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.

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