While the rest of the country was steeped in sweltering, humid heat this past summer, hundreds of adventurous Jeepers flocked to Gunnison, Colorado, for the 39th Annual All-4-Fun Event. The Mile-Hi Jeep Club is one of the largest almost-all-Jeep clubs in the country. This four-wheel outing and social event is held in different locales scattered across Colorado's Rocky Mountains to keep the adventure fresh, challenging, and exciting.
The Mile-Hi Jeep Club has been an integral part of Colorado's four-wheel-drive movement since the association of Jeepers was incorporated in 1957. The club is comprised of members from all walks of life. For most, their passion encompasses much more than just trailblazing. The club's mission statement reads:
Mile-Hi belongs to and fully supports the Colorado Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, the United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA), Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition (COHVCO), Tread Lightly!, and the Old Car Council. Between the club and its patrols, they maintain 23 Adopt-a-Road trails in Colorado and work closely with the U.S. Forest Service to help fund repairs and provide work parties to keep these trails open for public use.
In past years, All-4-Fun has been held in the Colorado towns of Buena Vista, Central City, Fairplay, Gunnison, Ouray, and Salida. These small Rocky Mountain towns serve as base camps during the event. Individualistic, each of the communities have their own character, personality, and rich history. All are left over from the trapping and fur trading days of yesteryear.
The trail systems that skirt Gunnison aren't as extreme as some of the hard-core rockcrawling we so often associate with four-wheeling. But our sport isn't always about hard-core - what these trails lack in extreme challenge, they make up for in spectacular scenery. This is not to say, however, that they don't hold a mild terror factor. Some of the two-track trails switchback across the slopes of 12,000- to 14,000-foot mountaintops. They are just wide enough to keep the track-width of your vehicle happy and upright. Hugging the trails inside upslope is slightly comforting, while the other side of the trail offers a 500- to 1,000-foot drop, which easily allows you to muster up thoughts of an early demise.
This year's event saw 379 registered vehicles and just as many participants. Twelve trails were organized for adventure. The trails wound their way through spectacular high-mountain desert scrub, coniferous forest, and alpine meadows. MHJC rates its trails a little differently than most; this is due in part to the ever-changing weather conditions. A trail may be passable one day and not the next.
One very admirable aspect of the All-4-Fun event is the club's charitable contributions to the Denver Children's Burn Camp; to date, MHJC has donated more than $100,000 to the camp. The donations are possible because of All-4Fun. Sponsors and vendors for the event included Warn Industries, Bestop, Fabtech, Clemson 4Wheel Center, Premier Power Welder, Poison Spyder Customs, Tellico 4x4, Off Again 4x4, Tiny Bits of Silver, Spydertrax, Colorado Custom Crawler, Miller Off-Road Products, Raingler.com, and Redneck Concepts.
If you would like information on next year's All-4-Fun event, check out www.mhjc.org.