Colorado Expedition: Deeper into the Mountains

Day 4 started with a plan to pick up the fuel pump and a new battery. Both Mikes woke early to heard into town. While we waited, Cathy and Theresa cooked breakfast tacos. I made sure to cover the ashes from yesterdays campfire. Along the mountain road we saw the occasional early travelers passing by.

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When the Mikes came back, we started to work on the GX. We installed the new battery and fuel pump. Pretty quick and easy with the big hole that was cut yesterday. We let the fuel pump prime and it was the moment of truth.

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Gave the GX a couple of cranks, and then the sweet smooth sound of the V8 purring. I wish I got it on video because everyone was just jumping for joy. I never felt this excited and relief since I did my first motor swap. Now everyone is ready for a day of adventure.

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We all packed up and said goodbye to the campsite. This site would be something to remember.

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Todays campsite route would take us to a hot spring we passed yesterday. Colorado is known for hot springs and it was something to check out while here. The water wasn’t surprising hot and was crystal clear. You could see the mineral formation where the water rain though. The dogs were being mischievous. I didn’t mind babysitting them, while the other took pictures.

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After that quick detour we continued on. The drive was about 4hrs total. From here on, its just mostly dirt roads and driving on famous mountain passes.

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The site I pinned, was near Ryan’s campsites he had marked as back ups. Today was a Friday, and the entrance to the trail was pretty packed. It felt like peak season in Colorado, but that is also why we have 4x4s. We can venture deeper into the trail to hopefully find more secluded spots that normal SUVs or cars can’t get into.

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The trail was pretty long and it was pretty packed up to the last established campsite. Then there was a rougher dirt road that said 4×4 high clearance recommended. That was a good sign, hopefully less people there.

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It got more steep and rough in certain spots. I put the Land Cruiser into 4L to decrease strain on the motor and transmission.

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We arrived to my pin location, and the whole area was generally packed. Kind of a bummer, with very limited spots. Being 5 rigs deep was another problem to make sure we had enough space. Thankfully we did find a nice big open area.

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We immediately took the spot and Branden went deeper to potentially find a better spot. Branden eventually radio in to us he found another spot, but wanted another rig to check it out. So Mike with the Tacoma went and then radioed another person to see if it was doable. Then Mike with the GX went to check it out.

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That left Ryan and me at the campsite. Nadine and Lambo went to explore around the site and found a small river just behind the bushes we parked. Then next thing I know, Branden and the Mikes came back. I was thinking the campsite wasn’t that good? But I was hyped, and I figured why not and check out the campsite that Branden found.

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Sooo we did a vote on which campsite to stay in. Branden’s campsite that has more trees for shade but a tight space, or the first campsite that was spacious but no trees for shade.

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The majority vote was Branden’s campsite. We all went up there and I was kind of excited to see the new site since we can get some shade and protection from the cold winds. Well, turns out it was just a bit too small for all of our rigs to fit. Sooo back to the orignal campsite.

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By this time, we all just wanted to set up camp, but then Ryan noticed a sign. No motorized vehicles, We were in the zone where vehicles are not allowed. I get it, because with any parks you want to protect the wildlife and vegetation. Obeying the signs and not trespassing is what will keep parks open.

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1hr has passed since we arrived in the area, and no official camp yet. Then Mike saw another site that wasn’t too far, and turned out to be perfect. It had enough space for our rigs, and a fire pit with firewood left behind from previous campers.

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The view looks into the mountain valley. I can imagine already how the sunrise and sunset is gonna be. We set up camp, and had some time to explore the campsite.

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Branden expoled trials with his hardtail Santa Cruz mountain bike. Cathy, Nadine, Mike with the Tacoma, and the kiddos found a nice river stream not to far where we can refill the water jugs for cleaning and showering. Mike with the Tacoma noticed a road that lead up to the river and was not occupied.

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I chilled by the fire pit and when Branden came back I rode his mountain bike around the dirt roads. Branden, Mike, Cathy, Nadine and the dogs went to hike up a trailhead, because there was a waterfall at the end of the trail.

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Meanwhile, Ryan and his parents where prepping to make chicken adobo for dinner. I haven’t had that dish in a long time, and glad I was able to have it again. Better yet, in the mountain out camping. Its a one pot dish but you have to prep the food, and let it simmer for hours. I was thankful Ryan and his parents made that dish for everyone.

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While I was biking, I was really impressed the way the Santa Cruz absorbed the bumps and rocks while bombing down hills. Then the gearing to climb made it easy. But the the thin mountain air got me struggling. I did find the trail that Mike found next to stream and it was a gem. The trail that takes you there looked like a dead end unless you ventured a couple feet more past the stream crossing. The area was secluded with better views. When I got back into camp I told the boys about it and we all concluded to set up camp there tomorrow.

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With everyone back at the campsite, the chicken adobo meal was just about ready to be served. We also had rice, cooked the old fashon way, hard boil eggs, and pickled veggies on the side. We where eating good.

With everyone pretty full. We all talked about the plan for tomorrow since up to this point we kind had a plan and now its just go with the flow. Mike with the GX had to leave in couple of days because the kids had school. We decided to head to one of the famous trails tomorrow and then had back to new secret campsite we found.

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We met another camper that just need to use a bottle open for a drink. Branden was pretty impressed in the dedication, because most people would have just gotten another drink.

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Later in the night, Ryan was out taking some pretty cool night shots. While the rest went to bed, or stayed around the campfire till there was no more wood left to burn.

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That night was coldest night from the trip. I think because we camped in the middle of the mountain valley, and funneled in the cold air. Nadine, and I felt the cold even even with the sleeping bag and fleece blanket. Lambo later that night was also cold, and I tucked him next to me for extra warmth.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

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