Saturday, July 22, 2017
Red Elephant / Mill Creek / Bill Moore Lake

Join with a group to travel three trails - much of which I've yet to visit. The first trail, Red Elephant, I did partially visit in 2013 to remove a rolled / abandoned vehicle. The second trail is Mill Creek. This offered some old cabins / houses - most collapsed but one still in use as the "Empire Hilton". The last trail offered nice scenery as it was the first time of the day getting above timberline along with the jewel of Bill Moore Lake at the end.

Leaving the lake we headed down to the town of Empire. Bryan and I would take the long way home via the west side of the front range - hopping over at Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a LONG, bumpy trail day. On the road just before 8am to return home at Midnight.

From the maps listing - this is the "formal" listing for the three trails.

Our route in yellow.

An elevation profile. The highest elevation would be at RMNP about 11pm. I'm a tad surprised Berthoud Pass is as high as it is.

I mentioned above that Bryan would return with me via the slow route to home. He lives in Loveland and has been on a few trail trips with me. I mentioned this trip was happening and if he wished to join, he was welcome. He furiously checked out video files others have posted to get a feel for how the trail is - is it difficult and are there close / encroaching branches to the trail. The concern - paint that is not but one week old. A tad more than 500 miles on a 2017 Jeep Rubicon Recon. A NICE jeep - and one what would be "very good" to put back into the garage without pine tree pin stripes. Well, worry about a few pin stripes became quite low on the list when insurance totalling became front and center.

About where he's standing was a set of rocks for a small step or obstacle. When he made it up, the front tires slid right and off the trail. The ground was soft. He tried to back up - and felt the vehicle slide right / downslope. I came to ckeck and asked for some backup - nope - only sideways downslope motion happened.  No driving out of this predicament. Time to pull it back onto the trail.

The two other vehicles in the group were ahead of us. When they came back to check I yelled "winch" as one of the two others had a winch. I had one too but figured another might be needed.

I turned around and started to prep for the task but we were interrupted with a nice rain storm. One wonderful roll of thunder! While we waited, a side-by-side wanted to come up trail. With Bryan nicely parked at the edge of the trail they could squeeze by if they could get up the rock step. We helped and they made it around and stopped to watch / help with the task (thanks folks!).

With the rain stopped, we set to work. Right about the time we were ready to start winching the jeep onto the trail the others showed up. It seems they had a significant issue with coming close to sliding off of the side of the trail (where the rolled vehicle, referenced above, went off trail). It's a spot we'd all drive through with this task tended.

Photo - lines connected just before the rear end was pulled onto the trail.

Rear's done.

Now for the front.

In hindsight we probably could have backed up to get the right-front wheel onto the trail - but with all of the tools available it was easy to use'm for the safe option.

Mostly done. Bryan will drive forward, slowly, as the front end is pulled. John watched to ensure the strap would not get caught.

Now that's a right proper picture!

Up and moving - and past / above the other set of obstacles that caused issues for others.

Blue sky returning. It's nice to be high enough / out of the trees for a nice view.

 One of two creek crossings for today.

Old mountain house

the Empire Hilton

Nearby was another house remnant - but as I was awaiting the others, the swing was put to nice use.


The second creek crossing

The town of Empire is at the bottom right of this photo. Georgetown is center right. The mountainside (center) is well marked with mining operations.

Bill Moore Lake
(Click for a larger size)

July 22

Right at timberline - ready to drop below.

Not too often am I out, on a trail ride, to see long shadows.

Dropping down from Berthoud Pass to look for supper in Winter Park

With a lot of attention to branches, the paint is fully intact on the new jeep!