Xtreme VI - Colorado - Aug 2012


Blanca Peak is listed as a hard trail in the Wells Trail Guide Book, but not for the rigs we are traveling with today!  We are here for the sheer beauty of the trail and companionship of new friends.  Towering over the Sand Dunes National Park, Blanca Peak provides three “14‘ers” in the same location.  So it is sought out by hikers and jeepers alike.  The trail immediately begins to climb when you leave the plains and does not stop climbing until you get to Como Lake.  Our jeep easily overheats with the constant uphill strain, weak gas, and possibly the high altitude.  But we take our time and enjoy the beauty - all the time watching the temp gauge.  There are 4 ledges which are named Jaws 1, 2, 3, and Jaws 4.  Since our last trip on this trail, we were surprised to see the most dangerous spot Jaws 2, had been widened, so it was not near as spooky as it used to be.  At any rate, it gets your attention, because this was the site of a tragic accident that took 2 peoples lives when their jeep went over the edge.  When our group gets to Como Lake, the fishermen (and woman) break out the poles and proceed to catch our supper!  Coloradans, we find, prefer to use worms on a hook!  Now that is old school at its finest.  And successful!  Traveling further past Como Lake is Blue Lake.  More fishing here gives us our limit of rainbow and golden trout so we head back down the mountain.       

The fish are processed, breaded with seasoned cornmeal and ready for frying.  We didn’t catch supper, so we are the designated cooks!  We end the day with a great meal of fresh fish and a gorgeous double rainbow in the evening sky.  All is well in Alamosa, Colorado.


This trail is on private property and only used by a hand full of Colorado residents.  If I told you more about the trail and its whereabouts - well I would have to kill you.  Maybe someday it will be open to the public and known to all.  For now, mums the word.


Our church on this Sunday was  outside Monte Vista and made of mounds of sandstone.  Travis Trail is very similar to Farmington.  We had a blast on this thrill a minute run.  The trail weaves in and out of the outcroppings, circling back to do numerous obstacles on the same mound.  Literally hundreds of climbs, walls, and ledges are found in this area of an abandoned rock quarry.  Too many obstacles to name but some famous ones were Kiss My Ass and Brain Dead.  FUN, FUN, FUN - and our kind of trails!  A quick thunderstorm ended our play, so we loaded the rigs and moved on to Buena Vista.

We arrived at the well documented trail head of Chinaman Gulch / Carnage Canyon with plenty of daylight to go on the easier trail of Chinaman Gulch before dinner.  Immediately, we are impressed at the change of landscape and we marvel at the beauty of the pines and rugged round rocks.  We make it to the overlook just in time to snap our mugs in front of a spectacular sunset.  Knowing this trail is a loop, we continue on to finish the loop.  We move along, snapping pics, amaze at how each turn in the road is better than the last, watch the last rays of sun light a streak in the canyon, discover the silence of dark fall, start heading further from camp, make definite progress in the wrong direction, make sure we stay in radio contact with each other, get use of head and rock lights, start praying we aren’t lost, feel relief when the trail turns a homeward direction, exhale when the trail comes back on itself at a familiar spot, then laugh at what an adventure we just experienced!!!  We figure out my interpretation of the map on the marquee - was not quite accurate.  We were never wrong.......we just never knew exactly where we were!!


Carnage Canyon!  How to describe this hard core trail?  Beautiful and challenging.  Fun. Adrenaline pumping.  Definitely a trail that must be on the list of top extreme.  We start early knowing we need to give Carnage our full attention.  It begins in a creek bed and the rocks become increasingly larger as it climbs.  Technical placement of tires begins to be crucial.  Then the true nature of Carnage shows its colors!  In front of us is a double wammy ledge and massive V crack.  Very little margin of error exits and any mistake will put you on your side.  We make it through these two obstacles, some easier than others, and begin picking our way over massive boulders, one after another.  We become at ease with the trail, enjoying its beauty and difficulty, when a medusa  of an exit rears its head.  A series of huge boulders create an undulating wall - straight up.  Well this is what we came for, so lets look at our options.  The right line includes straddling a notch.  Mistake = land on your side in an awkward position to get recovered.  Center line creates a point that will certainly work as an anchor on the rear diff.  The left line is a two layered step.  Jim picks the right line, slips the front tire off the top edge and bangs down hard on his side.  He is pulled by the winch from several different angles to get him into a good position to make it over the notch.  He accomplishes this and is relatively unscathed.  Nancy is next and wants the center choice and easily pops up the front end.  No matter how she adjust her line, she can’t get the rear to clear, so we give her a tiny tug of the winch and she is on the top. Larry picks the same line and proceeds accordingly with the help of the winch.  On the top he is unhooked, backs up to make the slight right turn to exit and VERY NEARLY backs off the edge!  That was a close call!  It is now my turn and all I want to do is make it up wherever Artie spots me!  We want the left line, but our rear keeps hanging up.  Getting hooked to the winch and walking it over to the center line gets good success and the group is up!   Our use of the winch in this wicked exit is just good sense.  A mistake could end in a devastating roll. 

Back at camp we say our goodbyes to our hosts of the last 4 days, Jim and Nancy, and get in the motorhomes to cross the state over to Montrose.  We choose to stay the night in an RV park to take care of some “necessities”. 


We leave the convenience of the RV park behind and head to the trail head of Dry Creek Rec Area.  This area is now very well documented and BLM has all  4wd roads on a nice map.  We drop anchor and head out to our familiar trails of Die Tryin, Cactus, Calamity and Scratch n Dent.  The bulk of the trails all follow rocky creek beds - and some of these sections can be somewhat boring - but all end in pretty impressive exits.  And yet again, we are not disappointed.

Each trail exit is a little different and they are all doable, which make for extreme fun and a feeling of accomplishment. This day is nonstop wheeling fun and we  think  on the morrow we are ready to sink our tires into the new trail Boulder Canyon.  Bring it!  Even though we are camped in the parking lot at trailhead entrance, we love being in the wilderness, cooking a good meal and enjoying the company of Larry and Josh.


Today is so exciting, since we are headed to a new trail for us.  The mystery of what is in front of us brings a state of nervous anticipation.  The trail is right off the main road and boom, quickly begins in a massive boulder field and an immediate climb in elevation.  Now these rocks are big.  Yahhoooo!  Artie and Larry make some inspections and decide on a course of action and we are off like dirty shirts!  Artie is spotting me through with Larry following.   There is truly no gap in obstacles - nonstop challenges - and we are having a ball.  About midway I get my front end in a slight bind and pow! a front axle breaks.  We are always prepared with spare parts,  so after about 2 hrs we are back on the trail.   We have no more mishaps and make it to the monster exit with plenty of daylight to spare!  We marvel at the ending waterfall with high walls lining each side of the trail.  Feel like the bad guys in the western movies coming to the end of a box canyon!  Artie takes over and both he and Larry get the front end up and give some attempts and playtime on the wall.  After getting some help with the winch we pop out on top.  Boulder Canyon did not disappoint!  We WILL be back one day!  This is a PERFECT ending to an awesome extreme wheeling trip!