3rd Annual 100s in the Hills

After months of emails, texts and conference calls with the 3 other Co-Directors, it was finally time to hit the road. Bandit and I had the Cruiser and trailer packed up and we were off for the 3rd Annual 100s in the Hills event. Some of you might remember a few years ago a trip we took to the San Juans to camp and wheel with some friends. Well, this small excursion has grown significantly in the past three years to a nationally recognized event. This year we had almost 30 vehicles from all over the country, 65 people in attendance and twenty-three sponsors. Located in a remote area where everyone is to be self sufficient, we require all participants to practice the leave no trace principles. This event takes quite a bit of logistics and planning, which was completely worthwhile. No one left disappointed.

Unfortunately Kristy was out of town on business, but she is sure to attend next year. I wrote an article that was published in the November/December issue of Toyota Trails magazine on this years event. Please click below for the online edition of the article page 19:

Toyota Trails Nov/Dec 3013

Below are more pictures and a link to the 100s in the Hills Facebook page:

Facebook/100s in the Hills

Day #1: Clear Lake family fun run

Day #2: Ophir Pass & Imogene Pass

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Day #3: Black Bear Pass

Day #3 continued, Directors run back to camp and night run:

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Day 2 – Cruise the San Juans

Day 2 – The Alpine Loop: Poughkeepsi Gulch, Lake Como, California Pass, Animas Forks; and return to “The Super Secret Trail”

After a good night’s sleep in the roof top tent, we were ready to head out early to see what else the San Juan Mtns had to offer.  Our trusty trail leader, JH1, planned for all to explore the Alpine Loop.  The Loop is about a 65 mile trail through the mountains and provided some challenging trail obstacles.  We started the Loop at Poughkeepsi Gulch – this section of the trail climbed over loose rocks, through streams and led us to the main obstacle – “The Wall.”   Even though Landcruisers are not rock crawlers, they can hold their own.  We all made up “The Wall”, with only one having to be winched up, due to lack of a suspension lift and larger tires.  The scenery up to this point was nothing short of amazing….it is literally something you see “in the movies” and is known as the “Switzerland of America”.

Just a few miles up the rocky road, we stopped for lunch at Lake Como — A turquoise colored lake nestled in the midst of the mountains. Refueled, we headed through California Gulch and ended the Alpine Loop at the ghost town of Animas Forks.

Animas Forks, a small mining town, was first established around 1875 and remained active until the 1920s.  The town reached it’s largest population in 1883 with over 450 residents.  After years of decline, the town rebounded in 1904 with the construction of a giant mill – The Gold Prince Mill, which only stayed open for 6 years.  Today, several of the buildings are still very much intact and are open to the public. 

After visiting the ghost town, we headed into Silverton.  A couple of Landcruiser stragglers had arrived late the previous day, and missed “The Super Secret Trail”, so with some time on our hands, we decided to revisit the trail and share the view.  The second trip did not dissappoint.  With clear skies, we were able to see the green mountains in a totally different “light”. 

Back at camp, we had another night by the camp fire….we could definitely get used to this!

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1st Annual 100 Series – Cruise the San Juans

We spent the weekend exploring the San Juan Mtns and Uncompahgre National Forest with 6 other Landcruiser owners (including one year old twin girls).  Most of the group was from Colorado, but there were a couple of long distance travelers – one from Arizona and another from Wyoming.  We all met at base camp in Ironton Park (near Ouray) on Friday afternoon and did not waste any time to start exploring a few of the nearby 4×4 trails.  Most of the offroad trails in Colorado were created around the 1800s during the mining boom.  And they are all packed full of stunning views and traces of Colorado’s mining history.

Day 1: Corkscrew Gulch and “The Super Secret Trail”

Corkscrew Gulch was our first expedition.  The beginning of the trail was like entering an alien planet. The trail head winds through the Red Mountains which are rich in minerals, especially iron.  The iron rich ground does not have any type of vegetation growing on it; creating a rocky, almost “Mars” like landscape.  After passing through the Red Mountains, an afternoon shower set in.  Since slippery, muddy roads can make for a dangerous trail ride, we cut short the remainder of the trail and headed to the nearby mining town of Silverton.

After waiting out the rain at the Silverton Brewery, we met up with a local Silverton Landcruiser owner, who offered to lead us on a nearby scenic mountain trail.  This “Super Secret Trail” (real name unknown) was one of the easiest trails we encountered, but offered some of the most fantastic views of the weekend.  The low hanging “after rain” clouds hung close to trail and provided some spectacular scenery.  We also met hundreds (literally) of local free range sheep that surrounded both sides of the trail.

We spent the rest of evening setting up our roof top tent, enjoying grilled blue cheese burgers and sitting around the campfire.

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