2004 was the official 10th annual Texas Rovers Colorado Trails Expedition. The Texas Rovers Club is one of the many Worldwide Land Rover Clubs for owners and enthusiasts who enjoy off-road adventure and camaraderie. With chapters in Dallas and San Antonio Texas. The Trip was organized and led by Chris (Doc) Hinkle (04 G4 Disco) and Jack Poehlman (Navigator with Chris), it included Kevin Didion (Range Rover), Jim Edson (95 Disco), Justin Nevitt ( D90), Ken and Kath loafman(Disco), Arto and Wendy Pullinen (Disco), Joel and Debbie Rocha (Range Rover),
One group of Texas Rovers started out from Dallas Texas early Sunday morning. The convoy started with four rovers and 1 Ford F350 Tow rig with empty trailer (empty trailer to pick up a D90 in Durango Co.). Arriving in Walsenburg, Colorado. early Sunday night. The remainder of the group met in various towns along the route to make up the expedition start on Wednesday.
The next leg of the trip was to head Black Bear Pass, with the goal of lunch at the top of the falls over Telluride Black Bear Pass is rated difficult based on the difficulty of the switch backs that descend into Telluride. This is no place for the weak of heart the weather made for some great views. The weather tried to dampen spirits with a little snow at the higher elevations, but nothing that impeded our progress. We made it the top of the falls in a reasonable time for lunch and Jim to top off his coolant tank with rocky mountain spring water.. After lunch, the dramatic descent down the switchbacks of Black Bear began. On the 3rd or 4th tight switch back, Jim Edson chose the 2-point and a scrap over the 3-point turn required by others. Leaving a green paint on the rock face as a reminder to others to be careful and watch both sides on the switchbacks. The scratches on the right side now match his previous damage on the left side! With out further incident the Texas Rovers arrived in the city of Telluride.
After an impromptu Land Rover parade through Telluride and onto Imogene Pass. Imogene departs Telluride on the north side of down town, and begins a steep climb. Within the first section, we passed several Jeeps heading down. While passing and older non-rental Jeep, we were informed that the Imogene was not passable. Apparently, the recent snowfall had covered the last climb with 2 – 3 feet deep snow. At this point, we decided it might be fun to spend a little time in Telluride checking out the town. Some of the group head out on the highway back to Ouray, while some of us started wondering around town. After checking out the shops and a saloon, Kevin and Joel decided to take the Ophir short cut back to Ouray, concluding a great day.
Thursday started a little earlier at 8 AM in Ouray. Jim Edson and Justin hung back, and took the Highway to Crested Butte for repairs to their vehicles.. The first trail of the day was Engineer pass. This trail with the Cinnamon Pass makes up half of the famous Alpine Loop. The lower section of Engineer pass seemed to be slightly rougher this year than remembered from years past. Making the summit around 11 AM and took a few quick photos before heading down into Lake City. After encountering a herd of sheep, arriving at the city park in Lake City for lunch around 11:45.
After lunch, every one headed out toward Los Pino’s Pass and the navigational challenges of the afternoon. The afternoon was pretty much uneventful, and the complex navigation of the highland meadows and the Continental Divide was achieved. Some of use headed into Crested Butte, while the campers picked up supplies in Gunnison and went to camp in White Pine.
Friday was one of the easier days of the trip. Departing Crested Butte around 8:30 to meet up with the campers at 10 AM. Then on the way up to Tomichi pass. Tomichi Pass 11,970ft is considered difficult because of the narrow trail. The north side is very narrow and some sections pose a ground clearance problem for stock vehicles. There is a rocky area that is always flooded on the lower north side also. Friday’s weather was a little less than desirable with overcast skies and spotty rain and drizzle. The group trekked along regardless of the weather. Climbing to the top of Tomichi then descended over to the Alpine tunnel for lunch. After lunch in the cold rain, the exposition head back to Hancock pass 12,140ft. The top of Hancock was once again cold and rainy, and kept everyone moving. After dropping a few thousand feet, the rain started to clear a bit and some folks stopped at one of the old mines along the route. The camper’s decided to take a look at Iron Chest, which has been turned into an easy trail for some sort of forest service access. The rest headed in to Buena Vista for an early day.
The first pass Saturday was across the continental divide at Tincup Pass with an elevation of 12,154 ft. Tincup pass is moderately difficult under dry conditions. Taylor Pass At 11,928 is rated difficult primarily do to the upper south west side with several miles of boulder-strewn tails one with water running over it turning it into a stream. On top of Taylor the group separated. with the camping contingent back tracking to fuel up. before taking on the rougher parts of the pass. Doc, Ken, and Jim continued on to Pearl Pass with its many boulder-covered fields, steep climbs, water crossings and narrow ledges make this 12,705 ft. pass difficult. When the group reached the top, a Toyota and a Jeep blocked the Pearl Pass. The Toyota had dislocated a leaf spring on the right front due to a missing locator pin. Chris (Doc) Hinkle along with the owner and Jack Poehlman managed to relocate the spring and using a crescent wrench of Doc’s to shim the spring so the “U” bolts would tighten enough to got them on the road and off the trail so the expedition could make it off the mountain before dark and spend the night in Crested Butte.
Sunday, September 12, 2004: Leave 8:30 AM, Schofield Pass, not one of the highest at only 10,707 is one of the difficult trails. Schofield Pass is extremely narrow with loose rock and is not recommend for full size vehicles. It is hard to find a spot wide enough to pass vehicles and could force folks to back up quite a distance. There is one spot with a large boulder that requires going to the hillside between it and the mountain that could be exciting for wide vehicles. Hagerman Pass. According to “GUIDE TO COLORADO BACKROADS & 4-WHEEL DRIVE TRAILS” “On July 9,1970 the worst off road accident Colorado history occurred when nine tourist died when a full-sized vehicle plummeted off the ledge at the Devil’s Punch Bowl”. This is also the route to the most photographed structure in Colorado, the power house on Crystal River were the group stopped for a break and picture taking The Rovers of Jim, Chris, and the Loafman’s headed to Breckenridge to spend the night.
Monday the fellow ship of Land Rovers split up and headed their own ways. The camping group went on to do Red Cone. Red Cone is known for it’s three quarter mile long, one way extremely steep decent which calls for you must have the up most confidence in your vehicle and your driving skills. Ken and Kathy Loafman took out on a leisurely holiday trip home. Chris and Jim headed back to Dallas. Leaving at five in the morning, it was a long haul back. About mid day Jim’s anti lock brake light started coming on. With some thought he started turning things off. Finally turning the air conditioner off made the light go out. This made for a warm trip as the weather was getting up in the mid 90’s as they approached Texas. Just as Jim got to with in two miles of his house, Lucas prince of darkness struck his 95 Disco, it died. Of course the phone number for roadside assistance was on the drivers window, which was in the down position. Making a quick call to his wife who went out and looked on her Disco’s window and called assistance. The battery so dead the four way flashers were in slow motion, and not working by the time the tow truck showed up.