The spooky night run is one of Rising Sun 4WD Club’s annual events and a favorite for families. It is a late fall fun run with a potluck picnic. The kiddos get to wear their Halloween costumes and the drivers get into the season by decorating their trucks with Halloween lights. Bandit even had a good time sniffing out leftovers at the potluck while being chased by the kids. Barbour Fork trail is typically an easy trail, but add a little snow at the top and some broken parts, it turned into a long, cold, but fun evening.
Last weekend, some friends and I went to Red Cone Pass south west of Denver. Unfortunately K was still in San Diego, so it was just Furry B and me on this trip. This 4×4 trail is considered moderate and the views are some of the best on any front range trail I have been on to date. We met at the Aspen Park shopping center in Conifer, fueled up and headed down the road. The group consisted of two 100 Series Cruisers, an 80 Series and an FJ40, so it was a pretty good representation of the Land Cruiser family. We aired our tires down soon after we left the pavement and headed up the trail. Clouds were looming overhead and we hoped for some clearing as wet rocks are no fun. Immediately the trail narrowed with lots of loose rock and we arrived at our first obstacle. All of us crawled over the rock in the middle of the trail with no problem and continued on. Next was the “rock garden” – an area of large loose rocks that you had to carefully navigate which then brought us to a beautiful Aspen grove. Switchback, after switchback we continued up the trail gaining elevation.
This trail is notorious for being a tire eater, so careful tire placement was a must. Nearing treeline we could see the surrounding mountains and the clouds finally gave way to bright blue skies. We entered the “meadow” and stopped for snacks and to let the kids and dogs stretch their legs. This was a relatively flat area above treeline and the last stopping point before you make the uphill push to the summit. After the kids and slobbery dogs were worn out, we piled back in the trucks and made our way up the loose rock trail. Finally we made the summit at 12,801 feet and stopped for pictures. The temperature was in the upper 50’s with clear skies, so we couldn’t have asked for better weather. What an awesome panorama. There were even some large snow fields still lingering near the tops of the mountains.
As we started our descent, we noticed two white shapes on the trail below. As we got closer, we realized they were Mountain Goats out for an afternoon stroll. We quickly snapped a few pictures as they made their way up the nearby ridge.
The sun was beginning to set and the shadows from the mountains slowly crept up the trail. When we finally made it below treeline, we were greeted by some mule deer grazing in a small pasture. Just before sunset, we arrived at the trail-head, aired our tires back up and decided to grab some pizza at JJ Madwells in Conifer before heading home. It was a great ending to an awesome day on the trail.
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:
Below are more pictures and a link to the 100s in the Hills Facebook page:
Day #1: Clear Lake family fun run
Day #2: Ophir Pass & Imogene Pass
Day #3: Black Bear Pass
Day #3 continued, Directors run back to camp and night run: