FJ Summit 2013: Poughkeepsie Gulch
July,2013 Ouray CO: This was the first official day of the 7th Annual FJ Summit event and everyone was anxious to get the ride started. Chris and I ran the Poughkeepsie Gulch trail in his old school FJ-40 that he nicknamed The Great Pumpkin.
We met at Ouray Mining Park for the drivers meeting before heading south of town to the Poughkeepsie Gulch trail head.
The start of the trail quickly climbs in elevation. Some of the crisp morning views were absolutely incredible with the waterfalls running along the canyons beside the narrow road.
There was a booming rain storm the day before this ride that left a few good size puddles along the trail. Chris couldn’t resist testing out his Cooper Discoverer STT tires.
This was the biggest puddle of the day.
Around every corner was another fantastic view. The terrain changed from deep woods to a large meadow with huge mountains cresting amid the cool blue sky.
We were almost half way into the trail when we came upon another FJ Summit group that left ½ hour before our group. We found out that one of the FJ’s was having trouble with his front drive axle. A couple of the guys in the group were laying under the FJ trying to figure out what they could do to fix the problem.
They assured us they would be able to take care of the problem one way or another so we continued on towards the obstacle known as “The Wall” that was only a few miles ahead.
There was another decked out FJ-40 on the trail with us. The Great Pumpkin and its friend looked great together.
A short time after passing the early group we ran into a spot with some large boulders. Its fairly easy to get high centered if you choose a difficult line. Thankfully, our group only had to pull 1 vehicle that got high centered on a rock. A cement colored FJ with strong tow strap saved the day.
As the maroon FJ was being pulled backwards it rolled a large pointed boulder into the middle of the trail. With a little man power, the boulder was moved off to one side.
The rugged FJ-40’s made quick work of the small rock garden thanks to the grip from his Cooper Discoverer SST tires.
The Copper Discoverer STT tires worked excellent in the sharp rocks as well as the mud. Chris gave the sidewalls a workout and they held up great.
As we started our climb above the tree line we were are all anxious to get to “The Wall” on Poughkeepsie Gulch.
Just as we were getting close Chris had trouble with The Great Pumpkin. It popped into neutral and would not go back into gear. Chris worked and worked on the shifter even bending it slightly trying to get it into gear. Nothing worked. There was a guy in our group that was a mechanic that came to our aid but the old FJ would have none of it. As a last resort we tried pulling Chris’s FJ up the hill to see if it would unlock the gear box.
It was a good effort but nothing worked. Since we were out of options we decided that Chris would roll down the hill to a spot where there was a turnout so he could park his vehicle. We then grabbed all our gear and started walking up the hill to see if we could jump in with someone else in our group.
Thankfully, we met Josh and his mother and they invited us to ride along with them in their new Four Runner with upgraded Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires. I have to say I was happy to get in their vehicle as hiking up the hill carrying a bunch of gear in this altitude took my breath away.
By now the group we passed had caught up to us and we had a rather large caravan from here to “The Wall”.
When we arrived at the Poughkeepsie Gulch wall there was still one vehicle from yet an earlier group winching to the top on the left side of the trail. Our trail leader (Jimmy Buffet) headed off to the right but was unsuccessful. He then attempted the left but again was stopped by the rock face. He decided to use the winch point at the top to winch himself up rather than hold up the group.
There were vehicles trying to go up the left and right at the same time. I wasn’t sure which line to watch until the white FJ-40 lined up on the right. It took him a couple of tries to get the correct line before he went right up without any problems.
Just after him another FJ came flying up the right rock face wheels in the air. I swear I heard him yell “Yeee Hawww” as he flew to the top.
Well now it was time for Josh to show us what his new Toyota Four Runner could do. With a valiant attempt on the right wall he almost made it to the top only to get high centered just before clearing the obstacle.
After backing down Josh went for the left side line. This turned out to be a bad choice as his rear bumper got caught and was drug off. I was looking at his mother and she said with a smile “Oh well, I don’t mind. Now I can upgrade the bumpers”. Wow, how cool is that to have such an awesome mother? She not only took her son to this event but she didn’t even get mad at him for causing some damage to their new vehicle.
After everyone in our group had made it past the wall on the Poughkeepsie Gulch trail we continued on and eventually stopped at Como Lake for lunch. This was a perfect time for me to snap some photos of our group. The jump shot photos are my personal favorite.
It was starting to rain so we all loaded up and headed back on the trail. From this point it is only about 6 miles to the main highway back to town.
The view of the lake as we climbed the steep switchback trail to the top was amazing.
As we came over the top of the mountain for our final decent to the highway the red colored mountains looked beautiful against the cloudy sky. I spoke to one of the local guides in town the first night we were there and he said the red color was caused by a volcano many years ago. He said there are 4 mountains close together that erupted.
We made it all the way back to our condo thanks to the generosity of Josh and his mom. Later that afternoon we were able to recover the Great Pumpkin and get it back into gear. Special thanks for Josh and his mother for letting us hitch a ride.
Here are some additional photos from the Poughkeepsie Gulch Trail ride: