Tule Mesa – the backstory

About five years ago, Ben (then 7) and I climbed into a Chevy Cavalier and headed off for Fossil Springs. My plan was to intorduce Ben to backpacking. The problem wit this plan was that I was driving.

From Phoenix, I-17 to AZ 260 to FR720 seemed kinda dull, especially when my AZ Gazetteer showed a more direct route through Dugas. I should not here, in some feeble defense, that the Gazetteer does nt reliably indicate a road’s condition – just its existence.

I should also note that my wife will never allow e to own a 4WD the way you would not want to give a loaded pistol to a monkey. I have little to no fear of road conditions.

Forest Road 68G – which will, actually, bounce you down to the Verde River from Dugas – is high clearance up to the edge of the mesa. I bounced and prodded the poor Cavalier that far in anyways – because that is how my mental disorder manifests. We stopped at the top of the mesa, because the switchbacks going down were CLEARLY 4WD. And my nerves were shot. And we were losing daylight. And this moment of clarity saved certainly both of our lives.

So you know, to continue on the Fossil Creek, you would have to ford the Verde River and drive through the Hot Springs campground to get back to FR 720.

So we camped at the top of Tule Mesa. My hammcok, strung from a huge juniper, swung in the wind as I had nightmares of rocks moving down a roadway in waves like an incoming tide. The wind picked even more, and I had to move into Ben’s tent.

The next morning, I worked the Cavalier slowly off the mesa, blowing two tires in the process. (Happily, one was just a slow leak). We ended up “backpacking” in a few miles from a spot north of Lake Pleasant.

Ben and I didn’t make it to Fossil Springs until we hkedt for the guidebook about a year ago.

In a few hours, though, we’re going back to Tule Mesa, because I now own a high clearance vehicle.

I left a ratchet strap in that Juniper. Ben wonders if its still there. We’ll let you know.

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