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
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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