Off-roading, wheeling, 4x4ing—whatever you call it, is simply looking at a pile of rocks on a mountain and believing that you can scale them in a truck. It’s a noble cause, one that attracts thousands of people to Colorado’s infamously difficult Black Bear Pass. And despite it being officially closed to traffic, people are still getting stuck on it. One stuck Toyota 4Runnner, a dozen cars, and a difficult recovery effort later, local police have had enough.
The San Miguel Sheriff’s Office issued a series of tweets reiterating that the Black Bear Pass is officially closed despite people still venturing up the dangerous trail. The pass cuts directly into a sheer rock face, making it extremely susceptible to erosion and degradation. After a particularly wet winter, the pass was closed pending rehabilitation to ensure the safety of motorists traversing it. But there is nothing off-roaders love more than a challenge. In the opinion of the SMSO, the folks ignoring the signs are nothing more than “complete ass clowns.”
The incident that prompted the response involved a red Toyota 4Runner getting stuck just below a section of the trail called "The Stairs" and blocking the trail entirely. The section is well-known for being narrow and rocky, with trail erosion happening constantly. In the photos posted by the SMSO, the 4Runner doesn’t look too stuck, but the photos are deceiving. There’s a real hazard of sliding off the trail, and it looks like the driver of the 4Runner decided to stop and do a proper recovery rather than risk a rollover. The real issue, however, is the fact that the 4Runner was not there at all when the trail was officially closed.
Ignoring posted signs about a well-known dangerous trail is a one-way ticket to trouble. While the SMSO will always try to help, it might not always be able to. Rounding out their tweets, the SMSO said, “We may not be able to reach you if you have an emergency up there, so be prepared to abandon your vehicle, be stranded, or be seriously injured and inconvenienced.” In other words, stop going up the closed trail.
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