Woodchute Trail 106D
First, the bad news, which is bad only from my perspective. Wickenburg Tire has gone out of business. That’s where I got my Coopers after surveying the local landscape a few years ago. Such it seems to go with all automotive places that combine low prices and good customer service. You never really know what the story is. Maybe it’s because they didn’t squirt oil on your shocks to convince you that they need replacing, or because they failed to sell you new brakes that you didn’t actually need. They seemed more interested in selling you what you came in for instead of upselling. Maybe that’s it. The first year I went there, they were bustling with a full staff. The next visit, they were operating with a skeleton crew, and the manager was badly overloaded but still functional. Now they’re gone. Wickenburg Tire, I remember ye.
Seeking relief from the comparative heat wave of Wickenburg, I decided to go for broke after carousing and filling my belly at Zipp’s Sports Grille alongside Primo Accomplice, Matt. Good food and good company make for a memorable time, and I say that only because I know he reads this blog. 🙂
Going for broke means choosing a higher elevation than the needed 5,000′. Woodchute Trail/Trailhead is located between Prescott Valley and Jerome, AZ. Campsites begin promptly after passing the trailhead and the blocked entrance to the Potato Patch Campground which opens next month, and the choice is to prioritize either cellular signal strength or low elevation. You can’t have both at the same time. Climb for a better signal, or stay near the entrance to keep temperatures slightly warmer. As for me, I went in some distance past a gate (which was latched but easily opened and reclosed) to reach a summit of sorts. Compared to the entrance signal reading of 1 bar out of 4 on my phone, my campsite provides 2 bars. My cellular modem, as it often does, reads 3 out of 5 bars and generally provides a more usable signal. That of course requires that it rest on top of an iced tea jar which in turn rests on top of a bench seatback, to get it almost as high as the start of the fabric. Much lower, and the aluminum walls begin to dim a wobbly signal.
Trying to obtain a decent weather forecast for this area at 7,100′ is a sloppy affair, so I’m simply going to try it out and see how it goes. Given the current weather front, my hope is to reach at least the mid-60s by afternoon. Overnights will hopefully not drop below 40. I gots me a furnace with a thermostat of course, but overenthusiastic use of that in this semi-tent can burn through my somewhat limited supply of propane in a few days, if I really put my mind to it. Better to rely on my cool weather clothing and a couple of army blankets that work well. Between those, sweats and a stocking cap at night, we’re talking one sexy-lookin’ dude, I’m sure. The CPAP mask really tops it off. I can adjust for cold much more easily than for heat, so let’s give it a go. It may possibly be the only solid relief from heat I get until November, so I’m set to enjoy it.
The entrance to Woodchute is directly across from the entrance to Mingus Mountain. It’s worth mentioning that 106D actually has two trailheads, the new one being nearer Route 89A than the old one, and it has an outhouse as well. As far as I can tell, the hiking trail is 106D itself, but not being a hiker, what do I know. Once you get past a water tank, some power lines and a gate that needs to be left as you found it, the trail turns quite rough. When dry, it’s do-able by any high-clearance vehicle. Dirt, rocks and ruts is what you face. I didn’t bother airing down the Mighty Furd’s tires even though many of the submerged rocks protrude up quite a bit. Taken at a modest pace, it’s more undulating than violent. There are tenters here and there, and tons of empty spaces, many of them loops. I see no reason why a small travel trailer or even a fifth wheel couldn’t make it to where I am, as long as all contents are firmly battened down. There are reputed to be bears, mountain lions and all manner of furry critters roaming Woodchute, so food storage and garbage containment need to be appropriate. They won’t keep me from walking each day however, since the high elevation rates greater attention than they do. It affects how far you can go, and at what pace.
My campsite is a broad area among the picturesque pines, and I have a halfway shot at getting enough solar to keep the Intrepid operational. The ground panels are out as well, as every little bit helps, and I’m optimistic about staying here for awhile. Supplies in Cottonwood aren’t brutally far away, but these are mountain roads that throttle speeds down to 10-30 MPH, so each trip needs to count. Camp like you mean it – that’s my motto!