Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pickle Gulch 12/22/12

With a recent snow storm that just dumped tons of snow in the mountains, my veins were pumped full of excitement to get out on the trail and do some snow busting. A few weeks ago I sent out an email asking what destination on patrol wanted to visit. Pickle Gulch was the hands down winner, and so Blackhawk became the destination. Pickle Gulch is a fairly easy trail in the summer time, but the fresh snow would make this a fun trip for everyone, including the big rigs.

We met up at Bullwhackers Gas Station and had 15 rigs show up. We had everything from XJ's, to JK's, from CJ's to ZJ's, from stock to buggie, from locked to open, and from young to old. (Not that I'm calling anyone old). We set off for the trail and found a nice wide air down spot just off highway 119 a click before Pickle Gulch campground.

As soon as we hit the trail, it was clear we would be cutting the first tracks in this fresh snow. WAHOO!! We soon reached the mud hole that has been sitting in the area for a few years now. Ryan attempted to climb the wall of solid dirt, but the hole was filled with ice and there was no way to get traction. For a few minutes I thought that I might just dig out the slope a bit and make it easier to approach, but the ground was frozen solid, and there was no way I was breaking through. Matt from the Stay The Trail Ambassadors was with us on this trip, and we briefly spoke about coming back next summer to fill this mud hole in. The hole was absolutely huge. It made even Morgan's rig on 42's look small.

We continued to trek down the trail until we reached the rocky hill climb. Ryan went first and was able to reach the top no problem. The more rigs that followed, the icier the slope got. Some rigs took the bypass, and other attempted their luck on the icy rocks.

The ZJ with us some how managed to shoot out a coil spring, and so we were stopped for a bit putting that back in. After a long stop at this rock climb, we were finally on our way. There was one more icy slope that gave a few people problems, but the more rigs that passed over the slope, the easier it got for everyone else. We finally stopped for lunch just below the old cabin ruins.

After a brief conversation about turning around, we actually continued up the hill with limited interruptions until about 3.5 miles in where we made a fatal mistake by letting the biggest Jeeps fall to the back of the group. Falling upon some large drifts on the north section of the hill, we found that shoveling and winching were only going to make this day draw well into the night. After a quick recovery of Pete, we called it a day and turned everyone around. It was a great day to get out and wheel, and the company was even better on this day. Hope to see everyone again here in the new year!