|by Adam Mehlberg|
This is the tough one. The rock crawlers 4WD road. Our club members that had an interest in the hardest trip during All-4-Fun signed up to run this one toward the end of the week. It was a quick pavement trip to the start of Spring Creek near Downieville and Lawson. Right after the first switchback the first obstacle is encountered. It is a large rock outcropping in the middle of the road. We worked each vehicle over the off camber rock and continued up the mountain following the switchbacks.
Toward the top of Spring Creek the Rock Garden begins. To get to the Rock Garden you have to make a sharp hairpin turn and get over a large rock that will high center lower vehicles, like mine. With the help of a few spotters all of us that were not built for the large stuff made it over this first hard spot. I did need a strap to get off the rock that kept high centering me no matter which line I took. This is not the end though. A short distance brings you into view of the Rock Garden proper. It looks like 100 yards of huge rocks laid into a three lane wide road going up hill. You have to pick a line to follow to get through. Right.
Ok, If I go to the left at the start and then turn to the right, climb the shortest boulder....crap, rock ledge 3 feet tall. Lets see, after the shortest boulder make a left and then get up the step between the tree and the large boulder, then to the right and around the huge stuff... crap, pointed at a tree.
Looks like the line for me is to head for the smallest boulders and ledges all the way up. After watching a few you can figure out the way to go. The rock crawlers take on all the big stuff, so for me I just look at what they donít choose and see if I think I can make it.
It's my turn so I put my 25 year old jeep in 4 low and once again ask her to get through one more obstacle. I am sure my jeep is sick of these one more last obstacles. With the help of the spotters I worked my way to the top and made it through. Just past the rock garden is an opening where we had lunch. The weather didn't cooperate though and we had to scramble for the inside of the vehicles to avoid the rain and small hail.
The Spring Creek road connects with the Lamartine and Saxon Mountain road, so the trip down to Idaho Springs was easy. We went through the old town site of Lamartine and then cut off the Spring Creek road (the easy one) and took Trail Creek down to the frontage road.