Trailridge Runners 4WD Club
by Don Owens  : photos by Don Owens
We had heard that the Kelly Flats 4WD road up out of the Poudre Canyon would be closed at the end of the year, so a trip was in order. On August 1st Richard Boddy, leader, and Ryan Boddy, tailgunner, took our club to visit Kelly Flats.
Myself, David and Dan LeMaster, Matt Meester and his wife (our newest members) made up the crew. I generally feel that the Expedition, as with the Ford Explorer, is not an off pavement machine due to there dismal ground clearance. As my grandfather use to say, 'We shall see what we shall see'. We tooled up Poudre Canyon at a sedate 35 to 40 mph being Saturday the road was crowded.
We finally arrived at the beginning of the Kelly Flats road to air down and lock up. We decided to put Matt behind David so if Matt needed a winch anchor he would have one. We headed up to what is now named Heart-Attack-Hill. The hill has three different ways to do it that are changing year to year. A few year back when I lead the trail, the left side was the easiest. This year the center proved to be the way to go even though it looked pretty moguled at the bottom. All made it to the top of the hill with out fan fare.
The clouds were building in to showers so we headed on. We decided to do lunch before we got out to the newer bladed road that services the new residences (part of the reason for the Kelly Flats road closure). As we continued on the new road, portions of the original 4WD road have been blocked off taking out the whole middle section of the 4WD road. We finally got back on the original road.
It had been raining pretty hard when we got to another group of rocks to climb over. Richard was first and he kept sliding off, but the bypass was Mud City. With some heming and hawing he slithered through. I was next but kept pivoting on my transfer case skid plate, so the bypass was next. Dan and David made it look easy again. Matt tried the rocks but kept hanging up on a rear shackle. On to the bypass, which he got through without leaving too many scrapes.
We arrived at the Chute. The Chute is a slot inclining upwards between two masses of rock that is just wide enough to pass a Toyota pickup or a short wheel base Jeep. All others must do the bypass. The bypass isn't always easier because it is a continuous wet mud hole.
The Chute is kind of a two part deal. You have the first step to get up, then you have to swing left and up on the left wall to clear a large boulder on your right that can take off fender flares or cutouts. Well, when we got there, another vehicle was in the Chute. It was a mini Blazer that was having trouble clearing the right side boulder. It was about ready to shear off the right rear cutout flare. The Blazer had every 'bolt on' conceivable, Super Swampers, and a 'Chevy Fear This' sticker. One thing it also had were open differentials in both front and rear. How could I fear that? The driver broke out his winch and put the bare cable around a big boulder on the left side. I though if that boulder is pulled loose it will crush the Blazer's front end. The boulder stayed put and the Blazer was shoe horned through the upper portion of the Chute. The second vehicle, a 3/4 ton Ford pickup was mired in the bypass mud hole.
By the time we got at the Chute the sky was dripping so the first step was wet. Dan LeMaster took the first shot at trying, but couldn't get up, so he aired down some more, but that still didn't help. The combination of wet muddy tires and wet rocks in not a good mix. Dan ended up using his winch to get over the first step, then he was able to maneuver through the rest of the Chute. Then it was Ryan's turn in Richard's 4-Runner it was pretty much the same, though we thought that with the longer wheel base it would give us and advantage, not this time. So, both Ryan and I had to winch over the first step.
To clear the boulder both of us had to climb quite high on the left wall. Now we only had three left to get through. It was bypass time. I had never seen the bypass os wet and gooey, but David LeMaster went right through like the mud wasn't an issue. When Matt was up to bat he powered when he could and winched when he had to, making the bypass real good.
We headed on. Most of the road was a little hilly, but we got to the final rocky spot. Matt tackled it in stride and everyone dropped through but Dan, who walked up a three foot high boulder with a front tire, then backed up on the boulder as well. I guess we can show off on occasion. I have to thank Dan and Dave LeMaster for spotting our group when we needed and Richard and Ryan Boddy for leading this run. A really good time was had by all.