On Poughkeepsie, the Stair Steps were the biggest obstacle. Even though there are three ways to climb it, none of the options are easy, and none can be done in a stock Xterra without risking body damage. Examining their options, some of the Nissans opted to turn back, while more trail-ready vehicles continued on. It was at this point that we discovered the weather pattern that would follow us for the duration of the event: Every day was gorgeous, except for three hours, when it poured. Wet weather makes Poughkeepsie more interesting, but those vehicles that continued on the trail did very well, despite the slick conditions. At the top of the valley is Hurricane Pass, so named because of the extremely strong winds that blow there. We headed back to town after getting over Corkscrew Pass and down to Corkscrew Gulch. The pass provided an overview of where we'd been and where we were headed. We drove down to the Gulch on a series of switchbacks that required precise driving. That night, we were welcomed by a chili cookout put on by SWXC, Xterraparts.com, and Terminal Reality.
The next day, our group headed toward Imogene Pass. At an elevation of 13,114 feet, it is the second-highest peak in Colorado. This trail is about 13 miles long and passes through mining camps and ghost towns, ending in Telluride. We headed down the mountain to Tomboy, a town that was abandoned when the Tomboy Mine closed. The group continued to Imogene, a trail that is extremely narrow in parts, through the afternoon rain, to Telluride. As the rain fell in sheets, some chose to return to Ouray, and others explored Alta Lakes and Ophir Pass while waiting for the weather to clear. The clouds lifted just in time for the Calmini BBQ on the outskirts of Ouray.
On our last day on the trail, we went back to Poughkeepsie, taking a different route through the Alpine Loop. It was nice to get to the Stair Steps before it began to rain. Unfortunately, this rain quickly became hail, which then disappeared as suddenly as it had arrived. This trailrun, which was made up mostly of PNWX members, was a bit more casual than the previous runs we had been on, and we got to do a little exploring in the area. We saw more of the Alpine Loop and found some interesting water crossings.
While some of the people who were at GOX had just come from Moab and were ready to head home after the event, others were preparing for the drive east. Either way, many of the Xterra owners were in the area, prepared to do a full week of four-wheeling, if not more. Unfortunately, we did not have the chance to go to Moab with this group, but perhaps we can at the next GOX, if we are lucky enough to attend. This event is going to run for the third time in Ouray later this year. The only requirement to attend is ownership of an Xterra, but we would recommend four-wheel drive and some prior trail experience.
For More Information
If you're interested in attending the next Gathering of Xterras, go to www.xterraownersclub.com/gox/index.html.