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DDS4X4
January 20th, 2006, 02:27 AM
Divide Ride 2005

By Doug Saul - Individual Member

Divide Ride 2005 in Philipsburg, MT, was M4x4A's (Montana Four Wheel Drive Association) seventh annual and biggest four-wheel drive event yet! Registration met its limit at 125 rigs, with over 300 people. Three countries (US, Canada, and New Zealand), and seventeen states were represented (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming). There was a waiting list for those wanting to attend, with the few cancellations that occurred, many on the waiting list were able to attend. Wow! imagine having so many participants, some had to be turned away! Philipsburg is located on Montana Route 1, the Pintlar Scenic Highway, the first paved road in Montana. But rest assured, this gold mining and ghost town area is surrounded by picturesque and challenging mountain trails.

Event Chairman Dick Riebe and Registrar Cindy St. Clair did an excellent job at getting the event off the ground. Trail boss, Ron Walker, picked out some great trails and made sure every broke vehicle made it back to camp...eventually. There were 8 trails to choose from, rated 1-5. Shirts, goodies for the kids and some adults, and plenty of water for the trails were made available. Did I say it was HOT, Montana and Colorado were setting new high temperature records during the week of this event, July 13-17, and I told my wife it was going to be COOL in the mountains. Boy was I wrong ? and she likes to remind me of it.

Thursday we ran the Stewart Lake trail, rated 1-2, we wanted to start easy and compare how they rate trails out West. Besides we still had 2000+ miles to drive back to Ohio in our Grand Cherokee. Trail Guide Ted Riebe showed us some beautiful high meadow vistas, over looking Philipsburg, and crystal clear Stewart Lake was our lunch spot. We returned by way of Granite mine and ghost town. Thursday evening the participants gathered together to share goodies and stories during an appetizer potluck.

Friday, Peter Vahry of New Zealand joined me in the copilot?s seat as we tackled the Gold Creek Lake trail, rated 3. Peter is the International VP for United Four Wheel Drive Association. We enjoyed comparing vehicles, terrain and weather between the US and New Zealand. New Zealand only experiences about a 15 DegF temperature change between winter and summer. It seems Peter was tenting it, we had experienced a light frost the morning before and now it was in the high 90?s. He was surprised at the quick and extreme change in temperature in Montana in the summer. He commented that my Grand was a very capable trail vehicle and the A/C felt good too! The final section of trail up to the lake was in the creek bed. We did get hung up on two beach ball size rocks, which required a little backing and a little spotting from our Trail Guide Jim Anderson. Jim and his son did a great job leading, spotting and keeping us informed about the area we were in. You might recognize Jim as the Editor of the UFWDA Voice newsletter. Again, the Gold Creek Lake was our lunch spot for the day. What a peaceful and scenic lunch it was. Due to the HOT weather, some rigs experienced over heating problems. The trail leader and I each pulled a rig into the campground at the conclusion of our run on Friday. Some of the rigs may have over-heated, but the participants were treated to an old fashion ice cream social that evening as we again shared our adventures of the day with our new friends.

Saturday put my wife back in the navigator?s seat and we decided to sign-up for the easy and scenic Altoona Lake trail, rated 2. What a wonderful choice. The map was deceiving, so what I expected to be a short, easy, gravel road trail, instead was the best trail I have ever been on. Not that it was hard, we weren?t looking for that experience, just that it had a little bit of everything included. We started out heading out of town through the back alleys and past the old town water tank, where they had seen a grizzly bear the day before. We traveled on gravel roads, dirt two-tracks, rocky trails, through open meadows, forested twisty turns, up hills, along rocky ledges, across water crossings, through some muddy areas and we managed to arrive at a picnic area with an outhouse just at a convenient time for the ladies. Lunch was also at Altoona Lake, very blue-green in color. On the way down, we stopped at an old mine. The entrance was open but just for a short distance. We drove across the ore car track and parked near the old miner?s shack. The track dumped right off the side of the mountain and there was rock crushing equipment, an old boiler and other ore processing buildings and equipment. What a way to end our visit to this old mining region of Montana.

After the trail riding was over on Saturday, we paraded all 125+ vehicles through town to the welcome waves of the locals and on to the High School where we enjoyed a fantastic catered BBQ chicken and pork dinner with all the extras. DR 2005 concluded with Sunday breakfast, which sent all participants on their way with a full belly!