Today is the first official day of the FJ Summit Event so we needed to be up early and get to the staging area over by the Natural Spring swimming pool. We are sponsoring a trail ride each day and today’s trail is Black Bear. Unfortunately the trail is still snowed in at the summit.
The FJ’s started rolling in early to see which trail we were going to run because of the closure. Our group of five was having a great time handing out swag bags and talking to all the nice people as they arrived. It was fun looking at all the different accessories that everyone put on their FJ’s.
At each of the four take off times arrived the trail guide who would give a brief talk about what was expected of the drivers to make sure everyone would be safe. They also went over some rules and asked if anyone had any medical issues since we would be at about 12,000 feet in elevation.
There was also a group of volunteers that were going out with a Forest Service Ranger to do trail maintenance that staged near us. They had a good size group heading out. It’s always good to see 4 wheelers helping maintain the trails that we all have the privilege of using. Good job by those that helped.
Our group was the last of the day to take off. The plan was to take the highway over to Telluride and catch the back side of Black Bear. We were going to go up the trail as far as we could and turn back. Then we would take Ophir, stop for lunch on the trail, and head back to the highway. From there we will go over to the start of Black Bear and run it up to the summit where it is closed and back to town.
The plan sounded good when we were all together but plans have a way of changing sometimes. We made it to Telluride but missed the trailhead to Black Bear. We ended up going up a trail called Imogene Pass. We were only on it for a couple of miles when Robert our trail guide realized we were going the wrong way after passing another group of FJ’s. So now for the tricky part. Turning around a group of vehicles on a very narrow trail.
On the positive side we did get an awesome view of the waterfalls towards the end of town along with a great view of the ski lift.
In the photo below you can see the 3-point turn switchbacks off in the distance if you look close between the two waterfalls. That is Black Bear.
We headed over to the trail head but road closed signs were posted. At least we got a bit closer to the falls. How awesome would it be to stay in this house for a while? I would imagine the sound of the water is deafening. Also notice the swinging bridge across the canyon (to the left) that you have to walk over to get to the house.
We take off to Ophir Pass which was originally established in the late 1800’s as a wagon road for the mines in the area. You can see the trail off in the distance.
We stopped for lunch just before heading up the famous shelf road which is cut into the side of the mountain.
Our Trail guide for the Day Robert with his wife and daughter.
As we head up the shelf road we notice a vehicle that was coming down the trail. He had failed to stop at the turn out at the switchback which made for an interesting pass in the middle of the shelf road where there was not much room. I was in the passenger seat and was telling Cary “you are very close to the edge on this side”. It was not a good feeling at all as it’s several hundred feet down on an almost straight drop off.
Trail etiquette dictates that the vehicle going uphill has the right away although that is not always possible.
What stunning views!
Well we all made it through the pass to the start of Black Bear. As we go toward the pass we run into another group of FJ’s coming down the trail. This part of the trail is covered with beautiful greenery. It’s a stark contrast with patches of snow and waterfalls flowing in several spots.
One of the overlooks has an outstanding view of the red mountain tops that are next to the US~550 that goes into Ouray.
As we approach the closed summit there is a side trail where we can see someone tried going up through the snow. Rob wanted to give it a go in his FJ. He made a couple of valiant efforts but the snow was just too deep.
There was another driver that tired to go up through the snow but was also stopped in his tracks. He even tried a very big running start before hitting the trail. He hit so hard that it threw him against his steering wheel and he honked his horn. He then went to the top and remarkably was able to make it all the way down the hill. I believe his full skid plate helped him make it as he slid most of the way down on his belly.
What awesome views from the top of Black Bear. Unfortunately this is where we have to turn around as the trail is closed. You can see it going off in the distance in the first photo.
Time to get back to town and get ready for dinner. What a blast walking around talking with everyone about how their trail run went today. Telling the stories and hanging out is part of the fun at events like this. This is where you get to meet some very special people. An added bonus is you get to look at all the great products available for your vehicle.
Remember to appreciate the beauty that we are so lucky to have in our great Country.
Here is the link with additional photos and our GPS tracks from the trails we ran today.
Discount Tire Co.