• Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • This is the Million Dollar Highway between Ouray and Silverton. Anyone with vertigo should keep their eyes closed on the run up out of Ouray, up Uncompahgre Gorge to Red Mountain Pass - narrow roads, 1,000-foot cliffs, no guardrails. Headed down to Silverton, keep your eyes open. Spectacular views.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • Climbing up Eureka Gulch above Silverton. I'd met a California firefighter and his wife in Ouray, they recommended this trail.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • It was a good recommendation. 
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • This, I must admit, is where I did the same thing I'd done 24 hours earlier: tried to force my way up a snowy trail, got stuck, started to get pulled down, and rescued it. I had to get out of Colorado. Another beautiful place to almost die, though.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • In the men's stall of the Silverton Conoco. You won't find posters dedicated to the evolution of any other four-wheel drive in any other men's room in all the land. The power of the Jeep legend is real.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • So is the struggle; the poster lists Jeep's previous owners at bottom. From left, Willys Overland Motors (1941-1953) founded by John Willys in Ohio in 1908, Willys Motors (1953-1962), Kaiser Jeep Corporation (1962-1970), Jeep - actually American Motors Corporation (1970-1987), Chrysler (1987-1995), DaimlerChrysler (1996-Present). That last "Present" lasted until 2007, when Cerberus Capital Partners took over until 2009, giving way to a consortium of the UAW, Fiat, and the U.S. and Canadian governments. And ever since 2014, Fiat alone.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • Las Cruces, New Mexico, for a day of wheeling in Prehistoric Trackways National Monument with the Las Cruces Four Wheel Drive Club. I told them I had a stock Wrangler Rubicon on 33s with 800 pounds of gear. They said, "No problem, we'll do easy trails." Then they showed up with rock crawling monsters.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • The monument is full of what the club calls the "Chili" trails. This was on the way to the easiest trail, Bell Pepper. Just getting to Bell Pepper wasn't exactly easy.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • I wouldn't call Bell Pepper easy for the rock crawlers leading the way, never mind my own steed. My rig's had its wheels, suspension, rock rails, and skid plates full trying to clamber over obstacles.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • If it wasn't the holes, it was the camber angles and juniper trees. The softtop turned in a gold star performance after I did my accidental best to shred the canvas.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • This was how the day went: I'd watch trail guide Lance in his chopped 1989 Laredo with the long-arm suspension and 40-inchers rumble through rock obstacles...
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • Then spotter Tim would get out and guide me though the same, my rig making a lot more noise about it.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • I mean really. I distinctly said, "I'm in a stock vehicle with 800 pounds of gear." They said, "We'll do easy trails."
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • The 2018 JL was just tall enough to ride the ride. Just.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • Lance told me more than once, "It's better if you close your eyes." It would have been best if I could have closed my ears. Glad I signed up for full insurance coverage. I would not be returning this Jeep the way I found it.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • Another sample of the day's obstacles -
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • With club member Ernie getting through it in his 1992 Wrangler with stock 4.0-liter straight-six, stock transfer case, four-inch lift on Zone springs plus a two-inch body lift, Dana30s, 4:56 gears, 1998 Ford Explorer 8.8 rear end, custom front and rear bumper, and double beadlock wheels on 35s.  
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • Followed by Barry in his 1981 CJ-7 built by local legend Jeff Wood. The rig sits on a custom chromoly frame, with a 350 cu. in Chevy V8, 5:38 gears, Ford Dana 60 front axle with an air lock dif, GM 14-bolt rear axle with a spool diff, and 40-inch tires.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • Yeah. That's life on an easy trail in Las Cruces. I crawled the high side in the foreground. 
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • Still not a bad day at the office, though.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • A closer view of Ernie's rig.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • Another view of another giant hole I had to cross. I made it through, thanks to my excellent tour guides and the deep potential of the 2018 Wrangler Rubicon. 
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • I didn't know it yet, but this mound of rocks is where I'd break my first component.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • Came down on the wrong rock and bent the steering stabilizer shock. The Jeep wouldn't turn right.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • Barry grabbed his tools, Ernie got under and pulled the shock before I'd had a chance to open the back door for my own tools.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • One of the waterfalls on one spur of the trail. We didn't climb this. But notice the rubber-smeared rock face. Some in the club have climbed it.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • And right back to it. The lack of a stabilizer didn't pose any problems here, but those juniper trees...
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • First time I'd been stuck since Alberta. Now, as then, I took a bad line. If I'd driven two inches to the right, I'd have got over the ledge without issue.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • Since I didn't, I had to get rescued by a 2007 FJ Cruiser with a four-inch lift, 35-inch tires, and the ATRAC hack to disable the rear locker. Oh, the ignominy.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • Another mine field. Another chorus of howls from every metal surface under the Jeep.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • The gang on Chile Canyons Loop Trail. And another great day of wheeling with a great group of gentlemen.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • Followed by a sensational bowl of posole at Andele Restaurante. And the chipotle salsa? Legit.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rubicon Alaska Cannonball
  • Taos, here we come. And we're bringing a little death wobble with us...
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
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