2nd Annual lcdc
*Sponsored by Slee Off Road
They came from all parts of the country; each sharing a common love affair with adventure, family and camaraderie that many believe only a Toyota 4x4 can evoke. From Coast to Coast, Texas to the Northern Border they came. It had never been done in all of the Americas. Perhaps the ultra-wealthy in the Sand Dunes of UAE had had such a gathering? However, no one had ever heard of one so large in the Western Hemisphere. What started as an informal get together by a few likeminded Land Cruiser owners in 2015, evolved this year to an unprecedented gathering of over twenty 200 Series Land Cruiser owners in the famous western playgrounds of Moab, Utah and Ouray, Colorado.
Twenty does not sound like a large number, but sightings of late model Land Cruisers are as bout as rare as seeing a news Rolls-Royce. (Rolls-Royce and Toyota Land Cruiser sales in the US were roughly the same last year). Could it be the stories, the pictures, or perhaps the banter from 2015 that led to this historic gathering? Or was it Wanderlust?; the fast growing seed planted when many purchase their first Land Cruiser or when watching an episode of an Overland series on YouTube. What drove a gathering of nearly 2 Million Dollars’ worth of metal to congregate at one place?
“I had attended the FJ Summit several times in the very beginning and it was so much fun to see so many people who shared my same interest and passion. It ended up growing so big that it filled up quickly and I was unable to attend. I really wanted to keep going to Ouray with other enthusiasts so I decided to see if there was any interest in other 200 Series Land Cruiser owners who would like to go and the rest is history.” said Cody Golliher, who lives with his family in Fort Collins, Co and is the organizer of the 200 gathering.
Travis Wilcox proposed a great idea to the group, “It’s only 3 hours from Ouray- Let’s also do Moab as a Pre-Run”. And so it was on! The early adventurers arrived in Moab a few days ahead of the larger gathering that would soon all arrive in Ouray. This group of six set their sights on the legendary slick rock and rugged trails near Moab. Hells Revenge, Fins & Things and Top of the World trails gave little resistance to the fully equipped 200 Series Land Cruisers but offered amazing views and memories over tightly gripped steering wheels and taunt seatbelts. It was a text book demonstration of the rugged and refined capabilities and features of the latest version of Toyota’s flagship vehicle.
The gods of Moab sought to disrupt the plans to make it to the summit of the Top of the World Trail -throwing lightning bolts, rain and obstacles that had some questioning the destination. Were the imaginary gods on the side of those who believed the 200 Series Land Cruiser was an $85,000+ mall mobile? The people a part of this adventure knew better. With only a ½ mile and 500 feet elevation to reach the infamous ledge rock at the summit, the group put safety first and spread out until there was a break in the lightning storm. The Land Cruisers and the riders who broke them were not to be denied. They were almost there!
Once all was safe and we traversed the rest of the way, the rewards at the summit were majestic views that only the combination of the wet landscape, fog and the sunlight that illuminated them could have provided. Greg Weik’s Phantom 4 drone was launched, and epic pictures and videos ensued. The next morning, fully rested from a challenging few days, the six vehicle team set out on a short three hour drive that would put this group in Ouray just as others began arriving from all parts of the country in anticipation of the start the full historic gathering.
It was the afternoon on the first of August in a small park near a picturesque Gazebo in Ouray; history has just been made. Twenty-one 200 Series Land Cruisers, ranging in years from 2008 to 2016, had gathered in the small town known to be a basecamp for large 4x4 events such as the FJ Summit and the Jeep Jamboree. More than 60 souls met to get to know each other, share food and drink, share our rig upgrades and for the kids- blow bubbles and play. “I envisioned a gathering that was intimate where friends were made and families could play. We all have a love for Land Cruisers but I wanted more than just wheeling and a corporate style event”, said Cody. The gathering was exactly that.
The next three days provided breathtaking trails across the San Juan Mountains including Engineer Pass, Poughkeepsie Gulch, Imogene Pass and the formidable and feared Black Bear Pass-in the rain. For some, it would be the first true test of their stock or modified Land Cruiser. Yes, these are also cushy rides with heated leather seats, 18 speaker sound system and a built in refrigerated cooler in the console. Don’t let that fool you. The observed smiles said it all-the kind of smile you see when your daughter kicks her first soccer goal or you son puts in his first basket. These Toyotas really are Legendary. They really do defy logic and physics to overcome the obstacles ahead with unsurpassed reliability and safety.
In the lower valley in Ouray, a highlight of the event was the Slee Off-road sponsored group gathering for drinks and dinner. Everyone got to know each other a little better- numbers were exchanged, Facebook friends were accepted and the kids spoke of the Pokémon they caught and elk they saw earlier in the day with equal excitement.
“I really like the idea of destination places each year. I love Ouray but there are so many other great places to visit. It's not just off-roading but seeing new places with your friends and family. It will get more challenging as we grow but we'll adjust as it happens. I do not envision this ever as a big sponsored event, but one that stays true to people and enjoying great company”. Cody said.
On the last day, the sky’s cleared to reveal the true beauty of this area. The blue sky, clean mountain air, the small stream crossings and the majestic mountain views clearly demonstrated why this area is called the “Switzerland of the USA”. That evening, the group all gathered once more to break bread, enjoy a home grown brew and share stories of the day. Goodbyes, handshakes and hugs were abundant- but so was the talk at every table….of next year.
Written by our very own Todd Gatewood (BTUMAN)
Read Matt's (@ethernectar) field report from his blog here.