June 20th - 22nd, 2003 RMM 2003 Rendevous trip report by Kent Drummond with photos by Ron DePugh
With NWMF looming in the near future, I figured I'd better crank out a report on our recent Rocky Mountain Moggers 2003
Rendevous. Hopefully, it'll make those of you who missed RMM03 sorry, and those of you thinking about NWMF get off your
duff's and figure out how to attend :-)
This will be from my perspective, of course, so other attendees are welcome to chime in with corrections/additions.
I started out from my home in southeastern Wyoming at noon on Friday. For a variety of reasons (neighbor's dead cat
on our road, wind trying to suck lightweight stuff out of the back of my truck) it took me 24 minutes to go the first
six miles. I finally made it over to Laramie, and linked up with
Jon Essley in his Belgian 404. We did a fast food shop
at Wal-Mart and headed out with very dark clouds looming to the south of us.
The 25 mile trip southwest out of Laramie is flat road and generally no big deal. This day we were faced with one of
our legendary Wyoming light breezes, so it was a little slower going. I wouldn't say the wind was strong, but it did
fold my mirrors flat against the cab. The best we could do was about 60 kph in 5th gear. Once we got into the mountains,
the highway was sheltered from the wind, so we were able to make better time, and the dark clouds stayed south of us,
so we were in sunshine for the trip down to Walden, Colorado. Just to be on the safe side, we gassed up in Walden.
As we headed out for Colorado State Park, via Bernard Gateau's ranch, the sky got darker and darker. When we finally
met up with Bernard (20 miles later) it was ominous. Bernard hopped into his H1 Hummer and lead the way from his ranch
to the campground. As soon as we paid our daily access passes at the entrance to the park, the bottom fell out, and we
were deluged with a mix of rain, hail, and snow, which pounded us all the way up to the campground. It has been a wet
spring here in the Rockies, but I was dreading this being what we were going to have to put up with for the weekend.
By the time we reached the camp ground, and our reserved campsites, the rain had pretty much stopped and the sun was
and Bob and Wiley Newsome were already there. About 4:30, my son,
in from west of Colorado Springs with his souped up Jeep in tow, followed by
Ron DePugh, with Ron's daughter, Cassidy.
Ron was driving his Suzuki Samurai hardtop, with his rafting trailer in tow, which stuck out about 18" wider than the
Samurai on either side. Later in the evening
Fred Riem and Judy Gardner arrived in their 404 Radiobox.
The mog central
tent was quickly set up, dinner fixed and we all sat around and swapped stories until sleep took over.
Saturday dawned cloudy, but it looked like it was going to clear off, so we were hopeful. By the time our
10:00 a.m. departure time rolled around,
Bernard had arrived with his right hand drive U-1200, and
Dana Stickley pulled
in with his 406 tug on a goose neck trailer. When everyone was ready, we headed out with six mogs, the Jeep and
the Samurai, with Bernard in the lead. Our first objective was Montgomery Pass, one of the 4WD trails in the Colorado
State Park boundary. Within 50 yards of crossing a stream just below timberline, we ran into a shaded area that
harbored quite a bit of snow on the road. Bernard sort of nosed into it with the U-1200, but wasn't able to go very far.
Eric gave it a go with the Jeep, and if horsepower was all that was needed, he would have been at the other end of the
1/4 mile long snow drift in about 10 seconds. Unfortunately, no matter how far you jack up a Jeep, the differentials are
still the same height off the ground, and when you're challenging wet snow that's about two feet deep, it just isn't
going to happen. In all fairness, he did make pretty good progress.
Bob Newsome had to give it a shot with the
416 Expedition, and was able to get quite a bit further, like about 60 feet :-)
We decided it wasn't worth tearing up the equipment,
The ridge above Montgomery Pass
so headed back to camp for lunch. By then Bill Collister and
his wife and son had arrived, so Bill joined us for the afternoon ride. After lunch, Bernard led us up another 4WD
trail in the State Park, but we met the same fate as we approached timberline. Deep snow. Bernard winched the U-1200
through the first drift, but it wasn't worth trying to go any further. Eric pancaked the Jeep into the middle of the
drift and Bernard dragged him through the rest of the way with the mog winch. The challenge was turning everyone
around on a very narrow road, with steep sides. Fortunately, we got it done with some good spotting and no mishaps.
When we got back to the bottom of that trail, Bernard led us to the start of another one, but it was still closed,
so we headed back toward camp
with a stop along the way for the group photo you see with all the trucks lined up at
the edge of the road with the mountains in the back ground. What you don't see is the Park Ranger arriving from the
left and Bernard knowing he was going to be hauled off to jail for our parking our trucks up on the bank in the
fragile grass. After the pictures, we moved the trucks back on the road and did our best to wipe out any evidence
of tire tracks off the edge of the road. The rangers appreciated it and were lenient. Bernard thanked them profusely
in French, English, and however many other languages he speaks and we were on our way.
It was still early in the afternoon, so Bernard suggested one more possibility for a trial ride. This involved
leaving the State Park and dropping a little south into the Routt National Forest for a trail that follows the middle
fork of the Michigan River and heads up to the edge of the Never Summer Wilderness. As we passed along the river valley,
there were lots of campers with their ATV's. When the trail first narrowed,
we had to stop to remove a tree that had
fallen across the trail. A couple ATV's pulled up behind us and we offered to let them pass, but they said they'd
seen us drive by and wanted to see how these big trucks handled the steep part of the trail. We had no problem, but
it was definitely steep, and the ATV riders were impressed. Segments of this trail were also quite narrow and once
again, Bob Newsome exhibited his skill at threading an elephant (his 416 DOKA Expedition) through a series of mouse
holes (tight turns with overhanging trees). Never ceases to amaze me.
We finally arrived at the wilderness boundary, took a break, and headed back down to camp. Everyone agreed that
was the best ride of the day. Total mileage for the day was about 45. Bernard headed back to his ranch, but showed up
later in the evening with his wife, Dina, and a bottle of French wine to share with the group. Dana Stickley was only
there for the day, so he loaded his tug back on the trailer and headed back to Laramie.
Bernard had a business appointment on Sunday, so wasn't able to join us for our outing. The transmission in my
son's suburban was just about done in, so he opted to head back for home, west of Pike's Peak, and the transmission
in Fred Riem's 404 was sounding like a thrashing machine and dragging a bit when in neutral, with the F/R lever in
forward, so he and Judy decided not to risk a trail ride. That narrowed it down to four of us for the trial ride
(me, Ron DePugh and Cassidy, Bob Newsome and Wiley, Jon Essley). The Collisters split up and rode where there were
available seats. Bernard and Dina had suggested we head south again, over Calamity Pass, down in to Teller City, and
up the next drainage south (Jack Creek) toward the Continental Divide and Never Summer Wilderness Boundary.
Teller City was a logging camp in the early 1900's, but is totally abandoned now. There are remnants of old
foundations, but one can see that it was a bustling camp in it's day. The road up Jack Creek isn't tough,
but is a
nice "Jeep" road with spectacular scenery. At nearly 11,000' we ran into snow on the road again. I plowed through
the first drift, and Ron DePugh took a valiant run at it with the Suzuki.
He pancaked onto the top of the drift,
with the bottoms of his tires about 14" above anything that might be able to give him any semblance of traction.
Out with the snatch strap and I dragged him over the top of the drift. We were able to proceed about 100 yards further,
when the next quantity of snow stretched on around the corner and out of sight. It was a good time/place to stop for
lunch. While we were eating,
we were able to watch a family of mountain sheep walking along the ridge of the Continental
Divide above us. There is so much water/snow melt up there, that the ground is positively oozing water everywhere.
After lunch, we headed back down to Teller City. Once there, we decided to take the scenic route back to Bernard's
ranch, which was well worth the trip. The hay fields were thick with grass and wild flowers and the day was sunny and
clear. When we got back to the ranch, goodbye's were said and everyone headed their respective ways home.
That's a beautiful area and a great place for some scenic, high altitude trail rides.
I hope we hold RMM there
again. It's easy to get to, and the rides aren't too tough for a conventional 4WD, so if you don't have a mog, or
yours is incapacitated, you should plan on coming anyway. It's well worth the effort.