North of Flagstaff
Since I was too busy to post during the Overland Expo West (including nice naps to recover from all the walking around), I’ve been looking through the scores of photos I’ve taken in order to build a post. I’m writing this from a fine campsite about 15 miles north of Flagstaff, a Coconino Forest road called Schultz Pass Road (NF 545), on the opposite side of the highway from the entrance to Sunset Crater National Monument. Getting a cellular data signal in this area can be problematic, but after my cellular data modem came up completely blank, my iPhone was surprisingly happy to provide a working hotspot. Usually, the iPhone is the gimper while the modem is the producer. Go figure.
This is a true forest area, with the campsite itself at 7,490′ elevation. The “heat wave” is apparently over, the daytime temps for the rest of this week expected to be in the mid-fifties with nightly lows on both sides of freezing. There’s a wind warning today as well, but the warm sun and good solar at this spot make this site worth trying out. Since the sky has some sizable clouds blowing over, the ground panels are out in an attempt to help the batteries recover from the four days of tree shade at the Expo campsite. I chose to keep to my usual power usage, but did forego most extra loads such as recharging the e-bike’s battery. The result was a slow but steady decline in capacity such that the pack approached but did not quite hit the 50% discharge limit by the morning of departure. Since there will be some cloud cover off and on over the next few days, the ground panels will stay out.
Back at the Expo, my closest neighbors each had new F-150s, one with a three-month-old Four Wheel Hawk truck camper, and the other with a weird but workable tent that extended off the rear of his bed shell. This is only notable because we were pretty much surrounded by a sea of Toyota pickups, which is pretty much the base requirement among both overlanders and overlander wannabes. The tent guy is a very experienced camper, and he told me that he had just come down from camping on the surrounding snow-level mountain peaks prior to the event. I was impressed. He was very fit for an older guy, and expressed some surprise that he’d recently had a minor stroke. I was surprised as well, but all you need is one particle floating around, and his family history made it less of a mystery. Wasn’t going to keep him grounded, however. That’s gumption, and he’s fit enough that cold temps don’t bother him. Decades ago, I read that studies revealed that one’s tolerance for cold temperatures is largely determined not by age but by overall physical fitness, which explains to me why taking a Saws-All to one’s chest can knock ten degrees of one’s tolerance limit right off the top. High altitudes make hiking around more of an effort too, but I count myself fortunate to never having suffered from high-altitude sickness, which is something else entirely. That apparently has nothing to do with either age nor fitness.
Speaking of altitude, one of the main trails in was blocked off for some reason, and so in the spirit of Campsploring, I found myself taking a turnoff toward what was purported to be a meadow at the end of a three-mile spur. Well, that road quickly became a smooth but narrow climb up along the edge of a mountain, and I chickened out at a turnaround which boasted the most amazing view I’ve seen, well, in a few weeks. I figured that the extra elevation was not necessary to find an isolated campsite, mainly since I had yet to see one rig camped anywhere in this entire area. Dump trucks, contractor trucks, camping signs and campsites, but no campers. Didn’t need the extra dose of cold wind, and the cellular signal was bouncing down around zero. So back down I went.
Next up, some shots from the Expo.