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2010 FJ Summit : A short anecdote

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Black Bear Pass - 2010 FJ Summit

In July, Ouray was again filled with FJ Cruisers from around the country for the 4th Annual FJ Summit. If you haven't been, we highly recommend making the trek to “Switzerland of America” for next year's event. The mountains are beautiful, the people are wonderful, and I believe this is one of the best off road events in the country.

Since this is our 4th year in Ouray for the Summit, we’ll refrain from the normal narrative on how beautiful and awe inspiring the trail runs were. Instead, we’d like to treat you to a few select pics from FJC Magazine Trail Team Members from the event. We do, however, want to share one anecdote.


When Angie and I arrived late Wednesday evening the rain was pounding Ouray quite heavily, and had been for hours. If you’re not familiar with the arid climate in Colorado, hard rain storms in July can have major consequences in the mountains.


The next morning there was still quite a bit of drizzle coming down when I met up with the early morning Black Bear Pass group. I asked our trail leader, Chris Hatfield from TLCA, how he felt about Black Bear Pass in the rain and he didn’t have any concerns. We were all experienced drivers and the trail is not terribly difficult (just intimidating). I agreed and we headed up to the trailhead.

The rain was slowing down by the time we began airing down at the trailhead, but it was still sprinkling. I jumped ahead of the group to setup for video and still shots. Although I was in CB range, I tuned to the HAM channel we agreed upon to monitor their progress. It’s there that I learned Chris Davis from Rising Sun 4x4 would be the “Drop Off” spotter for the day. We chatted a little on HAM as we headed up the trail.


By the time our group had reached the summit of Black Bear (after an AWESOME optional ‘waterfall’ obstacle), Chris D. had run into a problem. Not long after starting downhill from the summit, he discovered a giant 2-3 ton boulder blocking the trail. Chris H. and I left the group up top and headed down to see if we could get the boulder off the shelf of the trail. About an hour later, after trying many different methods to move the rock, we were able to guide Chris’s Sandstorm FJ over it. From there it was just a matter of pulling it out of the way, which required Chris H.’s V8 equipped FJ-80 to finish.

We called back to the group at the summit and continued down the trail.

For about 1/2 mile.


I guess we should’ve scouted a little further ahead before bringing all those FJ’s down the shelf road, because we were once again blocked. This time, there was no way we were moving the obstacle: an entire hillside had slid down to cover the trail. The rain took its toll on the loose rock and caused a mushy slide of rocks and mud to completely wipe out the trail for at least 30 yards. As off road types, our first thought was to crawl over it, but one step into the mush and we knew we weren’t going anywhere. All that rain made the slide a muddy mess that sunk down 4-5 inches when walking on it.


So now we practice the art of backing up a one way trail. We had about 10 trucks that had to back up 50-100 yards to a suitable turn around spot. I had the honor of spotting everyone to help get the group turned around, and after about 20 minutes or so we were on our way back.

We were able to notify FJ Summit HQ of the issue and they notified the county officials to get the mess cleaned up. The trail was open by later that day, but unfortunately we weren’t able to complete Black Bear Pass at this years Summit. But luckily, there’s always next year :)

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