit, then a sudden surge of power hits and it's back to 6 cyl. We replaced one HO2 sensor in a O'Rielly parking lot, and I might as well change the other now. I will work on it some more, and figure it out eventually. Then there was the brake issue. Losing the brakes completely when up on those passes is enough to turn your hair silver from fright. Found a possible leak, fixed it, then when bleeding it, a bleeder snapped in half. That cost us a day waiting on parts to arrive from Denver the next day. I never imagined a parts run would take 3-4 hours either. lol

I did learn that in Hi range, the 4:56 & 35's on hwy Mtn roads are no good. I have to keep the RPM's around 2500, to keep momentum going. Problem with that, is I would be in a lower gear and hovering 3000 RPM's to maintain speed limits. Neither are good, so 5:13's are going in.

Low range on the new Atlas was amazing. I only used 4wd once on the entire trip, and that was to get the poser shot above. 2wd low & a locker is all you really need on these passes. Now If we had come across some challenging obstacles, and I wanted to have a go, 4wd Low would have been used. Height & clearance plus some articulation sure helps on these trails. We all had to rely on the rear axles for articulation, and we managed just fine.

We broke Travelers shelf road cherry on Mt. Princeton. That was a joy to see his reactions and listen to his comments as we navigated sheer drop offs, and some switchbacks at 12,000 ft. I think his adrenaline was still high when he ran over the fire pit atop the pass. lol Man I wish I had video of that!

We all ate & ate, as we brought more food then we had room for. Breakfast, lunch & dinner was had by all each day. The cooler was still full of food when I returned. I cooked 10 burgers & 15 sausages last night, and I still have more left to cook up!

I screwed up, and grabbed the wrong tent when I packed. I have 4 tents, and confused one for another. The tent I packed was missing some parts to add the rain fly, so it was no good. We had cold rains each & every day/night, and was in need of overhead shelter. We went to town (2hrs away) to shop. Picked up a new tent, and a new 10x10 canopy. Problems solved.

Another good thing about where we camped, was the ease & abundance of free firewood. Jon brought his chainsaw, and I had a split axe. We had nice fires every night, thanks to Traveler and his Paul Bunyan skills. (Thanks!) Everybody helped with the wood gathering, and my hat's off to Jon's LB. She chucked logs like a shotput athlete as we cut em up.

I went there with the expectations of wheeling long & hard each day, and squeezing in some local sights. The rains, the high campsite, and bad luck, changed all that. We didn't do much wheeling, we didn't get to see some anticipated sights, but we did have one heck of a time camping and story telling. We visited some local areas, and shopped a bit. I got some South Park Shirts from the actual South Park city based on that crazy tv show. We went out for dinner one night, and well, it was supposed to be a treat, but for one of us, it didn't turn out that way. :(

The trip home was a bit fuzzy. Day 1 wasn't bad until the last hour. I fought to make it to the hotel. The 2nd day was fine until the last 2 hours. More of the same, and a irritating CEL to deal with. Once home safe, it was time to unpack and prepare for work the next morning. 2 days later, and I am still unpacking, and cleaning up from our adventure.

And that is exactly what we had Bilbo Baggin's....... An ADVENTURE. I wouldn't trade it for anything. Thank you Jon for inviting me along. Next trip out there is Ouray, and a max of 8000 ft camping. lol

We got some good pics, and I have a go pro to sort out still. Once I manage to get everything downloaded from all my devices, I will add some to this post.


Hopefully next time I can come out with you all. Sounds like you all had a wonderful time.

On Facebook in some areas, they are doing a rock hiding game. You paint a rock, and hide it, I guess in hopes of see where it ends up.

during our return trip, at a fuel stop in Colby, Ks, we found this. It was sitting on top of the gas pump.
Highly appropriate for the occasion.

We always seem to find something of meaning, just laying around, on these trips.

Awesome, it sounds like a good time through everything. The friend's and scenery make it worth it over and over. Thanks for the pictures, and the stories.

Hopefully next time I can come out with you all. Sounds like you all had a wonderful time.

If I had your # and Cell service I could have contacted you. As it turned out, we didn't even know where we would be on any given day, as we let Nature & circumstance dictate our daily outings in the area.

Maybe you can join us next time we go to Ouray or Moab? Be great to wheel with you & yours.

Well written Gregg! That about sums it up very well. Yes, the shelf roads on Mt. Princeton were... invigorating... Kept me awake thats for sure! But I enjoyed every minute of it, and kept telling myself "We passed a stock Subaru who was on the way down! I got this!" The Paul Bunyan skills... Well I figured no one should be my age and never have split wood before! So got that out of the way.
Can't wait to go again, and bring Sandi along.

and to think jon,when you were a teenager, they did that in a horse and buggy because there were no trucks!


If I had your # and Cell service I would have contacted you. I left and forgot to contact you on FB to let you know when & where we would be to meet up. As it turned out, we didn't even know where we would be on any given day, as we let Nature & circumstance dictate our daily outings in the area.

Maybe you can join us next time we go to Ouray or Moab? Be great to wheel with you & yours.

I hope I have a rig capable of that when the time comes. I guess I better get to work. :-) Sounds great.

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Since Jon posted pics of something he came across on his way home, I figured I would to. A small shop in a small town that had lots of neat stuff. LOL Can't remember the name of the town though! He said he'd be willing to sell the Air Force Jeep. He had LOTS of other Jeep and Military stuff there. A Duece and a half, several 4WD Jeep vehicles other than the small 1/4 ton vehicle we are all so familiar with. Inside he had weapons from the entire history of the US, from Flintlocks to modern day arms.