Friday Aug 12 & Saturday Aug 13, 2022
Red Cone - Radical Hill - Rear Diff Pinion Noise

The plan is for a back to back two day trail weekend. Friday is slated to be Red Cone with Saturday to be Mosquito Pass and Weston Pass. I scheduled a room in Fairplay as this would be a convenient location vs. driving back and forth from Fort Collins.

At the end of Red Cone I split from the group and headed towards Breckenridge while the others in the group headed towards Montezuma. The afternoon was forecast to have rain / thunderstorms and as I was wrapping up the trail a wonderful, heavy, thunderstorm came down. A nice double rainbow was to be enjoyed.

On the road I noticed a new noise and feeling in the jeep. High frequency (driveline). While the jeep was running normally, the noise and vibration was in the "not good" range. From Breckenridge to Fairplay is Hoosier Pass. On the far side of the pass I coasted in neutral - the noise and vibration went away. My mind is thinking U-joint or perhaps the rear differential pinion bearing/gear.

I met the Mosquito Pass group Saturday morning and told them of the issue and that I would not be joining them for the trails. I then went to remove the rear driveshaft - to drive home with front wheel drive. The small toolkit did not have the two tools for the task so I went to the convenient Napa store that was nearby (if something is IN Fairplay, it's nearby - but if it's not - it's a long drive). With a properly sized allen wrench and a 1/2" box end wrench for the task I found an out of the way spot to remove the fasteners. Perhaps ten minutes later - task complete. Driving now has no noise or vibration - an improvement.

The trip home was uneventful aside from a self-imposed road speed of 40mph.  The front driveshaft is original to the jeep. It's a bit worn and sloppy in the slip joint. At highway speeds it vibrates a noticeable amount. Normally, the front driveshaft only rotates when I'm on a trail so I never bother to upgrade to a new driveshaft. For Saturday's drive home, it would be a limiting component.

I debated routes - head north then east and stay rural or head east and then north and go urban. Rural would have less traffic to deal with me, a slow moving vehicle, but it'd pass through no-cell-zone areas should I need to call a tow truck. The urban route (blue line on the map) was my choice. The rear view mirror was heavily viewed for upcoming traffic for me to pick a pull-out. Overall, it was of no concern. Pull-outs were common and as I neared the city, two lanes were common that made passing easy for folks. Once in the urban area, the verticlce blue line from Denver to Fort Collins was all multi-lane with the lower / Denver section all of slower "my speed" speeds.

The jeep and I made it home w/o issue. Now to open the rear differential. That work is something I'll take it to a shop.

Closer trail map. We started at the top / Montezuma, descended south on Webster Pass.  From the bottom right a counter-clockwise circle was Red Cone. Where we took trails to the west was Radical Hill. At the west end of Radical Hill I kept going west while the others in the group headed north to Montezuma.

Construction. Along I-25 this location offered a nice view of the mountains (Longs Peak to the left). This building will block much of the open view.

I'm on the Loveland Pass road and we're looking down to I-70 where it goes into the mountain.

The jeep is Steven, one of the members for the trail ride today.


Heading down Webster Pass

Red Cone mountain - our destination

We made the turn off of the Webster Pass road and are on the Red Cone road.

Red Cone road / trail - up near timberline.

We can see a group or two ahead of us. No need to rush as we wish to reach the top once they have left.

Above timberline the views expand - something I enjoy.

Can you find any "marks of man"?  No roads, power line cuts, buildings

Nearing the peak - some vehicles sitting atop.

We stopped to await others to leave. There is not much parking space up there. With guidance ten to fifteen vehicles can be packed in but as folks normally drive and stop - perhaps five to seven vehicles fill the area.

Down to the left...

Down to the right...

Can you find the sheep (Dall?)?  There are three - two adults and a youngster.

Poser photo - 12,801 feet atop Red Cone Mountain.

Heading down - some fairly steep grades.

Down to take a left at the Radical Hill intersection.

I tried to see if the rain would show in the photo - blue sky around - with rain falling. You can make out some white dots in the picture.

We didn't stop at the cabin today.

Looking back at Red Cone and Webster Pass

Only one sheep out at this common spot.

Matt and Steven heading back to Montezuma via Deer Creek where I'll head to Breckenridge via the Middle Fork of the Swan River.

I traveled this Middle Fork trail, uphill, many years prior.

Mining refuse - I call them "tan fans" of rock on the mountainside.

They stick out from afar.

The last time I was on this trail, this cabin was intact. I'll have to search for the photo (I don't see it posted online).

Rain's coming

Out of the trails, in Breckenridge getting gas. A wonderful thunderstorm rolling through. Double rainbow to be enjoyed.

Up near Hoosier Pass, a fair bit of white / sleet came down.

Saturday morning / Fairplay Colo

Removing the rear driveshaft.

Differential end - the seal's letting a fair bit of lubricant out - it's not happy.

All fasteners have been cracked loose - so I know I won't have to fight anything. Stop mid-process for a photo.

Driveshaft out.

1/2" box end needed for the front connection. Allen/Hex needed for the rear connection. Nearby Napa auto parts for the two tools.

A small bit of gravel behind a shopping center.

On the move, heading home.