While not an especially difficult trip, the Back
Road to Crown King is a must for any Arizona off-roader. Chris
actually pulled this trip off a while back ago when his Jeep was stock.
On that trip, Jared and I were his sore-bottomed carsick passengers, but
this time J got take his own Jeep up. Now that they both had grown up
Jeeps, it was time to make the run sans bypasses and a little fewer bone
We actually had 6 people make the trip including
Chris's Megan, Jared's Jen, and my sis who ran the video camera for us.
We left pretty early and got going before the heat took to firm a hold.
The weather forecast had predicted rain all week too, so we were also
excited about the possibility of getting sloppy later on.
If you haven't seen this trail, the rains have
really taken their toll on it and the washouts get worse (better) each run.
Even some of the bypasses have bypasses, but the guys stayed true to their
commitment to avoid them altogether. Some of the washed out paths were
tricky because they weren't only steep upwards, but had a good side-slant
going on as well. It was on one of these that J scared us pretty good.
While going up a tad to fast, he hit a 90 deg step up and bounced letting
gravity take his Jeep sideways towards a potential roll over opportunity.
No RR was needed though, and he was up with a little adjustment.
We had lunch at Oro Bell, then began to continue
the way up. We stopped shortly after to observe a stock F150 that
passed us trying to go the opposite way down the trail. We had a good
vantage point from above them on a high switchback and could even hear the
scraping going on beneath the Ford. They had gotten hung up on the
first slight obstacle of the trail. After a good 10 minutes they got
off it, amazingly keeping their bumper, but we didn't hold out much future
hope for it considering what else lay ahead for them. What happened
next assured us that they would face a long day (hopefully not the night
too) to come.
During the course of our journey we had been
noticing the clouds slowly filling up and spreading out. If you notice
from the background pic, there really wasn't much moisture in the air.
Shortly after our rubbernecking though, the clouds finally came together and
opened up. Check out the
photo of the storm at first where it just
looked liked the finger of God thumbing through the mountains and valleys.
When it got to us, it had teamed up with the rest of the thunderheads and it
took all of a couple seconds to soak those of us in Chris's topless Jeep.
There was some wicked cool lightning all around to and there was no reason
to count the seconds between flashes and bangs.
We found our way down to some old mining buildings
and took a little shelter while Chris warmed us up with a small fire.
The storm passed and we finished the rest of the trip easily, because we
were into the pines and better roads. Even though we had had a long
day already, we had to stop by Desoto Mine on the way out and show the 3
people in the group who hadn't been before. It has got to be one of
the longest mines in AZ as we counted it at 1162 Yards to the back.
And, just to prove that the Desoto trail is by no means a 4.0, the guys ran
it in 2WD.