February 28th, 1999 - Lefthand Canyon,
North of Boulder, Colorado
Along with the Mile High Jeep Club
Per Eliason & sons
Fred Reim & Judy Gardner
404.1 Unimog Radio Truck
404.1 Unimog Ambulance box
Fort Collins, CO
Ron DePugh & Cassidy
404.1 Unimog VLF
404.1 Unimog Radio Truck
Daniel Gosnell, a 'mogger, but no Unimog this time.
Mark Cerda, shopping and comparing Mogs and Pinzies..
The Mile High Jeep club brought a wide variety of vehicles, a beautifully restored CJ2A, newer CJ5's and CJ7's, Toyota Landcruisers, a Chevy Blazer, Cherokees, Ford Bronco, and maybe a Scout.
The RMM group was invited to ride along with the Mile High Jeep Club on one of their trailrides. The group met at Denny's near Hwy 36 and Baseline, in Boulder, and departed at about 0830. We headed north on Hwy 36 up to Lefthand Canyon, then up the canyon. We took a right on to a well used trail, passed an open area used for target shooting, then proceeded up a smaller, and much less used trail.
Ron D's narrative:
We all stopped at the split in the trail, and aired down the tires for the rough road ahead. After a bit of visiting and admiring vehicles, we realized that there was some poor guy in a VW that was just heading up the other road for a picnic, when we all stopped and blocked him in the middle of our group. So, we got rolling again, and headed on up the trail. It was a pretty impresive sight, about 15 trucks in a line.
A set of 'moguls' got our frames and lockers limbered up, then we started coming to the real obstacles: narrow passages between trees, rocks to climb over, notches between boulders, and really steep climbs.
The trail followed the dry stream bed most of the time. The large rocks were no problem for the Unimogs, and the smaller Jeeps were making it over most of them alright. The first real challenge for my Unimog swas a pair of boulders better than three feet tall, about 6 feet apart. By filling in part of the large hole next to the left side boulder with smaller rocks, I managed to drive over the boulder on the right, and not hit the one on the left. I only wish I had scouted the trail ahead before I went that far...
Ron D filling in a deep hole with smaller rocks,
so his VLF could clear the obstacle.
The Blazer squeezes in between the rocks. I think he hit his rocker panel.
Fred didn't fair so well, and clipped the rock on the left side.
The Bronco makes it through, with lots of spectators.
This trail had some challenges! The large rocks were a problem for the smaller vehicles, and the narrow trail was difficult (and became impossible) for the Unimogs. Fred and I had some damage done by trees just barely half a mile up the trail. The trail squeezed between two 1 ft dia. trees, and the radio boxes had to slide between them, touching at both top and bottoms.
Both our rain gutters got somewhat flattened. Ouch, but sometimes that's the price to proceed.
My Unimog also sustained damage to a rain gutter on one side, and body damage at the top of the VLF box on both sides, done by the trees that leaned together over the trail. I also managed to mash a rear fender on some tall rock. There was no place to turn around before the trees, and there were too many trucks behind to allow backing up.
One narrow notch between two large rocks took it's toll on Jeep (Jeep = any lesser vehicle) rocker panels. The Grand Cherokee was just too low, and, after crushing the rocker panels on both sides, rocks were piled up front and rear to raise the wheels, allowing it to get over the rocks. These rocks were high enough that even with the height of the Unimogs, Fred had some contact to the lower left fender, and battery box. The Ron D's mog got through unmarked. The Ragain mog was a little further right and scraped the side door ladder, but luckily didn't get much damage.
Several climbs over rocks really sorted the "locked" from the "unlocked" vehicles. The Unimogs and Pinzgauers had no serious trouble, but many Jeeps had to really scratch their way along. One unlucky Jeeper blew up a hub on one hard climb, then smashed his gas can as he rolled back off the rock. The can ran into the horizontal ground! The climb was that steep. His winch made short work of the rock.
After watching numerous Jeeps sustain damage on the two boulders obstacle, and hearing of my report of the too-close trees ahead, and the damage done to Fred's Unimog by them, Ron M. decided to park his Mog, and just watch the fun. There was quite a bit of excitement as Jeeps bashed their way through the boulders, and then the Blazer got high-centered on a rock in the trail 100 feet further up. We helped jack his truck off the rock, and then proceeded up the trail.
Reed makes short work of the very rocky stretch of trail.
The next obstacle beyond the two trees, was a huge boulder, maybe 12 feet tall, with a 45 degree face. The road went straight up the face of the boulder. There was a 2 foot tall rock just below it that I had to drive over to miss the tree on the right, and then there was a cliff going up to the left just above the huge boulder, and another large rock on the right creating one more narrow spot for the Unimogs to squeeze through. With some careful maneuvering, and a bit of spotting, I managed to squeeze by. Right after that, the trail dipped through the creek bed again, with a real tippy spot.
An even narrower notch up ahead made us all talk about the sanity of taking the larger vehicles further up the trail. There was no way the Unimogs could get through. Turning around would be impossible up there, too. In fact, one dead tree had to be removed to allow Fred to extract himself back down the trail. He and Ron D were in front and had to backtrack further after we decided to minimize the damage and retreat back down the trail. Just when it was getting to be fun!
The narrow turn-around spot.
Turning around was a challenge. There were few places along the valley bottom and creek bed which permitted a turnaround. When we did find a spot, with 15 vehicles, there was no way to get all the turning vehicles off the road to allow the diehards to proceed. After hearing of the BAD obstacle up ahead (through which even a CJ had to be winched, scraping both sides, we heard), many of the jeeps turned around too.
During the turnaround, one Pinzgauer got a little too close to the creek bank and slid over the bank. Getting him back up was challenging enough, but after one particularly bad hop along the bank, and over a rock, the left rear bumper ended up on top of a 3 ft tall stump. For those who know Pinzgauers, the bumpers are no where near 3 ft off the ground, so a 60 inch Highlift jack, almost at it's height limit due to soft ground, was used to lift the weight off the stump, then we let the Pinzy fall sideways with the jack, and off the stump. A great tool for such problems!
The Pinzgauer was in a very tight spot, and we had a great deal of trouble getting him turned, since there just wasn't a lot of room between all the rocks and trees. After many back-and-forths, Reed got it pointed down the hill.
Reed's Pinzgauer with the rear bumper stuck on top of a stump.
Here, we are working on getting the Pinzgauer off of the stump. Bob Ragain is wielding the Highlift. After we got it up high enough, we pushed it over sideways off of the stump.
After we got the Pinzie off of the stump, we still had to get a log out from under the truck.
We all climbed on the Pinzgauer to try to free the front bumper. That didn't work, so we had to jack the front bumper up to clear the rock it was sitting on.
My turn was next, and it was a major workout getting the Unimog back through that obstacle course. I had to back up a couple of times to get a clear path through the rocks, and on the way down the 45 degree boulder, most of the weight of the truck was on the front wheels, making it impossible to steer. I finally managed to miss the tree, and went on down the trail.
We probably spent 4 hours going half a mile. The Unimogs had no trouble with the rocks and climbs, but were simply too big for the trail's width. The Pinzgauers were just about perfect for the trail, with narrow track for the narrow trail, and good clearance for the rocks. Maybe a little lower gearing would have been useful? Many of the 'Jeeps' got damaged, and one old Toyota Land Cruiser sustained serious rocker panel damage during attempts to create another route. He sure had fun trying though, and apparently expected the damage.
Our RMM group was disappointed to have to turn around, and somewhat curious why the trail leaders would attempt this trail with our larger vehicles. There was also much driver inexperience evident among the Jeepers.
All in all, the challenges of this trail exceeded anything I have ever been on with the Unimog, so it was a great experience.
Thanks to Per Eliason and Fred Reim and Judy Gardner for the photos!