What do you do when you’ve explored every FJ Summit trail in the Ouray-Silverton-Telluride area multiple times? Find something new.
The Hema Explorer system helped to scout a high alpine lake that we’ve never explored. With a route planned in the cloud, I synced the tracks to my phone & tablet and downloaded the proper maps. We hit the pavement south of Ridgway, headed for Red Mountain Pass.
After turning off the highway, we found a standard forest road complete with a washboard surface. We aired down to 22psi on the new tires, hit record on the app, and headed for the hills.
Despite the cloudy & rainy day, we were able to find some really great views throughout the ~8 mile journey which included over 3,000ft in elevation gain. We spotted the Golden Horn a few times, along with several lakes, waterfalls, and great potential campsites.
The end of our trip revealed a socked-in yet still beautiful Clear Lake. At an elevation near 12,000ft the lake is actually....quite clear. It’s also cold, and a really great place for lunch. Alas, the rain caught us so we enjoyed our sandwiches in the comfort of the GX.
This trail is suitable for any stock 4x4 or SUV with low-range and you should plan 2-4 hours for a round trip, depending on how often you stop to capture the views. You can see our track on the Hema Explorer Cloud: http://hema.li/clrlkco
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Summer 2017 Issue:
"You know you’d love another project, you need one."
More true words have never been spoken.
If you’ve followed our publication for long you’ll know that we've always tried to focus on interesting topics, vehicles, and ideas to help get you out into the great unknown with your Toyota truck or SUV. Our journey has been covered in great detail within these pages.... now the next chapter begins.
As our lives change, so do our needs for daily transportation and weekend exploration. Our original TRD FJ Cruiser served us well for nearly 10 years, however as our family grew, we had to move on. Our 2007 GX-470 was a great vehicle, but came along around the same time that we needed to do a 'flagship' build (See TCT Explorer 2015-2016). The Tundra is still by all accounts almost the perfect exploring vehicle, and will be missed in our stable. Alas, daily driving, mileage, and my 'need' for a new project all resulted in our latest vehicle. "Project 4"
The Lexus GX 460 is by no means an unknown or unproven vehicle. In most parts of the world, this platform is known as the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 150. It's closely related to the 5th Gen 4Runner, and enthusiasts throughout North America already have great builds for inspiration.
So why is the 460 the best fit for our next project?
First, its Land Cruiser & Toyota heritage means that we know it will be a solid truck for many years. Ours is a 2012 model with just over 70,000 miles on the clock. Just barely broken in from a Toyota perspective.
Also, the newer version of the GX includes the more efficient 4.6L 1UR-FEV8 engine, the same that powers small V8 Tundra trucks. At 301hp and 329ft lb of torque we have plenty of power to get us anywhere we want to explore. That power also hauls or pulls whatever gear is required for just about any adventure.
Finally, since the 460 debuted in 2010 as a luxury vehicle, they are just now starting to price down to what we consider a 'normal' level for an off-road or overland build. Finally, since the 460 debuted in 2010 as a luxury vehicle, they are just now starting to price down to what we consider a 'normal' level for an off-road or overland build.
Unlike the TCT Explorer, which was essentially a show truck with a thirst for dirt, the GX will be more of a 'sleeper'. We're two months in and so far, we've only added tires (See Economical A/T Sidebar). Next on the list are sliders from Metal Tech 4x4, followed by a fully tuned suspension with minimal lift from Toytec Lifts. We’re also looking at a Pioneer rack system from Rhino Racks, USA as a great lightweight option. Beyond those basic modifications, we'll see where the wind takes us.
Our goal for the GX-460 is to show how with very little effort, a luxury SUV can be configured to travel anywhere a North American family wishes to explore.
Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and within the pages of this magazine to see how the GX-460 is an amazing family overland explorer! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and within the pages of this magazine to see how the GX-460 is an amazing family overland explorer!
Economical A/T (Sidebar)
We expect to own the GX-460 for many years, so we'll likely try many sets of tires for the truck, which is primarily daily driver along with very little towing, and some trail use.
The choice for our first set seems like it was 'meant to be'. Let me explain. Less than one week before FJ Summit XI we suffered a small hole in an old tire, so we needed something quickly. Price is always a consideration, but we also knew we needed to move from a standard passenger tire to a slightly more aggressive all terrain, while maintaining as much efficiency as possible.
A search of available options in our area led (as it almost always does) to Discount Tire. I found the economical "Trailfinder" A/T at the local store, but couldn't find any information about it online. More of an entry level tire than other options, this tire is exclusive to DT and is offered as "dependable performance and excellent value", and comes with a 45,000 mile warranty. That equals about two years of daily driving and a few off-road trips. Also, since this is a very new offering with little information published, it presents the perfect opportunity to test an entry level, economic option. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as we post updates on this tire over the next few months and years.
Load Rating: 116 (2705lb)
Weight: 9lb/tire heavier than OEM (36lb total)
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Summer 2017 Issue:
After years, why keep coming back? Why come the first time? Will you come again?
Its no secret that the crew at TCT Magazine loves the FJ Summit. We keep coming back. Shane & Angie were at the first FJ Summit in the original Williams FJ and have attended ever since. Director Jonathan Harris also became a TCT editor. Associate Editor Daniel Markofsky leads trails here in his 80 series Land Cruiser.
People, Scenery, Tech, Trails, History, Education, Vacation, Food, Relaxing, Hot Springs, Excitement, Community, Camaraderie, Family.
Prep. I need that lift. Don’t forget armor.
Do I really need sliders, dual batteries and solar? Check.
Axe and shovel. Check.
Gears. Next year, nope, now.
Definitely a roof rack.
CB or HAM?
Every Summiteer goes through this type of list.
Day 1: Breakfast. The steam rises off your fresh local burrito as it peeks out of the foil. Coffee steams in your other hand. You feel the chill, but know the day will warm. You meet the group. You make new friends.
On The Trail.
Its why we are here.
Tire pressure. Check. Debate. Check. Ask. Debate. Add air. Check.
Fuel. Never pass a gas station. Is my tank full. How much is my reserve. How long is the day. How much gas do I need. Do I really need a full tank. I have enough, I think.
How hard is the trail? What is your experience? Let’s check out your rig. What is your tire pressure? Are you scared of heights? Do you have A-Trac? Lockers? Have you ever used them? No, you won’t need them. You will need them.
Having trouble on the trail? Are you in low range? You mean this button? What does that one do? What is it? I don’t know, I just turn them all on. I was told that was what to do. No, I did not air down because I have no way to fill up. To what? 50 PSI like the sidewall says.
ATVs coming up. Side-by-sides coming down. Jeeps ahead. Did you turn? Where is the bathroom? What time do we get back to town. Can I get a spot! How did they get that bulldozer/Subaru/Jeep/Honda up here? Do those people need help? What time is lunch? ATVs coming up. Side-by-sides coming down. Jeeps ahead. Did you turn? Where is the bathroom? What time do we get back to town. Can I get a spot! How did they get that bulldozer/Subaru/Jeep/Honda up here? Do those people need help? What time is lunch?
Lunch. Is it a cold sandwich, handful of chips, grilled chicken, or mac n cheese hot off the manifold.
Did you take in the view? Glad the rain stopped. I don’t need 4-low first gear all the time? Oh, You were on channel 22, that explains it. Car off, hand brake on, manual tranny in gear every time we stop?
Dinner. The food is good and the line is a slow roll down vendor row. Dude! We chatted online, soooo great to meet you! Under the tent you are welcome at any table and anyone is welcome at yours. At the brewery, grill, or grocery you are surrounded by friends. Maybe you pass on that additional margarita as the excitement for the next day appears.
Sleep. Is it a comfortable condo? Hotel room? RTT, camping pad. Maybe stealth on the sleeping platform you built the night before you left. Shhh. 2017 treated Summiteers to a lightning show of biblical proportions, thunderclaps worthy of the Roman Gods, and snorkel eating rain.
Saturday night: Hi remember that trail we ran Thursday? I did all those things my tail leader showed me. It was so much fun! I can’t wait to get home and explore my local trails. Now I finally understand how my FJ/4Runner/Tacoma/Prius works! (ok, not the Prius.)
Sunday: Yep, mine is 6, 8, 9, 16 hours to home.
Oh, me, I’m here another week.
See you in 2018!
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Summer 2017 Issue:
What a great summer!
We've been busy covering amazing Toyota Truck, Cruiser, and SUV adventure...
Download this issue now to read all about:
You can also get TCT delivered straight to your iPad or iPhone via the TCT Magazine app.
To get your copy of the
Summer 2017 Issue:
"Is that a Lexus?"
"Are you lost?"
"You should turn back!"
These are the standard greetings I receive when I use my 2003 GX470 for trail duty. It’s okay, I am used to it after almost 8 years. I have learned to retort with witty humor to diffuse the clear shock of these folks; My GPS told me the outlet mall was at the end of this road.It’s all in good fun.
Feeding off the success of the previous year, the annual Lone Star Toyota Jamboree hit another homerun with over 500 people in attendance. A total of 320 Toyota Trucks and 46 sponsors made for a spectacular event at Barnwell Mountain Recreation Area OHV Park, including “a raffle surpassing $50,000 in value” according to organizer Chris Gray.
1)Blind Man’s Bluff where driver is blindfolded and completely dependent on the passenger serving as the co-pilot.
2)Rock Garden Crawl where distance accomplished determines the winner for each tire size classification.
3)The return of the Timed Obstacle Course where going airborne can be to the driver’s advantage.
It was a very emotional time for longtime Jamboree organizers after learning a long time Toyota Trail Riders club member and Jambo attendee, Angie R., was having a rough time in her fight with cancer. The Jambo staff had already chosen breast cancer combatant organization called Women Rock, Inc. as the recipient of charity contributions, and had raised $7888 for their efforts. Upon hearing an update during the raffle from friend, Butch Baker, of Angie's fight, the Toyota crowd came together and raised an additional $3000, including a $1000 donation straight from Jamboree itself, togo directly to the Rushing family! Several raffle winners even donated their items back to be auctioned off for money to be donated. It was heart moving and emotional time to see this outpouring of support. In total, Women Rock raised $10,958 at the 11th Annual Lone Star Toyota Jamboree!
The dates for Jamboree next year are May 4-7, 2017. If you have not yet visited the giant BMRA off-road park in the eastern Piney Woods of Texas, shoot for next year by attending Lone Star Toyota jabmoree. You don’t want to miss this great event.
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Summer 2016 Issue:
Why do you attend off-road events? It’s a question that I often ask people who frequent organized events.
By Jonathan Harris: FJ Summit CoDirector. Special thanks to CoDirector Matt Robb for demographic information and CoFounder Time Terleski for historical background.
Photos by Rusty Childress, Main Event Imaging
Is it to experience off-roading in a safe, organized, environment? Is it to get new ideas for vehicles upgrades? Is it to spend time with old friends and meet new people? For me events are always for the later. Over the years, many off-road events have sparked meaningful relationships and some of my best friends came out of chance meetings with people on the trail, at vendor booths, at the group dinners and of course, at the raffles. This desire to connect with people was what brought me to the FJ Summit, and what has kept me coming back for more.
The FJ Summit started like many other events, on an online forum. A “national get-together for Fj Cruiser forum members” was first conceived in July 2006 on FJ Cruiser Forums. Jason Gottlieb (Bostonian1976) first proposed the idea and solicited inputs from forum members as to where to hold a “National Get-Together”. A spirited debate as to location ensued with the East Coast. Arkansas, Kansas, Texas, the Black Hills, Moab and Colorado being considered. “Cruiserpalooza”, an early working name, was starting to gel. Forum members including ( but not limited to ) Bostonian1976 (Chairman), CO-Jeff , Castle Rock FJ, VTFJC , FJR Colorado (Trail Boss), GsGmac, Valkyrie, T2Cruiser, Shane4x4, Miss FJ and The Nookie were the first participants in organizing what would later be named, by forum vote, “FJ Cruiser Summit”.
Five individuals. Jason Gottlieb, Seth Kovanic, Jeff Thompsen, Tim Terleski and Ty! Boyack made up the official Co-Directors year one. A not-for-profit corporation was formed, FJSummit.org, Inc. and the FJ Summit was born.
Year one could have been the last, if not for the terrific support and participation of the Toyota Trail Teams. Taking on the responsibility to be Trail Leaders, their experience and expertise made for a safe and successful event the first two years. In following years their expertise and mentorship was passed through the ranks and the FJ Summit eventually was able to take on these responsibilities. This process of passing the torch has continued every year since.
Fj Summit 2007 had approximately 375 participants with close to 200 vehicles. Ouray, Colorado, dubbed “The Switzerland of America” and the surrounding terrain proved to be the ideal location! What was discovered that first year was that FJ Summit not only brought together the drivers and their vehicles, it included their families as well. So many friendships were made and the realization that the event became a family oriented vacation destination resulted in the this unique off road event. Those first year participants spread the word and the foundation for the incredible growth, the incredible camaraderie, the generous charity and the continued fun that FJ Summit has become!
Over the year’s the Summit has grown to become one of the largest Toyota 4x4 events in the nation. Summit X had a total of 409 registered vehicles with 860 adults and 150 children 11 years of age or under for a total of 1,010 total participants. For perspective, the population of Ouray is about 1,100! Summiteers came from all across North America with representation from 43 states and Canadian provinces.
My favorite aspects of the Summit are the family friendly environment and the opportunity to introduce new off-roaders to the activity as a husband and father myself, I can say the Summit is hands down the best off-road event for families. With easy to moderate trails available, great accommodations and activities in ouray and activities for kids, there is something for everyone. Each year we have attendees ranging from those who have never shifted into 4x4 to world renowned expert drivers. For the former, we provide a 4x4 101 class, by Trail Teams alum, Brian “Woody”, Swearengen. We also provide recommendations for new drivers on easier trails and have our wonderful trail leaders work with them throughout the day.
Although the Summit is managed by four CoDirectors (Matt Robb, Chris Davis, James Krieger, and myself, we receive tremendous support from many of the founders who still attend each year. The event could not happen without our volunteers. All of those people that you meet, leading trails, folding shirts, stuffing swag bags and selling items at the store do it for the love of the event and the people around them. I am always blown away and humbled to have each and every one of them as part of the team.
If you have never attended the Summit in the past or are an old timer, we would love to see you at Summit XI. I think you will enjoy what you see. Until then, see you on the trail!
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Summer 2016 Issue:
SPC / Light Racing recently revealed a major upgrade to their bulletproof Upper Control Arms for Toyota Cruisers & Trucks.
Nature’s fall foliage backdrop illuminated the trails and the VOR gathering with shades of orange, gold, and crimson. It was photographically addicting to capture the reflection of the season on top of trucks painted metal surfaces. The beautiful surroundings made the trails long as you cannot help but stop to collect photographs.
While traveling the rugged roads of Vermont and the VOR trail systems, it was easy to find muddy terrain and the need to be prepared for rescue. These conditions made for some fun obstacles and some extra difficulty in directing vehicles through the terrain. While driving through the mud, I often felt like I was on ice or snow; when I veer right, I felt the vehicle disobey and veer to the left.
TCT stayed in the heart of the rally by camping in CVT roof top tents in the center of the Lillie Brook Farm, open to its attendees for the entirety of the event. It was very fascinating to see the vast assemblage of different makes and models in attendance at the Vermont Overland Rally. The makes we observed included Toyota, Jeep, Range Rover, Dodge, Mercedes and even Subaru.
The main attractions for the Rally included group off road tours (VOR mapped) and classes for off-road preparedness: extreme recovery techniques, preparing yourself and your vehicle for an expedition, vehicle conversions, CPR and first aid, vehicle maintenance, documentation for media and winning VOT information. Additional features included workshops for kids, vendors, overland movies, dinners which included local foods and produce (Lillie Brook Farm), a raffle and a bon fire.
The highlight of our tour at the Vermont Overland Rally was conversing with members of OEX (Overland Experts) and observing their rare Toyota vehicles which include a Toyota Hilux D-4 TDI and a Toyota Land Cruiser 150 Prado D4-D diesel. Their field of work includes training the public and the military in off-road rescue and preparedness.
The Vermont Overland Rally encompasses challenges and tools for stock vehicles and beginner drivers, to fully loaded vehicles and advanced knowledgeable drivers. If you plan to visit the beautiful and bountiful Northeast, give Vermont Overland Rally a try. Rain or shine, you can wheel as much or as little as you want, stay behind and take a lesson, or just hang out and relax to enjoy the scenery and hospitality. We at TCT, had a memorable time and look forward to what 2016 has to offer.