Submitted by Mike Whittington on Wed, 08/23/2017 - 16:36
Trip Report – Buena Vista, Colorado July 30 to August 5, 2017 Report prepared by Laura W. Participants: Chad, Joanna, Scott & Nash O., Mike, Laura, Kristina & Chris W., Jerome and Brenda, Rich and Corkey W. , Ric and Lisa, John and Mary L. Monday, 7/31, the group headed toward St. Elmo, Tin Cup Pass, Hancock Pass and the old Alpine tunnel. Chris's twin sister, Kristina and 2 friends who had been camping in the area decided to pile into his Jeep and join the fun just for the day. We stopped to check out St. Elmo. Very few people still live there; it is considered a 'living ghost town' with several old buildings, one was a small store with very busy hummingbird feeders hanging from the eaves. Across the street there were chipmunks galore taking treats from people's hands. We wondered for a moment if any of the people had heard of rabies, or any other nefarious disease caused by wild animal bites. With that, we continued on up and over Tin Cup Pass at just over 12,000’. On the other side of the pass, Scott O. noticed a huge Bull Moose leisurely eating not too far from the trail. We stopped to take photos and just watch him for a while. As we continued on towards the town of Tin Cup, we came upon a fellow Jeeper with a broken rear driveshaft U joint and yoke, so we stopped to help him out. With that done, we continued on until we were stopped again. This time John L. announced that he lost a track bar bolt. Jerome had a spare and a repair was made and we continued on toward Tin Cup. By the time we got to Tin Cup, we noticed it was getting late so we headed back to camp via the highway. We didn't make it to Hancock Pass or the Alpine Tunnel (a rails to trails route that Chris and Mike W had done before), but all in all it was a beautiful but long day. Tuesday, 8/1, the group minus the Labbetts headed off to the Iron Chest Mine. The trail started off with about a half mile of challenging boulders. Nothing like KOH boulders but challenging enough for lightly lifted four wheelers. Along the trail we stopped to take photos of the remains of what we think was a bunkhouse for the mine. It was pretty amazing how it was built on the edge of a steep slope. We stopped for a leisurely lunch at the mine site and to do some exploring around Iron Chest Mine. It had remnants of a tram house, outbuildings and other structures to check out. The elevation was again, slightly over 12000’ It was also a pretty great area for the rock hounds among us. We all brought back something shiny/sparkly/colorful or a combination of all. Thankfully today, there were no vehicle issues. It was just a great and beautiful day! On Tuesday evening, Joanna broke out the deep fat fryer and everybody brought out anything and everything to throw into it and share with the group. We had everything from fried cheese sticks to mushrooms. Some things were better than others but we all got great big lumps in our stomachs from this delicious (right!) food. Wednesday, 8/2, the Wohlers, Oelliens, Labbetts, Whittingtons, Jerome and Brenda had reservations to go whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River. Water was high, turbulent, and a little chilly due to rain every afternoon while we were there. We took a break from the river for lunch and to warm up in the sun. Just when we were almost warm, the Colorado afternoon thunderclouds rolled in for their 10 minutes of rain. We really lucked out when the rain turned to hail and we could see our breath. The hail wasn't very big, but it stung when it hit. While the other groups of people (mostly teenage boys) huddled together under a tree to protect themselves from the hail and try to keep warm, we lined up (yes, lined, like a train) under a tree to do the same. Fortunately the guides had woolen sweaters we could put on. These are amazing articles of clothing. It really doesn't matter if they are soaking wet, they are warm! Thursday, 8/3 Tom Muzak, a former OTR member joined us as well as Mike and Laura's youngest daughter and their 2 oldest grandchildren from Wichita for the Holy Cross City run. Holy Cross trail is probably the most famous trail in Colorado. It is a much more challenging trail than every other trail we did during the week. As we were moving along, Ric blew a power steering hose and the group performed a repair before continuing on. There were other vehicles on the trail due to the All 4 Fun event sponsored by the Mile High 4 Wheelers. Unfortunately they were coming down the mountain as we were going up. Due to trees etc., this made for some challenging passing at times. Our group made it to the creek crossing which is the most difficult part of the trail and found several vehicles trying to come down. It was getting later in the day and we decided to turn around at that point and head for home. Deep fryer goodness (again!) and wine tasting awaited us at camp. Friday, 8/4, four vehicles set out for Mt. Antero. The Oelliens, Wohlers, Mike and Chris rode together in Mike's Jeep; John and Ric rode together in John's. It was a great day. The sky was clear, the trail was beautiful paralleling and crossing a creek then heading up a narrow shelf road as we climbed toward the top of Mt. Antero, a 14er. Our trail topped out at 13,700’!!! We then headed over to Browns Lake for lunch. The views were amazing! That evening we all headed into town for dinner at the Lariat. The food was decent and the company fantastic. We even got to watch Lisa and Ric “cut a rug” on the dance floor. On Saturday, most of us headed towards home. A few (the retired folks) could continue the adventure at other places. Someday… Like all the previous Colorado OTR trips, this was another fantastic adventure. The views were absolutely amazing and the weather perfect…well, almost perfect. Thanks to all for making this a most memorable experience.