Everyone had fun bouncing their EarthRoamers through the muck.
After guiding the few remaining EarthRoamer XV-LTs to their campsites, everyone gathered in the relative warmth of the mess tent as we all enjoyed a late evening of delicious food and spirited story telling. As the EarthRoamer owners eagerly retired to the luxurious warmth of their heated XV-LT's, EarthRoamer employees reluctantly left the mess tent for a frigid night of winter tent camping.
True to the forecast, we awoke the next morning to blowing snow and an additional accumulation of 3 to 4 inches. As we broke camp, the wind and snowfall intensified. We weren't too concerned about the snow accumulation, but with temperatures fluctuating near freezing, we feared icy road conditions. Add in low visibility due to fog and blowing snow, along with snow-covered trackless roads, and we were facing whiteout conditions. Clearly (pun intended) it was time to get off the Mesa.
After a quick driver's meeting to announce our plans, we began the caravan out of the snow-covered bog back to the main road. One by one, EarthRoamer XV-LTs bounced and ground their way through the bog in low-range, back to the main road. After the last vehicle cleared the bog, the caravan regrouped and began the trip to the visitors' center in near white-out conditions.
Some of the rally participants at the last night's dinner.
Dave - EarthRoamer employee and chef extraordinaire - prepares the first of four delicious
Scott Brady of Expeditions West leads a class on vehicle recovery and winching techniques.
After a quick stop at the now closed visitor center for a group photograph, the caravan proceeded along Route 65 to better weather at lower elevations. As we dropped off of the Mesa, the weather cleared, revealing spectacular golden aspens. Snow turned to rain, and began washing away the mud collected from the Mesa. Shifting out of four-wheel drive, we enjoyed a breathtaking display of fall-colored foliage dusted with powder. It was warmer here and the wind was minimal, due to the protection of the closely surrounding mountains, but there is still snow on the ground. After another savory dinner featuring rib-eye steaks, laughter and conversation were heard late into the evening as the campers wound down after an exciting day of adventure.
The next two days were spent with four-wheel-drive training, exploring the local scenery and 4x4 trails, and a class on proper winching and recovery techniques. After class, we headed out to explore the town of Marble, Beaver Lake just east of Marble, and Lost Trail Road, a 4x4 road that leads to Lead King Basin.
With the drivers rear wheel buried to the axle, we were stuck. The Warn 16.5 winch enabled
This entire area of Colorado is a four-wheeler's paradise, with an extensive network of forest service roads and old mining trails that could easily take a lifetime to explore. Spectacular 14,000-foot peaks tower over the area, and iconic Colorado scenes like the Maroon Bells and Crystal Mill are within a few miles. These trails are best explored in late summer after the winter snowmelt. After winters with a particularly large snowfall, the roads are sometimes impassible through the entire summer, so with recent snowfall, we knew we wouldn't make it too far, even in low-range-and sure enough, we hit a particularly muddy section and our left rear wheel sank into a deep mud hole. The rear limited-slip wasn't enough to keep the tire from spinning, so we tried Reverse-no luck. With helpful assistance from a couple of guys cutting firewood, we quickly had the 16.5 Warn winch rigged and ready to pull out the stuck EarthRoamer when a guy in a small pickup coming down the trail decided to try to pass us. Two more minutes and we would have been out of his way. As he tried to make his way around us, he smacked his topper into the side of our rig. We completed the recovery-and the guy didn't even stop to assess the damage. Fortunately, the damage was limited to scratches in the paint on the window frame, and there was no body damage.
It was late afternoon, so we decided to make our way back to camp. After one final feast and an evening of tall tales around the campfire, we called it a wrap on another successful EarthRoamer Owner's Rally.
Grand Mesa National Forest
4WD Trails around Marble, Colorado