Thank goodness Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them."
I think I've been stupid with my friend, Russ, a variety of times and in a variety of circumstances - half of which I probably don't even remember. The other half of which Russ said something like, "Oh, that's cool. You owe me a beer."
However, I escaped certain humility on this ride to Hackberry Creek of Devil's Canyon, near Superior, Arizona on a fine Saturday afternoon. His Jeep Rubicon came ever-so-close to the point of tipping over and meeting the business side of some large rocks on challenging little section I'll call "Boulder Alley." Two things saved me from Certain Humility:
- A tow strap
- Pictures of the whole event
However, should you come across Russ during your days on this earth don't tell him I said that. After towing him out of Boulder Alley, I said, "I know exactly how we got you through that without a scrape last time."
"You do?" he replied quizzically.
"Yeah" I smirked, "Last time we were younger and dumber"
He laughed in is Russ way. Then, as usual, responded, "Nice."
Before, we had an unhealthy level of adventure to guide us, plus it seems that sometimes sheer idiocy can get you through anything. My life with Russ, as I look back now, is loaded with plenty of events that should have killed us in some fashion. Instead, we always came out the other side laughing.
"Hmm...now we're older and wiser." He finally said.
"Right! Hell, look at you. You're second car is a minivan."
Ok, the real truth (an elusive little thing most of us men leave at home when we discuss our Jeep gear and equipment) is that we agreed over-Russ's confidence and my inattentive spotting did us in. Expeditions West about this piece of the trail:
Last time, Russ's Jeep Rubicon was bone-stock, and he plowed up this bouldery wonderland with out a gasp. Well, I was spotting and yelling with joy - what with his wheels in the air and that funky look on his face.
But this time, with an improved (and HIGHER) suspension and a few more years of off highway experience locked securely under our belts, we just subconsciously figured No sweat, he can do this without any help. Well, I have re-learned that decent gear and equipment is not the only thing that will get you through an obstacle. To quote Scott with
I added emphasis on that driver part. But with the modified vehicle, we were not mindful nor attentive to the severity of the route. And this is a common thing to happen when you've got some new piece of gear. After giving Russ's vehicle a tow we laughed, re-focused, and realized our mistake.
Anyway, let's get to the good stuff. Check out these photos of Dave and Russ driving this gorgeous trail through this collective area called "Queen Creek Canyon" or "Oak Flat" or "Devil's Canyon" or "Hackberry Creek." I have 23 phots, and a link to each in the gray section on the top right. Or, just click any of these photos for the real thing. Trail information, such as a map, the routes we took, and so forth can be found below.
This area of the Tonto National Forest is at risk of being closed to the public, and there are roads out here that I need to explore; perhaps you need to as well. Well, drop me a line. A responsible presence in the area will help indicate to our government that the land is cared for.
The area in the photographs below -- as well as Oak Flat campground, Hackberry Creek, Devil's Canyon, and Apache Leap -- is threatened with closure by a block-cave mining operation. Arizona state legislature is attempting to allow the mining project through means of a "land swap" initiative. This would close the campground, roads, and all recreational access to the area.
According to the Tonto National Forest website: "The forest has outstanding recreational opportunities all year long. Its scenic landscapes range from cactus-studded desert to pine-forested mountains. The varied levels of elevation...offer equally varied temperatures and landscapes..." Closing access to these areas would set a poor precedent in how we treat public lands and would remove the most unique area from the Tonto National Forest: the collective natural wonderland of Queen Creek.
Get involved by visiting the Friends of Queen Creek website for more information
- Trail time? 3-5 hours depending on diversions
- Route Description? Moderate, rocky trail with some steep hills and various side roads and alternate routes
- Map? Yes, click here
- Permit Required? No
- Camping? Available anywhere in Tonto National Forest, developed campground at Oak Flat