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"Serious Explorations"TM
Colorado Fall Colors Run '99
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Monday the last day, and we're now down to six Explorers. The plan for the day was to drive to Buena Vista and head west to Cottonwood Pass. The road to Cottonwoood Pass is paved right up to the pass itself. At Cottonwood Pass we stopped to take some photographs. I got to goof off a litle bit while we were there. I had my picture taken on the rock "couch" and then drove up onto the same rock which also happened to make a great suspension travel ramp. Before we left we took group photos of the remaining Ford engineers who, by the look on their faces were still having a great time!

Photo by: David Meisner

Photo by: David Meisner

When we were done taking photos and goofing off at Cottonwood Pass we continued our journey to Tin Cup by way of an easy dirt road which ran all the way to Taylor Lake. When we reached Taylor Lake we took a left on a paved road which lasted a short time until we once again hit the dirt trail to Tin Cup. Again, only two wheel drive was required for this section of trail.

The ghost town of Tin Cup is very well preserved, a few of the buildings are inhabited, but the majority are privately owned and boarded up. It looks like it may have been used as a resort area in the past, long after it's heyday when 6,000 people lived and worked in this remote mining town. We had a quick snack in town then headed out for the most rugged trail of the weekend.

After leaving Tin Cup you have a couple choices. Either take the "new" road which is bumpy and rutted or take the "Old Tin Cup Pass" trail which consists of a long stretch of large rocks in a narrow chute. All but one of the vehicles with us on Monday were modified so that group opted for the "old pass" while the stocker took the "new" trail.

Photo by: David Meiner

I was the first one through. David Meisner and Joe Dietz helped with the spotting and did a great job. I picked my line and made it up with no problem I was a bit worried about body damage in a narrow portion of the trail where I slid a bit towards a large rock. Lewis Thompson one of Ford's engineers was with me on this rugged trail and he was extremely impressed with the abilities of the ARB Airlocker in a modified Explorer. Lewis had never been fourwheeling before, but I think we may have made a convert out of him. 

Next up was Trace Allen in his mildly modified 4 door. Trace has a James Duff 2 1/2" lift, open diferentials, and only 3:27 gears turning his 31x10.50 BFG M/T's. Trace hung up on his shock mounts a couple of times while weaving his way through the rock garden, but finished the trail without a scratch. Trace's automatic transmission showed an advantage over Paul Sabin's 5 speed on this type of trail. Paul's Explorer is also lifted 2 1/2" and runs 31x10.50's however it was more difficult to get his 5 speed over a few of the trails more stubborn obstacles. Even so Paul's Explorer made it through unscathed.

Next in line was Joe Dietz. Joe made the rocky trail look way to easy as he picked his line and drove up barely spinning a tire. In Vera Linnansalo's video segment you can see how all four tires are spinning at exactly the same speed with the help of ARB Airlockers at both ends. His Explorer looked like a juggernaut slowly and effortlessly making it's way up the rough trail.

Photo by: David Meisner

Last in line was David Meisner in his Explorer "Monster Truck". With 7" of  suspension lift David tried a different technique, he aimed at every large rock he could making for a great show. David placed his new Dick Cepek M/T's atop a large pointed rock which nearly compressed the aired down 33x12.50 to the rim! Near the end of the trail David climbed up onto another large boulder. While he was driving off, it made contact with his nerf bar, but there was no damage.


After we stopped for our last group photo on Tin Cup pass we were off to St. Elmo, our final destination.

The end of our trip
St. Elmo

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Copyright 1999 Rick Horwitz Photography
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