Saturday, September 9, 2023
Cumberland Gulch & Yankee Hill

Tom, from the 4x4 group, and I scheduled a "beginners" trail run. Four others were signed up but only two showed up. Unfortunate as the weather was FANTASTIC.  There is rain coming to the area and I was on the fence - put the top and doors on or leave them off (for wonderful views) and take my chance. It seemed, from the local weather, to be a favorable odds of not getting wet. On the way home, about ten dots of rain hit the windshield - but yet there was blue sky overhead (blue sky rain... a Colorado oddity?)

The group of us met west of Central City and took an hour to chat about some basics of trail riding. In my book, knowing the whereabouts of the person behind you is significant (and is something I need to reinfoce with myself). Aside from that, having a a tow strap and two or three hard or soft shackles would be the minimum bit of kit. We looked at each of the two new vehicles for tow/recovery points - the grey pickup had no factory recovery point - but it did have a receiver hitch so a hitch tow point block would be on the list. It's a chunk of steel or aluminum that slids into the receiver and the business end is a hole to attach a hard or soft shackle (and then a tow strap).

I followed the group as Tom had a plan for which trails.... trails with some difficulty but generally easy. At one point the grey pickup was spinning its rear tires, and not moving forward, but neither front tire was turning - a solid key that the truck was not in 4x4 mode. That was quickly tended and it was able to get up the slope with ease.

Traffic on the trails, in my opinion (I do not travel these trails too often), was fairly sparce - which was nice. The area wasn't packed with people.

At an optional, more challenging, area - the loose rock section up to Yankee Hill - the new folks each decided to give it a go and each made it up w/o issue. Near the base of the hill, a Toyota pickup - a solid trail truck - pulled up. He readily rolled up the hill and the group of us chatted for a moment. He headed back down while the four of us finished the loop up top. The Toyota was at the bottom, a large intersection area, and waved me over. His left rear was flat. I had air so I pulled out the air hose and filled up the tire - and as quickly as it filled it leaked out. He had no spare and the wheel pattern between my jeep (it's spare) is different - so no loaning my spare for him to limp home. He lives very close so he was going to limp it home. I said I'd follow behind once I wrapped up with the group - we were at a reasonable spot where I could split off.

He had a bit of head start (~15 minutes) and there is a reasonably full set of trails up there - I wasn't certain I'd find him. At one section of sandy soil I knew I was on the correct path as the flat tire makes a distinct pattern (photo below). He was eventually able to phone home to family and knew a spare tire was to be delivered to a nearby spot so I headed out. I trust everything worked well for him.

Near the end of my trail for the day I came across a dual sport motorcycle with a flat front tire. The rider and I played hopscotch a few times through the day. I asked how fast the leak was - fast. So no bother trying to fill it with air. He had a tube but didn't have tools to remove the tire - and I do not either. His bike had out of state plates. I told him there was a parking lot / air up spot nearby and not but a minute after I arrived to that air up lot he rode in too. He found a couple other motorcyclists and they apparently had tools and he was set to get it fixed. If not, family - with a trailer - was only twenty minutes away.

The rest of my day had a thought to visit some other "on the way" trail but that did not happen. I also had a thought to get a cinnamon roll at Glen Haven - but it'd be about 6pm before I'd get there and I think they'd be long closed. Riding in the mountains was getting a bit cool so at Raymond Colo I started to drop down to Lyons. Rolling through the Raymond area I saw two moose in the lawn at one home - stop for a quick photo to round out the day.

A clockwise loop for the day.

Longs Peak from I-25

Heading up US 6 / Clear Creek Canyon to Blackhawk / Central City

Clouds are starting to fill the sky. The bottom's aren't dark - will I get wet is on my mind.

Argentine Pass is about smack center - the ridge up high with the two peaks at the far right being Grays (L) and Torreys (R). 

Thanks to Tom for pointing it out to us!

Heading up to the top of Yankee Hill (11,239 ft)

Atop Yankee Hill

Dropping over a hump - down into a water puddle

As Tom mentioned the peaks I was curious if I could see Argentine Pass and the Forest Service Road to it. There was no chance I'd make it out on the small camera screen in good sunlight - but I took a few photos at max zoom anyway. This photo shows the road at the left. Looking at some mapping programs I'm very confident of my Argentine Pass label in this photo.

One could drive to this pass (it's a singletrack / hiking trail on the other side) and then walk the ridge to the north / right to get to the popular hiking destination of Grays Peak and Torreys Peak (photo'd below).

Torreys Peak

Hikers approach / depart along the ridge to the left.

Grays Peak

If you let your eyes get used to the photo you might be able to make out the zig-zag hiking paths up this face of the mountain. Hikers might zig-zag to the top of this mountain, walk the ridgeline to the right to get to the top of Torreys Peak and then turn around and walk the ridgeline down to the saddle - then zig-zag to the trailhead were their car is.

Following the ridge to the left would join up with Argenetine Pass.

Group photo. The three of them will continue on and I'll head east to look for the flat tire pickup.

The Toyota and its flat tire. This is on a bead lock wheel so the outer bead is clamped to the wheel. This is nice as if the tire stays on the bead, the wheel itself won't be beat / broken to need replacement.

I noticed the U-bolts on the front axle - there was a bit of light between the U-bolts and the axle. Are they tight???  Perhaps the gent will see this note (he has my contact card).

On my way to catch up to the flat tire truck - I was not certain I was on the correct trail - until I saw this tire track.

A nice day to be out.

These clouds are getting a bit dark...

Down in the valley is Blackhawk Colo...

...with one of the casino's popping up.

This grove of Aspen trees is starting to stand out and will look GRAND.

Down in Raymond Colo - a couple moose.