Went 4-wheeling for new years day, something that has become an annual tradition with my group of friends and I. I took my Cummins 6bt powered m715 up to the small town of Empire Co. Once at the staging area, I chained up all four 37×12.50×16.5 Goodyear GSA tires and followed my friends up the trail that leads to Bill Moore lake. We only made it about three switchbacks up the trail before a buddys ’72 Blazer slipped toward the edge of the road. So, we got to practice our winch, snatch block and tree-strap skills. With Blazer safely recovered and underwear changed we continued to the next challenge- a switchback that is steep, off camber and covered in two feet of powdery snow. The Blazer was in the lead and took on the hill first and only made it about three feet before getting bogged down. Now this Blazer is highly modified- TBI 350, 14 Bolt and Dana 60 axles locked and loaded plus plenty of other goodies so he backs up and takes a good run at it and still only makes it about half way up. As good friends will, we heckled him mightily and he suggested that perhaps one of us would show him how it was to be done. Next up was a ’60 CJ-5 with an injected 401 AMC V8, 35 inch Super Swamper tires, 4.88 gears, lockers and a t18 transmission. He gave it all and still only made it just to the top of the hill in a position that landed him between a tree and a snow covered rock that lended no traction whatsoever. A quick tug with the strap freed him to attempt several more assaults on the hill with little further progress. It was now my turn to give it a try so I lined up and hit it in second gear and went up about as far as the CJ had. I was able to back down without sliding off the edge of the switchback- a sizable concern as I’m not really interested in smashing up the truck I’ve spent so much time to build ( and money, but you will never get the total amount outta me ’cause Marge would probably make me take up less expensive hobbies like vintage aircraft or ming vase collecting) against rock and trees. The next attempt at the hill was in third gear and I had noticed that everyone else that had tried third did’nt have enough motor to really get the tires really flinging the snow. Well, as it turns out, the old Cummins has PLENTY of guts to pull third gear. Snow went a flyin and I made it a good twenty feet further than anyone else had and promptly found myself stuck- er, “TEMPORARILY IMMOBILIZED” .
I’m sitting there thinking about the fact that my truck outweighs all the other rigs on this trip and how to unstick this thing but it turns out that a few little tugs were all that were needed to free me. Next up, a ’99 Cherokee with a 4 inch lift, some nice Rubicon tires and wheels ~31 inchers and open differentials. With the 4.0 testing the rev limiter he made it to about to where I had been and suffered the same fate. Fortunately, we come prepared for all this fun and he was rolling again in minutes. We all tried a few more times each to break that impenetrable snow but spring is gonna have to break before we have a snowball’s chance of getting any further up to the lake without a helicopter. Reluctantly, we turned around and headed back to Empire, removed the chains , unlocked the hubs and bid farewell to the fellows. I decided while I was already up in the mountains I might just as well get some firewood since Winter Park is only twenty miles away from Empire. Pine Beetles have killed millions of trees in Grand county and this makes for a lot of firewood that can be had for absoutely FREE- people are just glad that someone will haul it off as they already have a lifetime supply of wood cut and split but there are still dead trees standing everywhere. So, the golf course has a huge pile of logs cut to about 3-4 foot lengths and stacked there ready to go. Loaded the bed up until it was cab high, strapped it all down securely and headed back towards home. Going back through Empire, Bart noticed that the Lewis Sweet Shop was still open so we stopped and got stuffed with food, watched a Warren Miller winter sports crash and burn outakes video and high-centered ourselves on some ice cream too. Now that’s the way to start off the new year right!