Moab, UT - After getting into Moab from our 13hr drive from Nevada, we rendezvoused with the crew around noon to get the lay of the land. Introductions to new faces, and hellos to some old friends, we departed for camp north of town, with enough room for all our rigs (10) to have some breathing room. With camp chosen and staked, there was talk of quickly hitting the trails to get a feel of the red rock canyons and views. Gemini Bridges was the flavor of the day, providing an easy going ride, leading to a small hiking trail along some deep canyons and unique formations through the rocks.
The next day called for a more serious approach to Moab, in the form of Hell’s Revenge trail. Rated as a 6 or 7 in the Moab network of trails (out of 10), this trail starts with a psychologically jarring ridge crawl directly out of the parking lot. Containing the famed Hell’s Gate, this trail is known for many off-camber approaches, not many bypasses, and a history of claiming vehicles. Not even 1 mile into our jaunt, the steering rack went out on one of the 4Runners, kicking off a recovery that involved a new-rack retrieval from Grand Junction. By the time I got back with the new rack, the skillful mechanics had the front end apart ready for the new replacement. Unfortunately this whole ordeal had taken a better part of the afternoon, not leaving much light left for the install. The group spread out the back half of the day, and we all met at camp, some physically exhausted from the trail, the repair, or just the scorching heat of the day. Lots of murmuring on how the pine and mountains of Colorado cant come soon enough.
With the handyman crew out of camp during the first half of the day to complete the repair, some of us decided to hit a different trail, with some easier terrain and bigger views. Up beyond Hunter Canyon and the ledges campground lies Chicken Corners, giving incredible 360 views of both the Colorado River, Dead Horse State Park, and also the ledges campground valley below. One of the best parts of this trail is its ease of access for the views and solitude, most of our trail group that day didn’t have any serious suspension modifications, at least nothing like you would see from the hardcore Jeep crowd rock crawling throughout Moab.
We had a set meeting time in town around 3pm, to discuss plans for the evening and the next day, and whether or not we would be staying another night in Moab, hitting Rimrocker as planned, or shortcutting it straight to Ouray. The last option intrigued us for a few reasons, cooler temperatures, drastically different views and environments, along with time constraints on some of the crew - we wanted for them to have at least a full day in the San Juan Mountains.
Ouray it is! 3 hours later from Moab we were scouting campsites in the mountains outside Telluride.
Telluride, CO - Waking up off of Last Dollar Road outside Telluride, we smashed into town for some coffee and breakfast, then quickly prepped for Imogene Pass, which drops us into Ouray from the south. Imogene Pass is one of those trails that have been hyped for a long time if you’ve followed any sort of offroad or Overland trail reports. Leading to truly epic views, this trail goes up to about 13k feet over the valleys around Ouray and Telluride, with luscious forest and greenery at every turn. With abandoned mining sites littering the canyons, the history of this place is rich, and some say cursed. We took our time getting up and over the pass, with no shame stopping at all the photo opportunities, none of us wanted to forget or leave this place behind in only our memories.
After summitting and hanging out for a bit, there was a storm coming, which seemed to be the theme during our stay around Ouray. The descent into Ouray was both exciting and very wet from the pouring rain, following along a heavily rushing river of both ice melt and fresh rain water. We topped off the day with some brews from Ouray Brewery, and a fresh camp setup in Ironton Park.
You can take a map of Ouray trails and toss a dart and end up somewhere amazing. We chose Corkscrew Gulch which took us up the mountains directly out of our campsite into the red-ore tinted canyons. Most of the day was pretty easy going into the valleys and peaks around Ouray, we chose to ride along with a few of the other rigs to get a feel for both the vehicle and the driver. So often with offroad trips, everyone is driving their own rig, and only getting to socialize at the end of the day at camp. Sharing the excitement and tunes on the trail is a great way to build friendships, especially when one wrong move could be diastrous for both of you. I’m glad we got to ride along and chat with a lot of the crew on the trails this week, thanks ladies and gentlemen!
3 crispy and wet mornings in a row, the blue sky was glowing long before the sunlight hit camp thanks to the surrounding enormous granite peaks. Yankee Boy Basin was the call of the day, leading up to the local 14k foot peak, Mr Sneffels. There’s two ways to tag this peak, hike it from town, or 4x4 it up 95% of the trail and hike the ridge to the peak. There were a couple of us planning on making the hike to the peak, but upon our arrival, there was an obvious brooding storm in the distance, being caught on the mountain with lightning and hail has people on edge. That didn’t stop us from flying the drone and getting a bird’s eye view of the peak though!
If we did this trail again, we would probably start a bit earlier, and maybe further from the weekend, there was quite a bit of trail traffic coming down on our way up. The trail up calls for ‘high clearance 4x4, short wheel base, vehicles’ - but a near-stock TRD Pro 4Runner got it done! Check out them Bilstein 6112s that the 4Runner had equipped.
A week wasn’t enough, especially when there are 34 more trails in your immediate viscinity to explore. After 7 days on the road, I spent my early 7am wake up with some coffee, a quick run around the local trails to catch the sunrise, and then a long drawn out pack-up of camp. Breakfast consisted of a quick and easy Kodiak Protein Oatmeal, my new favorite road-food, and some coffee for the 15hr drive back home.