As the terrible awful summer of 2020 wears on, we are spending as much time as possible far from Tucson. After a few days along the Rim with our ham radio camping buddy, we wandered north to Sunset Crater and the Grand Canyon.
The trail follows parts of a military road blazed in the 1870s from Fort Apache, near Whiteriver on the White Mountain Apache Reservation, to Fort Whipple in Prescott. It became one of the first major roads in Arizona, and for decades served as a supply and communications route.
In the summer of 2020, Arizona was hit by a triple whammy: a deadly pandemic, catastrophic wildfires and a near-total failure of the monsoon coupled with sustained record-breaking heat. We stayed home just long enough to clean up, fix up and restock and then headed north once again, with no particular destination in mind.
A few days before our long-planned trip to the Pecos Wilderness, we learned that New Mexico was requiring a 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors. On a whim, we redirected to the back side of the San Francisco Mountains, and found not only relief from the heat, but far more possibilities camping and hiking options than we ever imagined.
By mid-June, the Bighorn fire had morphed into a monster of over 100,000 acres, and seemed hell-bent on consuming the entire Santa Catalina range. We decided to go ahead with our plans to head up to the Mogollon Rim for Ham Radio Field Day, if for no other reason than to get out of the smoke.
With careful planning, we might still be able to realize our dream of spending most of the summer on the road far from the heat of Tucson. And while the cats are not exactly thrilled with our travel plans, they are learning to adjust.
A couple of days of unseasonably cool weather provided a great opportunity to take a short trip with the new rig to a place we'd originally planned to visit in March.
Several streams plunge from the lip of the Mogollon Rim to the floor of the desert — the Verde, East and West Clear Creek, Horton Creek, Fossil Creek — but Haigler Creek first wanders tantalizingly west through the Tonto National Forest before joining with Tonto Creek in the Hellsgate Wilderness. This is a lightly populated area with very limited access.
Triple-digit heat is upon us — all the way up to 106° F on Wedesday! With all the campgrounds on Mount Lemmon closed, how to cool off at high elevation without driving for hours?
A forecast of days of +100-degree temperatures sent us fleeing north to higher ground, using the camper to scout possible RV spots along the Mogollon Rim.
We're finding out that there are lots of ways to enjoy the outdoors and still keep plenty of space between us and the hoards of people flocking to popular hiking and camping areas during the nationwide quarantine.
We continue to discover the hidden wonders of Catalina State Park. The park is much larger than we realized, and with the help of a good digital mapping program, we have discovered that there are many many more trails besides the famous and hopelessly overpopulated route to Romero Pools.
While we were searching for a camping spot close to town for our first out-of-driveway with the new rig, and we learned that Colossal Cave Mountain Park has a couple of spots for RVs.
We've had wonderful winter rains this year! After a healthy storm on February 21-22, I was eager to see falling water.