2013 FJ Summit- California Pass and Corkscrew Gulch
For my last ride during the 2013 Fj Summit I joined Eddy on the California Pass and Corkscrew Gulch. Eddy and I rode in his Toyota Tacoma Pre-Runner. Eddy was running one of the newest tire additions to the Discount Tire catalog; the Pro Comp Xtreme MT2 in the LT 285/75R-16. He had them mounted on a set of Level 8 Motorsport’s Guardian Wheels.
Combining California Pass with Corkscrew Gulch is an awesome way to tour through the San Juan Mountains. They are both scenic and there are a couple of fun technical spots along the way too. The sign at the trail head recommends high clearance four wheel drive vehicles with a short wheel base. Eddy’s Pre-Runner is only 2 wheel drive but his rear locker and new tires should help him get through the trail. (I hoped.)
A short time into California Pass we made a brief stop to check out some old mining buildings. There was even some old tracks that were used by mining cars.
As we continued, the trail guide came on the CB saying there was a mother bear and cub in a small clearing ahead. As soon as I heard this I bolted from the truck to try to get a photo of them. Unfortunately we were too far back in the group. By the time I huffed and puffed to the front of the line the bears had already gone into the trees. I waited and watched for them until Eddy caught up to me, but no luck.
Here is a photo of the place where the bears were spotted.
Back on the trail, we hit a junction where the trail splits. One direction will take you to Poughkeepsie Gulch and the other will take you to California Gulch. We steered left and continued on California Pass toward California Gulch.
The waterfalls beside the trail looked very inviting. I wish I had brought a fishing pole, however, with the bears in the area, we might not end up being the only ones fishing.
As we exited out of the treeline there is a fun obstacle at the start of the switchbacks. The old FJ in our group put on a show by lifting his front wheel high off the ground.
Eddy didn’t let that intimidate him in his 2 wheel drive Tacoma as his Pro-Comp Xtreme MT2 tires didn’t even slip as he went up the obstacle with ease.
The view of the lush green foliage on the treeless mountains was beautiful as we continued to climb.
As we were nearing the top of this part of the trail we saw some old mining buildings off in the distance. There was also a sign depicting some of the history of this area. It seems the old miners used to call mules and burros the “Canaries of the Rocky mountains”. They called them canaries because they could hear them braying from miles away. Their noise would let the miners know they were close to a village.
We kept up a steady pace through the switchbacks as we were heading to another old mining town just a little further down the trail.
As we pulled into the old mining town of Animas Forks it was time for lunch. As we enjoyed a little bite to eat we couldn’t help but wonder how difficult it must have been to haul in all the lumber and equipment to build the mines and villages. Back in the late 1800’s they didn’t have all the fancy equipment and plush tires we have now.
Once again it was a perfect time to get a group photo while we had everyone together.
Of course I had to get one more jump shot to make it a perfect trip.
We saw lots of other people at this stop. There were lots of side by sides and ATV’s parked along the road.
As we continued on, California Gulch laid out a carpet of green grasses in front of us. Maybe this is why it got the name “California”?… Eventually, the scenery started to take drastic change and the green grasses gave way to rocky, rust colored mountain tops.
As we crest the summit we could see the Lake Como down in the valley. We were also able to see 2 other FJ Summit groups coming out of the Poughkeepsie Gulch trail. What a breath taking sight.
We continued on and took Hurricane Pass where the elevation is 12,730 feet. From there we dropped into Corkscrew Gulch. I love wondering what is around the next corner and once again, the trail turned into a narrow and steep switchback trail that ran next to the majestic rust colored mountains.
Eddy was showing us what his Tacoma Pre-Runner was capable of. With some finesse and accurate tire placement he continued along the trail with ease. Here he is lifting a rear tire for fun.
As we hit the tree line we knew the highway back into town would be coming up soon. It was kind of sad because this meant the 2013 FJ Summit‘s end was also near.
As we came back into town the local fire department was doing a benefit car wash to help them raise money for their department. Eddy thought it was a worthy cause so he jumped in line.
After a good soapy scrub down each vehicle was rinsed with a blast from a couple fire hoses.
After getting ourselves cleaned up as well we headed over to the main tent to celebrate the last night. There was an awesome raffle after dinner and everyone gathered to try to win something.
The Discount Tire crew started off the raffle by giving away a few sets of tires and wheels along with a host of other goodies.
Some of the people bought LOTS of tickets to improve their chances of winning.
As the vendor give away was winding down the crowd was getting weary. It had been a long but very fun week.
Matt (one of the FJ Summit Committee members) took the microphone for final announcements. After thanking everyone for their courteous participation he asked that everyone please line up on the main street starting at 5:30 AM tomorrow for a photo shoot. There were a few groans from the crowd because of the start time but this had become a tradition.
After another short nights sleep we showed up for the group photograph. It was a fun time to mingle through the crowded streets lined with FJ’s. I spoke with many new friends I had made during the week. It is amazing to watch all the tricked out FJ’s being lined up as the town of Ouray closes off their main street for this event.
The Falken Tire big rig closed off the street for the end of the line.
Here we are for one last group glamor shot.
Discount Tire would like to sincerely thank all the participants, vendors and promoters for your unbelievable support during this years FJ Summit. We heard countless stories from you about your great experiences in our local stores and online. We appreciate each and every one of you and will continue to work hard to earn your business.
Remember to take the time to enjoy this beautiful and free country we live in, appreciate your families and buy all your tires and wheels from Discount Tire. Your journey starts here!
Here are some additional photos from this ride.