I found some time today to sneak out to the Pass and check out the areas previously closed by the fire closure, and to test my Bronco's four-by-four capabilities. I guess the spirit of Sullivan had me!

I found a great vantage point over the area between Alray and Cajon. As you head west on 138, the first street on the left is Lone Pine Canyon Road. Within a hundred feet is a dirt road on the left. This road eventually goes along the UP tracks and CP Canyon. It then curves uphill and is a good grade up and over the ridge above Sullivan's Curve. Eventually, it comes out at Swarthout Canyon and Blue Cut, but I found my favorite views long before then. Just a hundred yards out, before you get to CP Canyon, is a great view of the UP tracks through an S-curve of a tight cut by Mormon Rocks (of course I didn't have my camera with me). The second great place is a wide spot on the road, under the power lines. A USGS benchmark calls the place "Tower 2" and it is shown in the bottom-center grid on this USGS map. I didn't need four-wheel drive for this part of the journey, but a high clearance vehicle is recommended.

After checking out Alray from the OHV staging area, I took the dirt road south of Summit, called "Little Horsethief Canyon", or 3N44. The gates were closed at the top of the hill, but from up there, you can see the old Summit grades very plainly.

Feeling pretty confident now with the Bronco, I went for the back roads of Swarthout, specifically 2N87. That was where I was forced to switch it into 4x4 mode. What a climb! But no train views. Disappointed, I turned around and tried to find a back way to Keenbrook via Applewhite road. I have no idea where they got that name. Not the Applewhite part, but the Road part! It was an incredible journey, fording creeks, praying for traction, and looking out for Ned Beatty's lover. I decided to turn around when the road was blocked with a sedan, in great condition except for the shotgun holes in the doors and blown out windows. This thing was so fresh, I didn't see any rust and the plates were still on it!

I broke lots of safety rules on this trip, most noteably, I didn't have a buddy with me, I could only sporadically get phone reception, and I didn't bring any tools other than a shovel and extra water. Sometimes you just gotta go for it!
I decided that I need to get some scenery done on the layout so I'm going to set a goal of finishing the tracklaying on the area between Drawbar Flats and Summit, and that will be the first section to be sceniced. This is the area shown in this photo, and it is the area closest to the side garage door, the view most guests see when they first see the layout. It is very simple track, no structures, has tunnels and rockwork, and seems perfect for the artistic side of me.

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