Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Wickenburg Ho!

The moon over Wickenburg.

The start of the tour this year is off to a bit of a rocky start, due to a heat wave. I overnighted at the Bouse RV Park, which was an oversight on my part. I had the impression that they had a section for dry camping for $8, but that was apparently one of the many other parks in town. I took advantage of their shower, which was at the far end of camp and nearly 1/4-mile away. The advertised WiFi could be logged onto, but was comatose for function, and overnighting made taking advantage of water and electrical hookups more work than it was worth. I’d have been better off backtracking to one of the many free boondocking spots along Plimosa Road. Live, and learn.

Wickenburg is about an hour away, and I was determined to horse the Mighty Furd over a somewhat challenging trail on State Trust land. This popular dry camping area is about 4 miles south of town off Vulture Mine Road at GPS: 33.912405, -112.810666. This time, I wanted to end up at an isolated campsite I’d previously only been able to get to on the Evelo e-bike, the Mighty Furd having grounded out on a previous attempt. That campsite is at GPS: 33.921162, -112.815051. The challenge of this side-trail is a couple of sharp dips further in that pose problems for any vehicle with overhang, which my rig has plenty of.

This is actually high ground in a wash, which doesn’t get much action in this desert.

My hope was that the air bags in the rear, acting to bring the Mighty Furd back to level, might provide enough rear ground clearance to get past these dips. I made it, but did still drag the frame of the cargo box hanging off the rear. Fortunately, that drag was over about a foot-length of sand, so this contact was no big deal. I’ll need to be careful on exit, however, since one of the two dips will present a potential drag over solid rock instead. That might be worth countering with additional air pressure in the bags, temporarily lifting the rear of the Intrepid higher than normal.

Overall, this drive was easier than in past years. Trails change over time, usually deteriorating. Of major concern was a stretch of loose, deep sand toward the end. The Intrepid’s considerable weight works against it on such surfaces, and my utter lack of recovery equipment makes on-the-spot decisions pretty important. This year, I was very surprised to find that this troubled sand section had firmed up nicely, making this mini-trek do-able for any small or full-size high-clearance 2WD vehicle…in good weather. The spot I got to lies on the bank of a dry creek, as does nearly all of the trail to get to it. Since this is a valley bordered by hills, this would not be a choice place should significant rains hit. In any case, attempting it in any form of motorhome would not be advisable. It’s narrow enough that you can expect to suffer some scratched paint from wiry bushes along the way.

Standing in the dry creek.

As a camping place, this spot delivers. The scenic value is so-so – neither great nor bland. To me, it’s plenty good enough. Passing traffic has been limited to one local easing past in a utility ATV, and three horseriders. If it’s one thing Wickenburg has in abundance, it’s equestrians. One other thing this spot has plenty of is peace and quiet. And the cellular signal, at least with Verizon, is two out of four bars, which is just strong enough to pull video, albeit with response issues when initiating anything.

I’d normally like to settle in and stay for awhile, but at about 2,600′ elevation, the temperatures have been a little toasty for my taste – in the high 80s, which makes cabin temperatures sail up to 92-93 due to the still air. That’s one of the drawbacks of a pop-up truck camper: when it’s warm, the camper gets hot, and when it’s cold, the camper gets cold. Temperatures here will be in the low 80s for the next few days, before resuming and then finally clearing 90, so I’ll need to improvise.

Per my itinerary, Prescott, Mingus Mountain and Cottonwood lay ahead as I work my way toward  the site of the Overland Expo near Flagstaff. Unlike the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, none of them appear likely to be prime candidates right now. Prescott is the right elevation at about 5,400′, but restrictive camping tends to make their campground sites both overrun and claustrophobic. Further east, Mingus Mountain at about 7,500′ forecasts highs in the 50s, while Cottonwood further on won’t be noticeably better than where I am now. A diversion to Chino Valley, a short distance north of Prescott, may be in order. Its 4,700′ elevation is a bit low, but should be workable. I’ll decide where to go in a few days, since the logistics of resupply and food storage affect timing.

Speaking of live and learn, I placed my iPhone and an action cam to capture the drive in on the trail. I found the results to be some pretty awful footage, mainly due to camera placement. Plus, I accidentally turned off one of the two unintentionally. Oh well. If time allows, I’ll try again on the way out.

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