Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Dangers of Wheeling Alone

Recently, our club was contacted by an individual who was reaching out to us for help recovering his Jeep on a snowy mountainside. This individual ventured out alone one day up a steep shelf road and unfortunately his Jeep slid off the trail and was not able to get it back on the road. Conditions that day seemed favorable for a recovery, however the conditions quickly changed the next day.

A snow storm rolled in dropping several inches of new snow on the area while the wind created drifts feet deep on the narrow switchbacks. A recovery at this point became very dangerous. Once the stuck Jeep had been looked over, it became clear that even in ideal conditions a recovery of this type was going to be tricky. Ice and snow obviously diminished the chances of reaching the vehicle, let alone attempting to recover it.

I think we can all confess to wheeling alone. It is by no means a bad thing. There is no reason that one cannot go out and explore this great country by themselves. However, the risks of wheeling alone drastically change from season to season. The same graded trail that has no issues in the summer, can become a slippery, axle eating monster in the fall with just a little bit of snow. It is these risks that we must be aware of and be prepared for when venturing out alone.

I have seen over and over again, people say "do not wheel alone", "it's stupid to wheel alone", etc. There have been similar comments about wheeling in a stock vehicle. Now I will be the first to admit that it certainly isn't the first choice to wheel alone or stock but I don't think that it is as dangerous as some like to make it out to be. As long as you realize that you are alone and that you are in a stock vehicle there is no reason you can't go out and have fun and be safe at the same time.

That being said, lets talk about wheeling alone. If you are going to wheel alone, go places that are not far from civilization. If you are always in cell phone range then you know you can always get help if needed. If you are going to a place that is not in cell phone range, then make sure you are able to walk back to civilization to get help. Always head back well before dark if you aren't prepared to walk back in the dark. The key is to realize you are alone and to wheel like you are alone and not with a group, don't take undue risks and always be aware of your surroundings

As for wheeling stock, sure everyone would love to have a 6'' lift, 37s, lockers, and a Warn power plant, but the reality is not everyone can. Some people have stock Jeeps.  So just know, if you are wheeling in a stock vehicle, then be aware that you are in a stock vehicle and don't try to go places that you need lift and armor and a winch to get to. You can have fun in a stock vehicle as long as you are careful, you are aware of your surroundings and you don't try to go beyond the limits of your vehicle. This includes knowing the type of tire you have, and the condition they are in. It doesn't matter how big your tires are, bald tires don't get traction. Also, street tires probably aren't going to do so hot in the snow or mud. It is all about knowing the capability of your jeep and not being overconfident.

I could go on and on but I will leave at this. You can wheel alone, and in any vehicle, as long as you are careful and know your limitations.

Winter is upon us. There are still plenty of trails open during the winter, but know it's winter. Have a shovel with you, bring a coat, bring extra food and water just in case. And it NEVER hurts to have some sort of cutting tool with you like an axe or bowsaw to ensure a downed tree doesn't trap you on the trail.

Ryan Boudreau
MHJC Trip Planner

Monday, November 4, 2013

2013 Creepy Crawl

This year marked the second annual Patrol 14 event dubbed "The Creepy Crawl". There was a ton of work that went into making this a great event, including multiple scouting trips during the summer. Once the route was determined, and the checkpoints plotted, it was time for some of the decorations. A number of 14ers gathered a few nights before the event and carved out pumpkins that were left at each checkpoint like a guide showing participants they were in the right spot.

We gathered again the afternoon of the event to set up all the final pieces. Pumpkins were dropped off. Glow sticks were placed in trees and bushes, and the finish line fire was stock piled with wood. Soon the participants arrived at the starting location in Idaho Springs, and it was time to get your creep on!

This year the event was a scavenger hunt starting in Idaho Springs and finishing near Central City. Participants were given a map and GPS coordinates of 5 checkpoints they must find before checking back in at the finish line. Groups of 4-5 rigs were sent out in 10 minute intervals starting at dusk.

The closest check point was an old mill building with two sealed cauldrons. Inside these cauldrons were plastic eye balls that each participant had to grab before moving on. However, it wasn't that easy. Inside one cauldron was hundreds of worms (or spaghetti noodles dowsed in oil) and the other was filled with the guts of the butchered pumpkins from Thursday night. I'm sure each person was pleasantly surprised at this checkpoint.

Other checkpoints included finding certain gravestones and bringing back the dates of death, or names on the stones. One checkpoint offered folks the opportunity to capture ghosts in their cameras when they were required to take a picture with Walters Cabin.

Once all checkpoints were completed, folks made their way to the finish line where they were greeted with a warm fire, hot chocolate, and smores. At the check in, your answers were checked and if you properly completed each checkpoint, your name went into a prize drawing. We had a number of great prizes provided by 4Wheel Parts and High Country Performance 4x4.


The second annual Creepy Crawl was a total hit this year. 10 times better than last year, and the planner for a better event next year has already begun!

Chinaman's & Liberty Weekend 9/21/13

A small group of 14ers packed up for the weekend to hit up Chinaman's Gulch on Saturday, and Liberty on Sunday, with a night run up Carnage smacked in the middle. It was a hardcore weekend to say the least. Besides David blowing a front shaft, the only other damage for the weekend was plenty of body damage to share amongst the group. Enjoy the pics!