Mogollon Rim

After leaving Haigler Creek, we headed up onto the Mogollon Rim headed east towards Heber-Overgaard and Show Low. Just after leaving Heber-Overgaard, we headed south towards the rim to camp out for the night.

While we were looking for a place to camp we noticed there was quite a bit of mud around. As we pulled off the road to make camp, F commented “This stuff is soft.” Before I could think how reminiscent that was of our adventure at the Salton Sea, we’d pulled a bit further off the road and were stuck.

Both F and I took turns at digging the tires out but we’d managed to bury the truck up to the axle plus the mud was more liquid baby-poo like stuff than dirt. Despite airing down the tires the truck wasn’t going anywhere. We unloaded the quad and headed back to the main road to wait for someone to come past and help us out. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long and with the help of a kind stranger and his 4-wheel drive truck, we were free. As you can see, it was quite a mess:

Ed. note 2018: Sorry! LNT fail. Life is … different… now.

After extricating ourselves from the mud, we headed out on a quad ride to do some more exploring. It was sort of hard to tempt Sprocket away from the elk leg he’d found but the sound of the quad was too much for him to resist:

During our ride, Sprocket enjoyed splashing around in the many stock ponds:

Plus we got some views off the edge of the rim:


Asbestos Point

Towing the trailer with the quad is sometimes a pain in the butt: we’re already a big tall vehicle and adding a trailer to that never helps. However, having the quad around is really nice. We recently unloaded it and headed up to do some exploring in the southern Sierra Ancha. The road we picked lead up to a saddle between Zimmerman Point and Asbestos Point. Both of these summits are easy to pick out when headed north on Highway 288 because of the bright gray streaks of overburden pushed off the edge.

After checking out the saddle near Zimmerman Point, we headed down towards the mining area. The limestone layer that contained the asbestos had plenty of tunnel entries.

The road past the mines ended just below Asbestos Point. Since it was right there I decided that I would scramble up to the summit. Sprocket braved the dense scrub with me…there were some “paths” that wound their way though but the going wasn’t that easy. Luckily it wasn’t very far up to the top.

The camper is wayyyyy down there!:

Instead of retracing our steps, Sprocket and I happily descended the north side of the Point through the pine trees. It was such a pleasant walk that we retrieved F and re-summited!

Laguna Mountains: Exploring

We’ve been hanging out in our sweet canalside camp spot for the last week enjoying the gorgeous Arizona sunshine. (Did you know that 60°F feels really cold after a week of 80°F? I’m writing this in a down vest…). Yes, that is a private dock next to the camper:

The mountains are full of quad trails and Sprocket and I have crossed over the mountains several different ways. The desert here is not lush but there are some cool rock formations to explore. Placer mining has been practiced here for almost 100 years: it’s probably that I have to thank for the tangle of roads crisscrossing the hills.

Sprocket is in love with this place: water, dirt, and the quad.

Plus, we happen to be camped with people who Sprocket has taken quite a shine to. Fortunately, the feeling is mutual and he is welcomed in their camps as he makes the rounds each day.

During our exploring we ambled to the top of “Laguna Summit,” a bump of 711′ in the hills:

We’ve ridden the quad to the tower in the distance and looked down onto Laguna Dam and Mittry Lake:

We even found the inlet to the longer of the Gila Gravity Dam tunnels:

Not too shabby…not at all:

Sprocket’s Christmas Present

Sprocket’s been a really good boy this year so we wanted to buy him a nice juicy bone for Christmas. However, the last time we did that, he woke us up in the middle of the night for days needing to go potty…urgently.

Instead, we thought we should probably get him his quad back. We’ll be around Southern Arizona for quite awhile and a quad is quite enjoyable around here for a lazy black dog.

In order to haul the quad around with us, we needed to find a little trailer. F did a bunch of looking on Craigslist but the best deal we could find was to buy one new at Harbor Freight. We got some funny looks putting it together in the parking lot of Home Depot but it worked out!

Seems like Sprocket’s done this before:

Respect For Public Lands: Garbage

I wrote this a few months ago (not so long after another Public Lands discussion)—I’ve tried to let my anger simmer down a bit but it still just astounds me that beer cans and water bottles (and fireworks debris and discarded clothing) don’t distract from some people’s outdoor experience… Then last week I was riding my bike to work and watched an individual toss their Kleenex on the side of the bike trail. I was furious.

Kim Kircher put up a post today called, “Don’t Be A Pig” and I figured now was as good a time as any to put up my post.

We drove by the first can abandoned on the gravel road and then the second. After spotting a few more cans, Forrest started slowing down so I could reach down, grab them and toss the garbage into the basket of the quad. At each passing can…Budweiser…Bud Lite…Coors…Mountain Dew…I got more upset.

Surrounding me were modest mountain peaks presiding over beautiful basins. Creeks full of clear, cold snowmelt rushed down and through it all winds a terrific tangle of Forest Service roads and old mining and timber roads. Harmlessly they sit there and allow for enormous amounts of recreation. A jarring exception to this beauty is the collection of garbage left behind by those who came to recreate.

We turned on to a less well-traveled trail that headed up into a small valley. Marking the entrance of the 4-wheeler trail to the main road was a Solo cup and a disintegrating wad of toilet paper. Just up the trail, more beer cans, water bottles, a blanket, and granola bar wrappers. And lots more toilet paper (it was likely buried in the snow by snowmobilers…out of sight out of mind).

So gross. Whyyy??? (source)

On to our quad when the wrappers, bottles, and cans and as we drove away from the beautiful but toilet-paper-stained-place I seethed. These are our lands. Americans have more space to explore and enjoy the outdoors than any individual could possibly expect to fully know in their lifetime and rather than take the simplest of steps to preserve our abilities to enjoy the outdoors, the opportunities are taken so horribly for granted.

I’m an advocate for wilderness and motorized access. Team 3Up uses both areas for recreation. Those who abuse the land are usually the ones to pipe up most shrilly when gates are put up and motorized access is curtailed. (I almost never see garbage more than a half mile up a foot traffic only trail and really never see it beyond a mile…) Motorized access depends on treating the land well.

The rules are simple, unobtrusive and easy to follow: Pack out trash. Bury human waste (and do so well away from trails). Stick to established trails (of which there are plenty). Pick up the wrapper that may have strayed from its owner.

Is that really so very difficult?

Exploring Near Mullan Pass

Thursday, we decided to take the jeep for a drive. We all jumped in and headed up to Mullan Pass. At the pass, we decided to explore a spur road that headed to the north. It wasn’t too long before we hit a few downed trees and since we’d forgotten that we’re supposed to always bring the chainsaw we wound up taking a little hike.

Looking into Montana

The views from the road were really incredible. It headed up into a small bowl with bear grass and huckleberry meadows all around after giving us some expansive views east into Montana. As most roads do around here, it lead to an old mine site. This one still had a structure standing (I think it was a chute for loading ore). There was a road headed further uphill from the mine that we decided we should explore again soon. Continue reading “Exploring Near Mullan Pass”

Snowstorm Peak

Monday when I got home from work Forrest and Sprocket were waiting for me. Apparently they were waiting for me to join them on an adventure!

Little North Fork basin

The three of us hopped on the quad and headed for the snow shelter. Having only been to the snow shelter once while riding snowmobiles it took us a few minutes to remember which road to take. Once on the road though we climbed up and up the ridge. After we reached the shelter we headed a bit further to the east. When the road ended, we hiked up to the ridge line and looked down on the Little North Fork of the South Fork of the Coeur D’Alene River (seriously, that’s it’s official name). Continue reading “Snowstorm Peak”

After Work 30 Mile Loop

Yesterday when I got home from work Forrest and Sprocket met me at the car, helped me unload, and informed me we were going for a quad ride. The three of us loaded up and away we went. As we headed out of town to the east, Forrest asked where I wanted to go. I suggested all the old standards: Gold Hunter Gulch, Deadman Gulch, and Gentle Annie Gulch. None of these suggestions appeared to strike his fancy so I suggested Willow Creek Road.

Away we went up Willow Creek to the old railroad grade headed towards Lookout Pass. It was a gorgeous evening and was mostly warm, even as we approached the 4,000′ pass. Sprocket was charging up the hill at a comfortable 17 MPH (which much explain how he can hardly stand to run with me anymore).

On the Montana side, we drove up a road that skirted the base of the ski area and unfortunately were soon stopped by a tree down over the road. (When will we learn to always take the little chainsaw?) Rather enjoying ourselves, we continued east on the railroad grade. We thought about going to Copper Lake but, again, the were trees down. At that point, Forrest laughed and said we’d already done half of the “30-mile Loop,” a gravel road outing popular here that usually occupies an entire Saturday. Although I was unsure that we’d make it over the top (we’d struggled to make it over last year the last week in June) I suggested we give it a shot.

Down through the railroad tunnel we went and then up towards Mullan Pass. As we started to see snow on the road with another couple of miles left making the loop started to feel like not so great of a plan—neither of us had brought a coat or gloves and we didn’t have any snacks, it would be a long, cold ride back around to the house if we couldn’t drive over. Two corners from the top of the pass, the inside corners were covered with at least 2 feet of snow. The chances of our two wheel drive quad making it over the top looked pretty bleak.

Suddenly happy that F had put a winch on the quad (because it would make it much easier to extract if we got it stuck), I declared that we were so close and should give it a shot (I’m usually the “oh nevermind, we can’t make it” one of Team 3Up). F let the air pressure in the rear tires down a bit so we wouldn’t dig quite so bad and I hopped on to Sprocket’s rack on the back to maximize our traction. Away we went up the hill, my legs sticking out the back and F working the quad to keep our momentum up. As we made it up the first grade, I started to think this might work. As we rounded the corner, I was laughing; I must have looked ridiculous. And then there was the snow free shortcut to the top. We’d made it!

Except, the more sun exposed west side wasn’t melted out either. It didn’t matter what direction we went, there would be snow to contend with. Fighting downhill is much easier than fighting up and food was in that direction. Thunderstorms had also been predicted for evening and clouds were starting to gather so I scooted back onto the platform again for the ride downhill.

As much as I wish I had pictures of our uphill dash, I really wish I had pictures of us going down the hill. The road was still a bit sloped off towards the gulch to our right so the situation was still slightly precarious. F had to keep our speed up so we wouldn’t get mired in the slushy snow while steering to the left slightly and leaning his weight that way. I was sitting as far back and to the left on the platform and leaning my weight out as far as I could go—I have a lovely bruise on my back this morning to prove it.

As we returned to melted out dirt, we realized we were probably the first 2-wheel drive vehicle to make it through that way this year. Who needs a 4-wheel drive quad!? We have the little Honda that can! And if that’s just the adventure that Team 3Up can find after work, we’ve got to quit slacking on the weekends!

Hiking: Willow Creek

The sun finally shone in Mullan on Sunday! Forrest had to work so Sprocket and I headed out for some fun. We rode the quad up Willow Creek Road as far as we could before being stopped by snow. I pulled out my snowshoes and up the road we went; I was glad to have them. The snow was plenty firm in the shade but what can only be called slush in the sun—by the end of the hike even Sprocket, the biggest snow walking devotee ever had given up on it.

After alternating between snow and exposed dirt for awhile we came to a junction. Having not been up this way before I wasn’t totally sure which way we should head to get to Stevens Lakes but before I could think about it too hard I spotted a large tank of some kind in the creek. Around here, debris like that indicates that there was mining activity. It didn’t take me too long to look around and see some more metal scraps and then the dead giveaway lush moss that grows at the opening of flooded mines. This one looked really intact!


After we’d checked out the mine shaft (it was hard to convince Sprocket he shouldn’t go swim in there!) we headed up the trail again. As I was walking down the trail/road, Sprocket desperately wanted to jump up this bank. He always catches up so I kept walking but he kept trying to get up on the bank; looking back to see what was going on I saw the trail sign pointing up a tiny switchback hard to pick out in the spotty snow that lead to the top of that bank. Sprocket wins.

It wasn’t too long though before we reached a scree slope and the two of us together just couldn’t find the trail on the other side and decided to turn around. When I got home, I found out that we’d been within three quarters of a mile from the lake that was my “unstated” goal for the hike. I’m sure it would have been really pretty! I’ll probably try again in the next week or so.

It felt really good to get out and wander with Sprocket and hike around. And the scenery? It wasn’t too bad either.