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"Serious Explorations"TM
Colorado Fall Colors Run '99
Oct. 8-11 '99
Dedicated to the memory of Jack Lobdell
Written by: Rick Horwitz, Photos by: Rick Horwitz unless otherwise noted
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Photos 1 | Photos 2

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 point.


Saturday the Group Arrives
Hancock Pass / Tomichi Pass

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Photos 1 | Photos 2



Copyright 1999 Rick Horwitz Photography
All Rights Reserved