The first week of June arrived and that means 1 thing for the 8K Offroad crew. It is time for China Man’s Gulch over in Buena Vista Colorado. This was our second annual run on this trail and it did not disappoint. Teaming up with Trailsoffroad.com and Redline Cruisers we met at the trail head at 10am.
By the time everyone got their rigs ready we departed the trail at 11am.
The group was 7 vehicles strong with and diverse with a TJ Rubicon, Willys CJ2a, 2 FJ80s, FJ60, and 2 Tacomas. The tire sized ranged from 31s to 37s and everyone was having a blast. The first obstacle on the trail is a rocky section up a moderately steep hill with a tight right hand turn at the top with 2 to 3 foot ledges on the right side and an easier(but not easy) off camber climb around the outside of the turn. This to me is the deciding point of the trail if you clean this you will be fine on the rest of the trail, if you don’t it might be time to park and hop in someone else’s rig.
Lindsay, Dave and I got up just fine. It took a little bit of a heavy right foot in the Willys to make it up but the short wheel base made up for the small tires and it motored. Dave and Lindsay made it look easy. The other guys were waiting to get one of the rigs going so we were a ways ahead.
From here the trail climbs through boulders ledges and pinch points that require steady throttle control and the proper line choice to get through with no damage. The first intersection you come to is the turn off for Carnage Canyon which is rightfully named we opted left to stay on Chinaman’s and descended down a sand wash that will flex out your vehicle leading you to the next intersection. Right is to do the loop the normal way and straight will take you on the loop backwards. The exciting pieces of the trail are all climbs going the normal way so we stayed right.
First thing you come to is an optional rock playground in the middle of the sandy canyon floor. Lindsay and Dave decided to give one of the lines a try. Dave got on throttle and motored through it on his first try while Lindsay in a much bigger rig had to pick his line more carefully.
The next obstacle we came to was Whales Tale. This is a big rock that’s 4 to 6 feet high with a few different lines. We ran into a traffic jam at this point and decided to get out and watch the group ahead of us go. They had some built crawlers and took some pretty good lines through. Waiting in the traffic jam gave the rest of the group some time to catch up to us. We regrouped and helped guide each other over the Whales Tale. It was awesome to see the Tacoma on 31s make it up with minimal effort.
We proceeded to climb and came to an opening with a few good shade trees and some big rocks to play on and decided it would be a good place to eat lunch and have a cool down. This was a great chance to chat with everyone and check out vehicles.
Just around the corner is an obstacle called the shoot. This is a right hand turn up a pretty washed out hill with a couple boulders thrown in to hang up on. Lind choice is imperative to get you up. Short narrower vehicle could negotiate through the tight turns while longer vehicle had to take a line to the right and try to avoid hanging up the rear diff. We had to pull winch cable to get one of the Tacomas out.
After this you are mostly headed down hill with lots of ledges and some beautiful views of the valley and surrounding mountains. Headed down hill to get out is easier but very rough. The trail took us right around 5 hours to do. In a smaller group with no traffic jams I think you could hammer it out much quicker but with a good crew it was a blast enjoying the fresh air and wheeling with some new people. Compared to last year the trail was considerably harder and I was very impressed with Tracy in his stockish FJ60 on 32s and Nick in his very shiny Tacoma on 31s. They were banging through the trail and managing not to do too much damage.