Colorado Colors Run 2000
Colorado Colors Run 2000
September 2-4, 2000
By: Matt Adams unless otherwise noted

 The annual Colorado Colors run was the idea of Jack Lobdell, who has since passed on.  It was his great vision and idea of an awesome event that led to great trails and a great tradition!  Well, the Colorado Colors Run 1999 was a great event, unfortunately we planned it a few weeks too late and missed the fall colors.  This year we unfortunately planned it a little too EARLY.  Oh well, that's Colorado for you, you just never can tell! This year with the help of Gerald Jarrett and many others we had yet another successful, the event was a success again.

Various trails had been pre run by Warren Baccus, Brian Sumner, Tom Davis, Gerald Jarrett, and Ray and Debby Hutchison.  That made the whole process go much smoother. 

Tom, Gerald, and the Hutchisons had shown up before Friday and had chosen to pre run the Poughskeepie trail, to gauge just how difficult the trail was.  These three knew each other from not only the Moab 2000 run but for Tom and the Hutchisons from Truckhaven 2000.  On Friday various other wheelers had "trickled in" to the Ouray area and we had a fantastic pot-luck on Friday night.  Rod Guajardo and Rob Robertson pulled in to the KOA extremely late, due to a failing transmission in Rob's vehicle on their trip out from Texas. 

Different Explorer owners had driven from as far away as Georgia (Scott Bosso), California, Illinois, and Texas.  We'd try our best to prove what Colorado had to offer, and make sure that they didn't waste a week's vacation for nothing.

The group meeting before departing on Saturday morning
Photo by Tom Davis

Saturday, after a meeting introducing everyone, quick tuning of several CB's, and checking out everyone's rigs - from Matt's lights to Rick's solid front axle - we were all ready to hit the trails.  With as many Explorers as we had, of different levels of driver skill and vehicle modifications, we had decided earlier to split into two separate groups and combine later.

The "big dawg" group would choose to do Black Bear Pass, a trail known for its extremely tight, off-camber switchbacks and extreme shelf driving, as well as its fantastic scenery.  The stock and slightly modified group had chosen to do Ophir Pass to Telluride.  They would meet up at Telluride and conquer Imogene Pass.

Black Bear

The switchbacks of Black Bear Pass, from Imogene Pass
Photo by Matt Adams
The famous house on top of the waterfall - a great piece of history!
Photo by Matt Adams
This trail used to be one of the most famous in Colorado.  Some even used to refer to it as the most difficult/dangerous trail in Colorado.  Everyone that went was well aware of the challenge ahead of them and looked forward to an awesome ride.  We were pleasantly surprised to find a light sprinkling of snow on top that had fallen the night before!  Everyone in the group knew what was ahead of them, and were excited about the challenge.

The trail continued on past ouray climbing and dropping through some extremely gorgeous scenery.  There were a few side hills and moderate obstacles to make the trail quite interesting as well as scenic. 

Descending down from the Black Bear summit
Photo by Matt Adams

We crested the peak at approximately 12,500 feet and began our decent.  There were several EXTREME pucker factors on the trail before you even began the switchbacks.  One was an approximately 20 foot drop-off, not much until you see the width of the trail.  Anything over the width of an Explorer would have had trouble and could have been in danger of going over the edge.  Several spots the left tires of the Explorers were ON THE EDGE.  Such a ledge makes the driver tend to steer more towards the cliff rock to avoid going over the side.  This caught Matt Adams as well as Brandon Jacques.  A large rock that you couldn't see very well from the drivers seat prohibited you from going further forward, and backing up was quite dangerous.  I simply put in four-wheel drive, backed up a bit, and proceeded on.  Unfortunately Brandon shut off his vehicle when his wheel was cranked and locked against the rock, and as a result could not get the vehicle started again.  After about a half hour of jacking, and finally using a hi-lift to jack the tire more straight, the vehicle started and everyone was on their way again.  Just below this "pucker factor" was a fantastic photo opportunity waterfall near some old mining equipment.

Perry's "purple people eater" on Black Bear Pass
Photo by Perry Schwab
Matt Adams "Vegas" on Black Bear Pass
Photo by Matt Adams
After a sharp drop-down Telluride came into view, though far away.  Also coming into view was an amazing waterfall with a house built on top!  The house actually began as an electrical "power plant" and was recently purchased and made into a private home.

Telluride from Black Bear Pass
Photo by Matt Adams

At this point the group that had completed Ophir pass could now see the Explorers descending the switchbacks and was sure to get plenty of videotape before getting their head-start of the ascent of Imogene Pass.   Some of these switchbacks had been "cleaned up" by telluride and various four wheeling clubs, so they weren't nearly as scary as they had once been.  They were still extremely tight and required 3 or more point turns by nearly every Explorer on almost every switchback.  Not being exactly on the right line could result in a nice tippy 2-wheel action if you weren't careful (and even if you were!)

Perry Schwab on one of the many switchbacks on Black Bear Pass, son Patrick inside
Photo by Perry Schwab

Ophir Pass
by Ray Hutchison

The Ophir group preparing for their journey
Photo by Trint Ladd
The Saturday group, led by Warren (Wabbit) and Christine (Kwistine), of Montrose Co. , started the morning by heading out with the whole group, participating in the head turning Explorer Convoy through Ouray.   We all traveled out highway 550 South, splitting off from the Black Bear Pass group at the BB Rd. entrance. We continued on to the entrance to FR 679-Ophir Pass Road, pausing to set the hubs. Ophir Pass Rd is another shelf Road, for the most part, that takes you and up over to the town of Ophir. From Ophir we went down the Ophir Loop rd, to Highway 145, and into Telluride. In Telluride we drove out to Liberty Bell Mine to watch the Black Bear Pass group, far up on the Mountainside, inching down the switchback road past Bridal Veil Falls. 

Tiring of waiting for the Black Bear group, we left the village of Telluride, out FR869 up to the Imogene Mine for lunch and to wait there for the Big Dawgs. From Imogene Mine, the entire recombined group traveled over the Imogene pass, FR853, down Sneffels Canyon Creek Rd. joined the Yankee Boy road, passed under the "Colorado Car Wash" falls and back into Ouray. The scenery was absolutely spectacular, the shelf roads sometimes terrifying, and the roads fun, but otherwise unchallenging. 

Imogene Pass

Group shot at the top of Imogene Pass
Photo by Trint Ladd

The two groups met up at the Tom Boy Mine on Imogene Pass and after a quick lunch continued up the trail.  Overall the trail was nothing difficult, and a great place to show the stockers what they were capable of accomplishing.  There were plenty of mud puddles to splash around in, and a few interesting obstacles along the way.

Ascending Imogene Pass
Photo by Trint Ladd

Imogene runs on sometimes crudely maintained ledges that give you an awesome view of the rest of the group as you wind through the valley. 

One of the favorite obstacles for the stockers was that of "horn honking hill" (we named it that).  With spotters such as Tom Davis, every single vehicle made it up the obstacle, when they could have easily taken the side bypass.  The grin on the beginner's faces as they made it up quite a difficult obstacle was beyond compare.

Jen Woodley attempting "horn-honking hill"
Photo by Trint Ladd
Chris Woodley learning what a lease vehicle can do!
Photo by Trint Ladd
Brian Sumner finessing his way up.
Photo by Trint Ladd

Saturday the entire group would get together at True Grit for a great dinner.  This time the prize for the furthest driver went to Scott Bosso and his father for driving all the way from Atlanta, Georgia!  Other prizes were given out for various categories.  Thanks again to Gerald for working with True Grit in setting a great standard menu with no confusion about prices, etc.  We didn't get to see Ray and Char duke it out in the parking lot like we'd hoped, but it was still a great evening!

Sunday we once again met at the park in Ouray, had another brief meeting introducing those that had not been able to be there the day before, and were ready to hit the trail.

The whole group heading through the town of Ouray.
Photo by Chris Woodley (mmpc)

The groups would start out together and split up part way up Engineer Pass.  The stock and slightly modified group would continue on Engineer Pass while the modified vehicles would tackle Poughskeepie Trail (which had been pre run by a few members of the group on Friday.

Poughskeepie Gulch
This was an excellent trail for the big dawg group.  It had a great combination of shelf roads, shale driving, and rock obstacles.  There were even a few mines to check out on the way!  Things got really interesting in the first "real" obstacle of the trail.  The choices were simple... left, middle, or right.  The left had already been deemed impossible by Tom Davis who had attempted it on Friday.  That wouldn't stop Matt, Rob, and Rick from trying it though!  Perhaps with the solid axle and 35" Baja Claws, Rick could have made it but a malfunctioning locker kept that from happening.  Indeed, no one would make it up the left.

Gerald Jarrett ascending the middle.
Photo by Rick Horwitz
Robbie Jacques (RobbieJ) being led by Tom Davis
Photo by Matt Adams
Perry Schwab's Purple people eater
Photo by Matt Adams
Rob(Gofast) attempting the left side
Photo by Rick Horwitz
Middle would be the path everyone chose to take.  It was a rock that is sloped to the right, and if you get to close to the right the possibility will definitely exist that you might make body contact with the rock to the side.  It would take the perfect line to make it up, and most would make it up within a few tries with expert spotters such as Tom Davis and Ray Hutchison.  Others (Gerald, Matt, Brandon, and a few others) would take the wrong line, and come very close to tipping it in to the rock.  Gotta watch out for that, and be sure to trust your spotter!  The right side was the easier path and no one elected to take the easy way up.  There were several more obstacles along the way, ranging from rocks to climb over to quite off-camber spots.

The trail would finally wind through engineer pass and cinnamon gulch and emerge at Animas Forks, a surprisingly well preserved ghost town from the mining days.  There were several structures still standing including a large victorian house.

Just some of the excellently preserved buildings at Animas Forks.
Photo by Tom Davis
Matt Adams' Explorer "Vegas" near a mining structure at Animas Forks.
Photo by Matt Adams
While the stock group would take Cinnamon Pass back to Ouray, the Big Dawg's elected to go through Lake City and take the highway back to Ouray.  One blown tire on Brandon's vehicle along the way would be quickly taken care with the help of the group.

Cinnamon Pass
by Trint Ladd
After lunch, the stock group made their way over Cinnamon Pass.  We took a leisurely pace and enjoyed all the great scenery.  We never did see group two again until we got back to base camp.

Trint fixing a flat on "Bam-Bam"
Photo by Tammy Ladd
While we were checking out a great ghost town, someone heard Trint's vehicle hissing.  Thank goodness he was a good boy and packed his tool box with all the trail essentials (HINT HINT!!!). He had his tire plug kit and compressor on board. Special thanks go out to Scott for the use of his ARB compressor.  It was ten times faster than the 12V compressor and probably saved us about half an hour.

Scene from Cinnamon Pass
Photo by Trint Ladd
Cinnamon Pass, like Ophir Pass, but much more visual then technical.

Sunday night with the help of Chris Woodley's VCR, and Rod Guajardo's TV we were able to watch some various tapes people had taken over the weekend.  It was also a great opportunity to finish up the leftovers from the Friday pot luck. 

It was also a great opportunity for the participants with aftermarket lights to compare their lights to Matt Adams' lights.  Ray Hutchison, Brian Sumner, Rick Horwitz, Brandon Jacques, and of course Matt Adams put their lights against each others.  Of course Matt demonstrated the greatest lighting ability, but it was great to compare different brands and different kinds as well.  After videos and light comparisons, a few participants said their good-byes while others made decisions for Monday wheeling.

Monday several other participants said their final good-byes to the rest of the group and continued on their way home.  No one did any more wheeling but they did hang out with the rest of the group for a good portion of the day.  Overall everyone had fun and no one had damaged their vehicles seriously, and everyone went home safely, hopefully with a great experience of yet another awesome Serious Exploration!


Matt Adams "Vegas" Littleton, CO '94 XLT "Big Dawg"
Rick and Char Horwitz Phoenix, AZ '93 XL "Big Dawg"
Thomas Davis Oakland, CA '93 Navajo "Big Dawg"
Ray and Debby Hutchison Dana Point, CA '93 XLT "Big Dawg"
Rob and Jackie Robertson Mickenney, TX '94 XLT "Big Dawg"
Gerald Jarrett Dallas, TX '99 EB "Modified"
Rod Guajardo and Kelly Walkins Round Rock, TX '97 Sport "Modified"
Perry and Teri Schwab; son Patrick Loveland, CO '94 XLT "Modified/Big Dawg"
Scott Bosso; father SJ Atlanta, GA '93 Ranger "Modified"
Dennis and Lisa Myers Chicago, IL '94 Sport "Modified"
Robbie Jacques Albuquerque, NM '91 XLT "Modified"
Brandon Jacques Albuquerque, NM '93 Ranger "Modified"
Chris Woodley Littleton, CO '98 Sport "Stock"
Jen Woodley Littleton, CO '00 Sport "Stock"
Warren and Christine Baccus Montrose, CO '91 XLT "Stock"
Trint and Tammy Ladd Colorado Springs, CO '94 XLT "Stock"
Brian Sumner; Father Jim Albuquerque, NM '91 XLT "Stock/Modified"



Copyright 2000 Rick Horwitz Photography 
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