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How bad is this trail? I have a stock FJ and have been to the summit before but did not do Black Bear. I am currently signed up for it but am getting cold feet. I figured this would be a good trail to conquer my fear of heights. Will there be spotters to help with the sketchy spots? I really don't want to fall off a mountain.
 

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Trail is totally doable in a stock FJ. In 1997 I bought a Wrangler and headed down to the San Juan's to off-road for the first time. I was by myself, no other vehicles and nobody with me. I started in Lake City and went over Engineers Pass down to Silverton and then took Red Mountin Pass up to Black Bear. I did the Black Bear run on my own in a totally stock Wrangler on the first day I ever off-roaded. You will be in a group and there will be spotters available any time you need them. The Summit is a place many of the participants go to learn how to off-road and you will undoubtedly be with experienced people (the trail leader for sure) who can help you out in any situation you are uncomfortable about. The trail runs are anything but races, they typically go at a fairly slow pace that is dictated by the slowest person.

You'll be fine and it will be a great experience I'm sure.
 

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Spotters will be provided each day at the top of the steps.
 

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How bad is this trail? I have been to the summit before but did not do Black Bear. I am currently signed up for it but am getting cold feet. I am running stock and figured this would be a good trail to conquer my fear of heights. Will there be spotters to help with the sketchy spots? I really don't want to fall off a mountain.
You'll love the views but if your fear of heights is really bad, I'm not going to try and talk you into torturing yourself :). But, if you want to at least try it, keep in mind that if you get up there and get really anxious, you can always ask someone else to drive your truck through the hard part and you can get out and walk it.

Last year was my first time - I got cold feet too at one point but reminded myself that hundreds (thousands?) of vehicles traverse that trail each year without any problems. There will be spotters - just go slow and have your window down & radio off so you can hear them. Make sure you have a CB so you can hear any warnings that are given. And, just in case all trail leaders don't give the same heads up that mine did last year, I will share the following (not to scare you - just to prevent a scary situation):

** After you come down the "steps" and curve to the left, before you get to the main switchbacks, you'll drive across some water from a small waterfall. The next curve/corner you get to is the only spot on the trail that I think it's very important to know what to expect. Ask to be spotted there if you want & if they don't offer it. There is a part of the path that has a raised rocky area that's angled and it puts your driver side maybe 6-12(?) inches higher than your passenger side. As you drive up on/over it, because of the angle & since the rock is wet, you'll slide down just a tiny bit (like for 1 second). So, go slow, let your truck settle, then proceed along the trail. If you're not expecting it though and/or if you're not going slow enough, it can catch you off guard, which could result in a responsive maneuver that may not be the best move in that situation. But, since you know what to expect now, you'll do fine there :).
 

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Also, a couple of good things I read in "Four'Wheeler's Bible" that apply not just normally, but even for seasoned people in a new situation:

Recognize the adrenalin rush, if you are hyper focused, stop. Get out and walk it off. Drink plenty of water. When you break, focus on things at different distances. This will relax your eyes.

And ... remember the motto: "slow as possible, fast as necessary"

If you take it slow, you'll be fine. You'll feel the need to rush through it. There is no need to rush.

It's only 9.23 miles.

And if this helps, after a measly 600 feet, you loose depth perception. So even the grand canyon looks like a painting. So it won't be as bad as you are thinking.
 

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^^^^ What he said.

I wear glasses, basically because of twisted double vision :surprise (astigmatism and "lazy eye") (and the ensuing balance issues), and I'm going :rofl:
:nerd:nerd
 

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Hey Burner,
You'll be fine in your stock FJ. Just put it in 4wd low, no rear locker. Take your time, relax by not looking at Telluride, and you'll be fine. Just keep your eyes on what you're doing....i.e., the trail, and the very professional quality spotters. My wife tends toward anxiety, so she gets out to take pics. Next year you can look at the scenery.
Last year, a young single mom did it alone in her 2 week old stock FJ with street tires....kinda made me feel silly at the dread this pass once inspired in me.:wink
 

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The drop:



12 turns, you start at 11,400 and end up at 9,600 feet in Telluride. Statistically speaking, this is the most dangerous trail in the state. Why? Two reasons: tourists and drunk driving (which are not always mutually exclusive :rofl:).

A stock FJ can handle the trail, no problem. There are spotters at the most dangerous part (the first turn next to the waterfall), and you may want a spotter at a couple of the switchbacks up top. Once you do 2-3 switchbacks you'll become a pro at them and stop needing spotters (plus, they get easier the farther down you get).

The reason to do this trail: it's a fun rollercoaster ride from top to bottom, with some absolutely amazing photos:







Edit: more photos!





 

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I lead Black Bear last year and will lead a group again this year. As mentioned above there is a spotter at the beginning and we will have spotters at the switchbacks to make sure everyone is comfortable making the turns.

My first time on it with my '07 FJ I had an ARB bumper with a winch and no lift. Talk about nose dive! It did fine with no issues!

BTW, it's my favorite trail!

cheers,

dale
 

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I can't wait.


Can't. Wait.
 

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It's a beautiful ride. Breathtaking in a good way. You'll be with a group of people. The FJ is more than capable. Just follow the instructions of the senior folks and you'll be fine. You do want to do this. :bigthumb:
 

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the tough stuff is really at the end of trail going into Telluride.

there is only one sketchy part and a spotter is supplied.

the switchbacks arent really sketchy you just have to do a 3pt turn to make it. and your leader spots you at those. plus the guy in back of you can help you via the cb.
 

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Man, I wished I had signed up. Ever since I started looking at FJ's I found these "Black Bear Pass" video's on youtube.
I WILL be going next year! I'm going to make sure to take time off, etc.
I'm excited for y'all and I'm not even going.
Burner, I'm a little leary of heights too, but I'll take your place if you wanna sell me your summit pass :D
Seriously, have fun, get a go pro camera and document it!
I hope y'all take some serious video's this year so I can live vicariously through your experiences!
 

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We had a blast runing Black Bear last year. It was still closed in 2012 because of snow. Last year it was clear sailing.





Here is a photo of the spotter at the top obstacle:





Falken Tire had 2 Tacoma's on this trail. They had more of a challenge than the FJ's on the 3 point turns:





Outstanding scenery:





We had a blast last year. Can't wait for this years event.
 
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