the 2004 7th Annual RMM Rendevous June 18th - 20th, 2004
Here in Wyoming the week prior to RMM 04 was pretty soggy. Rain every
day, with the ground becoming so saturated that we had standing water
in our pastures. I have been so busy with work, that I hadn't even
started my 404 since returning from Moab back in early April. Friday
morning, I did a quick check of lubricant levels, dumped some Jerry cans
into the tank, grabbed enough food to sustain me for three days, and
threw my camping gear in the back of the truck.
About 10:00, Chris Longstreet and his friend Matt McAdams arrived at my
house. Chris has a Belgian 404 which he bought last year to commute to
the local community college here in Cheyenne. It was pouring rain when
he and Matt arrived at my house. We set out for Colorado, wondering if
we were going to be soaking wet all weekend.
RMM 03 was headquartered at Colorado State Park, on the west side of
the Rawah Wilderness. This year, we headquartered at the Tunnel
Campground, a USFS site in a narrow valley on the west side of the
Rawah's. From my house, it's possible to take almost a straight line
route to the RMM site, using dirt county roads. This saves only 17
miles, as opposed to taking the major highways, but it seems shorter and
is certainly more intersting.
Crossing the Laramie Basin, there are quite a few low spots in the
road, and due to all the rain, these low spots were full of water. We
had to ford about 25 fairly large puddles,
many of which
were about 50 yards long but no deeper than the middle of the tires.
As we approached the mountains, the terrain changed from flat grass
land to looking very much like the area around Moab. Sandstone
and cliffs with water marks and the beginning
signs of the creation of arches.
It was along this area that the second indication of possible vehicle
problems cropped up. Chris's 404 was having trouble running on the long
uphill stretches of road, and died for the second time. His batteries
were also dead, so it wouldn't even turn over to try to restart. It
seemed like a good time to stop for lunch, so we did. After lunch I
hooked up a tow strap again and we tow started him, with no further
probblems that day. The significant geologic feature in the area we
stopped for lunch is called Chimney Rock, which is a standstone
outcropping which towers up out of the valley floor for several hundred
As we started up toward Sand Creek Pass, I spotted
a cow moose off to the side of the road, near a grove of aspen.
Dropping down the west side of Sand Creek Pass, we had a pretty
panoramic view of the Rawah Wilderness. Our destination was in the
bottom of the valley at the base of the mountains, toward the left side
of the picture. We arrived at the Tunnel Campground about two o'clock.
Robert and Charlie Christensen were already there and starting to set up
their big hunting tent. They told us that Bernard Gateau had just been
there in his H1 Hummer, but that he was on his way to rescue someone
who's car was stuck and had ended up with a broken leg in the process of
trying to get unstuck. Bernard didn't return during the weekend, so I
suspect he was pretty busy with his search and rescue duties.
The rain had pretty much let up, so we were able to get our tents
pitched without incident.
Kent's camp spot.
Bob and Wiley Newsome came in
about mid-afternoon in their 4WD Ford Van.
Bob and Wiley's spot.
and Jon Essley
arrived just about dusk.
John's camp spot.
Unfortunately, the disk in my camera
must have a bad spot on it, and my picture of the Christensen's 416 and
big tent can't be viewed.
Robert fired up their heating stove as the temperature cooled down and
we all gathered in the big tent to eat our dinners and enjoy the
warmpth. Shortly after dark, Ron DePugh and daughter, Cassidy, arrived
in Ron's Suzuki Samauri. Ron had great plans to arrive in his new '98
Freightliner mog hauler, but delivery problems prevented that. His
backup plan was to drive his mog, but at the point of leaving Boulder
his brakes failed, so that wouldn't have been a safe trip. He and
Cassidy made the trip up to the campground to say hello but didn't bring
camping gear, so couldn't stay.
Shortly after Ron and Cassidy headed back down the Poudre Canyon, it
started to snow. Wet, heavy snow. Darrin Fink will appreciate that,
since we were at Reunimogging '97 together, when it snowed about 4".
This time it was only about 1", but it was enough to seriously sag my
tent. I had to shake off the slop and tighten all the stakes before
going to bed.
Saturday morning dawned with bright sunshine, but clouds were drifting
over, so it wasn't going to be a bright sunny Colorado day. Our group
consisted of me, with Wylie Newsome as my passenger in my 404 hardcab,
Chris Longstreet and Matt McAdams in Chris's Belgian 404, Jon Essley and
his two dogs in his Belgian 404, and Robert and Charlie Christensen and
Bob Newsome in the Christensen's 416 DOKA. My first choice for a trail
ride was the Green Ridge Road (Trail #4 in the Wells Guide to Colorado
Backroads and 4-Wheel Drive Trails, Vol. 2). I have to say here that
during my reconnoitering in May and early June, I ran into many trails
which were closed due to deep snow still in the higher elevations. The
Arapahoe National Forest map indicates many trails aren't opened until
mid-June, in order to protect the trail surface. Green Ridge Road was
So, we dropped back to choice number two, which was Seven Mile Road 225
(trail #2 in the trails book). I had done a map recon of this trail,
with the addition of some other Forest Service roads to make it a longer
trip. This required a 26 mile trip from the Tunnel campground, down
Colorado Hwy 14 along the Cache la Poudre River. The trail starts
within a mile of the community of Glen Echo. It was raining again, but
not too bad. A short way up the trail, we came to a gate, which was
closed. Foiled again! This was pretty disappointing, as we'd dropped
over 2000' in elevation and I wasn't looking forward to the long grind
back up the highway to the campground. We collectively decided to take
county roads north and west, and basically make a scenic loop through
the mountains back to the campground.
After ascending about 1400 vertical feet, I noticed a Jeep road (FS171)
with an open gate, leading off to the west, so we thought we'd try it.
This was more like it. Not difficult, but a 4WD road, nonetheless.
After a little over two miles, we came upon one of the waypoints in my
GPS which corresponded with the planned trail for the day. Apparently,
only the first portion of the trial, which came up through a valley with
several stream crossings, was closed. Things were looking up. About
lunch time, we came to a point in the trail where it looped back in the
general direction we had come, so it was a good time to stop for lunch.
I spotted a USFS truck up ahead, so walked up to to find out
if we were likely to run into any more closure gates. The lady rangers
were very nice and verified that the route I had planned to take was
indeed open. They had never seen Unimogs before and asked if they were
The Jeep road returned to the main county road, but about a mile
further up, another Jeep road (FS517) turned off to the west, and this
was the one we wanted. It started off easily enough, but as we
progressed, it got narrower, steeper, and rockier. There were several
spots where leaning trees made it kind of a squeeze to get through.
The 404's got through okay, but the 416 DOKA with it's rack
had a tight fit.
As we got higher in elevation, we encountered some of the previous
night's snow, which made the trail kind of muddy and the rocks slick.
At one passage, the trail caused the trucks to slide a little bit to the
right, which caught Jon Essley against a tree. When he tried to back
up, the tree hooked his front bumper and bent it a little bit.
Here's a another shot of the 416 squeezing under a leaning tree.
Robert and Charlie's 416.
The only other motorized vehicles we saw on this trail were some ATV's
and a few dirt bikes. There was one jacked up mini pickup, parked along
the side of the trial. I asked him which way he was going, and he
replied he'd been headed the direction we were going, but didn't think
he was going to risk it. This was at the base of a steep, rocky hill
which would probably have done some serious damage to his truck. The
Unimogs handled it easily, I'm glad to say. There was one point where a
big step was kind of wet and the 416 just couldn't get traction to make
it up, so out came the winch for a little assist.
Just about a mile from the end of the difficult portion of the trail,
Chris's 404 died again and couldn't be restarted. Batteries were dead,
no sound from the electric fuel pump, and the hand throttle had broken.
This happened on a steep, narrow portion of the trail, just before two
big trees which were just barely far enough apart for a mog to squeeze
through. I backed up and hooked my snatch strap to him.
On the strap.
and dragged him between the narrow trees and on until the trail joined a
more maintained section of road. We tried pull starting, but to no avail. About 3000' further along, a better road offered a way to get
back out to a major county road, so we figured the best thing would be
to take it and forego the remainder of the planned trail. It was 40
road miles back to the campground at this point. It was about 4:30 in
the afternoon so we figured, not knowing what all might be wrong with
Chris's truck, that it would be best to tow him all the way and work on
it when we got back to camp.
It was a slow trip, but we made it without incident, arriving back at
the campground shortly after 7:00 p.m. Ron Miller was there.
Ron Miller's 404.1.
having driven up from Ft. Collins to join us for the evening. Ron's
truck is for sale, by the way. If you're interested you can contact
Chris and Matt pulled the engine cover and discovered that when the
hand throttle cable broke, it had wedged the throttle open on the
carburetor, causing it to be unresponsive to the foot throttle, which
explained why we couldn't get it to run when pull starting. Had we
realized that at the time, we could have avoided the long tow. Oh,
well. A lesson learned. With all the other factors of dead batteries
and no sound from the electric fuel pump, the true problem wasn't
We were all starving, so dinner was quickly prepared and wolfed down.
We socialized in the Christensen's tent for a while, but heads were
nodding by 9:00 so everyone drifted off to their respective sleeping
No trail ride was planned for Sunday. We had a casual breakfast and
went about breaking up camp. About 10:30, just as we were finishing up,
Jay Couch and his girlfriend arrived in a yellow 406 with a front end
loader attached, followed by Matt Bauman in a Suzuki Samauri.
Jay Couch's 406.
More Unimog talk took up the next hour. Jay and Matt had camping gear
with them, but figured they'd just try to do some trail riding and then
head back to Denver/Greeley respectively.
There are two Tunnel campgrounds: the one where we stayed, and another
one on the other side of the mountain along Highway 14. The "tunnel" is
a waterway dug through the mountain, which allows water from the Laramie
River to be diverted to the Cache la Poudre. The tunnel is two miles
long and completely dug by hand. There is a big gate at the head end,
which controls the amount of water flow. Every year the gate is closed,
shutting off the flow, so the custodain can walk the tunnel to inspect
for cave-ins. It's only about 4' high and I'm sure the rocks are
slippery. This final picture was taken just above the entrance to the
tunnel, showing the approach of the waterway.
When we walked back to the road where the mogs were parked, I
downloaded the trail waypoints from my laptop to Jay's and Matt's GPS so
they'd have a guide to follow our previous day's trail in reverse order.
They assured me they'd let me know how it turned out. I haven't heard
from either of them, so they may be stranded up there somewhere.
After Jay and Matt turned off, the rest of us headed back toward
Wyoming. Bob and Wylie Newsome had left earlier, in order to get Wylie
to an appointment in Casper. We stopped for lunch along the way, and
then Jon Essley peeled off the road to head for his cabin south of
Laramie. Most of the water hazards along the road had dried up, but
there were still several which had to be navigated. I dropped off at my
house about 3:00, and the Christensens, and Chris and Matt continued on
into Cheyenne. The rain came back Sunday night and continued on through
Monday. It was nice enough to lighten up during the outing, so it
turned out to be another successful RMM for those of us who were there.
1963 404 Hardcab
1971 Haflinger (in a couple weeks
v2.3 Last modified Tuesday, July 13, 2004 22:47:34
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