Everyone Welcome to some Carnage!

Photos

One thing I like about Land Rover Enthusiasts is that by and large they are a friendly bunch. Go anywhere in the world and meet up with other Land Rover People, especially in an organized club, and you will usually be welcomed as one of the bunch with no reservations.

When Alex & Marina Schubow from Illinois wanted to take their 1998 Discovery four wheeling as part of their second honeymoon they rang Keith Kreutzer of Rovertracks to ask for some help. At this point I should digress and state what all men are now thinking, Alex, any woman who encourages you to take her off road during a second Honeymoon is a keeper. Keith happily arranged for a number of Land Rovers from the local club to meet up with Alex and Marina to show them a small part of the Rockies .

Since Alex has a well set up Discovery with body lift, raised suspension, 35 inch tires etc he wanted a Challenge. With this in mind the first choice of trail was a little run aptly called “ Carnage Canyon ”. Now if you are a reader of such Books as Charles A. Wells and the Back Country Adventure Series you will not find this trail mentioned anywhere. Charles A Wells Colorado Book Volume 2 trail 16 gets you to the area only. Carnage Canyon is located approximately 20 minutes drive west out of Longmont Colorado on the eastern edge of Roosevelt National Forest . Roosevelt National Forest covers some 810,892 acres with great camping, hunting and fishing facilities. To get to the Trailhead you take the turn for Left Hand Canyon west off highway 36 until you see the first sign for Roosevelt National Forest . The trail starts on the northern side of the road right next to the Forest sign. It could not be any easier. The information board at the trailhead is very useful is showing off the various trails in the area and their relative difficulty.

The start of the trail is designated as Forest Service Road 286 before you take the offshoot 286A. The trial starts off with an easy run up the canyon for about a quarter mile before the first obstacle presents itself. Guardian Rock! As with most of the hard options on this trail, this obstacle does not have to be attempted unless you need the rush. It is basically two rocks 3 odd feet high sitting side by side with a large gap in the center that can be climbed over. Within our group a Defender 90, Range Rover and Discovery attempted it and got over with relative ease. The rest of the trail is just one obstacle after another for the next mile to mile and a half.

Since I was not driving I got out and walked from challenge to challenge. There has obviously been a lot of gold mining and prospecting in the area as most of the many off shoot trails were originally for prospecting. Also there is an abundance of Iron Pyrite to be found on the ground if you take the time to look. Whilst we would be essentially taking a loop up Carnage then Upper Carnage it is easy to get confused with the number of trails around this confined area.

One of the more puzzling obstacles to present itself early on the trail is “Tree Obstacle”. The trail goes straight however there is a challenge on the right hand side requiring vehicles to drive up a small rock and dirt slope which pushes your vehicle back towards a tree. Now as you all know, Land Rovers mostly have very vulnerable roof lines so why would anyone want to tackle this? Well our club president in his Range Rover is such a man. After many failed attempts he chose discretion and backed out of the obstacle to take the more normal path. So as not to be beaten he bought out a very large remote control four wheel drive car and then attempted to tackle the obstacle. After the RC car also failed to beat the obstacle we all had a good laugh and carried on.

The next optional obstacle is the Rock/Tree Squeeze. Basically you can drive up and over a rock which pushes you toward a tree on your left. If timed correctly a defender 90 can drive up onto the rock, get caught on it’s chassis with all 4 wheels spinning and the driver side of the roll cage leaning against a tree. Yousef, our trip leader, managed to execute this demonstration perfectly [although not on purpose]. With an easy winch backwards he was good to go via the main trail.

The most daunting obstacle on Carnage must be the Waterfall. There are basically 3 routes past this section. The center which is a 5 foot high climb over a steep solid rock section with the twist of a large “V” shaped gap in the center. The right hand side which is a squeeze between rocks just a little too small for a Land Rover to fit easily and the Left hand approach which is basically the bypass for more standard vehicles.

Several in our group tried the center line without success. Yousef’s Defender 90 was able to easily tackle the right hand line after many failed attempts on the center line. All others opted to take the bypass around the left hand route. Even the bypass needs careful spotting as it entail’s a tight turn with a high rock ledge jutting out waiting to bite the side panels of any errant line.  Our group got through relatively unscathed except for the rear bumper of Karen Kreutzer’s yellow Discovery getting slightly bruised. The engineer working for Land Rover who thought that putting a plastic end cap on the rear bumper, that hangs out like a target, needs to seriously rethink their design processes. I do not know of anyone who has not had trouble with these end caps.

Less than a vehicle length from the waterfall [yes that close] is another optional line on the left hand side. Only our intrepid leader Yousef in his highly modified Defender attempted this line. He got less than the length of his D90 before he became stuck. Have you ever seen a Land Rover hung up exactly in the middle of both its front bumper and rear bumper? All four wheels lacked traction and the vehicle could be easily rocked to the left and right. In the enthusiasm to extract the Defender, the driver’s side CV joint decided to break leaving a winch recovery. Winching backwards proved impossible as the Defender was so tightly wedged between the rocks all that happened was the recovery vehicle was dragged forward. We extracted the Defender using a snatch block to a tree off to the side and dragging the defender back and to the right towards the bypass that the rest of the more sensible drivers took [Sorry Yousef].

I have seen many CV’s break before: at the bottom of the shaft; the internal race but never before at the beginning of the splines as this CV had broken. After a quick removal job the Defender was back to 3 Wheel drive and we were on our way again.

The last interesting obstacle on this section is a small off camber section. The trail to the left goes slightly up hill whereas the right hand path continues up the creek bed. On the left trail there is a small section that is highly off camber just as you need to cross over some rocks. If taken incorrectly the vehicle could easily roll down about 15 feet into the creek bed as there are no trees at this point. Our group had no trouble with this although most elected to take the rougher but easier creek bed line.

At the end of Carnage is a nice open area that is perfect for lunch and debrief on the adventure just experienced. It had taken us approximately 3 hours to cover the previous 1 – 1 ˝ miles.

Upper Carnage Trail is designated as Forest Service Road 286E and is about 3 Miles from start to where it loops back to the main road. Unlike lower Carnage it is a relatively easy loop that first climbs up following the canyon and creek bed before turning west onto the ridge line. There is only one section that needed care by our group. On the downward run the trail becomes a little off camber and if taken too far to the left the roof line of Discoveries and Range Rovers is nudged towards a jutting out tree. If you take this trail you cannot miss the offending tree due to the many scrapes along its trunk. With careful spotting the roof gutter will just brush the tree with no damage to vehicles.

There are also many trail restoration works in this area. To counter some of the irresponsible activities of people many wire fences have been installed by four wheel drive clubs combined with land re-vegetation and restoration work. In a few years this should return the area to its former appearance and state making the area far more aesthetically pleasing.

If you are coming out to the Rockies and want to run this trail but are not confident about your navigation and driving skills, contact the Solihull Society on their website Forum and ask for someone to join you. Chances are someone will pop up and go along as a guide. That’s one of the great things about Land Rover Clubs. They are all over the place and most are more than willing to help out other enthusiasts.

Participants:

Vehicle Participants State of Residence Vehicle Driven
Yousef  Hamzeh & Christie Long Colorado 1995 Defender 90
Alex & Marina Shubow Illinois 1998 Discovery
Keith Kreutzer, Norman Hall Colorado 1997 Discovery
Karen Kreutzer Colorado 1997 Discovery
Larry Grubbs Colorado 1990 Range Rover
Mark Richardson Colorado 1992 Range Rover
Kids – Yasmin & Ahmed Hamzeh, Samantha Kreutzer.