Here's my belated Blue Lakes trip report (I'll send the Slickrock portion of the trip separately…) Blue Lakes Trip Report - October 17, 2009
Our gathering place for the Blue Lakes run was the Dorrington Hotel parking lot. Five rigs showed up:
- Carlos in his XJ with two kids - CJ in his CJ7 (the run organizer and trail-lead for the weekend), with Connie riding shotgun - Gary F. (myself) in my recently lifted (2") 2007 JK with brand-new 33" MT2s with Doña riding shotgun - Gary S. in his recently-aquired TJ Rubicon, with Marlene riding shotgun and their dog, Molly, in back - Mike C. in his well-equiped 2008 JK, with his Dad, Herb, riding shotgun
Our departure was briefly delayed by last-minute errand running (we needed bread to complete our planned PB&J lunch!) I must have taken a little too long at the store, because as I was heading back toward the hotel I was passed by our caravan heading the opposite direction. A quick U-turn and I was bringing up the rear in no time.
Our planned gas stop was in Bear Valley. Unfortunately the station was closed leaving at least one driver without a full tank of gas. CJ had a hose so, worst case, we could siphon fuel from one vehicle to another. We pressed on a arrived at the trail head at 8:30.
We aired down and headed a short distance up the trail to "Gate Keeper," the jumble of boulders intended by Mother Nature to keep timid 4-wheelers from reaching the trail beyond.
We took our first break about an hour later. It was nice to stretch our legs, socialize and take in the view. I had an opportunity to confirm that I had, indeed, scratched all four new rims, just like Jeff Arabia requested. I also had a chance to scramble over boulders, which is fun too!
Twenty minutes later we stopped to rearrange a log obstruction so all vehicles could pass. Ten minutes later we encountered another and did the same.
Our first stream crossing! Of course it was on a few inches deep and a few feet across. I assumed this was not the stream crossing CJ had told us we'd encounter around noon, so we pressed on. ;-)
The promised stream crossing. CJ ferried Connie across as we lined up our Jeeps for a photo op (note that the term "Jeep" is correct in this context, as we were all driving Jeeps.) Connie took a group shot and then, one-by-one, we forded the stream.
Another stream crossing and we were just a short distance from Blue Lake. CJ informs us that the rest of the trail is a "piece of cake." I'm picturing a boring stretch of boulder-less dirt road, but in my estimation the rest of the trail was more of the same. I suspect CJ and I have very different opinions on cake, too.
We arrived at Blue Lakes pretty much on schedule.
After lunch most of us gathered in a circle a chatted a bit, learning a little about one another. I felt drawn to the water's edge and wandered off to take pictures.
Around 2:00 we voted to see who wanted return back the way we'd come versus the taking the highway. Everyone voted for the trail, although Carlos had to head off down the highway in search of gas. The trail looked completely different from the opposite direction at times: new obstacles were discovered and minor technical difficulties were dealt with (such as a damaged valve stem cap which was releasing air from one of the tires on Gary S.'s Jeep.)
Shortly before 4:00 I rounded a bend and saw an unexpected sight up ahead: a Jeep with one wheel high in the air. By the time I arrived CJ had already leaped into action, as this photo attests. Thanks to the hitherto unused winch on Mike C.'s Jeep, the errant vehicle was back on all fours in no time.
Unfortunately, Mike's Jeep wouldn't start after the rescue operation, but CJ found a surprising solution to that problem and we were on our way again.
The remainder of the trip down the trail was uneventful, after which we heading back into town to clean up and go out to dinner.
Overall this run was a fantastic experience. My Jeep handled the run with aplomb (thanks, in part, to slightly larger tires and 2" lift prior to this trip.) I learned the the most improbable-appearing path through a given obstacle is usually the right path. Although I did a fair amount of scraping on the way up the trail to Blue Lakes, I found myself passing through threatening stretches of rocks with nary a scrape on the return trip. Which means either I learned something, or the trail is easier going back down. And the mini rescue clinic Gary S. unexpectedly scheduled for us during the return trip made the run that much more memorable.