Posts Tagged ‘Tule Mesa’

Tule Mesa Revisited

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

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?

Tule Mesa – the backstory

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

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.