10 Epic Photos from FJ Summit X

Aug. 04, 2016 By Justin Fort, Photos by Majid Gol and Justin Fort
FJ Summit hit the 10-year mark in 2016, and while FJ Cruisers were well represented at this year’s event, so were other Toyotas such as 4Runners, Tacomas, Land Cruisers and more.

What do you call more than 400 FJs and Toyota trucks coming together for a week of trail-bonking, cliff-riding, tire-eating, parts-breaking wayout adventuresauce? It’s nothing less than the tenth-annual FJ Summit (FJSX). Dressed up with a heavily attended vendor midway, organized (and not so organized) runs, food and sips, tales of derring-do and parts maligned, OE releases (Toyota introduced the 2017 “TRD Off Road” 4Runner), all in a secluded neck of the Colorado woods, FJSX turns one of the more scenic corners of high-mountain Colorado into a festival of off-roady Toyotas and FJ Cruisers. The event fills the town of Ouray, and the adventures (while getting a little quiet around 10:00 p.m. – it is a family event) fill a week.

The midway at FJ Summit is cleverly disguised as a hotel parking lot in Ouray. It’s not just a walk-through, however – food is served, trucks are repaired, people are met and parts are raffled. This is the center of the event, and it feels like it.

Summit Sponsors & Action
Despite what the pictures might look like, no, it’s not an infestation (that’s for Jeepers ;)...). FJSX is well supported, thoroughly planned, and religiously attended; it’s a festival of trailplay and Toyota four-wheeling goodness. The conglomerate of to-dos contained more than 90 planned trail runs (guided by attentive regulars) and dozens more impromptu “because” and “notso” runs.

MORE: Huge FJ Summit X Photo Gallery

Having run groups limited to about ten trucks resulted in smaller gangs of Toyotas roaming the countryside, chewing on rocks and eating up scenery. This also meant about 30 “groups” went out each day, so one was bound to encounter another.

You were warned... There are excellent mine and mill remnants all over the place in Southwestern Colorado. Don’t let the EPA and other anti-history groups ruin this hands-on history lesson for the rest of America.

More than 20 specialized vendors supported the event, including Toyota/TRD, Nitto, RSG, CBI, CVT, RCI, SSO and ARB, as well as Baja Designs and Baja Rack, Total Chaos, Metal Tech, Hefty Fab, Comeup Winch, Tepui, Restop, Pure Cruiser, Method, Hema, Expedition One, ToyTec, and Yakima (with some, like Total Chaos, going so far as to repair rigs limping into town with broken bits).

The FJ Summit folks do a good job of identifying trails per difficulty and putting guides on each, and if you like precarious, heyyyy, they’ve got precarious. This is the initial drop-in at Ingram Pass, commonly called Black Bear (look for upcoming coverage).

Toyotas Everywhere
If you like Toyota trail metal, these guys are your party. There were more than 400 rigs in attendance, and not all were FJ Cruisers: Cruisers new and old, every generation of 4Runner (with enough gen-threes to plug the hole in the Titanic), the resurgently popular Prado-based Lexus GXs and Lexus trucks, and lots of Tacoma and Toy pickups. Build styles trend towards the adventure/expedition mode, but this is understandable: area trails lean more backcountry high-mountain “Wow” than Carnage-style radical, so you see more license plates at FJ Summit than you would at the Toyota Jamboree in nearby Salida. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some 100% rock & bonk trucks in town. Some big boys did join the fray, sporting everything from portal axles to 44” mudders. However, it was an FJ event: more than 260 FJ Cruisers attended.

As noted, one bunch often finds another. Two Poughkeepsie Gulch run groups – pictured here clumped up alongside Lake Como – would then meander uphill and encounter two more at California Pass. It’s as if there was a Toyota and FJ event going on...

Another group, rising up on the Alpine Loop from the Animas Forks ghost town, stopped at the formerly adventuresome but now blocked Mountain Queen mine portal. Just say “No” to the nanny state, folks: tell ‘em to stop blocking off mines and roads.

Trails & History Everywhere
Speaking of, the ‘froading in the Ouray/Silverton/Durango area lives in the unique shadow of the historic mining successes in the region, and most trails (known and unannounced) are either former working roads to mines high and hidden, or railroad beds left over from the days when the rocks in these mountain drew millions of working men and women to Colorado, and underwrote the fortunes of America. You’ll hear the name “Otto Mears” more than once, and if someone doesn’t tell you about a forgotten mine and how to get to it “on a cake trail,” you’re not listening. These trails reach astounding altitudes, visit historic remnants seen by few, and are frequently nasty enough to require real vehicle skills and prep. What’s better, many of these trails interlock, and one group of summit attendees will encounter another on a regular basis.

Do you like FJs? Because we’ve got FJs. Ouray was filled with Toyotas each evening, most of which were dirty. The big group supper put on in the center of the midway by the summit team meant folks gathered together to end each day, and then drink beer.

FJ Summit has earned enough standing to attract outfits like Toyota, which sent a TRD team to introduce the faithful to one of the new 2017 4Runners; this one sporting the new “Off Road” package.

FJ Summit: The Event
As an event, FJ Summit has done an admirable job of building legitimacy without taking itself too seriously, and that adventuresome, family-friendly vibe has made the annual get-together a powerful draw, bringing people back year and year again. You don’t get a tenth-annual without succeeding times 1-9. A registered non-profit, the group has donated more than $90,000 in its 10 years to organizations like Stay the Trail, Ouray Mountain Rescue, local sheriffs and firefighters (who also run a wildly popular truck hose-off on the last day of the Summit), and two FJ Summit scholarships are awarded to local high schoolers.

FJ Summit isn’t over without the official donations-only Ouray Fire Department truck hose & wash, supported by the local high-school volleyball team. Last year, this netted $1600 in donations for the two groups.

For 2016, more than $10,000 in donations were presented to local groups, including $1,200 to Ouray’s fire department, sheriff, mountain rescue and EMS teams, as well as the dual scholarships, which are now endowed by the FJ Summit Scholarship Fund. The fire department also benefitted from FJ Summit attendees’ donations at the truck wash, which they split with the local high school volleyball team (and thanks to the O.F.D. for sending our camera up their ladder truck).

You can keep tabs on the 2017 FJ Summit and all activity revolving around and about the event through their website – FJSummit.org – and their Fakebook page.

MORE: Huge FJ Summit X Photo Gallery

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