What a beautiful day, We woke up at our camp spot out in the deserts about 35 miles south east of Phoenix AZ. The weather so far had been the best we have had that I recall for many years. It was supposed to be about 75 degrees during the day and in the 40’s at night for the next several days.
We had a long, 80 mile, scenic loop planned for the day. It may have been a bit ambitious but we were game. Our plan was to first head N/E of our camp about 25 miles over some rugged mountain terrain to the town of Superior for an early lunch. After lunch we would ride through Walnut Canyon and on to a short stop at some old coke ovens. We’d then cross through a river and head west to our last landmark, a diversion dam, before heading back to camp. We had just 3 rigs on this ride, Jim and Susie in their Polaris 800 RZR S, Art (my son) and his wife Janeen on their Can-Am 400 2-up and me on my Polaris Sportsman 500. We started early as the days are short this time of year.
I decided to lead as we headed over the rocky mountain terrain to the town of Superior. About 5 miles into our ride I happen to look over to my right and I saw a crowning saguaro very close to the trail. I could not believe it. I had been past this spot about 100 times and never seen it. They are a very rare sight and quite beautiful. Out of all my desert riding I have seen only seen maybe seven ever.
Most of the roads in this area were built for the gold, silver and copper mining that went on in the 1800’s through about 1950 from what I have read. Here is one of the larger mine remnants called Ajax Mine we pass on our way to Superior.
As we continued on over the rugged switchback roads I stopped at a side trail that leads to an old miners shack and mine shaft. I asked Jim if he had been down the trail or not. To my amazement he hadn’t so we decided to take the little detour. Jim has ridden this area for years so I was very happy to show him something new.
Here is the old building that probably housed some of the miners long ago. Jim and Susie look great in the front window of their new home. Very fitting.
Just around the corner is a mine shaft that goes almost straight down into the ground. When I was here the first time there was a metal header above the shaft. They used the header with a large pulley connected to a winch to pull the ore cars out of the mine. It's a shame that equipment is gone now.
Back on the trail the views as we go up one mountain and down the other are stunning. Here is a spectacular shot of a mountain that we are headed towards that is called Picket Post Mountain.
We made without incident to the old mining town of Superior where we stopped for an awesome Mexican food lunch. As we were heading to our machines I was amazed by all of the different people in the parking lot. It was a mixture of old and new with everything in between. I could have spent hours just sitting under a shade tree watching all the different types of people coming through town on this gorgeous day.
Here are a couple of photos to represent the old and new. The first one being a beautiful horse all saddled up ready to go round up some cattle and the others showing the mighty horsepower of today's motorcycles.
From here we take some neighborhood streets to a dirt road that goes towards the highway heading south of Superior. Most of the trails in the area are very rough and made of bedrock like this:
As we are taking a small trail beside the highway under the power lines Jim gets a flat on his RZR S. At first we could not find the leak, then as Jim was rolling the vehicle I look on the inside of his tire and see a split in the sidewall. It was a good size split and it took 10 plugs to hold air again.
With the concern that our plug job may not hold, I wanted to turn back but after talking with Jim we decided it was almost a push on mileage to get back so we decided to keep going. So off we went again. Jim led us now so we could keep an eye on the repaired tire. He led us to the highway where we had an 8 mile sprint to the Walnut Canyon entrance. The highway is somewhat dangerous as its only 2 lanes. It’s also narrow, quite twisty and there are still plenty of mining trucks that use it. In Arizona we are allowed to ride on the roads as long as you have the proper insurance and plates which we do. As we crest one of the hills Art pulls off to the side of the road.
I thought he wanted to look at the huge mine on our right because he did not indicate there was a problem so I continued on.
About 1 mile further there was a Police officer with someone pulled over on the other side of the road. I didn’t think anything about it and went to the turn off to wait for Art. After waiting for a few minutes with no sign of him I decided to go see what was going on. As I came up the hill there was Art and the Officer was now parked next to him. The DPS officer was super nice by the way. He said he went by Art and Janeen then came back to see if they were OK. Art told the officer his quad all of a sudden started making a bunch of noise from the clutch area and lost power so he pulled off to check it out. The Officer wanted to know if we wanted him to call a tow truck. Of course we did not. We would figure out a plan to get us all back to camp. At least this happened on the main road so we could drive his truck back to pick it up if necessary. This is very fortunate.
I went to get Jim, so we could make a plan B. Once back together we figured out that Art’s Can-Am had broke the CVT drive belt and Art didn’t have a spare. This makes it a bit tougher as most of us carry a spare. I have seen it save the day many times as a belt can be changed in 30 minutes to an hour in most cases. Oh well. We decided we would leave Art and Janeen there while we went to get his truck. We were about 35 miles from camp and we should be able to get back on some easier roads pretty quick.
Finally we made it back to camp and loaded up the ramps to go pick up my stranded son and wife. I had about a 40 minute drive around the mountains to get to Art and Janeen. Amazingly they were right where I left them. :-) We were able to point the truck downhill so with a running start we pushed the quad into the back of the truck. Now for the 40 minute drive back to camp.
Back at camp, we were all ready to relax, barbecue and watch Mother Nature paint the sky with another outstanding Arizona sunset.
As we reflected on the days ride we were thankful that I carry a 50 pack of tire plugs. It was a long day with all the problems but we survived so another adventure hits the books. I think one of the coolest things about my experiences riding is that no matter what, we have always figured out how to solve our trail problems and get everyone back to camp safely. The trail rides that I remember most always seem to be the ones that didn’t go as smooth as expected.
Remember to watch out for others, do the right thing and buy all of your tires and wheels from Discount Tire Direct.
Link to tires: http://www.discounttiredirect.com/direct/findTireSearch.do
Link to wheels: http://www.discounttiredirect.com/direct/findWheelSearch.do
Part 3 coming soon.
Discount Tire Direct.