After the successful Explorer
run in the Spring of '99 our group of "Explorers" started to plan for the
next "Serious Exploration"TM.
Jack Lobdell suggested we Explore the area surrounding Salida, Colorado.
An area known for it's abundance of 14,000+ ft. peaks and 12,000+ ft. passes.
We decided to hold our run in October to ensure that the leaves would be
changing and the fall colors would be near their peak.
Soon after returning from
the Spring run, Michael Wilson, a Financial Analyst for Ford asked me if
he could setup a survey to determine what type of buying incentives this
websites readers would like to see in the future. In other words what would
it take to help you make your next purchase a new Ford Explorer. His response
was not quite what he expected. Instead of hearing about extended warranties,
cash back programs and "free insurance" for a year, he heard about ground
clearance, locking differentials, and the Ford Explorers "soccer mom" image.
To make a long story short,
Michael contacted the correct people at Ford to arrange for their attendance
at the Colorado Fall Colors Run. Five factory engineers joined us for the
run, they all took turns riding in our Explorers taking the opportunity
to talk to the owners about their experience with, and expectations of
their own Explorers. The engineers learned what kind of modifications we
had made to our vehicles and why. They learned what we would like to see
in a new Ford Explorer and what it would take for us to buy a new Explorer.
Our group learned that Ford
has an extremely intelligent and knowledgeable staff. I was impressed not
only by their academic credentials, but by their personal experience in
the automotive field. Rick Haas owns and has restored a 1966 Mustang, he's
also interested in early Broncos and is considering buying one for a new
restoration project. Vera Linnansalo has helped to rebuild her friends
396ci Chevy big block and has driven Explorers for the past 7 years. Lewis
Thompson used to go to the drags with his 1970 Mustang and has a keen interest
in sports car racing. Those are the kind of credentials I like!
Now on to the trip report!
All but one of our routes
had been pre-run by Dave Meisner, Ryan Penner and Trace Allen, so when
I arrived early in Salida, I hit the trail to check out Tin Cup Pass. The
weather started out great in town, but as I approached Cottonwood pass
things weren't looking quite as inviting. The clouds were thick, the ground
was frozen, and I had no idea what the trail had in store. I started down
the backside of Tin Cup Pass into the cloud cover. For a short time visibility
was down to no more than 50 feet. Thank goodness this only lasted a mile
or so because the trail had a shear drop on the passenger side of my Explorer.
Once I broke through the clouds it started to snow. It was only a light
snowfall, but it made for an interesting trip none the less. I wasn't in
any mood to take a leisurely trip because I was afraid that the snow may
become heavier, so I made my way through the town of Tin Cup, passed over
Tin Cup Pass and finished up in the town of St. Elmo where it was still
snowing, but not sticking.
That evening while I was
working on my laptop at the Woodland Motel, Barry Minnis, from Calgary,
stopped by my room and introduced himself. Barry was exhausted from his
long trek from Canada so we made plans to go for a run Friday morning.
Morning came and we went for an easy run over Old Hancock Pass, Waunita
Pass & Black Sage Pass. The morning was cold and the evaporation from
the previous rain and snowfall filled the valley below Old Hancock pass
with clouds. Those were the last clouds that we would see for the entire
weekend as the front quickly moved through the state leaving us with day
time temperatures in the high 70's and with evenings at or below the freeze
Saturday the Group Arrives
Hancock Pass / Tomichi Pass
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