My Budget Build

Ol Man Bryan's 30th Birthday Offroad Extravaganza - Day 4

Descending back to civilization

Our final day on the trail. By this evening, we'd be back in Denver if all went as planned.

Sunrise. It was humbling to look back at the far ridge, knowing that is what we crossed yesterday, that we just traversed over the Rocky Mountains, covering in a day what would've taken the settlers weeks or more.

After breaking camp for the final time, we climbed the last bit of mountain to reach the summit. From here on, it's a very easy gravel road but it took us surprisingly longer than we thought. Probably because we kept stopping for pictures of the view, the moose (two bulls!), and the deer.

Shot of the Jeep at the top looking toward the Maroon Bell mountains

Continuing the journey. Driving was easy, sights were spectacular

Signs at forks in the road always appreciated!

Finally! The place where beer flows like wine! The final bit was really fun and unique. You end up driving under the gondola as it ferries people up and down the hill. Just fun to be driving down a skill hill. The top of Aspen Mountain was a lot of fun too, with a restaurant and games.

Being so close to the Maroon Bells, I couldn't let Bryan return to Montana without getting the iconic photograph.

Made it back home! Jeep in one piece. Humans in one piece.

The next day, all washed down and ready to mall crawl again.

The trip exceeded my expectations. The weather was amazing, the sights even better than I imagined. We fit a lot of offroading in only 4 days but it was journey that will stick with us for years to come. I learned more about the state I love and the just how capable the Jeep is. It was a trip I could repeat over and over again and never tire.

The last meal we had on the trip was at Ajax Grill in Aspen. As we sat on the patio surrounded by wealthy Aspenites, drank nice beer, and tried to not think about how bad we smelled and how dirty we looked, we reflected on the trip, the Jeep, and next steps for the build. Here are the list of priorities with notes we came up with at the time:

  1. Bigger tires - 35s ok, 37s even better It's easy to want other things: a cargo net or some new mirrors, or a sport cage or...but when you're up on a trail and the only thing between you and your camping spot/civilization/safety/etc is giant rocks, ALL you want is bigger tires. I don't think I'll do a single other mod to the Jeep until I'm on 37s. Seriously. We saw a few other guys up there; everyone was on 35s or larger and they were walking through stuff that we were skidding through.
  2. Sliders - LOD or EVO It would be really nice to be able to focus on the line in front of me without looking out my door so much to see if I'm hitting something next to me. These fall in the category of only needing something to happen once and they're paid for. One bent in door and I'll be wishing I put $400 into some LOD sliders (wife needs a step if we're going to 37s). This is possibly the only thing I'll do before 37s.
  3. Trasharoo This will go on the Christmas wish list. I hate dealing with plastic bags that are prone to ripping and just having those taking up room or leaking in the rear of the Jeep. Would love to put the spare tire to better use and have it carry my trash.
  4. New Rotopax mount This needs to get addressed before I try taking those with me again. Not sure what the long term solution is here.
  5. Fix the Removable Rear Storage boxes Again, this needs fixing before those go back in.
  6. EVO Rock Star skids - http://www.offroadevolution.com/prod...-skids-jk-jku/ Hit the bottom of the rear lower control arms a fair bit. Getting another 1.5" of clearance and some more protection would be great. Less of an issue if I'm on 37s though.
  7. Cargo net A nice to have for peace of mind that things aren't flying out of the Jeep as I cruise down the highway with the top off. I'll keep watching Craigslist for a steal.
  8. It's fun to look back at that list now, 9 months later. The Jeep now sits on 37s, with EVO sliders and a Trasharoo. Need to get in touch with Rotopax about the leaking gas can. The rear storage boxes have been fixed to better isolate them from hitting anything. No Rock Star skids or cargo net yet, but those can come down the road. This summer I'm planning on taking my wife back up into Taylor Pass for her first offroad trip. It should be fun to experience the difference now that the Jeep is more built up.

    Day 4 video

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