Trip Report: Bill Moore Lake, Colorado
Bill Moore Lake, Colorado
August 13, 2005

Map Datum used for GPS waypoints is WGS84, coordinate system is LAT/LON, and points are in the Deg/Min/Sec format.
Some mapping software uses positive and negative numbers instead of Latitude N/S or Longitude E/W.
If that is the case with your software, note that degrees of Latitude NORTH of the equator are POSITIVE, and degrees of Longitude WEST of Greenwich, England are NEGATIVE.
All points captured using a Magellan Meridan Gold GPS receiver.

The trailhead for this trip is the Conqueror Mine site (39 47 01N, 105 40 51W) , just north of Empire, Colorado.
Follow Main Street north out of Empire through a couple switchbacks to get to the gates at the mine.
Conqueror was an active gold mine back in the mid to late 1800s; production from this mine helped establish the town of Empire.
The gate picture is facing north, turn to your right to see this:
This is the start of the trail up to Bill Moore Lake. The path dips down before a loose ascent to the right. Nice and steep, and a gentle introduction of what's to come.
Here is the first "challenge" for me; this U-Turn was a 3-point turn. OK, so it isn't really a challenge, I just wanted to include this photo.
Decisions, Decisions.
Not really that hard to figure out, this intersections with FS171.2 (39 46 54N, 105 40 34W) is clearly marked. Bill Moore Lake up to the left.
This would probably be a good time to point out that some of my GPS points don't exactly correspond to intersections shown on the topo maps I was using. More on this later.
The next intersection you come to is at FS183.1 (39 47 05N, 105 40 36W) . Bear left again.
This point is off a bit on the map as well.
The next section of trail deviates quite a bit from the topo. I'd put it down to GPS receiver error, but I show the same path going both directions, so I'll say the map is inaccurate.
Not far past that intersection, the trail becomes a nice steady ascent, winding through the trees.
Take a left at FS171.3C. (39 47 32N, 105 40 38W)
Things start to get interesting in just a couple minutes.
If you're running a stock truck, you'll want to bear right onto FS183.1A. (39 47 34N, 105 40 41W)

If you choose not to go the easy way, bear left. Just around a bend to the right is a rediculously steep & loose hill climb. I tried the one on the far right first and ended up backing down when I couldn't make it on the first try. When I first got to it, I was so surprised at how steep it was, I didn't take any photos. After making the climb up the middle trail, I figured I'd take pics on the way back down, since I was too lazy to get out and slip and slide to the bottom to take a picture.
Then, of course, on the way back down, I took the FS183.1A bypass.

Time to digress for a minute about 4-wheel traction control as implemented on my Range Rover, and the benefits of the manual function available in low range.
The Rover's traction control uses the ABS system to control individual wheel spin. Since the front and rear differentials are "open", in a case where 1 tire on an axle looses grip, all the available torque would go to that wheel. When the traction control system detects this condition (1 wheel spinning faster than the other), the ABS system pulses the brakes to the spinning wheel, effectively transferring all available torque on that axle to the non-spinning wheel.
The center differential includes a viscous clutch to limit the speed difference between the front and rear driveshafts. This clutch is filled with a sort of silicon "jelly", and the output driveshafts have "blades" attached to them. When both shafts are turning at (nearly) the same speed, the jelly stays in a liquid form. If the blades are turning at different speeds, they agitate the jelly, which raises its temperature and causes it to virtually solidfy. This forces the drive shafts to rotate at the same speed until the jelly cools again and returns to liquid.
This is obviously a gross simplification of the actual operation, but I think its close enough to explain the process.
This same sort of thing can be achieved with "lockers". Very few vehicles come stock with lockers, they're an option on the (rear only?) for the H2. The nice thing about the system on the Range Rover is I didn't do anything! It's completely automagic. So my completely "stock" Range Rover can do some of the same things that other, modified trucks can do.

The "manual" mode on the transmission can be engaged only while in Low Range. This forces the transmission to behave as if it were a manual gearbox. For example, in Manual 3, you will start in 3rd gear. If you did not engage Manual mode, you'd start in first, and the autobox would shift up through second and top out at third gear. Anyone who drives a manual transmission knows why you'd want to start in a higher gear on a difficult upslope; you have MUCH more throttle control than you do in a lower gear.

Now, back to the hill climb...
I probably could have simply used Low 1 to climb this hill, but since I started using Low Manual elsewhere, my faith in the truck's ability was such that I didn't even hesitate before selecting Low Manual 3.
When I hit the hill, I gave it some gas. The tacho showed almost 1800RPMs, and I started up the slope. Once the truck was on the slope, and things started getting a little scary, I gave it more gas. The engine speed did not change. If I hadn't experienced this before, I would have freaked out. This is one of those times when you just trust the truck to take care of things. I was barely crawling up the slope; I could hear the traction control strobing the brakes as first this tire, then that one either left the ground, or just spun in the dirt.
Honestly, on a more than 45-degree, very loose surfaced slope, this was white-knuckle time!
The truck just steadily climbed that hill; I still had to steer, but the forward momentum was pretty much being controlled by the Rover. What an amazing machine!!!

Now back to our regularly scheduled narrative.
A little way beyond where FS183.1A rejoins the trail, (39 47 32N, 105 40 54W) things settle down to a nice steady upward climb.
Yes,I will be driving into clouds up ahead, current elevation is approximately 10,800 ft. ASL.
Not too much further along, I came to an intersection with FS183.1C. (39 47 35N, 105 41 15W)
Looking at my map, I decided to take 183.1C on the way up to the lake, and follow the more southerly route home.
It's good to have a plan, without a plan, what will you deviate from?
When that tree on the right fell, do you suppose it made any sound?

This interesting little S-curve in the trail was hiding a small surprise just ahead...
What the ???
FS183.1C came to an abrupt end. (39 47 51N, 105 41 58W)
I must have screwed up.
Checking the map again.
Yep, sure enough, the map shows this trail going straight through!
Well, if the US Government hadn't cut the USGS budget, perhaps things would be more up-to-date.
On the other hand, since Dick Cheney's company now owns Iraq, I can still buy cheap gas so I can explore the (unmapped!) forest of this fine nation.
[/end rant]
OK, relax, turn around and backtrack a bit to the start of FS183.1C. This time, I head WSW on FS171.3. Some nice uphill climbing, nothing too difficult. Ahh... Another intersection not quite lining up with my map. (39 47 35N, 105 41 55W)
This one is FS183.1D. I turned right, more or less to the north. A short drive brings me to another intersection, and the apparent northern end of FS183.1D. (39 47 44N, 105 42 03W)
Continue approximately NNW.
What's that I see ahead?
Yes, indeed, that bowl in the mountains around the next hill must be the lake!
Breckinridge Peak is to the left, Witter Peak to the right.
Down a nice steep hill to a big mud pit at the bottom. Large trees have been dragged around the pit, with signs advising drivers to stay on the road and out of the mud. This work was just done on August 6 by the Forest Service and Patrol 14 of the Mile High Jeep Club. Way to go, guys!!
Another turn and...
The lake!
(39 48 12N, 105 42 37W)
The next few pictures speak for themselves, so I'll just shut up for a minute while you look...
Wow. Absolutely spectacular. Go ahead, scroll back up and look again, I'll wait right here...

Surrounded on 3 sides by nearly sheer cliffs, the lake is framed by Breckenridge Peak to the southwest at 12,889 feet and Witter Peak to the north at 12,884 feet.
The lake itself is at 11,375 ft ASL. The third picture is looking north, toward Witter Peak, at a rock face that rises about 1500 feet.
Since the lake is Bill Moore Lake, this must be Bill Moore Parking Lot and (what's left of) Bill Moore House.

After a bite of lunch, it was time to head back home.
There's something to be said for being up in the mountains; specifically that you spend more than a little time ABOVE the clouds!


Take a look at my Central City West trail adventure!


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