Another year, another great run to Crown King in the books! Had a great time with @REDROCK TONIHAWK, @OffroadFun and @K2man56
This was one of the most "dynamic" trips I've had up to CK via the back way, thanks in part due to a great weather system that brought a ton of much-needed rain a few days prior. The surrounding area received about .75" of rain on average, and Crown King itself had about 4" of snow. Our day consisted of some mud, some dramatic clouds, and some snow to cap it off!
Ironically, despite the rain and snow - all of the creeks were bone dry - a big disappointment, as I was looking forward to some water crossings!
The road in was MUDDY. Those of us with narrow fenders rued the day 😅. After we arrived at the CK rock, the road surface changes from dirt to a more sandy/rocky texture and the mud was pretty minimal.
As we climbed higher into the Bradshaw Mountains the clouds decided to get a little dramatic. They hugged the terrain, and at one point we were driving through the clouds themselves.
The crew kicked butt, crushing obstacle after obstacle. Every challenge was more interesting due to the slick rocks and wet ground causing traction to become our elusive friend.
We were feeling pretty good and decided to take on "The Escalator" which is one of the most challenging of the optional obstacles on the trail. Smattered with boulders, none of the group had ever tried it. @REDROCK TONIHAWK was the first up and spanked it.
@OffroadFun also nailed it
All 4 of us made it to the top with minimal drama!
Speaking of drama, more from the clouds.
We cruised through the active mine at Burro John and broke for lunch in the shade of a huge oak tree. I was hoping for Humbug Creek to be flowing with water from the recent rains, but no joy.
After lunch, we made our way down to the final pair of obstacles - the waterfall/ledge obstacles at Oro Belle Mine. And of course, it was a crap-show. 😆
The trail changes every year - and this year was no exception. About 2021, a new by-pass popped up at the first ledge. It was still there in 2023. Today, it was completely gone - washed away. The red pick-up in the below photo is at the top of where the by-pass used to be.
There was a group of about 6-7 Jeeps working out how to get up the ledge when we arrived. Some SxSs and dirt bikes joined the fun. There was much rock stacking and tow strap tugging.
@REDROCK TONIHAWK and @OffroadFun both noticed fresh oil all over the top of the waterfall. Someone had obviously peel led open a differential cover or damaged an oil pan and were in for a bad day later.
When it was my turn, I tried the "usual" way of climbing the ledge from the front, but kept landing on my belly skids, despite rock stacking. We decided to take a different tactic and run the same line in this video from a few weeks back:
@REDROCK TONIHAWK did a great job spotting me though it! You have to hug the wall to the right and then pivot on your rock sliders. After the 3rd attempt, my rig was up and over the ledge! I was able to give the next in line a tug, and they pulled up the next, and so on. A blended group of SxS and Jeeps jumped in to help stack rocks and keep things moving, which was nice!
After we got through the ledges we started our climb up the mountain and into Crown King!
The scenery quickly changed:
Much of the snow on the ground in town had melted into mud. On the flip side - the large group of SxSs that was in town when we arrived all left and we pretty much had the town to ourselves.
We stopped for a burger at the saloon and were soon back on the road with great views of the snowcapped Bradshaws.