NF-493 Campsite #2
It’s sometimes difficult to drive solo off-road with a stock vehicle more suited to sloppy construction sites than rough trails. You know that, regardless of cause, if your rig is disabled or stuck or damaged, what is an inconvenience in town can pretty quickly become at best an epic financial tragedy out in the boonies. At worst, it can become a survival story, particularly when age or disability enters into the picture.
Naturally, I try to err on the side of caution, despite my determination to enjoy camping in the sticks. Despite that caution, I’ve still smacked the Mighty Furd’s running boards on rocks, grounded out both the bike rack in front and the cargo box frame in the rear. Each time was a “What?? Seriously? On that? It couldn’t have!” moment of disbelief. That’s significant because there’s no way to simply remove and toss any badly damaged assemblies in the back of the truck and continue on. Without a spotter, there’s no failsafe way to estimate whether you’re going to just clear an obstacle, or contact it badly enough to cause crippling problems. Thus I can’t recommend that anyone “campsplore” in the same manner that I do, because it’s easy to underestimate risks or overestimate your rig’s abilities. My goal is to take full advantage of what the big Ford can do, but without discovering the hard way what it cannot. I’m not into wrecking the only workable habitation I’ve got.
That said, I present the second campsite I found on NF-493 just west of Cottonwood. It’s a beauty. My smartphone describes this site as GPS 34.709154, -112.073237, elevation 4,574′. I describe it as a preferred campsite – if you can get into it. There isn’t much traffic going by on the trail that’s maybe 200-300 feet away, the views are great, and the deer that drop by are entertaining. The temperatures are always a few degrees cooler than Cottonwood’s forecast. It’s kind of a turnaround circle that looks almost wide enough for the 158″ wheelbase Mighty Furd to drive around. Though it is not quite level, it’s not so bad that a rock or a chock can’t make it workable. And it doesn’t turn into a mudpit when it rains. Due to a couple of towers within sight, cellular reception pegs the meter, possibly enough to make you glow in the dark.
The video below shows the views immediately around this campsite, and reveals the entrance to it. Anyone with a smaller high-clearance rig can avoid its challenges no sweat. It looks pretty tame, mainly because it is. Me, I’ll be in suspense, based on my past experiences with the big boy. One thing I’ve found is that, when clearances on the vehicle are not symmetrical, trail obstacles are not bidirectional. You can clear in one direction and hang up in the other. I’ll need to keep the driver’s door open to keep one eye on the left running board clearance, and mount the VIRB somewhere safe to watch the cargo box frame elbow clearance via my iPhone’s screen, if I can receive its signal in the cab. That’s sometimes a problem, depending on where I mount it. The camera will need to act as my spotter. Absurd? Sure! Overkill? No. With any success, then it’s off to a few errands, and then on to find my next stop on my pilgrimage to Flagstaff.