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Calvary 4-Wheelers gathered for our Back-to-School Special run on Saturday, August 18, 2018. Along for the trip were me in my lifted XJ; my wife, Missy, in her stock TJ; my daughter, Leona, in her newly-lifted late ‘70s Plymouth Trailduster; Jon and his friend David in Jon’s red, lifted Cherokee; and John and his two boys in their blue JKU Rubicon. We had originally planned on going up to Wheeler Lake but found out there was going to be a major trail maintenance project going on there so we switched to Mosquito Pass.
We met in Jefferson on the west/south side of Kenosha Pass. It was cold, overcast and windy feeling more like late September than mid August. We drove into rain on the way to Fairplay which got steadily heavier until it was raining pretty hard. I was beginning to wonder if we might find snow at 13,000 feet on the top of the pass.
We took a back way in from Alma, heading up CR 10 (Park Hill Road) and then across FSR 449 (Narrow Gauge) along the old railroad bed. Along the way we saw a large bull moose and a pretty good-sized muley buck. We took a wrong turn at an unexpected fork and ended up coming down Orphan Boy Mine Road to CR 12 before the end of 449.
By this time the rain had started to let up and was down to off and on sprinkles. We made a brief stop at the information Kiosk for the North London Mill to take some pictures and, for those that wanted to, to air down. When we reached the left hand turn that starts the pass in earnest, we shifted into 4wd and began the climb.
After bouncing our way up the rocky road, pausing occasionally to admire the view and take a picture or two, we stopped for lunch at the North London Mine. The rain had completely stopped by now and the sun was intermittently peeking through the clouds. When the sun was out, it was quite pleasant. When it went behind a cloud it was still a little cool. We ate our lunch at a leisurely pace, enjoying the day and each other’s company.
After lunch and a little time to explore the mine ruins, we headed on up the pass. We only stopped at the top long enough to take a quick picture of the sign and then headed down the other side. The weather continued to improve and, by the time we got to Leadville, we were able to shed our jackets. We stopped at a gas station for a bathroom and some snacks before hitting the highway and heading home.The trail was clear and passable the entire way. The views were as impressive as ever. This classic trail is definitely worth it.
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