%PM, %13 %868 %2013 %12:%Dec

Monte's EPIC: Part 2

Written by  Monte Nickles
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Epic Tacoma & Toyota Truck AdventureJust a scratch..or two..

Photos by: Monte Nickles, Ben Springli, Mike Digirat

If you missed last month’s issue, allow me to fill you in on what’s happen. A bunch of Tacomas doing a ton of trails through Wyoming, Montana and Colorado. We just finished the first three trails in Wyoming and Montana and are back in Powell, WY for a shower and fixing our rigs. Mine was in the worst shape with a front differential leaking all of its fluid for unknown reasons.

Didn't take long to get the truck up on the lift and tear the whole thing down. Turns out a CV seal was installed wrong at my own hand. It was a miracle it had lasted as long as it had. Unfortunately by the time everything was tore apart, it was about 11pm.

 I awoke at 6 am the next day to get my seal which unfortunately was in the next town over. 45 miles and 3 hours later my truck was back on all fours ready to rock. This put us behind our original schedule. That didn't stop us from enjoying ourselves with a bit of pre-trip fun. We all weighed our rigs to deem the fattest Taco among us all the local scale.

    From here we hit the road to Lander, WY for our next trails. We had hoped to get there in time to run the first before it got dark. But due to second guessing and being slightly confused and lost, we didn't get to the trail head till about 4 pm.

    The trail we had planned on doing was called Christina Lake. I had run it the year before and didn't remember it being to hard save for a few areas. So I opted to do it regardless of the imminent darkness approaching. Not everyone was up for that and a smaller group of us hit the trail.

    Christina Lake is not an overly hard trail, but man it’s fun. It starts with very smooth bumpy sections with countless creek crossings. You run in and out of meadow after meadow with the trail gradually getting rockier. Eventually it gets very rocky to the point the speed is down to 1st gear crawling. Everything was great. The weather was awesome, it appeared we had lots of day light left, and we were making good time. Then we reach the first harder section.

    It really is just a hill with some poorly placed rocks. But as we would come to find, one of those rocks were very deadly. I went first and having taken the bypass last time I was here, I was anxious to give the harder line a go. My first attempt looked good till a tree stump stall my truck. I rolled back and gave it another go with a bit more throttle and a bit different line. After an excessive bump I made it up and could hear the lovely sound of “hissssssssssssss” coming from the front passenger side.

    Everyone was in a flurry to get me to stop! I jumped out expecting the worst.  It was my front tire. A rock that had a very sharp edge right where the tire drives by had put a small hole in my sidewall.

    Thank god for full sized spares.

    I changed the tire and we all watched as the rest of the group climbed the hill, grimacing every time they came close to the tire killing rock.

    That fiasco cost us some time and light was becoming precious. I was excited to unleash all my lights but others were not looking forward to the darkness. After coming down a very rocky hill we came to a very large river crossing. The crossing is very long and bit bumpy but the water level was low and made easy going.

A few from the group had had enough of the dark and bumpy trail and at that point decided to head back to camp. Only 3 of us continued on to the lake. At this point the trees become an issue making the trail very tight.  My Dad's trail limo had some very tight spots through this section especially.

After the maze of tight trees we finally made it to the lake. I would love to paint you a gorgeous picture of the lake and how beautiful it was and so forth. However, at this point everything was a pitch black deep abyss of nothing. We did not linger long as we were all ready for a good meal and some sleep. So we head back to camp as fast as the rocks and darkness would allow.

Upon our return to the camp, where everyone else was awaiting our return, Marc another local Wyoming member had joined our camp. But sadly we were losing another member, also named Mark, who had to return home for a wedding.

The next morning we awoke among the field of CVT tents. Shoshone Lake trail was on our list and I was very anxious to get there. Shoshone Lake trail is a longer trail and while not overly super technical, it is by far the roughest most unrelenting road I have ever been on. This road makes you kiss flat asphalt when you’re done with it. Once again, our kind of trail!

Before we got there though, we stopped off to see a very unique formation. The river out of Sykes Canyon runs under ground for an unknown distance. Water takes around 2 hours to get from the place it goes under to where it surfaces. Where it surfaces is a very large pool. This pool is named the Trout Pool, and aptly so. There are trout in the pool as big as very large salmon! Shame no fishing was allowed.

As we climbed up the mountain to gain 5000' vertical feet to the top of the summit, the weather decided to make things interesting. Clouds had formed and before we knew it we had a good drizzle going and the rocks were soaked. Not such a good thing when most of the trail is large granite rocks. Lucky for us nothing major impeded our journey to the top as the rocks were smaller, but rough as hell.

    At the top of the trail, we once again experience one of the best views of the trip. And we couldn't see much. The clouds had covered many of the distant peaks, but some were still visible through the clouds. With the added sound track of thunder it was a very powerful image. The mountains never seemed so mysterious and powerful.

    From here, things got tricky. We had 2 miles go and all downhill over the roughest part of the entire trail on slick granite. Awesome! The pace was very slow. Not everyone had full armor and we took our sweet precious time over the slick rocks. We stopped often to check skid bolts and diffs for any leaks or any other damage. It took us 3 hours to get down those 2 miles. But the calm peaceful lake at the bottom was a reward well worth the trip.

    We enjoyed our camp fire time more than ever that night.  It was like the many scars on the underside of our trucks had brought us closer.  And what better to celebrate then a little bull whipping and some drinks in great company.

    The next morning we set up the trail, which due to the sun coming out and clouds blowing over was much easier going. The weekend traffic had increased greatly though. All the locals had come out to fish almost all on ATVs. The look on their faces when I told them there were eight trucks come up, priceless.

    Despite being dry, the obstacles still posed a challenge for some. Ground clearance on was an issue and many a diff and skid was scrapped and slammed. But the worst was to come. Late around the camp fire we had all talked my Dad into removing the sway bar in the morning. He had disconnected it and had it tied up to the truck. However, his tie offs failed and down came the swap bar onto both of his outer CV boots. Grease for everyone!!

    After this catastrophe, we all became a bit more self-conscious going a bit more tenderly. But we made it out with relatively little drama from that point on. And on top, it was so worth it. In the sunlight the Wind Rivers were on full display for us to see. I still think they are some of the most rugged mountains I have ever seen other than the Tetons. And Shoshone Lake trail proved to us that they meant business. It was a very fun trail, but a very exhausting one.

    We pulled into the gas station to get our last fuel up and all aired up. Some of us had to say our good byes here. My Dad, Gage, and Marc where headed back to their homes and their normal lives. As for Mike, Ben, Jason, Mike, Joey, and me. We were head south to the old Colorado gold mining hills of Ouray to do something we all wanted to cross off the bucket list. Wheel at 12,000 feet.


To be Continued..

Leg Three:
Strength in numbers

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