After one weekend of jeeping the San Juans, I'm not ready for Poughkeepsie Gulch, or even Black Bear Pass. But I can't get the image of that zigzag scar out of my mind. I keep thinking of the descriptions of Black Bear I've read in the jeeping guides and on the Internet, which advise passengers to walk and help with directions as the driver makes three-point turns, often with one tire hanging over the edge.
ken brubaker is a freelance photographer specializing in
automotive and adventure photography.
just as when driving a car, know where you're going, keep your eye on the road, and use common sense. when the road gets rough, these tips will keep your jeep where it belongs.
1 never take a trail unless you know it's suitable for your experience level. jeeping books and maps are widely available in ouray. guide to colorado backroads & 4-wheel drives, vol. 1 has excellent route maps and trail descriptions.
2 stay off steep roads in bad weather. rain - and worse, snow or ice - can turn a relatively easy road into a difficult one.
3 use the lowest gear to ascend or descend steep hills. avoid braking - you'll lose traction, and traction is your friend. if you must use brakes to slow down, touch them lightly.
4 be prepared for weather changes in high elevations. carry water and extra clothing.
5 never turn around on a steep hill. high-clearance vehicles are less stable than passenger cars and could tip over. if you lose momentum going uphill, back down rather than turning on a slope.
6 beware of obstacles in the road. even a high-clearance vehicle can be knocked out of action by large rocks scraping vital parts.
7 slow down for blind curves. most jeep roads are two-way, though they look barely wide enough for one vehicle. uphill traffic has the right of way.