Like all legends, this particular area is wrapped in some mystery, just enough to keep things interesting. I am getting ahead of myself, but as a 4×4/off-road trail, this adventure will not leave you wanting.
Top of the Gulch:
We will be running this Gulch from the top down, most of the trips I have driven have been tours, and as a tour goes, going down this gully is exciting enough. But if you want a bit more a challenge, by all means ram your rig up what is known as “The Wall”! But for the sake of this discussion we will be heading down. Which means you will be starting from the top of one of two different passes.
Hurricane Pass is the one that you would be coming over if you came over from Corkscrew or Gladstone. The two most notable features of this pass is that this is a great place for viewing Lake Como, the focus of much of the legendary aspects of this Gulch, and there is a reason this is called Hurricane Pass. I cannot explain why, something about its location, and the deep valleys and high mountains or who knows but I would say 95% of the time I have been there, and that has been really a large number, it was been blowing like a hurricane! Hence its name, I would imagine!
California Pass is on the other side and if you had driven up from Animas Forks and up California Gulch this is where you would be. The two most notable features of the top of this pass are that you are really stinking high at 12,930 ft, great place to do some aerobic exercise because you can reach you heart rate goal very quickly, and some great views especially to the East-ish. There you can see the peaks that stole their names from the Alps such as the Matterhorn and Wetterhorn ,Uncompahgre the tallest peak in the San Juans and a great view of Engineer Pass across the way! But whichever side, you now have to drop dramatically to start this adventure.
You can’t take that its a Landmark!
At the bottom, where there is an intersection, sat for many many years this crunched up little truck. I am not sure how it got there, but when I had originally seen it, it wasn’t all crunched, but was big time stuck in the bog very near the wall. I think I was coming back from Lake City, trying to cut over to 550 when we got to this location there where two young kids. Turns out they where looking for help as their parents had their truck stuck they told me. So I loaded them up in my tour rig and proceeded down Poughkeepsie Gulch to see what we could do. There they were in this little 2 wheel drive Toyota or such buried in a mud bog, we had no straps or such so I agreed to haul them into town and since it was getting real late, and this was pre-cellphone, my only option was to continue down to reach Ouray.
So that is what led to my first ever trip down this crazy road. So anyway at some point it got hauled and crunched and left at the bottom here and became not only a landmark but was also a Geo-Cache. I also got to partake of the removal of this with the Western Slope 4-Wheelers club out of Montrose, who by the way have adopted this road and apparently why the-powers-that-be still let us drive it. So I sort of had a hand from the beginning to the end of the history of this silly truck, and I also contacted the lady who had placed the Geo-Cache to let her know it was gone.
Next post we really start the adventure heading down to Lake Como. Is it really a bottomless lake, and who the heck was mining before known history? Find out in Part 2 right here!