If you take FR68 east of Dugas (which is not actually a town, but the remains of a settlement crumbling on what is now private ranch land) you will come to a Y. Your decision: take the easy road (right) towards the Salt Flats “campground” and the Pine Mountain Wilderness, or take the left fork, dubbed 68G towards – well the edge of the cliff.
If you read last post, you know which one I took.
The signs become increasingly ominous about the “primitive” and “unmaintained” nature of 68G, and, true to the warnings, the road becomse worse the farther you go in.
About 4 miles in, as I’m prodding my 06 Chevy Equinox through what is essentially a trench filled with lava rock, we have to back up to allow an older couple in a Toyota 4X4 Truck to get past us. The man says, swear to God, “You haven’t gotten to the really rocky part yet…”
A mile later, we got to it. And there, I found the Equinox Filter: a stair of rock about 20″ high that spun the tires of my HC but definitely Front-wheel-Drive crossover (pretend) SUV no matter which angle I tried. When I had smelt enough of my own burning rubber, I backed it up, and found a place to park the thing.
Yeah – that’s right – I couldn’t get the Equinox as far as I got the Cavalier. It may be a sign of wisdom, or it may be a sign of deeper erosion in the road. In any case, Ben and I climbed out and hiked the remaining three miles or so to Cavalier Point: a sizeable juniper just off the road from the cattleguard that separates the 68G from “Verde Hot Springs Road”. The latter road is marked as “Unfit for Public Travel” and is officially closed to motor vehicles at this writing.
My straps were long gone.
We did, however find the norther terminus to something called Trail #27 which goes into the largely undocumented Cedar Bench Wilderness that covers half the northern slope of Tule Mesa. The southern terminus is, in theory, a graded dirt trailhead near Camp Verde. I’m adding that to my To Do list.
Meanwhile, while daylight remained, Ben and I drover around the other fork in the road – to Pine Mountain. That account will be the next post.
Photos on my personal blog (where I have bandwidth left): What Have We Learned?