Saturday, February 15, 2020
Sevenmile Creek

Matt from the jeep group wants to visit the Sevenmile Creek trail. While most trails close in the winter (locked gates maintained by the Forest Service), this trail is open all year. Deep snow becomes the next reason for a trail to be "closed" - and that was the case for us today.

There were four of us from the jeep group. While we were at the trailhead another set of perhaps five vehicles started down the trail - then a group of three quads headed down - and then us. Shortly later the first group of jeeps came back - they were turning back and heading out. We pushed on. The first creek crossing turned out to be a big surprise at how deep it was. Dropping into the puddle almost saw water hitting the front of the hood - certainly into headlight range - though the full crossing wasn't headlight depth.

With the four of us past the first crossing we encountered a mechanical issue with the white blazer - it's front driveshaft would disconnect from the transfer case. A short task to reconnect it found us moving along. Not too much later the driveshaft would pop out again and when that happened the driveshaft was removed for the day. The blazer would be a two-wheel-drive vehicle. It had new tires with great tread. An extra set of chains was around so they were put onto the rear tires to give it a bit of extra help.

We kept rolling west until a snowdrift section was encountered. There was a small side-slope to the section that wanted to pull us down towards the creek. This eighty foot section was a task. The narrow quads left tracks where they were able to drive right over the snow - not so for us heavy and wide full-size vehicles. The first two vehicles (I was fourth at this time) needed to be winched through the section. Three separate trees were put to use as anchors for getting through. Once the first jeep was through, it was able to turn around and lend use of its winch line to help speed the process. Without winches or the trees for anchor points we would have turned back.

The set of quads found the end of the trail for them (snow too deep and they turned back) and had returned to bunch up behind the first jeep that was working to get the second jeep through the snowdrift. The third, the blazer, started to winch through but we ended up pulling it back to let the quads get by. The blazer, without any drive on the front axle, was having a difficult time.

The blazer and I watched the quads work through the snowdrift area. The quads were having a difficult time as we stirred up the snow on our push through. The quads were gone and the first two jeeps headed up trail to see how far they could go. The blazer and I waited an hour and then decided to check on the first two. I was 2/3 of the way through winching through the snowdrift when the first two jeeps came back. Blazer and I already decided to leave the blazer behind to look for the first two so with all of us together, the three vehicles headed up trail.

The first two jeeps had already been up trail but I and Blazer hadn't and with an "easy" drive we did the five or ten minute drive. We arrived at the Stump Hill / old mine ruins area and turned back. The first two jeeps, on their earlier visit, had pushed farther up the main trail and up the Stump Hill trail.

Now, the three of us needed to re-process the snowdrift area - and curiously all three of us drove right through with no side-slip down towards the creek and no "stuck" due to deep snow.

Now for the water crossings. The first of two that gave issue wasn't of much concern and all of us drove across. The second, the larger pool, would not let us across if we went straight through it - the far end was too much of a ledge to get up. Knowing the two-wheel-drive blazer would likely need a pull, the driver connected a two strap to the front before getting into the water. It needed a pull to get out and that was the end of the need for mechanical assistance.

Off of the trail, I decided to head home via the northern route. Some in the group were curious to have a visit to Red Feather Lakes so we decided to trek a bit farther north and made a quick drive through the town.

A clock-wise trip today.

Sevenmile Creek, of what we traveled today, circled in red.

Sevenmile Creek
In-n-out distance - 7.6 miles
Elapsed time: 6h 20m (trailhead to trailhead - not counting air down (45 min) and air up time (20 min))
Average speed: 1.2 MPH

The foothills are sporting a nice coating of white.

As is common - clouds hang over the mountains with clear blue sky and warm sun for the front range

Heading west / up the Poudre Canyon / Colo Hwy 14

A little water was flowing in the river.

The Mishawaka bar / stage / restaurant with river facing deck and dining

The rock tunnel

Moving on the trail

The blazer dropping into the deep water crossing

New tires with good tread - able to move a lot of water

Finding a different route to get through.

Ice chunks on the third-in-line jeep

Hybrid Blazers - who knew? ;-)

And the front driveshaft (new / recently installed) disconnected again. This time it'll get pulled and will ride in the trunk.

The snowdrift area with the downslope.

Jeep #1 making first tracks (for a full size) in the deep snow. A suble downslope, with slippery snow, found it sliding downhill. Time to winch it back onto the trail.

Tracks from the narrow quads that left before us. The right side track is where we'd put our right tires - but our left tires would be left of both quad tracks - putting us into the three to four foot deep drift area. The snow had about three or four inches of hard crust (able to walk on) with soft snow below.

Jeep #1 stopped before the downslope slide was too significant. Time to pick a substantial tree and winch the jeep into place.

Now for Jeep #2 to pull the rear end onto trail.

On trail, re-locate to another tree down the trail and start the slow slog of pulling the jeep through the deep snow. Before undertaking the task (slow) we decided if we wanted to turn around and call it a day - all were game to push on.

Time warp - the snowdrift is done. We're heading out the easy section of trail to visit two somewhat formidable water crossings (there were several crossings, most were trivial).

The blazer in two-wheel-drive at the large water crossing. As the odds were good it'd need a pull so a strap was added while it was on dry ground - a good choice.

It's try'n to get through. In the end, the strap was put to good use and everyone stayed dry.

Taking a line to the low side (of the creek).

Passenger tires on the high, hard snow/ice with driver side tires in the water.