BHCC 2013: The Iceman Cometh

The next day came with no permanent damage but a set of badly damaged wheels, seriously dented muffler and tailpipe, and pieces of FJ Cruiser plastic missing. Today we were doing the Iceman trail (rating 4), which means hard but not fatal most of the time. The same group showed up so we were getting used to it. Iceman is located in the Paleozoic limestones that form the sedimentary cover of the Black Hills Pluton/Batholith complex. Here is the overview image that shows where Iceman is located.

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This trail starts out in a wide( ~300 yd) entrance to a gently sloping canyon. It traverses the nearly horizontal limestone and we negotiated a series of ledges that got progressively higher downhill. The trail ends at a very narrow entrance to a fissure that our guide, Raylon, said he walked once when he broke down here. He informed us it could not be negotiated by any vehicle and was difficult even on foot.

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The limestone forms ledges where water flows over it and thus the name no doubt comes from attempts to negotiate this creek/stream/glacier? when ice is still present. We had an epic failure of the IFS on Rayon’s Forerunner and left it on the trail. I had to show you this image, which shows the extremes we go to when a non-field-repairable vehicle blocks the exit (like pushing a damaged aircraft over the side of a carrier).

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We had to climb those LS (limestone) ledges to get out, and it was obvious that others hadn’t thought that far ahead from all of the ramps that had been constructed to ease the exit. Note the ramp built of cobbles used on this ledge as I descend it.

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Two last points about LS; it is not as hard as granite (i.e. quartz, which has a hardness of 7.5), with a hardness of only 3.5 whereas steel is ~5-6. However, it has a higher density (specific gravity ~3.2) than quartz (sg =2.65), so it bends steel better than granite, which just cuts through metal!

It sprinkled and sleeted as we drove back up Iceman, thus earning the name, and the exit was now a slippery muddy slope that required full throttle by everyone to get out. The reward was happy hour at a drive-in straight out of Happy Days or American Graffiti.

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One final word; only damaged the muffler some more and learned how to drive the automatic transmission over rocks while using the sliders to wedge the FJ through narrow openings.

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