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"Serious Explorations"TM
Colorado Fall Colors Run '99
Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5
Photos 1 | Photos 2

Our plan for Sunday was to make it to the top of Mt. Anterro where the trail ends near 14,000ft. Mt Anterro is rated as difficult due to it's narrow shelf road and numerous switch backs which may require some vehicles to make multi-point turns close to the edge. 3 drivers had decided to leave Salida, Sunday morning leaving us with 12 to attempt this run.

The first few miles of trail pass through the pines and is very rough. We stopped for lunch at a small creek near the point where the trail breaks through the timberline. David Mesiner used this opportunity to show us the articulation of his Explorer with a 7" lift. David runs Superlift 7" springs in front, in the rear he has both an Explorer and Ranger spring pack using the "Zimmerman mod" where the Ranger main leaf is substituted for the Explorer's main leaf. This setup helps provide more flexibility to the rear suspension.

After lunch we started the run up the switch backs. At times you could see our Explorers on three levels at once. It was quite an impressive sight to see the twelve Explorers snake there way up the mountain. We were well above timberline, in fact it looked like we were on the surface of the moon as the landscape was barren and rocky. We were nearing the final stretch when we heard Trace call out on the CB. He said that the trail had become iced over after the first five Explorers passed over a 1/4 mile long section of snow covered shelf road. The five Explorers who did make it up reported that they were sliding quite a bit and weren't looking forward to their trip back down.

After a bit of discussion it was decided that the seven drivers who were still on the shelf would back down to the first possible turn around point. This happened to be a couple hundred yards for me as I was the tail of the group and probably a good 1/4 mile or more for the leader of the stranded pack.

Backing down a narrow shelf road is an exercise in patience. Our descent was slow and carefully paced. Tim Orrow, one of the engineers from Ford and Joe Dietz helped to spot me while I was backing down. I had a natural tendency to try and hug the wall of the mountain avoiding the drop off, but that technique only put me off camber. I had to put my trust in those who could see the trail. The worst part was the narrowest portion of the trail which happened to be snow covered, and along a curve. After what seemed like an eternity I made it to the wide spot where I could turn around. Only eleven more to go!

When I parked my Explorer in a safe out of the way location I noticed that the group who had made it to the top had started their descent. They were talking on the CB and were commenting about the slippery conditions. They decided to park their Explorers where they were and to shovel gravel onto the iciest portions of the downhill slope. Obviously the technique worked for them as they all made it down safely. None of the drivers had good things to say about that section of trail in fact they were all a couple shades lighter as all the color had drained from their faces.

Cottonwood Pass / Tin Cup / St. Elmo

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Photos 1 | Photos 2



Copyright 1999 Rick Horwitz Photography
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