The Jeep Geek

The Jeep Geek's Blog
Jul 2012

Random Thoughts from the Trail

The Jeep Geek and some friends were out off-roading this last weekend. As he was coming down the mountain this scene presented itself. The thought came to him that life is not as fragile as some make it out to be. Here is a tree that has been there for hundreds of years, right up by the tree line. This tree began as a seed that fell on a boulder. There it rooted in a small about of dirt that blew into a crevice. Even though the boulder would limit its growth, constricting the roots and impeding the trunk’s growth, the tree thrives in one of the harshest environments in Colorado...limited rainfall, high winds, high altitude and cold weather. It is fighting for life despite all that would stand in its way.

Life finds a way.

The Jeep Geek and friends were on a trip up to the high country to visit a couple of ghost towns: Waldorf and Santiago. These are must visit sites if you have the equipment to get there. Stock Rubicons can reach them easily.

These towns were associated with mines owned by Edward John Wilcox (Waldorf Mining and Milling Company). They were started in 1868 as gold mines, but imagine their disappointment when very little gold was found, but in its place was silver. These mines pulled about $4 million dollars in silver out of the ground before they were exhausted.

Waldorf had a post office from 1906 to 1912. It was billed as the highest elevation for a post office in the country...11,666 feet above sea level. The town started to boom when the Argentine Central Railroad was built in 1906. Tourists from Denver arrived that year, and the train brought ore from the mines back to Denver. This railroad went up to the summit of Mt. McClelland.

Waldorf Colorado Post Office 002

Here is a picture of the old post office. Danny Tomlinson tells us he actually mailed a post card from this post office when he was 6...The Jeep Geek thinks he was joking...he doesn’t look a day over 90.

WaldorfMcClellanMt1900s

If you want to see how it looks today, go over to the lifestyle tab and see the pictures we took yesterday.

Robert Leaman Brown wrote a wonderful book titled “Jeep Trails to Colorado Ghost Towns” that documents the history of 59 ghost towns that you can travel to. Or, you can join The Jeep Geek and Danny Tomlinson (The Jeep Geek’s staff historian) as we go visit many of these on Sundays during the warm season.

The Geek abides

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Styles of Off-roading

The Jeep Geek is often faced with a customer who expresses interest in Off-roading and building the equipment that they will need to accomplish their goal. Well, there is Off-roading and there is Off-roading. More questions need to be asked and answered before The Jeep Geek can help.

There are three basic styles of Off-roading. The Jeep Geek can build units that will accomplish any of these...but it is important to determine the style that is desired by the Jeeper. For example, a stock Rubicon can accomplish one style, but would be completely inadequate for the other two styles.

So lets examine the three styles:

Off-road Racing.

This is a style of Off-roading that requires a machine that is capable of lots of speed in order to win a race event. Duh. So an engine upgrade is needed, like a 6.4L Hemi conversion that will produce approx. 500Hp. So far so good, but when one travels fast over rough terrain the suspension experiences significant stresses. So a complete re-do of the suspension is needed. Dana 60 axles need to be installed front and back as well as a very heavy duty lift kit that will survive hitting bumps at high speed. There will be times that the Jeep will become air-borne and land with significant force...the suspension must comprehend these pressures. In addition the likelihood of a roll-over or other accident is increased so the roll cage needs to be reinforced. Racing seats should be installed that support a 5 point harness to hold the driver (and any passengers) firmly in the seat during violent crashes or landings. Finally the brakes and cooling systems need to be upgraded.

Building a unit that will work well for this style of Off-roading often makes the Jeep un-usable (or at least unstable) on the road. A lot of weight must be removed to make the Jeep competitive and that weight is often things like air-conditioning, body parts and other comfort items. This is not your daily driver and weekend fun machine.

Finally the budget for this style of Off-roading is large. To do the build, the costs will run over $150K and frequently there is significant damage that will need to be repaired after the race.

Conquest of Obstacles

OK...all Off-roading involves overcoming obstacles...but the distinction here is that finding and overcoming obstacles is the goal. These Jeepers will find the most difficult trail, regardless of the scenery and conquer the obstacles for the sense of accomplishment that this brings. The Jeep Geek feels that this is a very acceptable goal for Jeeping and has enjoyed this type of Off-roading in the past. Adrenalin junkies enjoy this style of Off-roading and their needs are met nicely. This is not to say that difficult trails are not beautiful...for example the Rubicon Trail in northern California is one of the most breath taking trails from both a difficulty as well as a scenic wonder. However these folks are out for the obstacles not the views. Stickers like: “I conquered metal masher” are what you will see on their rigs.

The equipment needed to accomplish this style of Off-roading are lifts (for ground clearance), bigger tires, lockers, winches, skid plate upgrades, body armor...yes, some scratches are to be expected, and at times a bit more power or lower gearing are needed. The budget for these mods is more affordable at approx. $10K - $15K (on top of the Jeep cost).

Some trail damage is likely to occur, so a budget for minor repairs should also be contemplated.

Scenic Beauty

The goal of this style of Off-roading is to get out in nature and enjoy the views...and the occasional wildlife that is seen off the beaten path. The Y-Hike Off Road club members fall into this style of Off-roading. Obstacles are encountered, as stated above, but the goal is not in conquering the obstacle, but rather getting past it to the next great view. These Jeepers move a bit slower so they don’t miss anything. Often this group will drive around an obstacle instead of driving over it.

The Jeep Geek is not currently in a position to afford trail damage...especially with two daughters in college and having just spent a lot of money on camera equipment. He is able to enjoy the occasional challenge that presents itself on these more moderate trails, but again, the goal is the view.

A stock Wrangler is fully capable of keeping up with us, in fact some of the Y-hikers drive other 4 wheel drive vehicles that are not as capable as a stock Wrangler. This group chooses trails that are less likely to cause injury or trail damage to the vehicles. The trips are pleasurable and the folks are a lot of fun to be around.

If you would like to join us on one of our trips, go to facebook and “like” thejeepgeek where trip details are posted in advance. Let us know if you are going to join us so we can plan food...yes, food is important to these trips.

The Jeep Geek hopes to see you out there.

The Geek abides


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