By: Steven Barclay
It had been a long hot typical Oklahoma summer, and we were ready for the 2015 Christian Crawlers Colorado Adventure and some cooler weather. It was finally here and we were blessed once again to get to go to what is called the 'Switzerland of America'. We left the house at sunrise and met up with Quentin in Sapulpa, Oklahoma to head to the San Juan Mountains. But first we had to make the long trip across Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado. We had some fun stops planned along the way to break it up for the children and Quentin's dog, Blue. We made it to Glass Mountain for lunch and a hike. For being August 22 in Oklahoma, we couldn't have asked for better weather for lunch. It had rained on us the first few hours of the trip, but it stopped before our stop for lunch. After lunch we headed on and stopped for a quick picture at the New Mexico sign where Blue marked his territory on the sign for all the other dogs that followed.

We pulled in to Trinidad Lake State Park around 6 pm, set up camp, grilled some beef dogs and had s'mores over our camp stove. We lay down in our roof top tent to get some sleep and listened to the very strong winds whipping our tent. The wind blew very hard the first part of the night but then calmed down. We broke camp early the next morning around 6 am, picked up a few items we needed at the local store, and drove through the historical part of Trinidad, looking at some of the really old buildings. I had assembled some history for most of the stops, towns and mine sites where we'd be stopping so this gave us a visual of some of that history. We took off for the Great Sand Dunes National Park to play in the sand for a few hours and eat lunch.

After we had some fun in the sand, we headed for Silverton Lakes Campground where we would be staying for the remainder of the week. 845 miles later on the second day of our trip we pulled into camp around 6:30pm. We started setting up camp as the sun was setting, and it began cooling down fast. Camp is 9,300 feet and much cooler than in Oklahoma in August.

When we woke up the next morning there was ice on the table and frost on everything. It would be the coldest morning there for the week but not by much. It got down into the mid 30's every night the rest of the week. It finally warmed up enough to get down to my t-shirt Friday. Quentin being from Minnesota was wearing shorts at times and was ok. That made me colder just thinking about it. It was day three, and we were ready for some trails. We were anxious to go because we would be hitting Black Bear Pass, Imogene Pass and Yankee Boy Basin before heading back to camp. It was Quentin's first time over Black Bear Pass and my second time. I said last year I was good without doing it again for a while but somehow I ended up doing it again. I enjoyed it more this time since my rear axle wasn't going out which had made it hard to steer last time, and I wasn't worried about my vehicle making it down the mountain in one piece. We made it down the steps and switch- backs to Bridal Veil Falls where we would have lunch listening to the waterfall and enjoying the view.

We knew it was going to be a long day so we took off for Imogene Pass. It was my first time on that trail, and I must say it is one of my favorites.

We stopped at the end of Imogene for a quick break before doing Yankee Boy Basin. While stopped, Quentin brushed his arm up against a tall weed that instantly started stinging him and within minutes whelps started forming on his arm. We're not sure what kind of plant it was, but we're glad that was the only run-in we had with those. That day there were deer, chipmunks, and plenty of marmots for our wildlife viewing.

On our way out of the end of the last trail we noticed Quentin's rear axle was leaking on his brakes. The trail ends at Ouray so we checked for parts, but there was none to be found, so we headed back to camp on the Million Dollar Highway.

The fourth day we found a small Napa store in Silverton. It was maybe 5 foot by 6 foot, but they ordered the seal we needed and said it would be in Thursday. We then went and found some extremely overpriced gear lube in case he needed it, and we all headed for the Red Mountain Mining area. Early into that trail we ran into a huge herd of sheep.

It was getting close to lunch so we stopped at the National Bell Mine. The kids explored an old mine shaft and we enjoyed the rich mine history there. As we were eating lunch we were watching the clouds rolling in and right after we were finished eating, it started raining. We took Corkscrew Gulch, Hurricane Gulch and then California Gulch which put us out at Animas Forks. We took some time to explore Animas Forks and then made our way back to camp to enjoy some hobo stew for dinner and s'mores around the campfire.

The fifth day, which was Wednesday, we were going to take it a little easier and not do as much driving. We had to do laundry first thing. You can only pack so many clothes with five people, and we were on our last set. After that we went on the Old Hundred Gold Mine tour. The say it was named after the 100th Psalm in the Bible, which says "1 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. 2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. 3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. 5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."

After learning how they got the minerals out of the ground we went down the road to Mayflower Mill to learn how they extract the minerals from the ore. It's very interesting and if you are in the area it's worth your time for the tour. It was raining most of the day but stopped for the most part for us to have lunch by the Animas River. After the mill tour, we had time for one trail so we decided on Kendall Mountain which is close to Silverton.

It was still raining, and as we ascended the mountain, the clouds were moving in. We got to the end of the trail and found out the information I had on the trail was a little incorrect. There was no room to turn the 4Runner around. It was one skinny, loose-rock lane that had a slow right turn the last 100 yards or so. I radioed back to Quentin to stop back a little ways where he could turn around, because it wasn't going to be fun backing out of there. At this point of the trail you can look down at Silverton but the clouds were getting thicker and you could barely see the town. Within a few minutes the clouds were very thick and you couldn't see far at all. It was still raining lightly, and I couldn't see out of my mirrors. I had to listen to my spotter, Quentin, to back all the way out the one-lane trail that had a constant turn in it. I have to say it was so hard to listen to my spotter. In most cases in my wheelin history, if your spotter messes up you might roll once or twice, but in this case I would have rolled to the bottom of the mountain. I constantly wanted to turn into the mountain as I was backing and stay away from the edge because I couldn't see both sides very well at all. I listened to my spotter and I made it out to a turn-around and we started heading down. As I was heading down I was thinking that situation was a lot like our walk as a Christian sometimes. When we are in a tight spot and it's a little scary we have a spotter. It's God and he has given us guidance on how to turn (or live) to keep us safe. We just have to listen and obey. But just like backing around that trail, one wrong turn and not only I, but my whole family could have ended up at the bottom. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

By the time we got back to camp it had stopped raining so we grilled up some deer burgers, made some s'mores, and had a lot of time around the campfire to visit. Shortly after we went to bed it started raining and rained most of the night turning into a light sprinkle in the morning.

For the sixth day we decided to make the trail time a little shorter. We picked up Quentin's seal, which he didn't end up needing because somehow it stopped leaking. We then got some ice and fuel and took off for Ophir Pass. Ophir Pass is a short-cut trail between Silverton and Telluride. A little ways down the road where that trail stops we hopped onto another trail to Alta Lake and ate lunch. It was a beautiful lake up in the mountains. After lunch we headed six miles on down the road to Mountain Village to ride the Gondolas up and over into Telluride. It was raining again so we didn't spend much time walking around in Telluride. As we headed back to camp the rain stopped and we had plenty of time and a beautiful evening for dinner and a campfire.

We got up early on day seven because we had a lot of trail time scheduled for that day. We started out on Picayune Gulch and Placer Gulch. While on these trails we stopped at Gold Prince Mine and ate the watermelon that we had brought from our garden at home. It was so good and cold. Since it was getting close to freezing every night we didn't need to cool it down for eating.

After that we completed Engineer Pass and Cinnamon Pass and got back to camp earlier than we expected so we decided to pack up what we could so we could leave early Saturday morning. We were glad we did because Easton started getting sick. Needless to say we didn't get much sleep that night. We got up around 5 am and finished packing. I didn't want to camp through having a sick child again so we made a hard push to make the 845 mile trip home. Come to find out, after eleven days, five x-rays, two ultrasounds and two CT scans, they figured out his appendix had ruptured, causing an abscess the size of a fist to form, which in turn caused his intestines and bladder to stop working properly. They were able to go in and drain the abscess and remove his appendix. After a few days, though, he started having pain in a different area. They did another CT scan and found that a new abscess had formed, and as I finish writing this, he is recovering from having a drain tube put into that second abscess. Through all of this, we continue to praise God that we made it home without complications while so far from home, and that we know things will be better soon. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

We are looking forward to next year and hoping a few more people can join us for the next Colorado Adventure.

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