Cummins Repower Rocky Mountain Media Trip: Day Two Blog
Coffee, Diesel, Go.
It was an early, overcast morning in Durango. It was time for cold start data logging, fueling up, and making our plan for the day over coffee and breakfast burritos. Due to recent weather conditions, our planned route through the Colorado Back Country Discovery had to be adjusted. Because the Proffitt’s and Mark Terrien are natives to the area, they were able to offer many options for alternative routes. We all agreed to head back north to climb over Red Mountain Pass and hit some trails.
With our friends from Overland International and Alloy + Grit behind the wheels of the Land Cruiser and Land Rover, it was time to climb. Our media guests observed that there was no need to have the pedal to the floor winding through the 6.6% grades. Holding speed or accelerating wasn’t an issue even with our altitude of 10,000 feet and engine temperature gauge reading 190 degrees F. At this point, the builders mentioned some of the features they were working to program into the 6-speed GM transmissions including tap shifting, sport mode, and other hill climbing overdrive lockouts.
We pulled off to shoot a photo next to an old Snow Cat and little did we know that underneath the fresh snow was a nice sheet of ice. While turning around the 80 Series for a photo, we got stuck. With the quick help and guidance of our experienced guests, some handy overlanding recovery gear, and the wheel work of Chandra Proffitt, the truck freed itself under its own power. While most would wipe their brow and get back on the road, but we took the opportunity to test the Disco 1 through the same patch. Having a bit more speed, a mud-terrain tire tread, and the knowledge of ‘how not to do it,’ it chugged through the deep snow without issue. Back on the road!
The switchbacks were absolutely breathtaking and we were fortunate to have the perfect amount of snow to make it scenic, but passible. Remnants of old mining towns are evident all the way to Ouray. When we’re in the small towns, many people stop and pay close attention as we roll through. We pulled over to check out a few more scenic views and observed a few heavy duty class-8 Cummins-powered trucks powering through the switchbacks. This is what sets the R2.8 apart from the others – it has siblings in much bigger applications that we pass wherever we drive. Countless Ram trucks, 15 Liter-powered big rigs, snow groomers and lots of green gen sets near pump stations help us to tell the 99-year old Cummins story to our guests.
We did a quick stop in Silverton, another old mining town to snap a few pics. The town’s turn of the century buildings were painted with vibrant colors and reminded us of the industry that once thrived in this area and the risks that people took to earn a living. Thinking about how hard these winters must have been 100 years ago made me very grateful for the way that I earn my living today. The spirit of exploration, innovation, and the desire for something better is what these small towns were built upon and that is very fitting for the driving force behind the R2.8 and what we are demonstrating on this trip.
With private access to a wonderful trail leading to a beautiful plateau near Gunnison, we ventured off the road once more onto fresh snow to push these rigs up to more scenic heights. Fresh hoof prints from a large herd of elk made for a washboard-like experience in several parts of this trail, but the view was worth the bumps.
It was time to get back on the road as we still had nearly four hours of driving to Silverthorne and we were burning daylight. By this time, the weather reports were getting worse for Saturday and more route decisions needed to be made. Our friends from Proffitt Cruisers were relatively close to home, so they escorted us to the top of Monarch Pass (11,312 above sea level) at nightfall and then turned around to head home. With Chandra behind the wheel of the HZJ79, she muscled up in 5th gear the entire climb, never being passed by another vehicle and never breaking 200 degrees. It was a fitting sign-off.
The rest of us continued driving through Leadville onward to our final stop for the night in Silverthorne. We arrived with fuel to spare, but it was time to top off the tanks to see how we did. The on and off road driving all day from Durango to Silverthorne totaled 337.1 miles, nearly 21,000 feet of total climbing peaking at 11,375 feet and just under 11 hours of engine running time. It was time to pump them all to one click to learn how well the R2.8 did with these heavy rigs, oversized tires, and on winter fuel:
1st place: ’85 Toyota pickup on 35” mud terrains – 22.17mpg
2nd place: Land Rover Discovery on 32” mud terrains – 20.3mpg
3rd place (by a hair): Land Cruiser FZJ80 on 32” all terrains – 20.1mpg
Tomorrow morning will bring more coffee, snow clearing, and a new plan. Weather permitting, we plan to go over Loveland Pass. We have a long way until home and with the forecast, the real adventure and test may still be ahead of us!