Photo courtesy of T2Cruiser's wife Kristin. She takes great pictures.
Where were all the 4x2's? As far as I could tell, I was the only 4x2 in Ouray this year. Sure some of the 4x4 people disparage us but most of ’them’ seemed nice or maybe they were excited to possibly see me go off a cliff.
(Start watching at 6:13
This was my first time ever to take it off road unless you consider driving over a front lawn while fleeing from the police as off roading. I didn't even know how to spell 'off road' (thank you Google). I didn't know what to expect or really what to do. I just knew to start the engine and follow the person in front of me. This was fine until I realized the person I was following was going to drive Black Bear in reverse that is reverse gear.
Anyway, here is my story. Most of it is made up because I was too busy trying not to get killed that I hardly remembered any of it. I saw some pictures T2Cruiser's wife Kristin took and I wouldn't have known it was me except for seeing the red FJ. Just so you remember, the only mods I have made are Bilstein 5100s up front, rock sliders and All Terrain tires.
Day 1 Thursday: Imogene
It poured down all night Wednesday and most of Thursday morning so the trail was wet. Black Bear and Ophir were closed due to obstacles which were later cleared.
The trail leader was t2cruiser (Tim) in his 4Runner. Yes, he has abandoned his 4x2 for the easy way out. My wife was with me. Always need a good co-pilot. We were second in line as we were for all our runs (insert joke here). They wanted to keep an eye on us. We think we did pretty well for beginners. We went through water hazards with ease. Only twice did we get bogged down. Not to a point where we needed help from another FJ but just because I zigged when I should have zagged. Both times, I was driving over some rocks when one of my rear wheels lost traction and the tail end started to spin towards the edge of the cliff. We thought we were going to die. But after putting on the brakes and hyperventilating for a few seconds, I got on the CB and said "tell them my story". Really though, Tim and the FJ behind us helped us out. Basically, they had me back up, which was scary in itself when you think you might back up over the cliff if not careful, turn the wheel and go. We then made it. Too bad this was all over the CB. Everyone knew who was causing the problems. I thought they had let the air out of my tires as revenge but then I remember I let the air out. Another termed I learned "air down".
The other parts of the trip were smooth. It consisted of me having my hands at the 10 and 2 position and my wife saying “don’t look down". Someone behind asked in the CB if I was part billy goat. I guess since I hugged the inner trail.
Our trip ended in Telluride and we took the Last Dollar Highway which is mostly paved. It was worth it.
Day 2 Friday: California Pass and Corkscrew Gulch
The trail leader was Kansas Law Dog (Ken). He drove a stock FJ and demonstrated that a stock FJ is amazing. This time we only needed assistance once. Just didn't make a wide enough turn to get over a boulder. Once again due to hugging the mountain. Baaaaaa. Got out of it the same way: backing up and taking a different angle. The rest of the trip was smooth sailing and we were thankful to have Ken and others with us to provide helpful comments.
Day 3 Friday: Alpine Loop (Engineer and Cinnamon Pass)
The trail leader was Chris, Land Cruiser Assoc. Chris. I don't remember his handle (that's CB lingo to you amateurs). He of course drove a Land Cruiser. FJ Summit? Anyone? Anyone? jk. To get to the Alpine loop, we had to take part of the same trail for the California Pass and Corkscrew. We came across our nemesis boulder that we met on Day 2 and which had defeated us temporarily. This time we were ready. We brought along dynamite. But due to everyone having electrical mods out the wazoo, there was not a lighter to be found. So I thought, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice over the cliff. We took the proper angle and made it. We were all excited and thought it was smooth sailing the rest of the way through this part of the trail. Little did we know that we would come across two places in the trail that we made the day before but would not make on the first attempt today. Rule number 1: don't always follow the person in front of you. We once again backed up and took a different angle. The rest of the trail was putty in our hands.
That's it. The bottom line is that these trails can be done in a 4x2. Our only problem was inexperience and perhaps a bit of rain/hail. It really had nothing to do with the FJ. We were surprised at how very powerful the vehicle really is. Sure maybe with a 4x4 we would not have had problems, but we saw some 4x4's not make obstacles that we made. Then again, it is more exciting to know that you have a greater chance of going over the side. Why take the easy way out (i.e. 4x4)? If we are able to make it next year, we are going to do the trails without tires. Show those 4x4 people. No really, everyone we met was very supportive of our endeavors and very helpful. Also a really fun group of people to get to know.
Also everyone, don't forget the FJ wave.