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Very important!!!! Everyone read!!!!


NAXJA Forum User
Mid Missouri
As the CO event coordinator it falls to me to decide if this event should go on as scheduled. It is not an easy decision. I know that there are many that have invested quite a bit of money and scheduled once a year work leave to attend this run, but the current drought and fire problems in Colorado are causing me to reconsider if this is the time to be trekking to and through the mountains.

There is no way to know if the areas we were planning trails in will even be open during the run. Pike NF is closed and it looks as if San Isabel will be closing soon. Gunnison NF, while not on anyone's closure list at this time, can't be guaranteed open in late July, Nor can any of the state’s NFs at this time. The committee has been weighing options to try and keep a CO run on the books for ’02 but with the new fire in the San Juan’s it’s clear that the whole state is in the same shape.

I am leaning towards canceling the '02 NAXA CO run and trying again in '03 but I'm keeping an open mind at this point. My main reason for considering canceling CO ’02 is safety. Fire can travel faster than we can in the mountains. I don’t want to see anyone get hurt or killed.

As I said I’m keeping an open mind. I’d like to know what those of you who still planned on coming think about the situation. If you think the event should go on as planned, convince me. If you feel it should be postponed a year give me some ideas on what we can do on short notice to still be able to offer something to those that have already scheduled the holiday time.

I think it's pretty clear that the CO "experience" is not going to be what many expected.

I will most likely still be in CO because I have family there and have done this trip many times and have alternate destinations in mind, but it is fairly obvious that the entire state is not going to magically improve over the next few weeks, or even the next few months.

Truth be told, it seemed like many folks were looking forward to the sheer enjoyment of driving in the high Rockies, not simply to find the gnarliest trail available to test their machines. Blue skies, clear mountain air and sitting around the campfire after a pleasant day of wheeling regretably doesn't appear to be in the cards for '02. National Forests may remain open, but the open fire ban will (and should) remain in effect through first snows.

I think the safety factor is mangeable with proper attention to conditions, but you're right, you just never know where the next lightning strike (or disgruntled spouse) is going to be. Then again, that's something you have to pay attention to ALL the time, in any year.

Maybe the "formal event" should be postponed to a better (and hopefully wetter) time, especially since this trip is attracting many new folks to the wonders of Colorado. It will still be there - and it deserves a better chance to impress.

Mike in NJ (where the drought is finally breaking!)
We were really looking forward to coming to CO for the first time. We've traveled many trails here in CA, but non probably as "pretty" as CO. We have been debating ourselves if we want to make the trek to CO if we are going to see dry (or even worse burnt) forests, where wet, green trees are normally. We are leaning against cancelling our plans - even though campground reservations have already been made. We would love to go to CO, but it would probably be more enjoyable in '03.

We hope you'll be keeping everyone posted via this discussion as to the plan. Thanks!! :cry:
An off-the-cuff, spur of the moment thought: exchange the dates for the Moab & Colo. events. Granted, the high country of CO is probably not condusvie to major offroading in early Oct. Some of you CO residents, chime in here, what do you think? I'll be heading west from Fla. regardless, and will most likely pass through CO on the way to Nevada even if the event is cancelled. Otherwise, I agree with Mike, postponement to better & wetter times seems to be the best move. Having passed through CO on I-70 once a couple years ago, I'm determined to do some wheeling & exploring in some of the ruggedest & most beautiful country in the USofA; however, doing so with the fire danger limitations, breathing smoke from distant fires and worrying if my catalytic converter is gonna start a fire is not my idea of enjoying the outdoors.

Another thought just crossed my mind. Richard was suggesting Moab for the 20th anniversary event IIRC; what's the possibility of moving that event to Colorado?
The thought also crossed my mind of doing the 20th anniversary event in CO rather than in Moab, if this years event needs to be cancelled. The only thing is that if the drought continues into next year it will be much too unpredictable to plan an event of that scope in CO for next year. As part of the 20th anniversary event, I was going to suggest some runs in various areas the weekend before going to Moab. I was thinking about a group running in the San Juans, a group going to Montrose, and a group doing an extended weekend run in Moab. Maybe we could extend the time in CO before going to Moab for those who had the vacation time. I was also thinking of making the 20th anniversary event earlier, like in Sept, to better accomodate offering some runs on CO.

This is all up in the air, please give us your ideas.

Richard G
Although I still have my camp site reservation, I have been considering alternate destinations because it just "feels" to me that Colorado is going to be closed when we planned to go there. My two goals for making this trek were (1) being with NAXJA people and (2) seeing the Colorado scenery.

Since I have resigned from my job effective the end of June and probably won't find a new position immediately, I may be able to get to Moab this year after all, which would take care of #1. The friend who is joining me on the trip is from Montana, so we may just re-route through Wyoming and Montana, stop by Yellowstone and Medicine Wheel, and see what that part of the country looks like.

I think a decision has to be made, and being a conservative type it's almost always my choice to err on the side of caution. I would support a decision to cancel the event. I don't know the west well enough to suggest alternates for those who have the time blocked out, however. I'm relying on my friend to help me decide what's worth seeing. What about places like Arches National Monument, the Badlands (the real Badlands, not the commercial off-road park of that name), ...?
The fires that are occurring are on the outskirts of the major ranges of the Colorado Rockies. The Hayman fire is in the foothills well South of the major peaks of the Front Range, with the exception of the standalone Pikes Peak. The Durango fire is southwest of the San Juans where the Rockies transition back into desert. The Glenwood Springs fire is also in terrain where the Rockies transition back into high desert. It is these fringe areas that are suffering so badly right now.

I'd give it two weeks to see if the monsoon season is going to bring any relief. If it does, you won't even see any evidence of fire unless you come down to Colorado Springs and take Rt. 24 West to Buena Vista, or you are coming through Glenwood Springs on I-70.

It all depends on what people need to do with vacation commitments. 2,000 miles is a long drive for it to be touch and go, but the problem this time of year in the alpine areas is usually the danger of lightning strikes from daily afternoon thunderstorms, not fire risk. That very well could be the case this year as well, unless the monsoon season simply doesn't happen. Ask the guys who did CO '99 about the rain.

It's smoky in my building today.

I was all "fired-up" to go to CO this year, but it is starting to sound more and more difficult. The fire restrictions are a problem, I can live without a campfire but not having a grill really limits my menu selection. I don't want to swap the dates for Moab and CO, as I already have plans to be in UT during Oct. I can still make it to CO this year, but I need to know soon if this is going to happen. I'd hate to get there and then find out that the trails that we want to run are closed. I'll leave it up to you guys that are there to make the dissicion, if you think that it's just a bad idea then just go ahead and cancell.
[quote:29f16a1f37="Nay"]I'd give it two weeks to see if the monsoon season is going to bring any relief. If it does, you won't even see any evidence of fire unless you come down to Colorado Springs and take Rt. 24 West to Buena Vista, or you are coming through Glenwood Springs on I-70. [/quote:29f16a1f37]

The problem for us in the east is that it takes anywhere from 3 to 5 days just to drive TO Colorado. If we wait two more weeks before deciding, that leaves only a couple of weeks to scramble for alternate arrangements if the event is cancelled and you're locked into the time slot. Mid-July is not the ideal time to be looking for reservations at any popular vacation spot, especially if you want camping at or near a national park.
Three to Five DAYS???? Are you going by way of Portland and Halifax??? :lol:

We really have to disable the governor that restricts you to 35mph.

BTW, while National PARK camping is restricted to official CG's and do get overbooked in the summer. National FORESTS (the ones that will be open :? ) are wide open, if you're willing to rough it a bit.

You ARE willing to actually camp, right? Or does the Connecticut version of outdoors survival include turn down service and a mint on your pillow?

Flexibility, my friend, flexibility!

Mike in NJ (only one and a half driving days from Denver)
I know that making a decision like this is hard for anyone to make. Being that many folks have planned on this trip for a long time. (Myself included) Mother Nature cannot be controled. So if you feel the need to cancel this event I support you, and if you say its a go, I will be there. Toss a coin if you have to but I feel a decision needs to be made soon. Farmington NM anyone?

Don't know what to say here. I am not looking forward to CO like I was. One thing I would HATE to happen is for a Jeeper or worse a NAXJA member to cause a fire. If things are still that dry when we are there you never know what could happen. I don't know maybe this is being stupid.

I would be happy to make a Moab run instead of CO. Either with the regularly planned run later this year or as a substitute to CO. Shifting my vacation would actually be easy. I am really open. Where I go is not as important to me as seeing old friends and meeting new ones. If we can find a another place that works I am game. But I need to be able to do it in the course of a week, my wife cannot take more than one week of vacation at a time.

Sadly it will be years before these places recover. It reminds me of a trail in Big Bear (White Mountain) that I went on last year which was burnt a few years before. It was kinda Gothic all the burnt dead trees and scorched earth. The latest news I see is the Hayman fire could continue until the fall snow. I would really like to wheel in CO and see the beautiful scenery but it may not be great given the destruction so far and as it goes on.
We do need to make a decision very soon, to be fair to everyone. What a couple have said about the fires being in the lower, foothills areas and not in the higher elevations definitely decreases the risk to the areas we'll be using. The big thing to me is the mindset of the Nationa Forest managers and will they close off areas and trails that we are depending to use. That's what the problem is to me. Of course, the risk of new fires starting is also a problem but you could say that in other years also. We've lived with that regularly here in the Sierra's and it rarely effects plans. Last year on the Rubicon we couldn't have open camp fires when camping on the trail, but none of the trails were closed.

I'm open to still going to CO if the event is cancelled, and meeting up with whoever still wants to go. We could be flexible and run whatever trails are open, even if we decided which ones at the last minute. We could change our camping reservations to a cental location and play it by ear. I know this wouldn't work with a big group, but it could work fine with a smaller group.

I'm also willing to put together a trip in the Sierra's for the same week, if any of you want to come join us in the West. We could do Rubicon and maybe a trail or two close by, or do the Dusy trail and also wheel into a couple of lakes that are in the same area. The Dusy is a four day trail, at least, and is 33 miles of rockcrawling through a corridor in the wilderness. Many consider it more difficult than the Rubicon.

All ideas just yet, we need to decide on this CO event.

Richard G
Hmmmm. It's about 1000 miles from Cheyenne to Tahoe - only another day's worth of driving (well, maybe not for the Connecticut Yankee). Tempting.

Wait, what am I thinking??? My poor ole RED is not capable of the Rubicon or Dusy! I'll have to wait until I buy a KJ. :D

In any event - I agree with Richard, in fairness to those with more critical time constraints, a decision should be made now.

FWIW, I'm still headed to Denver at the end of July.

Mike in NJ
I think I'm out. :(

Well, in light of the fires, my Jeep being really rusty and loose, and my wife constantly saying "have you looked at the budget?" I don't think I will make it. Perhaps I can make Moab by myself in October, but the family wouldn't be albe to go with then. My wife can't stand the angles in Moab and doesn't care for the landscape either even if she could go. She's such a spoil sport. :cry: I thought I could get her to go to Colorado and enjoy it, but not with the current conditions. BTW, I pulled the carpet to check on rust issues recently and the pad was soaked and I could stick my hand through the floor in numerous places. RUST SUCKS!!! It looks like I may be looking for a newer xj to swap my axles onto and then do a quick patch and try to sell my current ride to some high schooler or something. Jeff
If you have to make a decision now, then the "formal" event should be cancelled. There is simply no way to predict what the next few weeks will bring. There is no rain the forecast for the western regions of the state in the next week. We had some last night with more today in the eastern mountains and plains, but then it is back to low to mid 90's with that dry southwest flow and low humidity that will return us to extreme fire danger.

So cancel if you need to make the decision, and then those who can come informally and camp along the way should do it. Worst case is you end up wheeling in Moab again, hot or not. And you can try 21 Road and other hardcore trails on the Western slope on the way to Utah.

Aside to Mike in NJ -- I wasn't going by way of Halifax, but I WAS going by way of Sheridan, Wyoming, to meet up with a friend before heading for Colorado. 3 days to Sheridan plus 2 days to Colorado.

Just saw some news about another monster fire that broke out in northern Arizona, as well as one in southern Colorado near the New Mexico border -- an area I have traveled. Maybe I'm just getting to old, but it strokes me as being a very "iffy" situation. Spoke with my friend and I think we've decided to look for alternate spots to visit farther north. If there's anything left, I'll try to catch Colorado next year.
[quote:0692426aa8="Goatman"]I'm also willing to put together a trip in the Sierra's for the same week, if any of you want to come join us in the West. We could do Rubicon and maybe a trail or two close by, or do the Dusy trail and also wheel into a couple of lakes that are in the same area. The Dusy is a four day trail, at least, and is 33 miles of rockcrawling through a corridor in the wilderness. Many consider it more difficult than the Rubicon.

All ideas just yet, we need to decide on this CO event.

Richard G[/quote:0692426aa8]

Richard- I'm all for running Dusy! I was on the fence for a while about doing the Colorado event but the extreme fire conditions and dry weather pushed me to the "skip it" side. I'll still hit Colorado this summer, but I'll save the backcountry exploration for another year when conditions are better. Aren't the fire conditions "normal" in the Sierra's this year anyway, as compared to the "extreme" danger in most of the west? From what I have read, it looks like the Sierra's got a normal amount of precipitation.

But Dusy on the other hand, wild horses couldn't stop me from doing the Dusy with NAXJA! :D I made an aborted attempt at it with a small group last year and was forced to turn back after one of the guys broke the pinion in his FJ40. We made it to 9500 feet on Thompson Hill before turning back, but that one day held the most incredible rock-crawling and awesome scenery of my brief 4-wheeling career. That trail is #1 on my list of "must do" trails and the fact that it sent me packing the first time gives me one more reason to do it.

Just so people don't think I've skipped out I thought I'd say thanks for the replies. Please continue letting me know what you all think. I will make the final decision Sunday night.