For the last few years, I've visited the San Juans each summer in Colorado. The roads down there are pretty rough and moving the family through those mountains wasn't really doable in our Honda Pilot. So, with an eye toward more backcountry adventures with the family, I recently bought a 2009 4Runner. I thought about a Sequoia and a Suburban might have crossed my mind, but for what I've wanted to do, those vehicles are too big. The problem with the 4Runner was that it didn't have a third row seat, and I need to seat 6 people. So, after a bit of research and trolling ebay, I found a jump seat, and after some drilling through the bottom of my 4Runner (and narrowly missing the gas tank), I bolted the jump seat in. Third row seat.
The jump seat took a lot of space, so I modified my Thule T4 bike rack by removing two of the bike holders and bolting on an ATV cargo rack so that I could haul a cooler, an inflatable kayak, and camping gear. More drilling. With a Yakima roof box and my modified rack, I was able to carry camping gear and food for six people in a relatively off-road worthy vehicle. With those gear mods -- drilling into otherwise perfect pieces of equipment -- we set off for the San Juans.
If you happened to notice the blog post below, you might surmise that our adventure through the San Juans was not without difficulty. I got a flat tire at 12,000 feet, and in my haste to change it (because it was raining and hailing and getting dark), I left my back hatch open. And I lost a handgun out the back hatch. And some shoes. Oops.
But before that, because of the rough roads and the decreased departure angle of my T4 rack, which caused my special modified rack to drag on the road, my bike fell off. And then Bart ran over it with his F250 truck. He obviously needs to work on his off-roading skills.
But those slight trials aside, the trip up Corkscrew Gulch, over and down Red Mountain, up and over Hurricane Pass and Cinnamon Pass and then to Animas Forks was worth it. Such cool country!
|Bart, having a family conference about safety in the mountains.|
|F250 climbing up Red Mountain.|
|Switchbacks for long wheel base required some spotting and maneuvering.|
|Hanging out at 12k.|
|We drove down that road to find Hurricane Pass.|
|We had intermittent hail and rain, making things a bit tenuous, but nice and clean.|
|Looking off toward Ouray from Cinnamon Pass.|
|Cool mushrooms. Trippy?|
|A few days later connecting to Durango via Ophir Pass.|