Our kayaking/canoeing/rafting group had planned to float the Gunnison or Yampa Rivers over the 4th of July weekend, but heavy snows this year, along with a number of deaths on the rivers caused us to re-think our plan. We decided to go four-wheeling instead. The destination was the very popular area of St. Elmo in central Colorado. On the way to the town on road 162 we passed Cascade Falls. This was really roaring. We stopped at the roadside pull-off and took a closer look.
We headed through St. Elmo, crossed the bridge and approached the road to Tincup Pass only to see the posted sign that the road was closed. Were were a little surprised that this popular pass would still be closed due to snow and rock slides this time of year, but what to do? We headed back through town and down road 295 towards Hancock Lakes. Upon reaching the Hancock townsite, we traveled up the 4WD road and made a left turn before the steeper road to the lakes, crossing two creeks to our camping site.
Later we attempted to get to the lakes on the rough 4×4 road but stopped when got to a snow covered section. I walked the road for a bit and encountered a guy who high-centered his Jeep in a 4-foot-deep snow drift. I went back to my Jeep and got a shovel and helped dig him out after which he went back down hill. Lisa and I continued on to the lakes which were very nice.
We wandered around for a bit before walking back to the Jeep. On the way we encountered some guys from from Chicago who had gotten their quads stuck in the same snow drift where I helped the Jeep driver get out an hour earlier.
At this point I needed to take Lisa back to her Mustang an hour back towards Nathrop. I got back to camp around 8pm which was enough time to cook dinner in the remaining daylight.
The next day we talked to an outfitter who told us that Tincup pass was mostly drive-able, except the last half mile where the road disappears under 10 feet of snow! Of course the outfitter we spoke to the previous day told us the pass was open. My advise . . . don’t bother asking an outfitter for information. You can’t tell who’s telling the truth. Anyway, we decided to drive up to Baldwin Lakes, further east.
While rugged, this looked promising, until we reached a spot where avalanche debris covered the road with logs, rocks and snow 4 feet deep, possibly more.
We moved across one-by-one . . .
We all got across two of these avalanche slides and then encountered a third which was steeper on one side, then doubted ourselves and decided we should turn back.
We headed back down and decided to drive over to Pomeroy Lakes. Both Troy and Marty have been there before so it was familiar territory.
There were some interesting obstacles again on this road as well. Also from avalanches. This road got more rugged as we got further in and higher, so we went as far as we could.
After parking we hiked up to the lakes. There was nobody else there except two dirt-bikers. Very peaceful and quiet. It compares to the beauty and peacefulness of the lakes in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
There is lots of room to explore up there so taking a walk is worth it.
We headed back down, probably around 5 or 6pm. On the way down my tire-pressure sensor told me the left read tire was low. I looked and it appeared fine, so I continued. We got back to the 295 road and I check again and it still appeared fine. And we got back to camp, same thing. Hmmm . . .
We had snow around camp and it was pretty wet overall so campfires were safe and made a decent fire.
In the morning I made breakfast using my birthday Coleman 502 stove and a Wagner Ware 9-inch cast iron skillet.
Since I didn’t have any cell service up there, or anywhere close to there, I needed to drive back towards Nathrop to see if my son was coming out to meet me. On the way down a man said, “Hey, your rear tire is almost flat!”. I pulled over and changed the tire, so I guess the pressure sensor was correct after all. It just took all night and a little more driving to go flat.
When I got home I wet down the tire and found the culprit. It appears to be an old nail. I pulled it out and then took the tire in to have it repaired. All ready to go again!
Well, over all we didn’t get to all of our destinations, but there was some good, rugged four-wheeling along the way, some beautiful scenery and good camping.
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