Enough of the fridges, the GPS, the apps, the gear and the toys. We were in need of a basic car camping weekend.
So, we loaded up a cooler of ice, the Arizona Atlas/maps filled the Aux and main tanks to the brim and headed out into the night. It was Friday just before sunset so the dirt roads that are teeming with recreational shooters, UTV’s and tourists on a weekend were silent. We were thankful for that.
(The short wheelbase, old school heavy duty Rancho Springs and blown shocks make for a harsh ride. Airing down was the savior in this truck.)
(Everything was in full bloom.)
Once we were 50 or so miles out the dirt road we felt a calm. Knowing we were past the “high use” areas around Phoenix.
We locked the hubs and put it into low range to see if we could get to the top of a 45 degree incline hill with a great campsite for 1.
I walked the hill to see how bad it was. The step up might be rough. Manual transmission makes everything more... interesting. I appreciate that, but sometimes you just know it makes things more difficult. I asked K to spot for me and make sure I didn’t go off the desired line. Either way and I was guessing we’d stall at best and roll at worst. Well, no point in trying to explain it any further, but we made it. Little Tonto slipped a few times and I was concentrating like my life depended on it left foot braking and feathering the throttle the whole way up. We made it to our little campsite. After a 12 point turn and remembering why power steering was a great invention we made camp.
(Tonto perched on top of the hill.)
I always tend to do the stupid stuff alone. Somehow when I’m with a group I try to keep the stupidity in check and take care of everyone. I guess knowing I’ll be the one to fix things or get someone unstuck encourages me to prevent issues. The downside is that I let go and try things I otherwise wouldn’t when we’re alone. Oh well, we made it and that’s what matters. It’s the next 150 miles on trails with no one else around in an old unproven truck that really worried me. Heck, I’d only not made it to work 2 out of the last 10 times I drove it! What could go wrong!
On the way down we avoided the ledge entirely.
We stopped at the old cattle scales. They still work somewhat, but per the measurements our meat isn't worth very much.
We putted along for a couple hours and then we made the turn onto the lesser known trails. It was time for low range again and we didn’t go back to high range until we were back to this point on the way home.
It was unseasonably warm so any chance we got to stop and put our feet in the water, we did. Thankfully it had been the wettest winter I can remember so the creeks and streams were all running strong.
After many hours of putting along we got to our destination. An old ranch and a hot springs.
Many times the river is too low to jump in from the old hot springs. It was plenty high today and plenty cold. The old hot springs used to be quite a site and destination.
What it looks like today.
There are plenty of other pictures of the resort online on in my previous trip reports. Today there were a few “baloney ponies” running around so we didn’t want to take too many pictures.
There is some quality graffiti at the springs. The painting of what the former resort looked like is extra cool.
The ranch not far from the resort was active until about a decade ago. It’s sad to see it abandoned, but it was a rare treat to visit it before it is looted or decomposes to far.
After exploring the ranch we decided that a quieter spot to camp was in order. The hot springs attracts some... interesting folks. We followed some old roads and got to a spot along the river a ways away from any signs of humans.
It was time to cook some steaks and eat too much food.
It had been a perfect day. Since about 10 AM we had been on trails with no tire tracks. It feels refreshing, and admittedly a bit worrisome, to be making fresh tracks. You were alone, finally alone, but with each other. It’s a great recharge.
We enjoyed our fire and jumped in the river a few more times for good measure before it was dark.