Moon Gulch Night Run, What's the Point? - July 2003

by Kathy Howell

When I have listened to club members talk about a night run, my first thought is "what's the point?" After all, some of the reasons that we enjoy 4-wheeling are the beautiful scenery and being out in the Colorado sun. So, what's the point of 4-wheeling in the dark?

We had been in the mountains all day with Gail and another group exploring Kingston Peak and Yankee Hill. At the end of a long day, we were having dinner at the Stage Stop in Rollinsville. We had forgotten that Gail was going to lead the Moon Gulch night run, but since we were already there, it seemed like the right time to try a night run. The group had agreed to meet at 7 PM. In addition to Gail, John and me, there was Matt Nunn, Greg Beery, Larry Burch and four friends of Greg's and Larry's. We had a total of 6 vehicles.

We left the restaurant about 8:30 PM and made our way to the Moon Gulch turn off. We quickly were engulfed in the trees and darkness soon settled in. We weren't on the trail for more than five minutes when John started talking about the new lights we would need on the vehicle if we did this often. My first thought was the night runs are part of a conspiracy by the sales people of the world to get vehicle owners to buy more lights.

As the trail got rockier, we stopped to air down. By now, it was pretty dark, but I found my way to Greg's vehicle to ask, "what's the point?" He just laughed and said, "don't you get it?". As we started up again, I turned around and saw Greg's vehicle outlined in red lighting and glowing in the dark. It looked pretty cool! Aha, the point is that it's an opportunity to show off the vehicle's fancy lighting.

The trail was narrow and the branches hung low. It was a little eerie with the vehicle headlights making patterns against the forest background. If I let my mind do it, I could imagine all sorts of things in among those trees. The low hanging limbs brushed the vehicle - and maybe left a few scratches. At the most narrow part, I folded in the mirrors to protect them. I'm not sure why the vehicles ahead of us didn't do a better job of clearing the way.

I was surprised to find that it wasn't that difficult to pick your way along the trail in the dark. Now, mind you, it wasn't a very difficult trail, but in general it was pretty easy going. With that observation, it dawned on me that the point of doing this was "because it's there to do." It's just a natural challenge for 4-wheelers. If you can do it during the daylight, why not at night?

Our group started to spread out a little and after crossing a stream and climbing a hill, we discovered that we were not on the same trail as our leader. It was at this point, that it actually crossed me mind that I was crazy to be out there late at night and completely lost. We saw a camp with several tents and multiple vehicles, and I suspect that they, too, thought we were a little bit crazy. After a brief CB conversation with Gail, we realized that we took the wrong turn after the stream crossing. We got turned around, made our way back to the stream and turned the other way. We found our leader again. We continued on, but soon arrived at the point of the campers where we had been before. We were going in circles! I was certain that the campers were having a good laugh. I was also certain that I would not be able to find my way out in the dark. I only hoped that Gail knew what she was doing. I suddenly realized the absurdity of driving around in the dark completely lost. I burst out laughing - and I now knew the point!

My mood was relaxed and giggly. I trusted that Gail would get us out. I was enjoying the total darkness and the lone light that could be seen across the valley. The moon was a bright crescent in the star filled sky. I laughed when we met another vehicle with people in it - there were others doing the same crazy thing that we were doing. As we climbed to the top, the city lights across the plains sparkled. At the top, the gate was open (else we might have had to retrace our path) and we headed down the hill to Apex.

We made it. We weren't lost. We headed back to Rollinsville to air up. I saw Matt with the hood up trying to figure out what was wrong with his transmission. It was late and I was tired. But, I now knew the point of a night run. The point is: IT'S FUN!

PS. I later learned Matt had serious transmission problems, but that's what you would expect from the running gear of a Chevrolet. Right, Matt?

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