The 12th Annual RMM Rendevous Fulford Caves, Colorado, USA
June 19th - 21st, 2009
RMM 2009 started out as an outgrowth of a Ragain family gathering at the
Fulford Cave area, south of Eagle, CO. Dawn Jewell, one of Bob's
daughters, is an avid spelunker and had organized a caving weekend for
the Ragain family. Bob suggested we might have some moggers participate,
too, so we put out the word and there seemed to be some enthusiasm for a
gathering. I was in hopes of getting far enough along on the
refurbishing of my Alaskan Camper, and modification to my Swiss bed, that
I might be able to get the camper loaded in the back of the mog and bring
it to the outing.
That didn't work out, so I loaded my Haflinger on the trailer and towed
it up to the Yeoman Park campsite on Thursday afternoon. My plan was to
try to grab enough campsites that everyone would have a space when they
arrived on Friday. The USFS folks frown on that sort of thing, but there
were 24 campsites there, so I figured there should be enough to
accommodate everyone or else we'd double up as necessary.
Attendees (in no particular order):
1971 700AP Haflinger
404.115 Unimog TLF
Andrew Gerstner and family
I arrived late afternoon, set up camp, and decided to do a little
exploring since there was a Jeep road leading right out of the campsite.
I made it about 7.5 miles up the road, but eventually ran into very muddy
road surface and snowdrifts. I was at about 11,000'. It was starting to
rain, so I figured the best thing would be to head back to camp before I
got myself in trouble. It rained all night :-(
Friday morning dawned beautifully, so I knew I'd be able to get in a hike before others started to arrive.
My destination was Nolan Lake, which meant driving about 4 miles up to the mining town of Fulford.
I parked the Haflinger in the trees, and set out on foot.
About 1/4 mile up the trail..
I passed through Upper Town, which must have been a suburb of Fulford.
As I got further along the trail and higher in elevation, I began to encounter snow.
I could walk over the short patches of snow and find the trail continuing on the
other side. The snow is melting quickly and the stream was flowing very
rapidly with many spectacular waterfalls.
As I began to near timberline the trail appeared to open up, but it was misleading
because as I got into the trees again, the snow was totally covering the
ground and there was no way to identify a trail. I gave it up at 11,110'
elevation, turned around and headed back to try to return to the
campground in time to meet folks coming up from Denver.
When I got back to Yeoman Park campground, Bob Ragain, Justin Lassy, Mike
Pop, and Morris Yarnell had arrived and were establishing their camping
spots. Bob informed me that Dawn wasn't feeling well and may not be
making it up, so it looked like it was going to turn out to just be a
Mogger's (Pinzi's, Haffy's) outing after all. When everyone got their
camps set up, Mike and Morris joined me in the Haflinger and we drove up
to Fulford Cave campground, about a mile up the valley. Bob elected to
stay back, in case Dawn had felt better and decided to come up.
We left the Haffy at Fulford Cave campground and hiked up to the entrance
to the Fulford Cave. It was 0.6 miles and 500' elevation gain. Mike
(New Jersey) and Morris (recently moved to Denver from Washington) were
feeling the high altitude. Mike made it up to the cave entrance with me,
and Morris stopped just a bit below at another mine entrance which
apparently also leads into a cave. I don't know the complete history of
Fulford Cave (
There's a rope alongside the ladder, which extends further down into the cave once you reach the bottom.
I backed down the ladder first, without a flashlight, so it was a little tenuous feeling around for footing when I
reached the end of the culvert. Mike followed, and had a flashlight
which was a great help. I stayed at the bottom of the culvert,
but Mike ventured a bit further and got to a large room where he was able
to stand on flat ground. It was very cold in there and we were
glad to climb back up into sunlight and warm air.
We drove back down to Yeoman Park campground, and found that Andrew
Gerstner had arrived with his family, and were in the process of setting up camp.
Mike, Morris and I were still feeling like doing a little
hiking, so we parked the Haffy at the beginning of "Brown's Loop"
which heads up the valley, crosses a stream and then returns to the
campground on the opposite side of the valley.
The trail is named after a forest ranger who lived in this valley with his family in the 1930's.
There's even a stretch of boardwalk to get hikers past a swampy area.
By the time we returned from this short hike, John Light had arrived in
his Pinzi. He was able to find a campsite within the same group as the
others, so that enabled everyone to be in close proximity, except for me.
I just shuttled back and forth in the Haffy, so it was no big deal. We
gathered around a campfire and had a pleasant evening.
Saturday morning dawned partly cloudy, but nice enough that everyone was
up for a trial ride of some sort. When I had driven in on Thursday, I
talked to a Sylvan State Park Ranger and he told me the old road up to
Fulford was a pretty good trip. So, Bob lowered his Alaskan Camper,
Andrew loaded his family in to his Land Rover, Justin fired up his 404,
Morris and Mike jumped in the Haflinger with me and off we went. The old
Fulford road started about a mile down from the campground. Once on the
trail, we hadn't gone 100 yards when we came to a pretty large stream
crossing. I was leading in the Haffy, and had never crossed anything
like this before with it. We ventured in, dropped into a fairly deep
hole near the far end, but pulled through and up onto the dry road with
no problems. No pictures, unfortunately. The road wound up through the
..and we eventually came out into a large pasture/meadow..
..which was a good spot to stop for pictures and a stretch.
We crossed the pasture, encountered another stream crossing,
..as interesting as the first.
..came out in the town..
Across the street from where we
parked was an old log saw, which was no doubt used to cut logs
into lumber for building many of the houses/cabins in Fulford.
From Fulford, we headed up a forest service road in an effort to reach
the Polar Star Mine, somewhere above timberline. As we approached
11,000' elevation, we started to run into snowdrifts across the road.
The Haflinger managed to get through many of them, but finally
encountered one which was too deep and too long. At this point, I
figured Bob Ragain would have the best chance in his U-1300, considering
the power of the diesel and the weight. He managed to work through this
big drift easily.
Next came Justin with his 404, again no problem.
Next it was my turn. Obviously, I didn't have the track width
of the larger trucks, so I ran my right side in the tracks made by them
and took my chances with the driver's side making it's own track.
I managed to make three runs at it, backing out the first two. The third
run left me pretty well beached in deep snow.
Justin backed up with the 404, and gave me a tug out to bare ground, and we
continued on for a bit further.
Snow drifts became longer and deeper and it was starting to rain, so we turned around and headed back. It wasn't
but a short distance when I got a call on the radio from Bob Ragain
saying that he was stuck. By this time it was pouring rain. When we got
back up to Bob, we saw that he had slid sideways off one of the
snowdrifts and was firmly planted against a tree off the side of the road.
He wrapped a snatch strap around a couple trees on the high
side, and using his front winch was able to pull his front end away from
the tree where he could get purchase with his front axle and pull himself
back up onto the road. Driving back to Yeoman Park Campground was
interesting, as the road had turned to slimy mud in places, so there were
spots were we were driving sideways, leading with the drivers side and
then with the passenger side. Fortunately, everyone made it back without
The rain continued into the night, but finally quit. I was up for a
nature call about 1:15 a.m. and the stars were out, so I figured it was
going to be a nice day ahead. I had no more than zipped up my tent when
the bottom fell out of the sky and it poured so hard, I thought I was
going to wash away. It rained the remainder of the night and into the
morning hours. I ended up collapsing my tent and throwing it in the back
of the car soaking wet. About mid morning, the rain stopped and the sun
made an appearance. We took some group pictures at the campground..
and then started to caravan back toward Denver.
Mike Popovitch, Andrew Gerstner and family, Kent Drummond, Morris Yarnell, Bob Ragain, Justin Lassy, John Light.
The plan was to do a side trip to Redcliff, and come up the Shrine Pass road to
the top of Vail Pass. About half way up Shrine Pass, we stopped at an
old settlement for lunch,
..and then journeyed on.
A couple miles further on, there was an excellent photo op of Mount of the Holy
Cross, so I stopped so everyone could take pictures. At that point, I
discovered I'd left my camera back were we'd had lunch, so had to back
track to get it. Everyone was very generous to wait for me to come back
to join the group, and I got my chance for a picture of this beautiful
At the top of Shrine Pass, we said our good byes and headed our
separate ways. It was a good outing, and hopefully, not the only one for