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Mogollon Rim Camping and Exploring Trip

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Day One


It was already hot by the time Cat-dog and I rolled out of our driveway in Tucson and headed north toward pine trees, running water and cooler temperatures. I had been itching to visit some old forest service fire watch cabins (early 1900s) and ranching ruins up along the Mogollon Rim for a while and was finally able to pull it off. Cat-dog just likes getting out of the house. Once we got on the freeway, she settled into the backseat for a nap.


As I brought my Jeep up to highway speed (okay it was probably only 70 mph) I listened to the hum of my new Goodyear MT/Rs I had put on only a few days before. It wasn’t too loud, just enough to let me know that I’ve got something more aggressive than the “street” tires on stock Wranglers. It’s a good sound. Reassuring. They were still clean, shiny and black. I smiled to myself. Not for long.



Clean tires and wheels


Four hours later, we hit dirt north of Payson on FR 300, known as the Rim Road. This road follows the Mogollon Rim for miles as it stretches across about a third of the state from east to west. The Rim Road is a well-maintained dirt road that is suitable for cars (in good weather) and if you don’t mind tearing up your street tires on the plethora of small sharp rocks that litter the road from beginning to end.


I purposely didn’t immediately stop to air down. I wanted to get a feel for my new tires at full pressure compared to my old KM2s. I ran my old KM2s at about 37 psi normally and although I could tell a difference when I aired down (usually to about 18-20 psi), it wasn’t dramatic and I was able to do roads like this comfortably. Not so with the new MT/Rs.


Discount Tire had set the new MT/Rs to about 46psi and it felt as though every piece of suspension had frozen and I was driving on four pieces of round concrete. I lasted about two miles before I needed to break from the kidney-pounding ride.


Cat-dog and I stopped for lunch and to air down at a nice lookout over the rim. The pine trees were tall and majestic and the views awesome. As she sniffed deer and elk droppings, I set about airing down and eating a turkey sandwich. My old KM2s being smaller in height and width had been fairly easy (and much quicker) to air down than my new MT/Rs. My faithful “key in the valve stem” method was getting very old (and my arm grew tired) after about 30 minutes and I vowed I would purchase and air down kit before my next run.





After lunch, we jumped back in the Jeep. I wanted to drive out to Milk Ranch Point (the southern most finger tip of the rim near Payson). I also prayed there would be a significant ride improvement. If not, this was going to be a short trip and I was going to have to go back to my KM2s. I noticed the difference immediately. And it was HUGE. My comfortable JK was back! I understand this isn’t surprising news to most of you, but only having my KM2s since I owned my JK, I was a little apprehensive.







Riding in comfort once more, we set off for Milk Ranch Point on FR218. There are a bunch of nice camping spots along the rim here. We passed some spur trails leading to both sides of the finger. We took one of these roads (FR 6033), hoping to find some nice views to the west. It wasn’t worth it, though I have been on others that are. We drove to Dickenson Flat and I saw the first people since I’d hit dirt. A few large RVs were parked in the shade of the large trees. Dickerson Flat is, well, you guess it, a large flat area. A big green meadow and a small pond. There’s an old wooden fence next to the road. It’s a very beautiful place and I can see why it’s also a popular spot to camp for RVs. I waved to the people sitting in the camping chairs and proceeded south. The road turns from a well-maintained dirt road to a slightly less maintained dirt road here. It’s still 2WD tuck accessible, but more rocky.



The pond at Dickenson Flat



Dickenson Flat


I pulled up at the end of the road at Milk Ranch Point and let the pup out. The views are outstanding. You have about a 180 degree view of the surrounding area. I could see forever. Pup enjoyed climbing on the rocks and didn’t seem as impressed as I was at the views. There are two semi-flat areas for tents and a couple of vehicles here if you wanted to camp. One out of place item I found was a big bottle of booze with about 1-2 inches of liquid still left in the bottom. It looked like someone forgot their stash. I sniffed the brown colored liquid. Yep, it was booze. Since it didn’t have a top on it, I doubted anyone would return for it (or drink it), so I dumped it on the ground and put the heavy glass bottle in my trash bag. I looked around and found a few more things to pick up (a can of beer and a large ribbon), but for the most part, the site was fairly clean.



The view from Milk Ranch Point



The Jeep at Milk Ranch Point



A waste of good spirits


This would be a good theme though out my trip. Most of the places I stopped to get out or camp were very clean, if not perfect. The FS had put up new signs (at the start of the Rim Road) since the last time I visited stating the area had no garbage service and you need to pick up your own trash. Not sure if this made a difference or the FS did a big trash pick up recently, but the campsites were about the cleanest I’ve ever seen. And this was the weekend after the big Memorial Day weekend. Woohoo!


We drove back to the Rim Road and found a campsite we had used many times before. And it was open! It had great views of the rim and there was a large rock ledge you could sit on and look out over the rim. The rock ledge also has a cool spot under it for shade or to keep you out of the rain. I remembered watching the sunrise from this rock ledge with my oldest daughter when she was about six years old (she’s now 17). I am not ashamed to admit it that the memory is one of the most treasured I have of camping and it brought tears to my eyes sitting on the same ledge over ten years later. I wished she could have gone with me on this trip. Cat-dog came up and licked my face, seemingly to wipe away the water leaking around my eyes. Or maybe it was just the leftover ketchup from lunch...












I set up my Instant Tent (still love it), cooked dinner on my grill, watched the sun go down, then hit the air mattress for some sleep. Cat-dog stayed up most of the night on her bed/pedestal to keep watch over us. The wind really came up during the night and was quite windy when we got up at 5 am. This also brought back a memory when I camped here about 7 years ago with my daughters in my tent trailer. We parked the trailer right on the edge. It became so windy on that trip that they got scared that the trailer would get blown off and we had to move it back about 100 yards from the edge where the wind was less intense. I’m not sure if we would have gone over, but trying to sleep in that kind of wind was not easy.



Cat-dog keeping watch over us all night


Day Two Coming Soon…

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Nice story so far Matt, great pics too. Looking forward to day 2. I NEED to know where all the water was besides E.C.C.

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Day Two – Part I


First, here’s a short video of the views along the Mogollon Rim:



Cat-dog and I hit the road early, deciding to make breakfast later (and away from the rim) due to the windy conditions. The drive east along the Rim Road in this area is just breath taking. There are tons of spots to camp/look over the edge, each with it’s own unique perspective. Some of the spots went out on narrow fingers with sharp deep canyons. Others brought you to wide open vistas and long distance views many miles to the south. We also found areas in which there was nothing but “sticks” for trees. I wondered if these had been damaged by a fire long ago, though I could not see any current sign of blackened trunks. I also enjoyed the wind-shaped trees, with their limbs all swept back from the edge of the rim from the constant and strong winds. They make some interesting designs.



Awesome views along the road









We drove to General Springs Cabin. Caution: the spur road that leads from the Rim Road can be difficult in 2WD (or impossible). One section had a good washout in it. I saw a Honda Pilot back there, but going down is a lot easier than coming back up. This road is about ½ mile to the cabin. We pulled into the cabin and no one was around, so I unpacked my stove and cooked up some nice eggs, bacon and potatoes. Then we went and explored the springs and cabin.






General Springs Cabin



Jeep, Cabin, Dog (part cat)








Cat-dog LOVED the tall grassy, marshy area around the springs. She ran around and around, would get a drink, then do it all over again. It was great seeing her play. When we walked through the large open grassy area next to the cabin I heard what I thought was a hard rain hitting the ground. I looked up. Nope, blue skies. I looked down. Nothing. I took a step. There it was again. I looked down again as I took another step. Little brown things, lots of them, jumped away. I bent down. Hundreds, thousands or maybe millions of baby grasshoppers were in the grass. They were less than a ¼ long (about the size of long grain rice) and would jump as I walked through the grass. The noise I heard was them jumping. I tried to take pictures of them, but none ended up showing them well. I took some video. Understand that the camera only caught about 1/3 of them. The quick, dark shadows that look like brown rice flying all over the place in the video were the baby hoppers. It was amazing.






When Grasshoppers Attack:



The cabin was sort of cool, but bare inside. I went back to the Jeep, started it up, put on my sunglasses … and … no sunglasses. Damn. I knew I had them when I got here. I looked around the Jeep. Nothing. I had spent 30 minutes walking around the area and chasing Cat-dog through the grass and I didn’t think I had any chance at finding them, but thought I’d give it one try. I walked through grasshopper fields. Nothing. I looked down at the tall grass near the spring. This was going to be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I would walk it once, then give up. I was halfway through when a black object caught the corner of my eye. Nope, it wasn’t sunglass shaped, so I didn’t even turn my head. I took another two steps and told myself since I was here already, it wouldn’t take too much effort just to take a closer look. Yep, it was my sunglasses! I really didn’t think I’d ever see them again.


With my glasses firmly on my head, we drove back to the Rim Road. After another few miles (passing some large green meadows and thick forests), we turned north along FR 137. I wanted to see if we could find any remains of Holder Cabin. I had seen a reference for it on my topo map, but from my Google Earth search, didn’t think anything was there. After a short time we turned west on FR 643A and drove down a cool forest road to another spring and large open meadow. FR 608 ended here and FR 9714G began. The MVUM maps showed this was open for a short distance. I drove on it and after said short distance I saw many trees and branches that had been recently cut down. Piles and piles of them. Not sure what the FS was up to here, so I drove back to the meadow and spring. The spring turned into a small (very small) bubbling brook here and we followed it on foot (and paw) for a few hundred yards before the water went underground. It was really beautiful and this area would be a nice place to tent camp. I bet you would see lots of deer and elk coming to drink from the spring.



Meadow where Holder Cabin used to be



Let’s go investigate the water, dad


Cat-dog playing in the water



Kickin’ back along the brook



FS cutting down a bunch of trees? No idea why?


We drove back out to FR 137 and then drove down FR 161 to Buck Springs Cabin. It’s a short drive from the main road and I started noticed lots of tents with tarps over them. I could tell these were semi-permanent tents. At the cabin itself, there were many more tents and some large one that looked like mess tents. No one was about and I didn’t snoop around the tents. My guess was the FS was using this as a staging area. You can’t go into the cabins here and I wondered why these were different than the General Springs Cabin for access?



Buck Springs Cabin



The cabin (you can’t go inside)



The Forest Service tent city?



A little disappointed, we headed north on FR 137 again, coming to a corral and loading ramp. Sometimes, it’s not apparent that this area was used for cattle and sheep ranching in the past. I took an interest in the metal loading chute and tried to get Cat-dog to talk a walk through it. No amount of coaxing, not even the promise of her favorite cat treats would convince her this was a good idea. See video.






Misc. Video from the trip:


It was getting just a bit warm, so we went off in search of one of Arizona’s most elusive things … water … and lunch.


Day Two – Part II coming soon.

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Hey Matt are you going to hike to the railroad tunnel? If I'm not mistaken it is by the General Springs Cabin, a short hike down the rim. George:cool:

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Great story so far Matt. I was laughing my butt off at the "Kicking Back Along the Brook" photo. A great caption for that would be "Giant Kicks Back in Green River Valley". Looking forward to part III.

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Day Two – Part II


We hit FR 96 to the west, wanting to see some water at the East Clear Creek bridge crossing. This is where two small creeks converge. The road down to the bridge is really neat. There’s a large (~10 car) paved parking area near the bridge. Actually, it’s two bridges. One crossing the smaller river you just followed down (Barbershop Canyon), the other crossing just after the convergence of the creeks and FR’s 96 and 95.


We parked and went out exploring. Lots of nice water. We didn’t make it far up the creek on the left before I began to lose the trail in the dense brush. The walk up the smaller river on the right was a little more rocky, though much less water. We watched a family catching crawdads for a while (there were some nice big ones). As we drove out westward along FR 95 I noticed that we should have tried the trail down the creek after the convergence. Next time.




East Clear Creek



The creek running up Barbershop Canyon


The road climbs steeply out of the canyon. About the time you get to the top, you’ll come to a sign on the right indicating the Kinder Crossing trailhead. Although I had this marked on my GPS, I drove right past it. It took me about ½ a mile to realize that I had missed the road. I stopped to decide what to do. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do the hike down to the crossing. Maybe I should skip it? I looked at Cat-dog in the back seat. She had really enjoyed the water at East Clear Creek and was tired of riding in the Jeep. Maybe we would give Kinder Crossing a try. I turned around and headed back from where I’d come.


The spur road (FR95T) to the Kinder Crossing trailhead is about a half mile long and slightly rougher than the main forest roads, but passable by 2WD high-clearance vehicles. There were about four trucks parked in a large open space by the trailhead. I decided to park up along the road about 100 yards from them under a nice shady tree and have some lunch while I decided if I would commit to the hike. As I was eating lunch, a family in a pickup drove by. They were about the only people I had seen during the trip and I thought maybe they could give me some info on the hike down to help me make my decision.


I leashed up Cat-dog (she’s very good at making friends with people) and headed down to the trailhead. As I strode up to the family, one of them asked me, “How’s the water down there?”


I said, “Don’t know, never been there. I was hoping you could tell me about it.” Turns out it was their first time there also. We talked for a bit and they said they had read it was an easy short hike and they thought it wouldn’t be a problem. I thanked them and told them I would probably see them down there after lunch.


I went back to the Jeep, finished my sandwich, loaded up with as much water as I could carry (it was getting a little warm) and headed down to Kinder Crossing. The first ¼ mile or so of the trail is along the forest road. I was thinking to myself, I wish I could have driven this instead of walking on it. Just before the trail leaves the road, I saw a Toyota 4WD truck parked at the end of the road. This made me a little angry for a couple of reasons. Darn! Maybe I could have driven this section! And perhaps he shouldn’t have driven it. I think the intent of the FS was to have it closed off at the parking area. And three, it was not clear what the FS intended. I wish they would make it clear. I put all of this behind me and we headed down the single track trail into the canyon below.


The first section is easy as it gradually heads downward. The last section (~1/3 -1/4 mile) not so much. It switchbacks steeply to the canyon bottom. The trail is mostly rocks and sometimes you can’t tell were it is because you are just climbing on a jumble of rocks. Although short, it is a little difficult and I knew the climb out would be taxing on my legs and back.



Rocky trail


We got down to the bottom and there’s a large pool with a sandy beach in front of it. Beautiful. The family I’d met above was enjoying the water, while another had set up a tent and was camped under a large tree.


Cat-dog was very hot from the hike down, so she immediately went into the water up to her chest. Very hot little pup. She’s never swam before and is a usually little leery of water. I took out her drinking bowl and asked one of the girls from the family if they could take pictures of me giving Cat-dog a cool down bath. Cat-dog doesn’t like these, but felt much better afterwards.



A little cooling off



Nice water



“Given the dog a bath”


I knew from my topo map that the trail crossed down the creek about a ¼ of a mile. I talked to the people camping and they indicated there were some nice pools and a “waterfall” or maybe more of a “waterslide” near the crossing and we took off for a look.












I am so glad I did. This was the best part of the hike. We crossed the creek in some thick brush, climbed through some deep sand and came upon some large pools. A family was sunbathing on top of a flat rock, and another swimming in the pool by the waterslide. A third couple was swimming with their chocolate lab a little farther down the pool.


The waterslide was wonderful. I think you could actually slide down portions of this if you wanted to. This area reminded me a little bit of Sedona and the area around Oak Creek and Slide rock. I would love to see this with a little more water running. Perhaps in the morning during the summer rains or after the snow melt. Cat-dog and I hung out by the water and under the shade of a nice tree for a while before heading back up to the Jeep. I gave her another bath to help keep her cool as we climbed out of the canyon.


The hike back up was not as physically taxing as I had imagined. Partially due to the large amounts of people we met coming down with their dogs. We must have passed by 8 groups of people, most of them having dogs. Cat-dog doesn’t do well with dogs while she’s on her leash and I have to stop, get off the trail and let them pass. This gave me many opportunities to rest. We made it up, jumped in the Jeep and headed off to see the Moqui lookout tower on FR751B. The road to the lookout tower is easy and graded.



Moqui Lookout Tower


This fire lookout tire is open to visitors during the day. I didn’t climb up though. First, no dogs allowed (even if they were, Cat-dog would never have climbed up the metal grated stairs). And two, neither would I. I would love to have seen the view, but that’s hard to do with your eyes closed because you’re scared of heights.


After a few people visiting the lookout came over and gave Cat-dog some pets, I thought we would see if we could find what was indicated as “Blue Ridge” on my topo map looking over the Blue Ridge Reservoir. Maybe some ruins?


Immediately after the lookout tower, the trail goes to shit. Bumpy, bumpy, bumpy. Large rocks all over the road. Not that it was difficult, but just slow and bumpy. I would recommend a 4WD vehicle here or skilled high-clearance 2WD truck and driver. In wet weather, this road may be impassable. The road was blocked off by a large downed tree, so we walked the rest of the way to Blue Ridge.








The trees obscured almost all the view, but I was surprised to see some equipment foundations here. It looked like maybe it was a well at one time with some pumps. I also found a small rectangular rock wall. It seemed too small for even a cabin. Maybe a pump house? In addition, there’s an interesting tree with a hollowed out section at the bottom. Was this some ruins from cattle/sheep ranching?


I decided to take the rest of this trail out to the main road to the west. Big mistake. There was nothing special here except for the big rocks and gullies along the road making it annoying and bumpy. The one thing we found at the very end of the kidney-killing road was this cool tower-thing. What do you think it is?





I had an idea and a sign a little further up the road told me I was in the ballpark. A doppler radar weather station.


This wasn’t worth the trip. If you really want to see the radar, come in from the west. Nice, easy, smooth road from here on out.


It was getting on in the afternoon at this point, so I began looking for a campsite. I ended up at the end of FR 9729Q just because I was tired of looking. Not that there was anything special there. This road followed a power line for most of the way, when they diverged, the road became rocky and bumpy for about ½ mile or so until it ended. The area was sort of rocky, but flat so I decided to pitch the tent right there.



Camping spot


After setting up my tent I decided to sit in my chair and enjoy the beauty around me. Cat-dog was super tired from her night spent awake guarding the campsite and the hike down to Kinder Crossing and she was begging to take a nap in the Jeep. She’s very comfortable sleeping in the Jeep (if I am with her), but will not do that in the tent, tent trailer or just outside. I lifted her into the backseat and she would lie down. Then I would go sit in my chair. After a few minutes she would jump down, come get me, then go back to the Jeep and beg to get in. She wanted me to be in the Jeep with her so she could nap!



Ready for a nap


She was sooo tired, she could barely keep her eyes open. Poor thing. I really didn’t feel like sitting in the Jeep seat any more that day (I had been in it for about 12 hours already) so initially I went back to my chair outside. During one of these scenarios, I was sitting in my chair looking beyond the Jeep when I heard a noise behind me. It wasn’t loud, but I knew something was there.


I slowly turned around and saw a young elk grazing not 20 feet behind me. He was behind a few trees and I don’t think he noticed me or the Jeep. I got really excited. I needed to take a picture of this awesome creature. I SLOWLY reached into my shirt pocket and took out my camera, thankful I had it with me. Silently, I opened the case. He continued to eat some nice grass under the grove of trees and came a little closer. Now I had a good view of him (or her).


I flicked the camera’s “on” switch and “BEEP – BEEP – BEEP”, it made the initialization noise I’d forgotten about when it’s turned on. The young elk brought his head up, saw me (or the Jeep) and bolted into the forest out of sight. Damn! Missed the shot. I turned back to the Jeep. Cat-dog was looking out the open door. She gave me a look as if to say, “That’s why I stay up all night protecting you. You should be more appreciative. I’m really tired. Why don’t you come watch over me while I sleep?”


I thanked her, climbed into the driver’s seat and stayed with her for an hour while she slept peacefully in the backseat of the Jeep. Later, I found an elk blind (at least that’s what I think it was) when we went out for a stroll before bed that was very close to where the elk had been standing. I’m glad no one was in there this day, but understand why it’s at that location.



Elk blind


After that, we had an uneventful night … until 3 am … when I woke up smelling the strong odor of a forest fire.


End of Day Two

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Wow! Good story Matt. I've been down to where 95 and 96 converge, never stopped though, always been on the way to someplace else. I'll have to check that out next time I'm there. I've also been to Moqui Lookout. Believe me, if you can get over your fear of heights, it's definitely worth the climb. 360* view is awesome. As far as the pic of the doppler tower, I guessed it before I read it. I figured it was radar of some type, and since aircraft traffic is minimal in that area, i figured it was weather related.


Excellent story, glad you enjoyed "Our spot".


BTW, the maps are all wrong on where Kinder Crossing exits on the other side. You have to hike downstream about a half mile, around the horseshoe with the rock slide and cool pool and back to the west to where it horseshoes around another ridge coming in from the east. The exit trail goes straight up that ridge. Saw a flock of about 40 wild turkeys up THERE once, but that's another story...

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Hi Matt, Thanks for taking the time to put together this great report. My wife wants to spend more time in the pines and you're giving me some helpful ideas.

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thanks for the report Matt. the Mogollon Rim is one of my favorite areas in AZ!


we have camped up there near the 87 end many summers. i also spent a week tent camped near the middle of FR300 and just explored out to a new road every day, hiked the perimeters of some of the small lakes, and saw some of the cabins. that was back when the WJ was still all stock. there aren't any moderate or difficult trails, but there is a huge amount to explore.


we also usually go over to the 260 side (Apache Sitgreaves NF) for our Christmas tree each year - the area is quite different when covered in snow!

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Day Three


So I woke up at 3 am smelling smoke…


A couple of things here. I really enjoy camping at the end of a trail / road. It means no one will be coming from the opposite direction and usually not at all. You can be all alone. But, the one thing I do worry about is being cut off by a fire. If you’re at the end of an 8 mile trail and some careless camper starts a fire 3 miles in, you may be trapped. Does anyone else worry about this?


But, was I in danger at this moment? I knew that campfires were not allowed (though this doesn’t mean someone didn’t start a rogue campfire). It could also mean someone had started a real forest fire. I also know that due to my illness, my sense of smell is about 1,000 times more sensitive than normal and I can smell things that others can’t. What is hard to determine is the degree. Was the smoke I was smelling something nearby (and should be concerned with) or due to my super smell sense, a long distance away and of no concern. Although my kids sometimes relate my new ability (or curse) to that of a dog, I do not possess the sense of direction or location the way dogs do.


I eyed Cat-dog. She was looking through the screen as usual and didn’t seem to be concerned. But would she know if a fire had cut off the road 3 miles away and understand the implications? Probably not, but she’s so smart I wouldn’t put it past her. I looked out the tent’s window. I couldn’t see any lightness against the semi-dark sky (the moon was out), so I knew there wasn’t a big fire close by. I tried to go back to sleep, but the intense fire/smoke smell wouldn’t let me.


At 3:30, I decided I wasn’t going to be able to go back to sleep, so I might as well get up. I loaded Cat-dog into the Jeep, packed up the tent and my supplies and was heading back toward the main road by a little after 4 am. Driving with just your stock lights in a dark forest is fun … and a little eerie. (See driving along the rim video from Day Two above)


For my last day, I had wanted to go to the Blue Ridge Reservoir (BRR, although the MVUM calls it the CC Cragin Reservoir) and walk to the large concave dam near the east end. My original plan was to do that after breakfast (around 7 – 8 am). Now, I would drive there in the dark, have a quick sandwich, then start what should be a short, easy hike as the sun came up. I was sort of excited about the change in plans. I should be able to get some nice pictures of the sun coming up over the reservoir or dam.


Once on the main FR (751), I was able to make good time on the smooth surface (there’s not a lot of people driving before 5 am). I saw a sign a few miles from BRR stating no camping allowed from here on in. Hmmmm. I may be alone there. Nice. The last portion of the road drops you down into the canyon. I couldn’t see the water below that I knew was there since it was still dark. As I drove on, I kept smelling smoke.


When I got to the large parking area near the “boat ramp” I was surprised to see about 10 vehicles parked there. The boat ramp is a little bit of a misnomer. It’s a narrow, sometimes rocky fairly steep road down 20 feet to the reservoir. They seemed to have widened it slightly since I was here last, though I would only take small boats and trailers on this.


No one was in the vehicles. Didn’t the sign say “no camping”? I wondered where all these people were? Were they already out on the water? I didn’t see any boat trailers. Were they backpacking and camping some place else? I never found out.


I parked the Jeep and got out. The smell of smoke was worse here and was making me a little sick. I decided I would try to try to suck it up and deal with it. I had come all this way, I wasn’t going to back down now. I ate a quick sandwich. It was starting to get light. I had noticed there were barricades on the road going to the dam. That wasn’t a big surprise. I know the newly published MVUMs had closed off this leg of the road (you used to be able to drive to the dam) and had confirmed that with the FS before I left. I got my water, Cat-dog and went to hike to the dam. The MVUM only closed off trails to vehicles, not those in boots. Then I saw the sign on one of the barricades. The road seemed to be not only closed from the MVUM, but do to “fire hazard”. It wasn’t real clear if this was to hikers also, but I decided that with this many signs (figuratively and literally) against me, I would conquer the dam another day.






Blue Ridge Reservoir


A little dejected, Cat-dog and I climbed back in the Jeep and headed out. I took a few pictures of the reservoir as we left. You can see the haze from the fire in the air. Not sure what fire this was.


The good news is that I did see a big herd of elk (about 10) on our way out and was able to get a few bad pictures of a few. I found a road across the main highway to air up (away from people so Cat-dog could sniff around while the pump did its work). I was pleasantly surprised that each tire only took 7 minutes to air up. Not too bad. Cat-dog and I explored a few fallen trees and one lone flower while we waited for the tires to get to their pavement pressure. The FR to this point had been very smooth, so after airing up, I looked at the map and found that it did a small loop. We had time to spare, so I decided to take it around.











Cat-dog sniffing flower


Wouldn’t you know it that about half way through, it turned rocky and bumpy. With full air in my tires, it was just plain uncomfortable. I didn’t want to air down, then back up again, so I just plowed my way through. I was very thankful when we hit smooth pavement.


We drove back down through Strawberry and Pine to Payson. I had seen the sign for the East East River on our way out of town three days earlier and decided to take the 200 yard detour off the main highway to see the creek. No one was there this early in the morning and the water was wonderful. This reminded me slightly of the creeks around Sedona also. Some areas had large round boulders that Cat-dog enjoyed climbing on. We spent about an hour exploring, then headed for home.












A few final thoughts on this trip. It was depressing seeing all the trails closed by the MVUM. Yes, most of the main trails are still open, but long gone are the days you see an interesting two track and say, “Let’s follow it to see where it goes.” Most of those are closed now. Sad, sad, sad. The good news was that for the most part the forest seemed clean and litter free. After a big holiday weekend, this was refreshing. With all the driving I did, I encountered less than 10 vehicles on the road. It seems if you want the forest roads by yourself, the weekend after a holiday weekend may be a good choice. Kinder Crossing is a very special place. The only downside to it was it was the only place in the forest I visited that seemed busy.


I highly recommend this trip!

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