Colorado 3rd Year 7-30-2023

Colorado 3rd Year 7-30-2023

BRIGHAM CITY, UT TO KENNEWICK, WA HOME STRETCH!

Sunday July 30th: 

Driving ( Brigham City, UT to Tri Cities, WA) (9hrs, 572 mi) (Home!!)

We did it we were up and rolling by 7ish, and I think all of us were ready to just be home. Mandi & I missed our dogs we left with a sitter, and honestly we were all pretty beat from runnin’ and gunnin’ the last day or so. Over/Rock Landing is way easier on the mind than highways… Must be the lack of traffic?

We jumped on I-80 northbound and made a blitz for Twin Falls, ID. But pulled off near Rupert as I had acquired a strange vibration. So while the other took advantage of the facilities aka Highway Oasis (that were under construction), I check lugs, u-joint’s and equalized my tire pressures before pressing on.

I recall getting better mileage as we were targeting Mt Home, ID for the next fuel stop, and the weird vibration had gone away. We hit Mt Home and fueled and grabbed lunch at Wingers, and then put in the longest 2-3 hours, into Ontario, OR for a quick fuel and go. We were getting closer to home and everybody was getting anxious to be done, next stop La Grande.

We hit the Truckstop on the East side of La Grande, to avoid all the country traffic in the main exit. Fueled up and rolled on through 3 hours later we were parting way via radio at Exit 114 on Hwy 182 as Mandi & I pulled off and made the final 5 mile dash to the house here in Kennewick.

Prologue:

The trip although long and hot was a success, my supercharger install performed very well although I’m still getting used to the weak peddle might need to look at option there as my Diablo computer has settings to make the pedal feel better, but it doesn’t play well with the supercharger tune as all it does is dump extra fuel. I also need to find a better cooling solution, if I want to enjoy windows up AC on trips in the summer. With triple digit temps use of the AC while climbing grades is a no go.

As usual with all our Colorado trips, it was awesome, and yes it begs for a return, but after hitting the state for three consecutive years, we’ll be looking at other options for our clubs’ out of state trip for the next couple of years.

Thanks for riding along!

Our Route:

Colorado 3rd Year 7-29-2023

Colorado 3rd Year 7-29-2023

MEEKER, CO TO BRIGHAM CITY, UT ON THE BACKROADS…

Saturday July 29th: 

Driving backroads Meeker to Brigham City (2 lane highways  391 miles – 8hrs?)

So we got an early start (for us) and were rolling around 8ish, leaving Meeker we traveled first to a little hamlet called Maybell, CO on CR 57 & Hwy 40. We stopped at a little store hoping for bathrooms, nope and got sent to the city park. None of us had ever travelled this route so we had no idea what we’d find along the way, but that’s part of the adventure, right?

After Maybell we continued on Hwy 40 to Hwy 318 heading to Dutch John, UT, it was all rolling hills (mountains) and valleys, ranches, etc. and following the Green River, it really looked like a wonderful place to live. We chatted about what we would need to live there (high speed internet seemed to be a must for all, oh and a kid to come shovel us out in the winters).

The temps were climbing fast up near 100 degrees, but dropping into Dutch John was interesting, at one point we’re cruising along on Highway 318 in and out of UT/WY and all of a sudden the highway turns to a half assed dirt road (Brown’s Park Rd) up over a small pass (6300’) dropped into Wyoming for half a minute and finally hitting the pavement again now Hwy 191 down to a gas station in Dutch John for fuel and we were off again.

Next we hit Hwy 44 north to Hwy 414  Traversing the lower edge of Flaming Gorge Reservoir, Next stop Mountain View WY for fuel and a late lunch/early dinner. We chose the bowling alley (only place with burgers), and then made our way north and west avoiding the awaiting I-84 to take in the lesser seen route that we had a warning of road closure, but chanced it anyway. Hwy 414 turns into Hwy 412, north and west up to Hwy 189 north again to Kemmerer, WY.

Kemmerrer was a drive by rolling on towards Logan, UT. Hwy 189 turns into 30 or 89, we took 89 the road supposedly closed (thinking if it was closed and we couldn’t get around it we could always turn back and run back to the boring freeway.

Lucky for us it was open, although a semi obviously had some problems at the top of the 7000’ pass above Bear Lake. A flat out crazy place that apparently all of central UT goes to in July, it was a veritable zoo in traffic. We grabbed gas and hit yet another 7500’ pass up out of Bear Lake then dropping through one of the most scenic canyon areas we’d seen (reminding us of the lower half of Hwy 12 above the tunnel along the Rimrock Lake). In this case we were following Beaver Creek and Then the Logan River down into Logan, UT.

In Logan as the sun was setting we gassed and made an all out run for Brigham City to our awaiting hotel rooms and bed. It was nearly 10 pm by the time our heads hit the pillows, but we decided on another early start to try and beat the heat tomorrow.

Our Route:

Colorado 3rd Year 7-28-2023

Colorado 3rd Year 7-28-2023

SOUTH FORK MEADOWS TO MEEKER?

Fri July 28th: 

Epic Camp in South Fork Meadows to Meeker – 75 miles? (All Day)

Wow!

Waking up and making an incredible breakfast, enjoying coffee in the clean mountain air – That’s the life! Now it was time to get serial, we had to break camp and get to Meeker or farther today, not knowing how long it would take. While chatting with the Fly Fisher couple last night, they also informed us this was an in and out trail. Bummer, I thought I had seen a cut-off to our main gravel road trail, but found out I was mistaken. 

So now we had to make the trek out to the top before proceeding, well it’s probably only 10 miles as a crow flies at least 15 or by trail to climb back out of this valley. So far all the rigs were handling it well. Prior to starting this trip beside installing a supercharger on Julia, I replaced my seized rear track bar with a nice new Steer Smarts from Yeti. Unbeknownst to me I had it adjusted a bit too far to thee right and would suffer for it today.

As we were climbing I heard some loud thumps in rapid succession, and thought it was my tires grabbing the back of the tub (but I thought I had adjusted bumps and clearance that). So in one on the frame twisting divots I stopped to have a look at what was making the noise. No tires were contacting, and then I remembered a recent LiteBrite video, where Kevin was pointing out how his driveshaft was catching the tank skid, sure enough, the ears of my driveshaft had been creeping far enough right to catch the edge of my gas tank skid. Oh Crap, we’re only 50 miles from civilization!

Luckily, I carry spare u-joints and tools, but found I only needed to readjust the rear Yeti track bar, to clear it up. So I gently moved uphill to a flat(er) spot sp I could make the adjustment. Unfortunately it was under load, luckily I had ratchet straps and an impact and got it adjusted and we were off, until it hit more.

IDIOT! I had adjusted the axle the wrong way, so I again find myself creeping into a shadier spot as temps were already in the 90s to do it all over again. I can’t stress how important flex testing is after new parts having to do with suspension!

After killing an hour of our day I finally had the track bar/axle where it needed to be and thankfully, I didn’t kill the u-joint, so we were back on our way. And we soon crested the drop out trail (actually Coffee Pot Road), and took a right where we had come in from the left and in short time we got to see the majestic Heart Lake Reservoir.

We crossed over the outlet/spillway area and then stopped for lunch, at a spot we think another You Tuber (Ozark Adventure Overland) camped when they did this trail. After lunch we continued towards Blair Mountain, a place Doug (as well as the rest of us) was excited to see. However, here is where the Rocklanding begins, we turned off the well traveled wide gravel road onto a sort of rocky two track following our maps. In short order found ourselves depending a rocky, off camber hill to a valley below before coming onto Elk Lake set in the middle of a valley surrounded by mountains at 10,400 ft.

We stopped for a group photo, realizing we hadn’t really taken many, and then pressed on, I could see a trail that appeared to go straight up the mountain for like half a mile (I don’t remember that in Ozark’s video), hopefully we aren’t going that way.

Yeah, once again I was wrong…

Our route was straight up that mountain, I only hoped the rigs would perform flawlessly. Luckily they all did, and I can say how proud I am of Mandi & MegaPixel, and Doug & Ann and myself for that matter for conquering the longest steepest hill climb any of us had ever done! Once on top another group shot (more a stop to let everyone especially me calm down a little).

From here we thought it must be all down hill we were at some crazy 12,000’+ elevation, but nope, we would go down and back up a few more times before finding the all down from here point. The sun was sinking and our goal now was to just make it to Meeker. Fuel was getting low, I dropped one of my gerry cans (5 gals) into Julia, Ann had dropped 2 of hers and was still running low, but we had finally found the nice wide gravel road again and hoped we’d have enough to get back into Meeker. Another hour passed and we were closer, but realized once we hit pavement we still had another 20+ miles into Meeker and we had to toss one of Mandi’s 3 Gal extra’s into Ann’s LJ to guarantee success.

After we finally hit the real downhill forest road, we were rallying down as time was slipping away along with the daylight and we were looking for cell service to try and find lodging for the night. I called out how many bars I had all the way down while Mandi drove and Karen tried to find us some rooms. By the bottom where we aired back up, we had reservations but they would only hold them for 45 mins, so We quickly got Mandi (& Karen) aired up a sent them off to secure our rooms for the night.

After they were off, Doug, Ann & I aired up and headed into town for some fuel, dinner and a much needed shower and bed. We had previously eaten at the Mexican restaurant in Meeker, and I was hoping we might find another place but as it was closing on 8 pm we again settled on the Mexican place, had a great dinner and got to bed at the White River Inn.

Our Route:

Colorado 3rd Year 7-27-2023

Colorado 3rd Year 7-27-2023

Coffee Pot Road, Grizzly Jeep Trail, and Budge’s Resort


Thu July 27th:

Dispersed camp – ??? South Fork Meadows (All Day)

We woke up (or at least Mandi did) for sunrise pictures, me sometime later and decided on a quick breakfast and camp breakdown. We had no real way to judge what kind of time it would take to explore this southern/western legs of The Flat Top trail, but we intended to get it all in.

We got out on the incredibly well traveled and maintained Coffee Pot Road, and climbed another couple thousand feet in elevation and shortly after cresting this (pass?), I see an out and back trail, and get the nod to take it as we’re here to explore. While cresting this mountain, we’ve been passed by folks in all sorts of vehicles, including Truck/Campers, trucks with RV trailers and cars too. Some folks seem to have more money than sense (at least in my mind), because we we’re all running aired down to like 12-15lbs in our tires and they were at highway pressures… Crazy I tell ya!

Good thing we decided to check out this trail, as it led to Deep Creek Overlook, and as we’re approaching what appeared to be a fairly large dirt parking area, I notice a guy about my age on his back on the backside of a behemoth Eagle 12.5’ Camper (w 3 slides) & Ford F-350 Dually set-up pulling an enclosed trailer. It looked as though he might need help, and I was correct. I pulled up next to him and jumped out asking if he was in need of assistance? He immediately said yes and showed me a screw in his right rear outter tire and the tire was flat, putting the whole weight of this thing on one inner tire.

Now this thing was loaded down and he was attempting to air the tire back up so he could get off the mountain. I offered up my onboard air, knowing it was a bit more powerful to his little handheld Amazon portable pump. Then we decided to pull the screw as it continued to leak and plug the tire successfully.

This set-up was HEAVY, but with a little patience we got him aired back up to 80 lbs and got them on their way. Good deed for the day done it was time for us to make-up the hour or so we just spent. The gentleman told us about Broken Rib  Spring up the road that we had to check out. He said he’d been using it as a water source every time he had be up here in the last 20 years. “It’s always flowing right next to the road,” he said “Best water you’ll ever taste!”

Well, with that they set off in one direction and we went the other to find said spring. A few miles later, we found the spring with a turnout just opposite and decided to see if what he said was correct. Man was he right, most of us grabbed whatever empty containers we had and took some 4 gallons with us, we also made a quick lunch here. It may seem dicey to drink spring water without some trick filter, but this was the coldest, cleanest best tasting water I ever had. Should I ever find my way back here, I’ll be hitting that spring again!

After lunch we continued westerly, and not very far down the road we came upon The Grizzly Jeep Trail… Now The other night when I was mapping we saw this Grizzly trail and looked it up, and some guy (probably a Subaru owner) left a comment about it being totally impassable, and took hime 5 hours for a 4 mile trail. So we were going to skip right on by, but curiosity had us wondering, so we decided to check it out, figuring we could always turn back if it were truly impassable. It was a fun little trail that dumped us out at an old Cow Camp and then back onto the wide gravel road. Definitely not a Jeep guy, it was easy going and beautiful. Now having taken the cut-off I wondered what we might’ve missed on the other trail so we  headed back up and around to where we started (I know waisting time we don’t know if we have), I could see on the map a trail that connected us back to the trail further along towards where we might camp, so we took it.

Along the way we came across a much need bathroom (at Deep Lake Campground – the map was a little off the purple line was made late in the trip without service so it straightened out the actual route we took). After relieving ourselves we were on a mission (at least I was) to find Budge’s Resort.

We had no idea of what to expect, but it gave us a target to shoot for, and boy did it turn out to be an incredible trip. We dropped into the trail way beyond Heart Lake and found ourselves dropping into a back country valley, and soon caught up with a truck and trailer hauling hay (Budge himself?) down a legit 4×4 trail.

After some exploration or three looking for campsites we caught them again, this time it was wide enough and they let us pass. On and on we went further down into a valley on a well used but rugged 4×4 trail that dropped us out into the conjunction of Fawn Creek and the South Fork River aka South Fork Meadows. To say it was beautiful just doesn’t do it justice, more MAJESTIC I would say.

We found an Escalade sitting some 2000’ up parked and pointed uphill along the trail (not sure if it broke or the driver knew he’d never get outta there if he went further). Then we ran across a couple set-up for fly fishing who told us about Budge’s and the area, and recommend a site just around the corner for camping up above where their camp was so we set out to find EPIC CAMP.

And it was an incredible camp, our best to date! We went about setting up camp and settling in for the night with the weather doing what it does in Colorado (changing). Lucky for us the weather held at least until we were asleep…

Our Route:

Colorado 3rd Year 7-26-2023 

Colorado 3rd Year 7-26-2023 

WINTER PARK-COFFEE POT ROAD

WED JULY 26th:  

Winter Park/Fraser/Idaho Springs/Breckenridge/Wolcott – Then we hit a trail? (226 mi~8-9 hrs) (Dispersed Camping)

Today Julia (chassis) hit 150,000 miles! Not bad for a big girl on her 2nd engine and transmission! 

Today was supposed to be a rest day, but Doug found a wheel in Denver (a two hour plus round trip) and Karen really wanted to go to the Breckenridge Brewery (for the last year), so having been given the blessing to re-route us back up into the Flat Tops, that we had courted the first two nights (the northern potion of the trail is fairly basic), having seen videos of how pretty it was it wasn’t hard to get the okay to head back into those mountains.

So we started the morning late getting out of Winter Park around 11:00, Doug had already made it into Denver and we met him back in Black Hawk, where we found the only laundry mat & car wash in the county. After that we hi balled it on I-70 to Frisco and then Breckenridge, strait to the brewery.

To be honest, I was a little concerned, as we had hoped to be leaving Breckenridge by 4 and we arrived closer to 4:30. But the food and beers were delicious and all we had to do now was get to camp on Coffee Pot Road – 3 hrs west (but we didn’t know that yet).

I had chosen to jump back onto the Flat Tops trail a little higher than necessary, as Coffee Pot Road started near Dotsero, CO, but we jumped north at Wolcott and took Hwy 131 north before finding the trail, Milk Creek Rd that then took us down along the Colorado River for miles, eventually putting us near Dotsero and the beginning of Coffee Pot Road. 

We climbed up away from the Colorado River and found a camp that allowed us to see I-70 way down below, with a crazy view of Colorado’s best features – mountains & valleys. Camp was set up off the edge of the trail and things were getting back to normal. We had all decided that we’d cancel our Frisco hotel, and rough it from here on out, as we didn’t know how long traversing the lower and western parts of the trail might take. We’ll see how tomorrow goes…

Our Route: