Reaching Buena Vista

IntrepidXpedition 2007 | The Beginning & Troubles Along the Way…
Thursday & Friday, July 19-20, 2007

Day 0: The Beginning
Near the end of 2006 I had the idea to take a two week trip through Colorado, Utah and then into Wyoming & South Dakota staying off the pavement as much as I could. I decided to plan the trip for the end of July and early August so that all of the high passes in Colorado would be open. There was only one problem at that point; I didn’t have a Jeep capable of pulling off the trip. The Cherokee I had at the time, had become a dedicated rockcrawler and was no way capable of driving a couple thousand miles without being pulled on a trailer. That is not what I wanted to do on this trip.

To resolve that issue, I bought a 2000 Jeep Cherokee Sport in January of 2007 that I would be building up for this trip. At the time I was working a part-time job to help pay off some bills, but I was planning on quitting soon. Instead of quitting, I decided to keep working that job for a while to help me buy the parts I needed to build up my new Jeep in time. With each paycheck from the second job, I would buy new parts for the buildup of the Jeep. The parts started to accumulate in my garage since I had no time to work on my Jeep while working two jobs. A few weeks before the big trip, I finally had everything I needed to begin the build, so I quit my second job and got to working on the Jeep just about every evening and weekend.

Here’s a few select photos from the build…

The day I brought home my new 2000 Jeep Cherokee.

Lots of parts waiting to be installed.
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Started tearing the Jeep apart.
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Gears & Lockers…
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A nice pattern on my new gears.
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Fresh coat of paint after cleaning and welding on my new axle
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Hover Jeep?
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There were plenty of late nights spent working in the garage.
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First day out after putting it back together.

I managed to finish building the Jeep just over a week before I was going to leave on this trip. Looking back, I can’t believe I cut this so close before taking the Jeep on a 5000+ mile road trip across the country. I had no time to really test out and make sure everything on the Jeep was working properly, aside from driving it to and from work a few days before I left. I guess that’s all part of the adventure?

Day 1: Lots of Driving…
Not much to say here. Just plenty of driving west on I-80.

Day 2: The Day that Almost Wasn’t!
Why was it almost not? Well, when I got close to the Nebraska border on my way to Colorado, not only was my Jeep running very warm and almost overheating, but my transmission wasn’t shifting properly.

I had originally decided to stop and get dinner at a Country Kitchen and then turn around and head home, ending my trip before it really even started. Luckily, after dinner I scanned my check engine codes and was able to clear the light causing the shifting problem to go away. Then I decided to continue driving to Denver by morning in order to fix the overheating problem. During the night I was able to drive with no issues since it was cooler out, but as soon as it warmed up I had to turn the heat on to keep the vehicle cool enough. I ended up only sleeping 1.5 hours that night, making it to Denver by 9:00am and replacing my entire cooling system (with a big help from Mark over on NAXJA) by around 3:00pm. I was able to make a quick stop at Sonic for dinner and still make it to the trailhead for Sevenmile Road (Fourmile Area) at Trout Creek Pass by 5:00pm, so that I could run a trail or two and still keep on schedule! Sevenmile Road is an alternate off-highway route to Buena Vista instead of taking US 285 the entire way. There are also a lot of great camping opportunities in this area and a lot of other trails to explore.

What a day! Here’s some photos from my second day.

Fixing my Jeep in Denver
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Stopped along Sevenmile Road
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The winding Sevenmile Road
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Cabin along the way
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After reaching Buena Vista, I thought it might be a good idea to head up to Mount Princeton. Unfortunately, as I got closer, some bad weather started rolling in.

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Made it to the trailhead and started up anyways…but as the weather got worse and it got darker out, I ended up turning around to get my camp setup for the night.

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I will have to return another time to complete that trail and maybe even hike to the top.


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