LR3 Cross Country to Colorado

LR Max

Local Oaf
I've been wanting to drive out to Colorado for many, many years. I tried it once about 4 years ago in my 1973 109, didn't work. So this time around, I decided I shouldn't do it in a 40+ year old truck, but something a bit more modern. At the beginning of this year I picked up a LR3. I had it in the back of my mind on how I wanted the vehicle to be. So from the beginning, I started addressing issues and getting the car up on maintenance. Then in June, I decided to make the trip a reality. Fortunately by then, all I needed to do was bolt on the rock sliders, swap out a few bulbs, and brakes. It was weird, the weekend before I was supposed to leave, the car was done and half packed...by 6pm. I sat on my back porch, drinking a beer, wondering what i was forgetting.

The time came to leave, drove up, picked up my dad, and we rolled out.

0803181423a by Max Thomason, on Flickr

0804181154 by Max Thomason, on Flickr

I had never driven cross country before, so I was looking forward to that experinece. I figured these two pics pretty much sums up that drive. I actually found the drive across Kansas enjoyable. The LR3 was a very good choice so far for this trip as driving it was enjoyable. Despite our fast pace, she returned 15-17 mpg all the way across the US. Best part, after 2500 miles, the oil FINALLY stopped looking like it was just poured out of the jug. Having dealt with classic rover engine issues, this was a great surprise for a rover engine with 120k on the clock.

We finally made it out to the Ouray area. First trail, of course, was Engineer Pass. We got up to the top just to realize it was too windy to have lunch. We came down, ran Mineral creek (which was more difficult than I had imagined, but fun) and out to the Ouray KOA. I did catch a lot of flak for staying at a KOA. But I was on vacation, I didn't care. Also the hot shower and dish washing situation was conducive to having a good time.

DSC_9663 by Max Thomason, on Flickr

DSC_9735 by Max Thomason, on Flickr

IMG_20180805_122926429 by Max Thomason, on Flickr

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LR Max

Local Oaf
Next day we went back onto Mineral creek for Poughkeepsie Gulch. In all honesty, Poughkeepsie was one of my most favorite trails. It really is a very nice and fun trail.

DSC_9738 by Max Thomason, on Flickr

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We did go up to "the wall". Really, it is its own separate trail off of Poughkeepsie. This was an error as I did get some damage as the side trail IS a bit much for a stock vehicle. But, eh, glad I did it. No regrets. Got up to the wall, looked pretty rough as I turned around and was noticing how little approach angle I suddenly had. I told my dad, "I'll give it ONE shot. We are here". I chose this line. I thought traction control would help me overcome the cross axle situation...nah. Not here. The LR3 is a solid vehicle but legit I needed more suspension, more tire, and more traction. But hey! I got a pic!

IMG_20180806_111042898 by Max Thomason, on Flickr

After this we headed back out to Silverton for a beer.

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LR Max

Local Oaf
Coming out of Silverton to 550, we stopped at the gas station to organize ourselves and grab some fuel. We ran into this kid in his early 90s Ford pickup. His front brakes were SMOKING. So we pulled out the ARB compressor and tried to put some air flow over the calipers to help cool them off. Also just helped him out in general.

0806181608 by Max Thomason, on Flickr

When we got back to the campsite, many Land Cruisers showed up. Made me wish I had my 109 out there. We ran into a couple of 60s the next day, I assume from the same group. Cool trucks.

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Some photos from our night cap fueled campsite walkabout...
 

LR Max

Local Oaf
The next day, I finally broke the news to my dad, we were doing Black Bear pass. Now to my dad, he has only heard the bad side of Black bear and all of the negative things. So he didn't have the same enthusiasm as I did.

0807180927a by Max Thomason, on Flickr

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I had seen this obstacle...and only vehicles on like, 35s, going up. I knew that was going to be a problem but inadvertently I drove up the "bypass" which was of no concern. But this piece of rock here is legit.

0807180942a by Max Thomason, on Flickr

Made it to the top and put it in access mode...just to take a pic and send to my friends as a joke. Fun fact: when in one of the pre-programmed off road modes in the LR3, if you drop the air suspension, the computer gets SUPER fussy with you.

0807180946a by Max Thomason, on Flickr

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LR Max

Local Oaf
We began our descent. This cool sign was here:

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We only think of Black Bear Pass for its degree of difficulty. But really, it offered some of the best views we could ever imagine.

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A few weeks prior to our trip, we heard of a Nissan Xterra foolishly being driven on the pass at night with many bottles of liquid courage. They didn't do so well and we found a few pieces of their ride still left up on the mountain.

0807181016a by Max Thomason, on Flickr

Overall the views were beautiful. I didn't get any photos of the "difficult descent" but it really wasn't that bad. Then again the LR3 wasn't too wide and we took our time. Also I didn't want to stop there as I didn't want to block the trail. We were pretty much one of the "least" prepared vehicles out there. Couple with the fact it had to get us back across the US, I wasn't keen on using any kind of Baja mode on the trails. So I took it very easy throughout our trip to make sure we didn't tear anything up. With this in mind, a number of bigger vehicles would pass us on a regular basis. Which is fine, but I didn't want to be a trail clog.

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Actually after the "hard part" is where I thought the trail got difficult. Right there at the creek crossing, it was kinda difficult finding a decent line. Then the notorious switchback gave us some problems. We got around no issue but more lift and tires would've solved that issue. There is one rock that is right in the middle that gave us some grief. But we got around it ok.

Nice RRC we found in Telluride.

0807181159 by Max Thomason, on Flickr
 

LR Max

Local Oaf
We then took Imogene pass back over the mountain. Holy smokes that trail goes on FOREVER. Fortunately we were on Black bear by 9am, and done by 11, and on our way up Imogene before lunch. We stopped along the way for lunch. Imogene is a great trail and I see why its so popular. I'd totally do the Black Bear + Imogene Loop again. A great day trail setup.

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The final climb to the pass was pretty cool. We just took it easy and looked WAY up there to see if anyone was coming down. We saw a group of three vehicles coming down. We waited at a nice turn out for them. Easier than trying to pass up there. And really I did that throughout our trip. I know ascending vehicles have the right of way, but this isn't downtown rush hour traffic. I can take a few minutes to make everyone's life easier.

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Majestic AF

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Coming down on the Ouray side was pretty uneventful. There were some other trails I wanted to hit so we didn't stop at any of the cool sites. If I were to go back, I'd make those sites a priority. Also a twilight ride up to the top would be cool.

Then we saw this guy. Looks like a bad time.

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More cool old buildings.

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Last trail of the day, Sydney Basin, was AWESOME until it wasn't. We came upon a rock obstacle we couldn't make work. We had to get the rear end of the LR3 way over to one side of the trail...but that dropped the driver tire WAY down and things got tipsy. I told my dad, that is it. We done for the day. Quit while we are ahead. But still, the views there are amazing. We came in from the west side, I think if one were interested in doing this trail, come in from the east side and go to the mine site. The mine site looked cool.

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We came back to camp to hang out with some of the locals. Yes that is our tent in the foreground. So they were right there.

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Howski

Explorer
All terrain tires on an otherwise stock Rover can get you some great places. No LED bar or RTT needed
 

Judoka

Learning To Live
The more I wheel the more I appreciate simplicity! Bone stock vehicles with better tires get me everywhere I want to go and can make every trail its own adventure. Without the lockers and lifts and overbuilt rigs, I actually have to have SKILL to get where I like to go!
"I know ascending vehicles have the right of way, but this isn't downtown rush hour traffic. I can take a few minutes to make everyone's life easier. " Very refreshing outlook indeed!
 

LR Max

Local Oaf
Thanks guys. Yeah I just wanted a vehicle that would work and not totally compromise on road driving. Overall I'm very happy with the LR3 and its performance. It pretty much has only three modifications: The AT tires, rock sliders, wheel spacers, and a full size spare. I could have gotten away without the rock sliders, but they were on sale and I wanted them. I did use them on Poughkeepsie when I got somewhere I shouldn't have been, but that statement is pretty self explanatory.

Also I had a good spotter. I could tell my dad, "Ok. Put my driver tire here and watch my rocker panel here" and he could do it. Now if I turned him loose on the obstacle without guidance, we would've had problems.

I'll try to get the rest of the photos up tonight.
 

LR Max

Local Oaf
Yeah I saw some other photos. Looks like it went WAY off the trail but I don't think it did. Heard they had to drive a motor grader up from Telluride to haul it to a safe spot for the rollback to get it. Either way, just reminded me to NOT play stupid games while out there.

Anywho, so the next day was a pavement day. Which was kinda anti-climactic but whatever. Also I was very sick on Wednesday so I was basically in the passenger seat, concentrating on living.

So for me, Colorado has pretty much been Denver....and San Juans. Which is tragic because there is a WHOLE other state out there that I'm NOT using. With that in mind, I had planned to relocate so we could experience more of Colorado. I was interested in the Breckenridge area, but couldn't find a campsite nearby. So I ended up at a private campsite in Leadville.

We started off our final off road day on Mosquito pass. Really an easy trail and not much to it. Just...keep climbing. The markers at the top are cool and so was the mining ruins on the Breckenridge side. Of course the views from the top are breath taking.

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Next we got back on pavement and headed up to Breckenridge. First time there. There was a lot going on there. I could see it being overwhelming compared to many of the other places. That said I was looking for a place to vacation in the future and it might be a good spot considering how close it is to Denver. I know people do the cross country trips a lot and often, but it just isn't for me. Flying into Denver, renting something, and using it for the weekend sounds MUCH more enjoyable than spending 4 days or whatever driving across the US.

Anywho, back to trails...because that is what is most important in life.

We hit North Fork Swan River which was super enjoyable. The ascent to Wise mountain was challenging but fun.

Required poser creek crossing.

IMG_20180809_130718573 by Max Thomason, on Flickr

We got to the top and found other there. Also a Disco 1 LSE!!! There was a family there in three vehicles. The son was in the D1 with his girlfriend. Just having a good time. Love it.

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Beyond there, there is a steep hill climb that actually wasn't that bad for the LR3. I just locked it in 1st, kept RPMs reasonable, and let TC do its thing. Everyone said go left, but that was blocked by some ATVs who were having a hard time. So I went right, and really it wasn't that bad. I guess having traction and wheelbase makes it easy. We got to the top, I offered to strap the ATVs up, but they weren't interested. Literally, one was about to roll backwards and the other was high centered. If they could make it the next 15 feet, they were home free. I explained my 30ft tow strap would make quick work of this situation before the rain came. We stuck around for a touch longer, and they decided to pull winch cable. I told my dad "We can't force people to take help", so we got back in and continued on our way. We were about to turn onto Deer creek, at a steep descent, it was loose rocks, I felt the rear end start coming out from behind me. For whatever reason, I reached down and turned on HDC again. That is the 2nd time HDC was really beneficial. When the rear end starts going faster than the front, it is a WEIRD feeling. My dad didn't notice but I sure felt it.

We came down Deer creek, which was very nice and into Montezuma.

It was only 2pm or so at this point, we wanted to get in one more trail before calling it. Santa Fe Peak was right there and we decided to go for it. What a great trail. Super enjoyable. The initial switchbacks are annoying but then you get to the rocky switchbacks which is a lot of fun. Taking time to look at the obstacles made everything go very smooth. But yes, a ton of fun for a stock vehicle.

IMG_20180809_161132234_HDR by Max Thomason, on Flickr

Gawking at the locals

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Just a good trail

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Coming down was a little hard on me. I wasn't recuperated from my affliction the day before. On our ascent, no part of the undercarriage touched anything. On the way down, I definitely added a few rock marks to the underside.

And that was it. We celebrated with dinner out, then the next day, packed up and headed back east.

We were treated this this guy passing us on I-70. 100% Legit:

IMG_20180810_092707054 by Max Thomason, on Flickr

One thing I did notice on our trip out west, it seemed like we traveled too light. Even though the seats in the LR3 were folded down and we had stuff piled up, we didn't bring a lot as many other people did. People had trailers...for their trailers. While I'm sure a big RV would've been nice at the campsite, not having to drag one was extremely nice. I did see this one brave soul out on I-70 east of Denver. I'm sure that wasn't a comfortable ride...

0810181314_HDR by Max Thomason, on Flickr

Overall, a trip of a lifetime and hope I can go back out again. Was extremely enjoyable and a reminder as to all this great country has to offer us. I encourage others to also go as it just makes you feel great for a month afterwards. Totally worth it. And yes, we all go on and on about how you need XYZ vehicle modifications and equipment, etc etc. But keeping it simple kept it fun. Lastly, I encourage everyone who still has their father, do a trip. Doesn't have to be this. I talked to one guy a few weeks ago. Encouraged him to take his dad to the Detroit Auto Show (a common interest they had). Heck I think he enjoyed it more than I did. But I really did like it. I'm hoping next to do Moab or do more on the eastern side of Colorado.
 

99Discovery

Adventurer
Great report!

My cousin is trying hard to get me to go over Black Bear. I don't trust the brakes on my Disco 2, so I might be taking the L322. I still don't like narrow ledges though..
 
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