Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bixler Saddle and Clover Spring

To celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary Kathy, the girls and I spent three days adventuring in central Arizona. The first day, May 2o, 2011, was spent fishing at Lynx Lake and is a topic for another post. The second day we planned to drive up to Williams, AZ and hike the Bixler Saddle trail to the top of Bill William's mountain. This is a hike I have wanted to do for a long time but the need for a high clearance 4wd vehicle killed those ideas. But we now have this cool Jeep so I figured this was our chance.

Set off early and found the Devil Dog exit from I-40 easily and set off into the woods. FR 108 is nicely maintained but I knew FR 45 would be rough. A couple of days before there was a huge storm that dumped lots of rain and snow across northern and central Arizona. Turns out this would be an issue all day.

We quickly made a wrong turn and ended up taking the round about way to FR 45. We did find the road (I think) and it was in pretty rough shape. The jeep was doing great over the slick rocks and muddy ground. I, however, was getting nervous.

The scenery was amazing. In the picture below you can see Bixler mountain and the we were looking for the trail head to the left of the mountain.

The road got steeper and muddier the farther in we went. I finally got to the point where things did not 'feel' right and I decided to turn around before we got in over out heads.

My street tires where loading up with mud and I was starting to loose traction. The jeep does not look bad in the pictures. I was actually surprised that there was no mud on the body.

I am convinced that turning around was the right thing to do. We were alone and not sure we were actually on the right road. If we had gotten stuck it would have meant walking out for help. I am sure a more experienced driver would of had no trouble getting to the trail.

Once things dry out up there or I get some new tires, we will be back. Once we turned around we drove into Williams to try the Bill Williams Mountain Trail. This was lots easier to get to as the trail head is right next to the ranger station and the road is paved.

The trail is only three miles to the top of the mountain, but as you can see, there is 2200' of elevation gain. I knew this would be tough. We set off and things looked good at the beginning.

The trail soon got steep and rocky. To make matters worse there was lots of mud. I guess this should not have been a surprise.

Once we got to the Clover Spring trail head we decided that there was no way we would make it to the top of the mountain. We had traveled about a mile and it had taken an hour and we were nearly out of gas. The Clover Spring trail is an easier trail and it looked dry.

Once we got to the spring we stopped for a rest and a snack. The scenery was beautiful and the weather was perfect. Going back down was much easier but the muddy spots were a little trickier.

We were all very happy to be back in the Jeep at the end of the hike. It was a great day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Castle Hot Springs Road

On May 14, 2011 we took another drive in the Jeep. This time we went exploring the Castle Hot Springs Road that runs through the desert and the mountains between Morristown and Lake Pleasant. It is a well maintained dirt road with only a few rough spots, mostly at the many stream crossings.

The road is named after the old Castle Hot Springs Resort that was very popular in the 1920's and 30's. The resort closed down after a fire in the 1970's. There is still quite a bit left and this is what we were out to see.

Along the way you pass through lots of open range land and we saw lots of cattle as well as this horse. Not sure what she was doing walking down the road but she looked to be in good shape.

After several dusty miles we got to the first area that we thought was Castle Hot Springs. There was some ruins and a wall. There was also lots of palm trees and an old barn. I am not sure if this area is part of the old resort but it was neat to see.

About a mile farther down the road we found the real resort location. There is a full-time caretaker and this part is well maintained. There is another old barn and the really nice old house. The grounds are still beautiful.

The road follows the river for about three miles after the resort. It is a little rough in that part but not bad. You pass several small mining outposts. Finally, you will see Lake Pleasant in the distance. It was a warm day and we were really looking forward to goofing around in the lake for a while.

We found a nice little cove and spent a couple of hours at the lake. It was another great day.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

First Ding

I knew it had to happen some time but I was hoping it would be after it turned three thousand miles, but I have my first ding on the Jeep. The other day I was driving home from a friend's house when I heard the loudest rock hit I have ever heard. It was so loud I thought that maybe it was something other than a glass hit. I could not see any issues from the inside of the Jeep and by the time I got home I had forgotten about it. The next day we hopped in the Jeep and Kathy saw a 6" crack in the wind shield. When I looked at the outside this is what I saw.

Whatever it was it even chipped the paint of the window frame.