XXXtreme 7 - CO/NM - July 2013


This trip is very exciting for us, since we are finally going to get to run a trail our dear departed Harold Off told us about in 2008.  He knew what we liked --- so we trusted his opinion that this trail would rate high on our thrill-o-meter.  And now we were finally going to get to score it!  But first we have the warm up......

Day 1 begins at 5am leaving Bandera with the goal of sleeping the night on Colorado soil.  It is a long haul, but we get to Antonito for our first night.  We are having issues running our refrigerator on gas, so we run the generator the entire time.  Who cares, right?  Diesel is still under $4!!   And  we only have just a short distance to go to get to our first wheeling destination.  All may not be perfect, but it is all good!

Day 2 finds us at Travis’ Trail, near Del Norte.  It is a great playground on sand stone rock with some very cool ledges.  We spend the morning here repeating Kiss My Ass and Brain Dead, along with some new stuff we did not do last year.  There are definitely some extreme wheelers using this area, as we see some well used new climbs.  This land was once a rock quarry and there are several well chiseled holes abandoned by man and left for nature to care for.   Makes for a very different landscape than we are used to seeing and the obstacles are well worth stopping for a days play.   We finish up the trail and load up to head to Johnson Village.  This is an easy stretch, so once we get settled in, Artie has plenty of time to move the transmission cooler back into its original place.  With the engine swap he had relocated it where he could add some cooling fans - that did not fit the way he wanted - so back to square one.   (He tried his best to get every little thing done on the rig overhaul, but after working 14 hour days in our business, I am amazed he has any energy left to do anything at all!  By the way, the 350 engine did a fine job.)   Good thing is, if you have to be working on stuff, there isn’t a better place than this trail head camp spot!  And the full moon against the mountains is totally unbeatable!  Life is good just about now.

Day 3 puts Carnage Canyon under our wheels.  Excellent trail with what I call the typical Colorado landscape - tall pines, rugged rocks and mountains surrounding you!  Definitely great eye candy!  And this trail has a true qualification of extreme.  Both myself and Larry get sideways on the V Notch....and there will be no mosquitos in this canyon for a long, long time!  I did a good job of smoking them all out!  The other wicked spot is the straight up exit.  Artie does an awesome job of spotting Larry - jockeying his rig into several different positions to make a clean unassisted exit!  Woo hooo!  Carnage Canyon gets a 10 in our book!

With Carnage behind us and done before lunch, this gives us time for some more wrenching.....this time on Larry’s motorhome.  The engine brakes had quit completely and with Tennessee Pass looming in the next stretch, there was a need to get them fixed!  We like excitement, but  sheer downhill unstoppable terror is not on the agenda!  Thankfully they are able to put the brakes on a toggle switch and they work beautifully as we cross the Continental Divide and head on to northwest CO.

Our contact will not be meeting us till after work, so Artie has time to do yet again more work on the refrigerator.  Running the generator non stop is for the birds!  For the third time he takes out the orifice, blows it out and reinstalls.  Lets see what that will do!  We meet up with Pat and Jan, who show us the way to our long awaited trail.  Our anticipation is growing - we are so close to our goal!  We drive and drive and drive - until Pat says, yes this is it.   Really??  This does not look like anything promising. I have to be honest and say I was feeling a little let down.  All talk and no action??  We will see tomorrow.   By the time we return from the trail head it is dark and way past supper time.  We share a meal in our motorhome and enjoy the company of Pat and Jan, listening to their stories of adventures in the early days of the Rat Pack.   There are so many wonderful people in this sport and we feel lucky to have met some of the very best!  




Day 4 is the day!  Are you watching from heaven, Harold? 

We finally made it!   The trail head is 11 miles from civilization -

  1. -you really need to want to be here - but once the commitment is made,

there is no turning back.   From the first ledge, to the last waterfall of

“27 WATERFALLS” - this trail delivered!  We were completely amazed by its unmatched quality of difficulty and overwhelmed by the sheer rugged beauty.  Artie has named it “Beauty and the Beast” and there is no better way for it to be described.  Non stop action in absolutely every turn - tight squeezes between giant rocks (one is even called the Whale), layers of waterfalls, straight up climbs, technical boulder walking, no boring gaps between adrenaline rushing obstacles - what more can we ask for?  Harold was absolutely right - we LOVE this trail and rate it 10+!  Problem is, once you have done such an exceptional trail, everything else will fall just a bit short.  We will rate everything against this one, the clear cut winner.  We count our blessings to have this opportunity - all starting 5 years ago with a wonderful man who loved to share the sport of wheeling.  Unfortunately Harold was only able to join us in spirit, but he was there right beside us. 

Thank you Harold for everything!    

Park a couple of rock crawlers in full view of an interstate highway and just wait and see....Like  bait to a fish, the wheelers come to check them out.  Today we catch two cops and a local wheeler.   (No the cops were not there to arrest or harass us!)  The wheeler is  working with BLM to get the area trails on the map, so he was helpful in sharing trail information.  He tells us of another short one called Middle Trail, so we decide to give that one a try the next day.   And hey - the frig is working!

Day 5:  Not sure what is exactly in store for us, we get a moderately early start on the Middle Trail.  We follow the directions given and find the freshly cut opening to a tight downhill ravine.  After about a half mile the trail came to a Y - uphill to the left or downhill to the right to continue on to a meandering  widening of the ravine.  We take the uphill, finding a fun ledge to climb before the trail dead ended to the main road.  Not quite the 10 we were looking for, but interesting. 

At this point we have a couple of options...continue north to Rangely and a decent playground in that area, head west to Grand Junction to Billings Canyon and a moderate 21 Road Trail or go south towards home and do our old standby favorite WarPath.   Unable to resist the Dona Ana, we make a south bearing and cross yet again the state of Colorado, making it to our same spot in Antonito for a nights rest.    Larry contacts some connections in New Mexico and we make a plan to meet one of them the next day in Truth or Consequences to get trail information.

Day 6:  To say this day does not go according to plan is a gross understatement.  And it is way worse than that!  Around 2pm at New Mexico mile marker 167 Larry loses all oil pressure and his motorhome is in complete shut down.  Luckily he is right by a rest area and he is able to coast into the parking lot with cell service.  His trailer and jeep are covered in oil and it is dripping from the entire engine compartment.  Roadside Assistance?  Yes, Please!  All the appropriate services are called, so now there is nothing to do but wait.  And wait.  And wait.  Realizing there is absolutely nothing we can do to help the situation, we continue on and keep the scheduled plan - sadly leaving Larry alone to wait on the wrecker.  We meet up with our contact, get some great information, and end our day in our most favorite campground in all of NM - Percha Dam State Park.  Turns out Larry makes it to the Freightliner Service Center in Albuquerque at 2am.  Poor Larry.  Yes, that was 12 hours of boring torture.

Day 7:  Still not certain of the outcome of Larry’s rig,  we strike out alone , but instead of doing trails, we make the wiser choice to only hike them.   We don’t need any more drama at this point!   So we guiltily spend a leisure day scoping out and walking some trails.....none of which appear to be more fun than WarPath, but new to us none the less.   We check in with Larry periodically - very slow going on his end.  After a long afternoon nap,  a casual evening meal, and three old western movies, we finally get word he has left the repair center!  In his motorhome!   Come to find out a high pressure oil hose blew, emptying his complete oil supply.  They were able to have a hose made and did the repair and was finished just in time before the center’s gates closed at 7pm.  To add insult to injury the tow truck driver clipped a guard rail with the rear of the motorhome, so another 2 hours was spent welding a new tail pipe to the rig.  We are just thankful these repairs could be made to get him back on the road!

Day 8:  Larry meets up with us on Interstate 10 at Percha Dam and we both begin the journey home.  We can honestly say this trip will not be forgotten!!  We did the ultimate trail of our dreams, we had all kinds of motorhome tribulations,  tons of wheeling fun, some cooler weather from the Texas heat, and more new trails to add to our to do list!!